Saturday, April 28, 2007

first freebies!

Welcome, friends from Connecticut Sheep and Wool! What a festive day in the sunshine with homeschooling and/or fiber fanatic families and friends.

In celebration of the warm response to Scott's beads and buttons today, we've decided to have a contest. Send us an email saying what color building we were in at the Connecticut Sheep and Wool Festival. From the correct answers, we will randomly select a winner of $20 worth of beads or buttons, of the winner's choosing, from our site. Drawing will take place on Friday, May 4, at 6:00 p.m.

We're planning to put more glasswork up on Glastonbury Glassworks soon and have more contests in the works, so come back to visit often or subscribe through your favorite blog reader.
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Thursday, April 26, 2007

making me smile lately...

1. Apheresis, donating plasma/platelets through the American Red Cross. I used to do this for years, then stopped going for a while, then started again a few years back when a young friend of ours was diagnosed with aplastic anemia. I had to stop again about two years ago because my veins were not being cooperative, but Scott knew it was a good thing to do, so that's when he started going. The Red Cross in Farmington recently upgraded to newer machines, so we decided it was worth me giving it a try again. Donation takes a couple of hours, during which you sit in a comfy recliner with one arm hooked up to the machine, reading or watching a movie or whatever. I always joked that it was like a spa treatment combined with a mom's night out. ;-) Mission accomplished with the new machines and it feels as good as ever to volunteer in this way. If any of you out there want to give it a try, Scott or I could make an appointment at the same time and keep you company through the process as we both donate. The American Red Cross will also give veteran donors and any new donors they refer a free ticket to the movies. Bonus!

2. Baking soda and peppermint oil for toothbrushing. My teeth feel so clean after brushing with this mixture that I wonder why anybody ever switched to store-bought toothpaste. Our dentist also wholeheartedly supported the choice.

3. Clear buttons with star murrini, some made for a friend's pink/yellow cardigan-in-progress and some extras made for the fun of it. These and other glass buttons, beads, and baubles will be with us at the Connecticut Sheep and Wool Festival this Saturday. Stop by and say hi!

4. The real possibility of finally getting solar panels installed on our house, through CitizenRe's program that's coming to CT. We already signed up for an evaluation and are psyched enough about the program to spread the word. If you choose to do the same, please let them know we referred you.

5. Re-painting the upstairs has begun. The paint for the main room was bought over a year ago and just happens to be called Aegean Teal, purchased way before we arranged our recent adventure on the Aegean and admired its lovely shades.

6. When Leah's invited to a friend's birthday party, she immediately starts thinking of what she can make as a gift. All ready for tomorrow's party is this hat, the Madison's Hat pattern. This is the second time Leah knit this pattern, with the first one being her first effort at stranded knitting. We ran out of solid purple, so this hat doesn't pull down as far on the head as the knitter would like, so she whipped up some ear flaps and added them on. Turned out great.

7. Tonight's spontaneous knitting date at an eatery with friends ended up with us bumping into an enthusiastic and friendly knitting group at nearby tables. We spent much of the evening chatting with them about various fibery goodness and are looking forward to seeing many of them at CT Sheep & Wool this weekend. Maybe we'll even run into them for a knit nite again sometime!
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Monday, April 23, 2007

glassy goodness

To balance out some of the button sets, I put a few beads and vessels up on Glastonbury Glassworks. I never get tired of browsing Scott's bead boxes -- always something in there that I haven't seen or maybe just forgot about.

I helped Leah cast on a hat that will be a birthday gift for a friend, but otherwise the only yarn I used this weekend was a few strands to darn some handknit socks that have been worn thin. Giving the arms a break from knitting is definitely helping them feel better, so I'll find other ways to fill my time for now. The rugs from Turkey have arrived and the new furniture will come soon, so I'm off to tape the bajillion feet of chestnut trim in preparation for painting tomorrow!
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Saturday, April 21, 2007

ready, set, STOP.

I am so very thrilled with how my handspun cardigan is turning out that I was knitting like crazy on it last week. Unfortunately, it has slowly become obvious that I will not have enough yarn to finish the project. I was foolish enough not to keep the tags telling me the color names of the three rovings that Scott spun into this watercolor-like yarn, so I spent some time this week browsing Ashland Bay vendors to try to figure out what I need to order. I think I have the solid colors figured out - Blueberry and Peacock - but I'm still stumped on the multicolor roving's colorway. I put out a plea for help to Audrey at Pixie Sticks, since that's where I bought the roving about a year ago, and she's checking into it in an effort to help me. Meanwhile, this project is on hold (and we'll deal with that rolling hemline later too).

