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Nature’s Bounty

Ive had entirely enough.  Of nature that is.   We just came back from a weekend of camping with the family.  Next time I want to go camping here in July, somebody please smack me.  Or at least remind me how freaking HOT it is.  It was just short of torture, and if it weren’t for my son, I would have bailed on everyone.  The shower I took when I got home was probably the best I’ve ever had.    So now I’m sitting in front of the PC in my pajamas (its  4pm) in a blissfully cold air conditioned room, watching TV.   Ahh, modern technology how I love thee.

There are some good things about nature though.  We’ve gotten some good stuff out of the garden so far.  And after a weekend of grilled meat and beer, it was a welcome change to turn this:

into this:

Thats cherry tomato salad – halved tomatoes with balsamic, olive oil, fresh garlic and homegrown basil.  And a quick zucchini fritatta – sauteed zucchini in olive oil and garlic and combine with eggs scrambled up with parmesan and salt.  YUMMO.

The other good thing about nature is – nature inspired knits!

Pattern:  Spring Baby Headbands

Yarn: Scraps of worsted cotton I had laying around – cotton ease and red heart cotton

Notes:  So quick to make – the large flower is my favorite.  The 5 petal flower is kind of fiddly – if you try it, be sure to watch the video because its a strange construction.  This was a gift for  a friend’s daughter who had just turned one.  I bought some cute dresses and made these to match..

Pattern:  Monkey Socks

Yarn – Patons Stretch Sock

Notes:  I didnt love this yarn at first,although I did like the color.  It reminds me of the different colors of dry fall leaves and so I thought they would be perfect for fall socks.   Its not all that soft knitting up, but once the socks were finished and I tried them on I changed my mind.  They fit great and the stretch makes them very cushy.

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A Learning Experience

I love tutorials.  Whenever I have a vague idea of something I want to make, I always seem to be able to find some kind of tutorial on line.  Here are two great things I recently made, with links to where I learned to make them:

Drawstring Sock Project Bag – I love this one because its fairly easy for someone of my limited sewing skills, plus it uses two fat quarters which are cheap, easy to find and come in great prints.  Of course, I still managed to screw it up because apparently I cant measure anything correctly – so I had to frankenstein it up a bit, but I think it still turned out adorable.  Its perfect for sock knitting and other small projects – I always find that I can stuff more in here than I think I can. Tutorial from Yarnmonster can be found here.

Row Counter Bracelet – I found this one by accident – I was trying to find the cheapest place to find a decent row counter for someone who asked for it.  Mr Google pointed me to this great tutorial for a bracelet pattern.  This was a little bit of a challenge for me to because apparently my jewelry making skills are even worse than my sewing skills.  My husband helped me with squooshing the clasps on the ends.  If you’ve never seen this before, here’s how it works.  The clear beads on the bottom right is actuall a small circle of clear seed beads strung on elastic cord.  There are 9 small beads and 10 big beads.  Each time you knit a row, you move one small bead through the circle (whose opening is normally too small to let the beads pass through, hence the elastic) to the other side.  After you pass all nine beads through and then knit your tenth row, you move all nine beads back where they came from and instead pass one big bead through.  You continue on like this for as many rows as you need to count, up to 99 rows!  The bracelet below “reads” 12 rows have been knit (one big bead and two small ones).  Pretty neat huh?  If you didnt want to wear it, you could loop it around your knitting bag instead.

So here’s my tutorial for you.  If you’re a (top down) sock knitter like me, you always have to drag out a reference book to remember how to kitchener stitch your toes closed.  I wanted something sturdy I could keep in my project bag to remind me.   I saw the kitchener stitch dog tag on knitpicks for $6.50 plus shipping and thought, “I could do better than that!”.  Since I dont have a laminator, here is my bright idea.

“Laminated” Kitchener Stitch Tag:

Materials:

  • Paper
  • Light weight cardboard
  • 2″ wide Packing Tape

Instructions:

Print out the kitchener stitch mantra (either how I’ve done it below or in some format that helps you remember it) on regular paper.  I drew a text box that was 2.5″ by 1.5″ and wrote the lines inside it.  

Cut it out close to the edges of the drawn box.  Cut out a rectangle out of light weight cardboard that is the same height, but half an inch wider.

Place the paper on top of the cardboard, with the paper’s right and bottom edges lined up with the cardboard.  Rip off a piece of packing taper several inches longer than the cardboard.  CAREFULLY place the tape over the paper/cardboard so it sticks right in the middle. My packing tape is two inches wide so I had about half an inch clearance at the top and bottom.  Turn it over and place another piece of packing tape over the first, sticky sides together.  You are sandwiching the tag between the tape.  Burnish the two layers of tape with a sharp object (Im using scissors below) to make sure the two layers adhere and there are no air bubbles.

