Friday, August 3, 2012

Bouclé Afghan

Sometimes when walking through my local Jo-Ann, I admit I get easily distracted.

Or maybe all the time.

Well, one day when I was there taking advantage of a pattern sale, I saw some beautiful red yarn.

Then I looked closer. It was bouclé -- not my favorite. It was also acrylic*-- again, not my favorite. But the color was so pretty, and the yarn so soft! And on sale, too! Plus I had a coupon.

With that, I was hooked. I purchased 4 balls of Jo-Ann Sensations Rainbow Bouclé yarn for $20.

I decided the best thing to do was to make an afghan. I cast-on 200 stitches, and worked in garter stitch until I had gone through 2 balls of yarn, binding off just before I ran out.

This made a large and soft afghan which I can wrap myself up in, or snuggle under with someone I love. To get an idea of scale, the bed that the blanket is spread out on is king size.

The only trick now will be to keep the pups from stealing it like they have the others.

Project Details:
Pattern: None, but the formula is here.
Designer: Well, designer is a bit pretentious, but I made up the formula.
Yarn: Jo-Ann Sensations Rainbow Bouclé (88% acrylic/12% nylon) in the red colorway.
Needles: US 10 (6 mm) interchangeable needles with a 60" cable.

*NOTE: While acrylic is not my favorite fiber choice, I don't hate it. I believe quite firmly that there is a place for every type of fiber. Indeed, for color selection and saturation, easy care, and affordability, acrylic is fantastic.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Colorblock Towels

The good people at Knit Picks gave me the opportunity to make another project for them -- a set of tea towels.

The pattern is well written, easy to follow, and error free.

CotLin is a beautiful yarn, and the colors they selected are lovely.

The provisional cast-on, and three-needle bind off mean that there's no seaming.

These are very quick to knit, and would make a good, easy care gift.

Project Details:
Pattern: Colorblock Tea Towel Set
Designer: Laura Wick
Yarn: Knit Picks CotLin DK (70% Tanguis cotton/30% linen) in Chartreuse, Sprout, Harbor, and Loden.
Needles: US 6 (4mm) and US 7 (4.5 mm)

You can also find these towels pictured in the May 2012 Knit Picks Catalog, and on the Knit Picks website.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A (Very) Hungry Caterpillar

One of my knitterly friends recently had a son. To share in the celebration and welcome the little guy, and because I am a knitter, I just had to make something.

I do have a few guidelines that I like to follow when making this type of project.
  1. It cannot be something I've made before.
  2. It has to be designed or customized just for them.
  3. It has to be something that will suit the child and the family.
  4. It MUST be machine washable.
I spent a good deal of time wondering what to make.

To be honest, I was really at a loss.

 I did the only sensible thing I could - I did a knitted toy search on Ravelry, hoping and praying for inspiration to strike.

While scrolling through the search results, I came upon this project and pattern:

It brought mind one of my favorite picture books, The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. My lightening strike moment had arrived!

I used the Creepy Crawly Caterpillar pattern, but changed the colors to match the character in the book -- green for the body and feet, red for the head, purple for the antennae. 

I added three body segments which meant working rows 23-39 a total of four times, got everything stuffed as I went, and sewed all the pieces together. 

I then got some felt and cut it (free form) to match the face in the book, securely sewing each piece.

The only thing that remained was to purchase a copy of the book to include with the gift.

I was so pleased and excited with the way this turned out. Thankfully, this was a book that they didn't yet have, and both Momma and Baby seem happy with it. I hope it will bring enjoyment for years to come.

Project Details:
Designer: LaTina Steele
Yarn: Peaches & Cream (100% cotton) in Emerald (green), Red, and Deep Purple
Needles: US 3 (3.25 mm)
Other: Stuffed with polyester fiberfill, face cutouts from polyester felt

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Summer Round-Up

Cactus Wren

Summer is quickly coming to a close, and I find myself wondering where all the time has gone.

Golf has, I suppose, taken up a lion's share of it. What with playing rounds almost weekly with my family, and spectating at Jay's tournaments, I have spent many hours in the beautiful sunshine. I would also like to publicly give a huge CONGRATULATIONS! to Jay for winning his division in the Southwest PGA Antigua Jr. Tour. He did it through good play and, more importantly, with good sportsmanship, and I couldn't be happier for him.

