Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Untitled Quilt

Pin basted and ready for quilting.

In Survivor news, I think there are only a few episodes left. Leave me your predictions, and I'll post a seductive new pose of the Fleece Artist next week to inspire you! (I think it will be Dani, and I'll be quilting, not knitting!)Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 28, 2005

And Now, the Camera Will Pan Around the Studio

My dear quilters, you have been tuning into this blog, lo these many months, because it says right up there in the header, "quilting", and over and over, you have been disappointed, because there is nothing but knitting.

Well, wait no longer, we have some quilting going on. PBS is coming to my house in three weeks (!!!!) to interview me and film me working. (!!!!) For a show about art quilting. (You can see my work here.)

When they contacted me about two weeks ago, I said yes immediately (duh) and waited a few hours for the goosebumps to wear off before I figured out exactly how I would make this happen. Hmm, lets examine the details: two kids that need to get to school that morning (different schools, different times), a baby at home, a studio caked in years of clutter, and, did I mention there was no quilting?!

Here is the plan of action:
1. Kids--Dave is taking off that day to play Mr. Mom.
2. Quilts--Must get bones into studio every night and be determined. It's happening. Progress photos to follow shortly.
3. Studio--This may seem irrational, but this is my biggest hurdle. I am prepared to shove stuff into bins and haul to the attic the night before, if necessary. But I am kind of enjoying this unexpected opportunity to give my studio a makeover, and would like to enlist the help of you creative individuals.

I will now take you on a tour of my studio, unedited. These pictures are not 100% true "before" pictures, because I did a few days of frantic tidying up before I came to my senses and realized that this must be blogged properly. Furthermore, I have done some more work since I took these pictures, so they are sort of an in-between stage.

So, I bring you "pretty bad, but not as bad as it really was, and worse than it looks now":

Above, on the left, is my design wall, blank. Across the room is my ironing table (table covered with batting and fabric) that doubles as a blocking board, and sometimes, clutter catcher.

Moving to the right:

That set of shelves holds boxes of photos at the top, camera equiptment and button boxes, tv and knitting magazines, yarn and fabric in the bins on the bottom. That's another bin yarn (current projects) under the window, and then my new (old) filing cabinet.

I love the filing cabinet, it was in my grandparents farmhouse, and I've had is since my grandpa died in March. But it needs a better place, it's obscuring the hand-dyed fabric shelf. Those are bins of sewing patterns on top of the fabric shelf. That is my sewing table, jutting out from the windows in the middle of the room. The two sewing machines are always set up, but I do usually have to clear away clutter to use them. How many times can I use the word clutter in this post, you ask. Plenty, I assure you.

Panning further right, see below, to the other side of the room, the light blue cabinet is an old dental school cabinet that I bought at a yard sale. It holds sewing notions, scissors, bobbins, stuff that you need to have on hand. The serger is on top. The next shelf is mostly books, and binders of slides of quilts, show entry forms, paperwork stuff. The makeshift desk holds my computer and printer. (And, I'm afraid, is the worst offender in the clutter category). I can twist in my chair and be sewing on one side, reading e-mail on the other side. Not necessarily a good thing!

Looking at that picture, do I always have so many totes filled with knitting projects sitting around? Hah! Most times I have more!

Moving on, I have a closet (no one's gonna see in there) and the door on the far right, the one that is open, is the door we came in.

See, here's the door again, with the design wall on the right.

Questions and comments about the studio welcome. Ideas on how to improve, supremely welcome. "After" pictures, to come. And photos of my new quilt in progress.

**Added later: Looking at the pictures again, I realize something that has bothered me is that they are so dark. I see that I didn't have my track lighting on, I don't know why. Normally it is brighter, with double the amount of light on, and with the curtains open during the day. (Although that window faces north, so there isn't a ton of natural light, which is why I have track lighting over the sewing area and daylight fixtures over the design wall. Just so you know.
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Freakin Cute


I'm cute.

I'm going to have a buddy soon.

We're going to suprise a certain little boy on his 6th birthday next week.

We might even have another buddy join us in time for Christmas.

These are easy to make and totally satisfying projects. Thanks to the fabulous free pattern by Jennifer Thurston of Xtreme-knitting. Thank you Jen! And thank you to Carla and Jodee (hi ladies!) for the inspiration to do them in Nature Cotton. They said they got the idea off someone's blog, so I did a search and found this one too. So cute! (And still so do-able by Christmas.)

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

Yesterday, Ethan's teacher asked him what he would be eating for Thanksgiving.

"Chips." Was his reply.

Well nominate me for for the Mother of the Year award, I'm feeding my kids potato chips for Thanksgiving dinner.

Actually, I have been assigned the "snack" category for the weekend, and the chips he was referring to is the gargantuan bag that has been sitting in our entryway for 2 days, that I have ordered everyone to not-open-under-penalty-of-death. I was done with my food shopping this weekend, no way was I going to brave the grocery at the last minute.

Turns out, I forgot I'm also supposed to bring my famous creamed spinach (Burt Wolf's famous, in reality) and I forgot to buy the spinach. I'll be the crazy lady in the grocery the afternoon before Thanksgiving, waiting in line for an hour with 3 kids in tow. Oh well.