I put two more sets of buttons on Glastonbury Glassworks today. These sets have been on my desk for a few days and are gorgeous. They have a bit of an iridescent quality when the sunshine hits them and the dome button shape feels soooo cool and smooth. They're a little larger than the buttons Scott was making previously, which gives him a bit more room for playing with the glass and might be a better size for some projects.

This set is my favorite this week. Ethereal, mist-like, floating. I came home from dinner with a friend a few nights ago and tossed my earrings on my desk as I was shutting down the computer for the night. I had to laugh when I got up in the morning and noticed how well the buttons complement my earrings.

I want to knit-knit-knit to make sweaters to go with all these beautiful buttons, but for now, that too is on hold. My wrists are giving me some signs that they need a break. Given that I make my living by tapping on this keyboard, this is a very scary thing and I need to pay close attention when my wrists send messages. So, for now, I'm holding off on the knitting and I'm turning down extra work. I felt kind of lost yesterday evening, while the kids were playing with a friend who was here for a sleepover. I didn't quite know what to do with myself that didn't involve a lot of pinching beads/wire/yarn, mousing/keyboarding, or other fine manipulation. Then it occurred to me that the inkle loom we borrowed from a friend would involve more gross than fine motor skills, so I figured out how to warp it and did a little strap weaving. I made poor choices of warp yarn, so it'll go into the trash soon, but at least it didn't seem to bother my arms. Yeah! Then this morning, while I was printing the day's work, I just happened to be listening to Christa Giles' podcast interview of Syne Mitchell from Weavecast. (BTW, it was the first time I've listened to either of them and it was thoroughly enjoyable, so I just subscribed to both podcasts.) They talked about repetitive strain injuries and Syne specifically said that weaving is easier on your hands/wrists and can be a good choice for people whose wrists need a break. See? Now I need to turn some attention to weaving. :-)

There are a couple of new K'nex creations on Jesse's blog, The Builder Blog. We also made a small Van de Graaff generator out of household stuff last week -- need to get pics up soon! -- but the wrists are ready for a different activity now.
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Friday, April 20, 2007

good morning sunshine!

After many days of rain, the sun peeked out for a short time yesterday, which of course caused us to celebrate the increasing signs of spring with a campfire dinner while kids were in the treehouse. Nephew Zach is here for a sleepover. He and Leah were up bright and early this morning to greet a crystal clear day. I suggested they find something quiet to do while Jesse was still sleeping. I came down the stairs a little while later to find them happily spinning and listening to Jim Weiss storytelling while the solar-powered crystal spinner projected rainbows all over the first floor rooms.

In case there's not an avid fisherman in your life and you weren't aware, tomorrow morning is opening day for trout season. Scott fishes for whatever's legal year-round (yes, including ice fishing, fly fishing, deep sea fishing), but opening day is special, so I'm told. Calls from the fishing buddies, most of whom we've known since we were all about 15, and the weekend's camping plans started weeks ago. The guys are atwitter, especially given the stellar forecast, and the rest of us are equally enthusiastic about seeing them so excited. Go get 'em, fishermen!
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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

the flood

Although we're high and dry, there's flooding of the natural kind going on all around us. The title of this post, however, refers to the Great Button Flood of 2007, currently underway inside our home! I can only knit so fast, so I can only use so many buttons myself, but the buttonmaker is on a roll and having an incredible amount of fun with these, so I'm putting some up on Glastonbury Glassworks in hopes that they'll move on to new homes.

These are my favorites so far. :-)

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Monday, April 16, 2007


There's been a whole lotta relaxing going on around here the past few days. While Scott's making buttons (ooh, wait until you see the newest ones!) and the kids are engrossed in their books, I've been perfectly content to plop myself in a chair with a cozy blanket and my knitting. My mom, who almost done with the sleeveless sweater she started just before we went to Greece and she has another project on the needles now, stopped over one evening last week for help with her colorwork knitting and saw me in slug mode with my chair-blanket-knitting. Alarmed, she asked, "Are you sick?!" Nope, just r-e-l-a-x-i-n-g.

All that slug-like behavior of doing "nothing" does end up with some tangible results, though. Here are some skinny-looking socks that stretch nicely to human proportions, made of Reggia (I think) yarn bought on sale at Webs last spring. My standard sock pattern: toe-up, magic cast-on, Widdershins gusset, 60 stitches on size 2 circs, 2x2 ribbing. Pure luck that the heel stripes match. Nice for those of us who wear clogs and have heels showing.

This is a Dale of Norway baby hat knit for a relative who is expecting a son next month. Mostly Dalegarn oh-so-soft washable 100% wool yarn, but the variegated red is leftover Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn. Much of the blue top portion of the hat was knit during our flight to and layover in Milan last month, so it's been sitting on my desk since then, just waiting for the ear flaps and cords.