I went through my stash, cleaning and organizing it for ease of use. It was like a delightful treasure hunt, reminding me of the fantastic things I've got squirreled away. It also served as a reminder that I really need to "shop" there first when starting a new project. I fear if I don't start doing that, I will reach S.A.B.L.E. in very short order.

There has been much knitting, spinning, cross-stitching, and even a touch of sewing. Sadly, this doesn't mean that I've finished much, and several of my finished items I can't yet talk about, but, at least there has been progress. I'm particularly excited about one of the projects that I finished, and I will be sharing those details in the next post.

We have enjoyed visits from some of our family, reminding me of how blessed I am to be related to such wonderful people. Whether we are related by blood, marriage, or heart, God has been very good to me.

Monday, April 16, 2012

A New Project

I've been working on a new project, and have struggled with getting gauge.

Guess who has turned into a loose knitter when I wasn't looking?

Here's the one and only sneak peek I'll be giving until the pattern is released.

I hope you are enjoying your projects, and that they're being a little kinder to you than mine was to me.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

When Life Attacks

Friday, DH was driving to work and hit some tread that had fallen off a semi tire and was lying in the middle of the road. It was either hit it, or one of the cars around him. I think he made the correct choice. The car sustained some damage, though, so we had to file a claim with our insurance. And getting everything set up and scheduled was how that day was spent.

Saturday was shaping up to be a better day. I went to visit my sister, and my truck's transmission decided to stop working properly. We ended up cutting our outing short, and I was able to make it back home. Barely. It appeared to give up the ghost when I pulled in my driveway.

Sunday, Jay spent the day with Miss L's family, and while DH and I were able to spend some time together, I was mostly running errands. I had to do it while I still had a vehicle available. Nice way to spend Easter, no?

Monday I spent the day getting the cars to the garage, picking up a rental, and trying to activate DH's new iPhone. (Turns out the Droid phone he'd gotten was a dud -- after 5 phone calls to customer service we decided to send it back and get a new phone.) Unfortunately, our service provider was having issues that prevented activation initially, but it took them 2 hours and 3 customer service representatives to communicate that to me. At least it's finally working.

Now, the truck isn't acting up, so the mechanics can't find and fix the problem. Typical.

At least my garden is doing well.  Strawberries are ripening,

cabbage is forming a lovely head,

and the rhubarb is thriving.

The trees are all doing well too.

I finished a secret project, started another, and am able to work on the others that are in progress. There's the Triangle Summer Shawl that I'm knitting out of handspun linen/silk,

the Bouclé afghan that I'm knitting out of Joann Sensations,

the socks I'm designing and knitting out of Knitting Fever Indulgence,

and the cashmere top I'm spinning.

And, of course, I get to see an abundance of this adorableness.

I guess things are looking up.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Something New

It's time to upgrade my cell phone, so look what I got today:

Yep, it's an iPhone 4S.

I'm so EXCITED! I've been wanting one since they came out, but didn't have AT&T. I'm so glad they're available on other networks now. And that it was time for an upgrade. :-D

So sleek. Yes, I did remove the piece of plastic, but not before taking the picture. I was THAT excited.

Even the back is beautiful.

(Happy Sigh)

I believe I'll be playing on this for the rest of the day.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Playing Games

I've been playing a lot of games lately. Jay and his girlfriend, Miss L, both enjoy them, and when she comes over, we usually end up sitting down together to play. Some of the games we've been playing include:

Card games including Speed, Rummy, and BS.

But the favorite game, at least of Miss L and me, has to be

My sister and her husband, Mr. and Mrs. Claus, sent us this last Christmas, saying it was one of their favorite games. I can see why!

I'd like to encourage everyone to get out some games and start playing.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Black Bean Soup

I had this delicious and healthy soup for lunch today. I started it in my crock pot yesterday afternoon. The slow cooking really brought the flavors together -- and made my house smell incredible. I sprinkled on a little grated extra sharp cheddar cheese, and served reduced salt Ritz crackers on the side (not forgetting to add a few to share with the pups). If you'd care to make your own, here's how I did it.