So, just in case you are searching for that one last side dish that adds a bit of green to the table, I will share with you the Best Creamed Spinach, Ever.

3 boxes frozen spinach
3 T salted butter (don't you dare use anything fake like margarine or worse)
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic--make those big-a$$ cloves, minced
pinch nutmeg (must be fresh grated. Seriously.)
1 c heavy cream (for ordinary dinners at home I use half and half--but for a dinner party I go all out)
1/3 to 1/2 c grated parmesan cheese (must be freshly grated or those flakes you get in the refridgerated section. No sawdust powder from the green can. Seriously.)
salt and pepper

Defrost spinach and drain. This takes longer than you think, like 5 minute plus for each box, I'm just warning you.
Melt butter and saute onion. Add garlic, grate in nutmeg.
Pour in cream. Simmer and reduce, it will look buttery yellow.
Add parmesan, let it melt in.
Add spinach, a little salt and pepper, combine well, and serve while hot.

This is a slight variation from this recipe here. I just eliminated the bread crumb and baking part at the end, which I don't think is necessary but you might.

Now I need to go procrastinate about the grocery trip and plan out my knitting for the weekend.

You all know I love my knitting, I love my creamed spinach too, and a good bag of potato chips. But none of that is even close. To what I'm really thankful for.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Inevitable Christmas Knitting Post

I have finished both Willow and the Purl Scarf, (pictures, hopefully later this weekend) and if I thought knitting a black sweater made for difficult blogging, I hadn't yet considered what it would be to knit gifts for people who read this blog!

I really, really do try to keep the handmade gifts to a minimum, only going to those who will really appreciate them, thus saving the stress for other areas of my life.

So here's what I've been working on since last week. I know some of you can guess at least one of these, probably two. Can anyone guess what all three are? If so, you get a gold star!
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Thursday, November 17, 2005

You Dedicated Survivor Players, You

Thanks for all the comments about the haircut. I am thankful that it is not as bad as it could be, and have rescinded all scissor priviledges.

And thanks to my die-hard Survivor Contest players, who have commented even though I wasn't able to squeak out a post today. I tried several times, but Hello would not load my images, and I just couldn't do a post with no pictures!

(I haven't watched it yet, (Tivo'd) so I can't comment until tomorrow. Except to congratulate Jan, who won last week and I haven't congratulated you properly yet. Go Jan!

Here was Willow, as of this morning when I took the picture. The collar is completed now, and I might have a picture tomorrow.

And p.s. Love the slipstitch! Will definitely post more about the slipstitch. We should all know slipstitch, it is our friend.
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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The True Purpose of a Blog

Remember the photo of Little Miss Scissorhands? (Scroll down to November 3rd entry.) Yesterday she was sitting next to me as I wrote my blog, and she was "crafting". She asked me for glue. I said no. So in true MacGyver fashion, she found some contraband lotion, and completed her work of art.

Somehow, I find this disturbing. On the other hand, next time I'm in need of glue, and don't have any on hand, nor chewing gum, I'll just reach for the lotion.

Later that day, she came asking for more paper, and I noticed this:

The new "shag" haircut.

And so, I have discoverd the true purpose of blogging. It distracts you into taking pictures and thinking up amusing (hopefully) commentary when you really should be crying.

What?! You're here for content?! As if I could distract you from the fact that I have no progress to show on Willow, with stories of lotion and haircuts.

Actually, I did cast on a sock. With yarn that I dyed during our dye day back in February. (This is actually the skein I have pictured in the steamer.) Why did I wait so long? This is wonderful stuff! And with Christmas bearing down on me like a freight train, what I really need to be doing is dabbling in more stuff for me.

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Monday, November 14, 2005


I sewed up Willow this weekend. The Thaki Soho Tweed was really fragile (and bulky), so I used some spare Cascade 220 in black to do the seams.

And it fits! And the sleeve length is just right, which I was a little worried about. I have short arms and usually have to shorten a sleeve at least an inch.

The belt is done too (5 stitches of seedstitch, a mile long) and so all I have left are the front bands and the collar. The front band is one of those, that in true Rowan fashion, you knit separately and slipstitch on. I've read these instructions before: knit the front band, until "slightly stretched" it fits the front opening. I hate that "slightly stretched" part! Just give me a formula, a measurement, anything but "slightly stretched". What the heck does that mean, anyway?

And another thing, I don't know how to slipstitch. So I was ready to pick up stitches and knit the band out, using a 3 to 4 pick up ratio, instead of knitting the band separately.

And then I read further into the instructions--what a concept--and saw that I would put those four front band stitches on a holder and continue the seedstitch up the collar, as a border. And if I knit the band out horizontally by picking up the stitches, then I'd have a little seam right at the throat where I'd add on the seedstitch and it would show when the collar flipped over, instead of the nice little detail of the seedstitch band being continuous. Have I lost everyone?