I started yet another baby hat on Thursday, while in the dentist's office, and put the finishing touches on last night (Sunday). Again, Dalegarn and sock yarn, but this time it's the leftover Sockotta from the socks Leah made a few weeks ago. The hats still need to be blocked, so I'll do that today because I want to get them both into the mail. I've made a few minor changes to the pattern with each hat, including the tiny variegated band above the stars and then knitting the top portion in a different color than the star background, and also doing ssk and k2tog on the ear flaps for better symmetry of the decreases.

Ever wonder how to get a 12-year-old boy interested in your knitting? Just add power tools. :-)

Reenactment of baby hat cordmaking with use of power drill and hook bit.

We saw Cellobop at Cheshire Library yesterday. This is the 5th or 6th time we've seen Gideon Freudmann's shows and they are truly fantastic. He played everything from Bach to the Brady Bunch to Jimi Hendrix to his own compositions. The demonstration of how he creates the layers of musical phrases is fascinating and you'd never expect quite so much laughter and fun for all ages at a cello performance. Posted by Picasa

Monday, April 09, 2007

button baker

Scott's really having fun with this buttonmaking lately. He's refining his method of making the shanks on the back, so now they're turning out very well. He has gotten much better at shaping and smoothing the boro, which is new to him, so now both the domes and disks are super smooth and pleasantly shaped. He has started to add slices of millefiore to some of the buttons -- see the skull button in the front left corner, and another skull to the right midway back, and some flowers to the left of that row, and a fun sunny face next to that? What I've been unable to capture in a pic so far is the slightly iridescent/metallic sheen to the blue/green frit when the sunshine hits it. Really nice -- snazzy, but in a subtle way. These ones are all 16 mm diameter, nice normal button size to complement handknits, not honkin' sizes to overpower them. Playtime for the beadmakerbaker now includes buttonmaking too!
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Sunday, April 08, 2007

hippity hoppity

Well, we've watched videos and we've read library books and we've looked at websites, but there were still a few things that were unclear to us when it comes to warping a loom. But then we headed for Webs yesterday morning for a free loom dressing demonstration held by Barbara Elkins. Seeing somebody warp a loom in real life, from beginning to end, finally filled in the missing pieces of the puzzle!

There were few enough folks in attendance that we each got a chance to try the steps and get comfortable with how things work, but enough of us for there to be a good variety of questions. Barbara is a patient, knowledgeable, and entertainingly opinionated weaver. She is clearly tickled by the opportunity to bring some new weavers into the fold. You can also tell how much she enjoys testing out the newest and most sophisticated computerized looms Webs sells, as well as traveling to install them for customers.
I can't quite believe it myself, but now that the warping board is no longer scary (ha!), we bought some cones of perle cotton (yahoo for the Webs gift certificate in our stash since Christmas) and dove right in when we got home. We didn't get very far with the warping board because it was time for egg dyeing -- artistes at work ;-) -- and this morning's egg hunt was long and challenging, but I'm sure we'll get back to the warping process soon and it'll be full speed ahead because we finally have a clue!

Leah started cross-stitching this sweet bunny over a year ago. She's been working hard on it, hoping to get it finished in time for Easter this year, but all the other good stuff got in the way. Still, it's a cheerful project (more so than would be indicated by this semi-blurry pic taken in incandescent light at night) and I think it's worth putting up here in its current state because she has worked many hours to get it to this point. Maybe it'll be done in time for Peter Cottontail hopping down the bunny trail in 2008!
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Friday, April 06, 2007

the Aegean ate our ship!

This is your cruise ship.

This is your cruise ship on a reef.

Any questions?

(Man, I hope they find the two who are missing, because then it would be just an amusing story, not so much of a tragedy.)

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

just add color

Things have been a little dreary around here (too many clouds, too much work, too fast days), but adding some color has helped to perk things up.

These are the temari easter eggs and a couple of tiny spheres I made a few years ago. They're quick and surprisingly easy, and it's always fun to choose floss colors and see how it turns out.

This glass egg is the first thing Scott made at his glassblowing workshop in February. This isn't actually blown, but was a way for the beginner students to get a feel for shaping the glass. The mutant alien thing Scott encased in there has been a source of some good-natured ribbing, but we all still think this egg is pretty cool.

This morning we scurried out for a visit to the sale at Farmhouse Yarns. We were unprepared for the temps (wishful thinking?), but met up with some friends there and had a fun browsing the many, many bins of yarn. The pic above shows about 1/10th of what was available. We even managed to narrow it down and bring a few colorful skeins home with us.