Black Bean Soup
1 lb. dried black beans, soaked and cooked
1 14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes
4 carrots, diced
9 mini red, orange, and yellow bell peppers, diced
1 onion, diced
4 cups beef broth
1 t. coriander
1 t. oregano
1 t. marjoram

Place everything except the spices in the crock pot (you'll need at least the 5 qt. size). Stir, cover, and cook on LOW for 16 hours. Add the spices and cook for an additional 4 hours. Serve and enjoy.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Spring Cleaning

I've started my spring cleaning in the kitchen this year with the refrigerator. I'll be going room by room 'til the whole house is done.

I love the feeling of peace and comfort I get when my house is in order.

h/t: aka design for the photo.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Unintended Hiatus

Well, I hadn't planned to take a break from blogging, but I did.

I plan to get back to it now.

Thanks for coming back.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Apples, and Peaches, and Pears, OH MY!

Spring has arrived in my little corner of the desert, and that means that it's time to plant trees.

Last fall, I put in an order at a local nursery for some fruit trees.  They're here. Scott and I spent last Saturday getting them planted.  We have:

An "Anna" apple tree, already in bloom.

A "Dorsett" apple tree, tall and many branched.

An "Earligrande" peach tree.

A "Kefir" pear tree, beginning to bud.

A "Sugar" pear tree.

I learned a lot about fruit trees in the desert, but some of the information was universal. For example, did you know that when planting fruit trees, you need to make sure that the node of the graft is ALWAYS facing north? If you don't, the tree will try to twist itself around to make it so, and will die. Also, you shouldn't allow the trees to fruit for the first two years -- you must let them flower, but not fruit. This helps to ensure a healthy root system, and a trunk that is sturdy enough to support the weight of the fruit. 

One final thing I learned is that dogs find the branches of apple trees to be a sweet treat, so you have to watch them closely, and keep your pruning shears close by.

In other news, the rest of the garden that I planted in the fall didn't do very well. I have only 2 sickly looking spinach plants, 
 3 midget pea plants, 

some red and romaine lettuce,

 one cabbage,

  two strawberry plants, 
 and one rhubarb plant. 
I'd thought that the rhubarb had died, as all the leaves wilted and came off, however, a couple of weeks ago they started growing again, and seem to be doing quite well.
All in all, I'm a bit disappointed with the way things have gone, but I've learned a lot and hope that will enable me to do better this spring.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Gretchen at the Spinning Wheel

Gretchen am Spinnrade, op.2, D.118 by Franz P. Schubert
Performed by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

by Nicholas Gordon
Valentine's Day
Is a wonderful way
To make "I love you"
easy to say.

I hope you have a lovely Valentine's Day, and that you're able to spend the day with the people you love.

Monday, February 13, 2012

How's It Get That Way?

Have you ever wondered how a length of yarn gets turned into a neat little skein?

When I've finished plying yarn on my spinning wheel, I need to get it off the bobbin and put into a hank, so that I can get the spin set or twist it into a skein for storage. To do this I use my niddy noddy.
A niddy noddy has a center bar, with a smaller bar at either end which are at a 90º angle from each other. Yarn is wound onto the niddy noddy by going up over one end of the top bar, then down under the end of the bottom bar, back up over the other end of the top bar, and then back down over the other end of the bottom bar. You can watch a video of this here.
This process is repeated until all of the yarn has been put onto the niddy noddy. Both ends of the yarn are then tied around the hank, so that they can be easily untied, but will still hold and keep the yarn from unwinding or tangling until you untie them. Then you take the yarn off. I do this by slipping the hank off of each of the ends.
Niddy noddies come in various sizes, and it's useful to know what size hank yours will make. Mine makes hanks of which each loop of the hank is approximately 5 1/2 feet in circumference. If you count the number of loops, multiply by 5 1/2, and then divide by 3, you get the yardage for the hank. While in this state, it is ready to have the spin set, be dyed, or wound into a ball.

If you're not yet ready to set the spin or wind it into a ball, if you hold the hank so that it is looped around your hands, you can then twist the loops, each hand moving in the opposite direction, until there is plenty of twist built up and there is only a small loop at each end of the hank where your hands were. Fold the hank in half, slide one loop inside the other, and let the hank twist around itself. When done properly, this is the best way to store your yarn as it doesn't put additional strain on the fibers.
One skein of yarn, ready to store.