So, to-do list for today: knit four stitch rows of seedstitch til I croak, then learn the mysterious slipstitch. It's in the thirties here today, and I am ready to wear this baby.
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Thursday, November 10, 2005

Updates Galore

First of all, since I haven't posted since last week, a big congrats to Lauren, who guessed correctly last week who would be voted off in the Survivor Contest! Go Lauren!

Today I'm going with Gary, although I like him (big covert operator that he is) and would be sad to see him go. Or it might be Stephanie, if they wise up, but Gary, I'm going with Gary.

Over the weekend I tried to get this mess under control:

That's my garden, which really went to heck this summer. I love these garden boxes, which I built myself about 4 years ago, in a what was a total wasteland part of our yard. See how the path lines up with the trees? Like a big geek, I made a blueprint of our whole yard, where the big trees were, to scale and everything. Having babies has put my big landscaping plans on the back burner, but next spring I want to get back into it, and guess what, I'll document it all here! Yay, you!

Back to knitting, here's a update on the Koigu scarf. First of all, I love it and have worn it almost every day. But do you see how one side (the right) is nice and scallopy and the other, not so much? Apparently, I just read the cast on and chart part of the directions, and went to town. I looked through the directions for some reason, after I was done, and read that you were supposed to knit it halfway, cast on and knit the other side, and kitchener them together in the middle. Well, it would have made for a nicer edge on that left side, but in this case, I believe that "finished is better than perfect", as has recently been discussed here (October 5th).

One front and the back of Willow has been blocked and waiting:

And to combat the boredom of sleevedom, I decided to knit both sleeves at the same time. Which is more knitting than knitting a whole back, but then at least, I'd be DONE. I've tried knitting 2 sleeves at the same time before, and it is confusing. Especially if you stop in the middle. If you stop in the middle, you might pick it up and not know which way you're supposed to go; thus you can end up knitting more rows on one sleeve or the other. So I pinned the sleeves together in the middle, and tried to knit all the way across without having to put it down.

I also used markers religiously, the row of markers on the left below, are counting the 8 rows between cable crosses, and the 2 on the right are marking the intervals between increases. If I didn't know which sleeve I was on, I compared the markers on the 2 sleeves, to see which sleeve had less rows:

It worked out pretty well, and now the sleeves are done, and blocked:

And ready to be sewn today!

Meanwhile, I could have started the front band or the belt, but I was so sick of knitting that black yarn, and a sock didn't appeal either. I could be starting some Christmas knitting, but.....then I read this post about stealth knitting. That was exactly what I needed!

I've been wanting to make the Purl Scarf from Last Minute Knitted Gifts. This is leftover Manos, plus one ball of Kid Silk Haze and one ball of angora (both of which I got last year, for baby booties that never happened.) I ran out of the angora and have to wait until I get a chance to run out and get another. I will say that this was the most soft, luxurious, and wonderful scarf I have ever made, and there will be more of these in the future. Using Manos and mohair, the color combinations would never get boring.

Stealth knit, highly recommended.

Have a great day, and don't forget your Survivor predictions.
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Thursday, November 03, 2005

Brought To You By Your Friendly Neighborhood Four Year Old (With Scissors)

Presenting my new Koigu lace scarf.

I used the Vine Lace pattern from IK Spring 2000 "A Scarf of Your Very Own" by Ann Budd. I cast on a few less repeats because I wanted a narrower splash-of-color-with-my-jean-jacket type of scarf, not a full blown winter scarf. I used 2 skeins of Koigu solid in bright blue.

Actually, not quite 2 skeins.

While winding up the second skein, I discovered that this is what I had to work with:

Due to this:

Thanks to this:

*Don't forget, your Survivor predictions are due! I'm going with Gary tonight, and I'll be knitting Willow. Who will be voted off tonight?
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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Random Knitting Bits

Rebecca Sweater with Eyelet Pattern (from my 10/27 post): It’s fun to hear that some people are interested in knitting this. Stacey, I don’t have your e-mail, so here are the mistakes that I found (in the large size):

Back: Cast on 84 sts, not 80.
Armhole shaping: you will end up with 58 sts, not 62, which means you have 12 sts for each shoulder, not 14.
And lastly, the 4” for the turtleneck was really tall, and caused the front to buckle right under the neck. I ripped back 1 ½ to 2 inches of that neck and re-bound off, it made a huge difference.

I took a break for a couple of days from Willow. The yarn is rough, and it’s not really the most pleasant to knit. So, I finished up this 2-skein Koigu lace scarf that I started this summer. A little Eucalan bath, and a good blocking will transform this little caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly.

Re: Socktober. I have enjoyed seeing all the sock pics, but I never joined because I had so many mates to finish up, that I couldn’t commit to starting a new pair.

So, I finished up these 2 for me: on the left is the 2nd of the grey/blue Opal handpainted. On the right is Lorna's Laces, (Mixed Berries). I didn't really like the way this striped up the leg, but the foot is interesting, and I love the colors.

Close up of the colors:

I also finished up both pairs of kid's socks (Opal and OnLine):

And finally, in Bryspun news: I contacted the shop where I bought my new Bruspun circulars, and they told me that Bryspuns are 100% guarenteed, and I just have to contact the company for my free replacements. Bryspun, you are still my favorite needles!
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