Tuesday, April 29, 2008

a happy 9-and-11/12ths-year-old

Leah whipped up this crocheted bag just before we left for Hawaii this winter, so I don't think I ever got around to putting pics of it on the blog. She nabbed some yarn from the stash, made up the crocheted stitch pattern and the design while I was working in a client's office.

Then she picked out a coordinating glass button, made by her dad.

And lined it with rip stop nylon so her knitting needles wouldn't poke through.
She says it's a happy knitting bag, that it just looks happy and also makes her feel that way! Even though the bag is now a couple of months old, it's well suited to this post because happy is a recurring theme around here.

She/we had such a great time this weekend and are still flying high. As if day 1 of fiber fantasia weekend at CT Sheep and Wool wasn't enough, it was followed with day 2's romp to Webs. She was tickled to be greeted by Stephanie with, "Hi Leah, it's good to see you again!" and to party among some of her favorite peeps.

But the fun didn't end with the weekend. Leah has squealed with delight since then, upon seeing herself and her friends on the Yarn Harlot's blog and the Webs blog and Handmade by Jennifer's blog and Maaike's Survival of the Knittest blog and mentioned on Amy's Live, Learn, Knit blog! And the follow-up messages from friends just keep on coming!

We especially got a kick out of how Maaike described Leah as "9-and-11/12ths-years-old," because you know every month matters when you're on the verge of turning 10. :-)

Yup, happy all 'round. What a great knitting community.
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Monday, April 28, 2008

short but sweet

Great day in Northampton yesterday to see the Yarn Harlot at Webs. Yummy falafel with new friends and visits with many others as approx. 1,000 of us romped between Webs and the Calvin Theater. Didn't realize it at the time, but caught our friends Jean and Bart in the background when I snapped Leah's pic with Stephanie.

It didn't hurt that everywhere you turned outside, the trees and shrubs and perennials looked a lot like Scott's watercolor flower garden beads. The air was cool, but the sun was shining. Such a festive outdoor atmosphere to match the festive mood of the day.
When we were unpacking from the CT Sheep and Wool Festival the day before, I noticed quite a few sets of buttons that I don't remember seeing before. Scott must have made them while I was out at a client's office this winter. I need to get good shots of these sets soon and put them up on Etsy.
We were caught a bit short-handed on the sheepie bead stitch markers this weekend, so Scott sat down this morning to get some more underway. Next thing I know, he plops these little cuties on my desk. I think one of them looks like he's been visiting with our friend Kris at The Painted Sheep!

Christina in California: I think the tree Jesse is yoyo-ing under at CT Sheep and Wool is a weeping cherry. I agree that they're beautiful!

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

score for 4!

The Connecticut Sheep, Wool, and Fiber Festival is an event that all four members of my family enjoy, all for different reasons, but all in a big way. The 2008 festival, yesterday, was no exception. Scott had a blast selling his glass buttons and beads, sharing a booth for the 2nd year with one of our soapmaking friends. He just loves to chat it up with anybody who stops by and gets a kick out of how many say they remember him from Spa 2007 , or they read this blog, or they too are homeschoolers, or they know Leah from some event or guild. He didn't expect to discover that one of them is a not-so-distant-but-long-lost relative, but there you have it.

There were, of course, eleventy billion skeins and batts to fondle, wheels and spindles to try, workshops and demos with knowledgeable fiber enthusiasts.
There were many cute critters to pet. I spent much of the time cuddling a baby angora bunny, which seriously cut into my knitting plans, but the soft snuggliness of those little fiber fluffballs is irresistible. There were also plenty of bigger types of fiber fluffballs looking beautiful.
It's a big enough festival to offer a good variety of things for sale and things to do, small enough to not be overwhelming and exhausting. It also happens at a time of year when being outside, in the sunshine, among the blooming everything, is a much-needed breath of fresh air.

(An aside: Have I told you about the yo-yo obsession here? I don't think so. Jesse is yo-yo obsessed x 4 months now. We have had videos and books from the library about the diff. tricks. We have bookmarked websites with instruction. The yo-yos go everywhere with him -- one for his own use and at least one more in his pocket for anybody who wants to join in. He taught somebody at the Polynesian Cultural Center when we were in Hawaii, he taught some kids at Old Sturbridge Village, and he put on an impromptu show for a group of girls at the fair yesterday. Good stuff.)

What I can't capture in this group of photos is the non-stop stream of old friends we ran into and new friends made along the way. Everywhere I turned, there was somebody we knew from some fibery aspect of our lives, and then there was a Ravelry meet-up where I put faces to the online names and those virtual acquaintances turned into local friends and neighbors. I was going to do a linkfest here, but there are just too many. Such fun!

Bonus prize: We'll see a bunch of them, and more, again today. Can't wait.
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Friday, April 25, 2008

it's a wrap!