Probably one of the most colorful events of the week was seeing Cirque Dreams' Jungle Fantasy show at the Palace Theater in Waterbury. The recently renovated Palace is absolutely gorgeous and the show was mesmerizing. Brilliant costumes, amazing physical feats. We loved the Cirque du Soleil show, Delirium, that we saw last summer, so we figured Cirque Dreams was worth a look-see, and we're looking forward to Cirque du Soleil's Winter Tale in NYC this T'giving. Guaranteed to add some pizzazz!

News flash: The ship we were on in Greece a few weeks ago ran aground! Oops and ouch!
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Monday, April 02, 2007

accidental mobius

I've always thought mobius strips were cool, but I was a little distressed to find that an inadvertent twist in the cast-on of my fair isle sweater resulted in a mobius-like twist in the knitting. I knew there was an answer, so it really didn't bother me that much (except for smacking myself in the forehead for having it happen in the first place), but the up side is that it led to some pretty cool mobius experiments with the friends who were here on Saturday.
Luckily, this was always planned to be a steeked cardigan, so I did a mini-steek to get it straightened out. I did a little machine sewing up each side of the cut line, undid the twist, and continued knitting in the round.
That's more like it!

This sweater has been a bumpy road. I almost tore it out last weekend because it was turning out H-U-G-E. It was only about an inch of rows at that point and I thought maybe it just didn't have enough structure yet. I decided to have faith in my gauge calculations, though, and knit a while longer, so when the mobius slip-up became apparent, I figured it was time to measure again to see if it was worth steeking to fix the twist or just call it a day and frog the whole thing. Luckily, the size was right on, so all I needed to do was fix the twist.

The neon yellow yarn at the bottom is a provisional cast-on because I think I'll probably want to add some more colorwork bands to lengthen the body, but I'll wait and see before I decide. The color is more accurate in the second pic, but I think that icky yellowish glare in the first pic is more reflective of my mood at the moment the shot was taken.

Jesse and I tried to go to a carving workshop in the morning, but something went kablooey because there was no one at the place where the meeting was supposed to be held. We were disappointed, but rebounded with a delightful afternoon yesterday at the New Britain Museum of American Art's open house and birthday celebration. Besides the scavenger hunt and very friendly hammered dulcimer player and running into friends and enjoying the wide variety of art on display there, we were particularly tickled by the above painting of the Minoan Palace of Knossos on Crete. One of the docents must have noticed our interest in it because he came over to start talking with us. When the kids said, "We were just THERE!," he started talking about a documentary he saw about the Minoans recently and we had a most enjoyable time chatting with him. The afternoon was rounded off with a pleasant walk across a large park to where our car was parked. There were some young 'hood guys huddled close together at a nearby pimped out car, fiddling with something in between them. Scott and I got a big laugh when these guys, all decked out in their gangsta duds, turned toward the field and started to launch their new kites into the wind. I said to Scott, "Boy, that's certainly not what I thought they were doing over there!" ;-) Yahoo for spring!
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Sunday, April 01, 2007

knit your bit

Leah's in an American Girl Club. Every six weeks or so, she gets together with 15 girls to do activities reflecting the time period for the designated doll of that session. This time, it was Molly and World War II. In one of the Molly books (which all the girls read like crazy in preparation for the meeting), Molly and her classmates get together to "knit their bit" and contribute to the war effort. There's mention of socks and squares for a blanket and a knitting bee. We were talking about the story at dinnertime one night and that led to talking about how plenty of charity knitting still goes on. I reminded Leah about the bear she made for the Mother Bear Project, the hats we've donated to Dulaan Project, the volunteer time we spent at the Spa Knit and Spin greeter table to benefit the Ships Project, and the (pre-blog) blankets we made for Project Linus. And that led to more talk of philanthropy on a small scale and how good it feels to do something kind for others, examples of which included the children's room sound system at our library, purchased with donations when my dad died, and the many, many books that were purchased at the library with donations made in memory of Scott's Aunt Alice Sweetland. We don't know how many books this was, but we do know they're really good books, as we come across them frequently in our rotating library stash, denoted by bookplates with her name on them.

So anyway, Leah decided she wanted to knit something for a soldier or a veteran. I let my fingers do the walking and came up with a current day Knit Your Bit program through the National World War II Museum. We rummaged around in the yarn stash and dug up a free pattern for the Irish Hiking Scarf, and she set to work.

Leah learned how to do cables and loves the technique. She cranked out this much scarf in a little more than a day (with a big break in there for a park date with friends) so she could tell about this portion of the story and her actions as a result during the show-and-tell portion of American Girl Club. It ends up that most of the girls there know how to knit, so she also gave them each a piece of paper with info about the above charity knitting groups.

Today I was going to take a picture of the illustration in the book that shows the American Girl characters gathered for their knitting bee, but then I realized posting that here is probably not kosher with copyright laws. As I closed the book, a bookplate on the front page caught my eye...

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