Trim around the whole thing, leaving a quarter inch border and rounding the edges.  Punch a hole in the end where just the cardboard is (be more careful than I was, I cut into the box as you can see below)

Ta DA!  I threaded it through the drawstring on my sock bag.  Now just make sure you remember to have your tapestry needle with you!

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Summer Gardens

One of my favorite things about summer is seeing my yard bursting with color. Most of what you see in our yard is completely by trial and error.  (And some errors, like my husband planting mint in one of the beds is a nightmare we keep living every year).By the time September comes for the big birthday bash, everything is lush and overflowing.

In the front beds I try to plant as much purple as possible.  Our house is a taupy brown, but my front door is a deep plum.  Every year I try to find some other unique one to plant.

One thing I’ve been meaning to do is hand paint a quote or saying in whimsical writing across the header under our deck – but I can’t seem to find the perfect thing to write.  I was thinking something about a garden, or living by the sea, or a place where friends and family gather – or something with all of them!   Any ideas?  Here’s a pic. Its the wide board at the top of where it supports the floor of the deck above.   Its the first thing you see when you walk out from the house.   If I use your idea, you’ll win a nice bunch of fresh mint!  (or free to anyone who wants it)  (seriously).

In the back I have a mix of everything.   Our pots are a pretty aqua, bought both because they were scooped up for a bargain one fall and because the color reminds me of a calming spa.  This year I put in bright orange geraniums paired with hot pink new guinea impatiens.

The color combo makes me smile every time Im out there.  It also served as an inspiration for a recent crochet project.  I was surfing on Ravelry and checked in on the “Testing Pool” forum – crochet projects are few and far between so when I saw a request to test the Babouches pattern, I jumped at it.  Needing worsted weight yarn, I dug in my stash and came up with this combo.

Pattern:  Babouches

Yarn:  Red Heart Soft Yarn – no idea how much, but WAY less than half a skein.

Hook:  C – the pattern calls for F which boggles my mind – I actually could have gone down to a B

Notes:  Quick, painless and very cute.  Next time I would use cotton.  Im not much of a slipper person, but I thought this was a good project for my first foray into testing.  I think I did pretty good with my feedback, and I would definitely test again.

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Fiber Fest

Yesterday I had the pleasure of going to a small Fibert Fest held fairly close by.  Last year, I went to Rhinebeck, and it was just all too overwhelming for me, so I was happy to be able to navigate the smaller crowds and take my time.  The only drawback was that it was SO small there were hardly any vendors there at all and only one or two that actually sold yarn (most sold fleece or knitted gifts and doodads).  I came away with some pretty stitch markers, a magnetic pattern place holder AND my first drop spindle!

This is me being taught how to use it by a lovely woman from the local spinning guild.  (Im the one sitting in the pink shirt).

I have to say it wasn’t too hard – I was taught the “Park and Draft Method” which most beginners use and I actually made some usable yarn!  So of course I now have dreams of buying beautiful jewel toned fleeces and spinning them into fine laceweight to knit into gorgeous shawls – but my husband cautioned me that I might want to practice a bit more first.  Probably a good idea.  I’ll let you know how I make out.

We enjoyed the close up view of the animals and the many demonstrations they had (I also have big dreams of being a needle felt sculpor) as well as visiting local farms in the area for fresh produce and eggs.  My husband has a dream of owning chickens (dont ask), so we hit the jackpot when we found a friendly chicken farmer who let us roam the property and take pictures.  I travel west to the city so much that I often forget there is a whole other peaceful world just to the east.  

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Welcome

Hello and welcome to the new public blog. A little background for those following along at home.

First, I’m a nerd. Well thats what my brother says anyway – but who really listens to little brothers, right? (you know you love me Mikey). I’m 40 now, and although I try my best to wrap my brain around that number, I mostly stay in a blissful state of denial. I am crafty – I knit, crochet and do a whole manner of crafty things because (a) I’m cheap and (b) I think I can do a better job than crappy storebought stuff anyway. I’ve recently been dabbling with photography – buying a Nikon D90 for my recent “milestone” birthday.

Oh yeah, and my kid’s adopted. From Colombia. There was a time in my life when that was a big deal, but now its not. He’s three now, so expect to see alot of pictures of him (and the husband) on here. I”ll try to keep the poop talk to a minimum.

Enjoy

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