Leah finished her first sweater this week and is soooo pleased with the results! It's the Wrap Cardigan, Top Down #263 (Ravelry link) from Knitting Pure and Simple, knit in Kathmandu Tweed. This was a perfect choice for a first sweater, since it's an easy knit that starts with just a few stitches around the neck and top of sleeves, and grows quickly, so by the time the rows are really long, the majority of the sweater has already been knit and you might as well stick with it to the end. The wrap construction is perfect for a growing girl; she should be able to get at least a couple of winters out of it. She also could easily add length to the sleeves and body, if necessary. What a confidence-builder and it looks great on her!

I wonder if we'll run into any knitters who might share the enthusiasm this weekend... ;-)
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Thursday, April 24, 2008


Leah's sewing club is just about finished with the quilt they're making. She has enjoyed the meeting times with her friends, but now realizes that she can make better progress on more projects on her own, so she's not sure if she'll continue with the club next year.

My main work-in-progress is the Josephine top from Interweave Knits.

The slant rib lace section is almost finished and I'm looking forward to the eyelet row and then switching over to a diff. stitch pattern for the top portion. I'm knitting this for Leah in the smallest pattern size, on size 1 needles, but I still think it's going to turn out too big. Hopefully she'll be able to wear it this summer, but if not, maybe it'll be right for next summer. I only started it a week ago, so if it doesn't fit, at least it wasn't a major undertaking and the cotton yarn was harvested from an Abercrombie and Fitch sweater from Goodwill, so that only ran me about $3. Even with all the busy-ness of the slant rib lace, it's an easily memorized pattern and I was even able to make good progress while chatting with a group of friends on Monday evening.

Missing from this WIP report is the Leah's wrap cardigan, her first sweater. That's because, after a marathon of knitting to have it ready for the knitty-ful Saturday and Sunday coming up, it's blocking right now!
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Monday, April 21, 2008


The local weavers' guild recently received a huge donation of yarn and weaving equipment from the estate of a member who passed away. This weekend they were having a "yarn tag sale" (how cool is that?!), so Jesse and I went to check it out. As we pulled up to the house where they were having the sale, I could see a rainbow of yarn on tables outside the garage. As we walked up the driveway, I could see that there was a ton more yarn on tables inside the garage. Then I noticed the signs: $1/skein, $2 and up for cones. Hoo boy, let's get busy! An hour later, Jesse and I unloaded the car at home and set up our haul so we'd be able to show it to Scott and Leah when they got home. Here's the whole shebang on 8 ft. of desk space:

Most of the skeins are Tahki Donegal Homespun and Berga wool. Here in the center of the red section, there's a dozen or so skeins of Donegal Tweed Homespun that's a rich, deep red. In front of that is 15 skeins of Donegal Homespun in a lighter red with a bit of orange spun in. The retail price of the front group of red/orange skeins alone exceeds what I paid for the entire load! Squee!!

There are sweater quantities of quite a few individual colors and the mind boggles at the fun I can have putting multiple colors together in projects. Lots of tweed, because both of the guys in my family have requested sweaters with tweedy yarns (Cobblestone for Scott, a variation on Durrow for Jesse). I made sure to get lots of coned yarns for the resident weavers to play with too.

My sewing machine is in this pic for scale, down here on the BIV end of the spectrum. Oh yeah, that's a beautiful lotta yarn!

When I was a kid, I remember the thrill of Murphy Mart having a $1/skein sale on crappy acrylic yarn. I would buy $20-30 worth (earned from selling my crocheted clowns) and organize the skeins in my yarn box, and then I'd gaze with delight on my yarn while imagining all the fun projects to come. Here I am 30+ years later, with the same feelings about the same stuff (well, it's still yarn, but infinitely better quality now) and, amazingly, at the same price!
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Saturday, April 19, 2008


Remember the fishies I knit in hopes of turning them into a hat? Well, as I thought might be the case, the hat thing didn't work out, so I turned my attention to Plan B. I didn't notice that the abandoned fishies disappeared and also didn't give much thought to the Goob scurrying around to gather supplies for some sort of project she was working on in her room, because she's always working on some sort of project and it often doesn't involve me.

The fisherguys were set to meet here between 10 a.m. and noon yesterday, just a wee bit excited to get their excursion underway. The first one arrived at 10:08. ;-)

What fun when Leah, fresh from the shower (that's why her hair is wet in this pic), presented them with the Camp Fish flag she stitched up and mounted on an extendable pole for their campsite!
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Thursday, April 17, 2008

"trout, trout, pretty little trout...

...jump right in and splash about!"

One of Scott's main fishing buddies has been a friend of mine since I was age 16. I don't know if he made it up or not, but he has been singing that little trout ditty to me and anybody who will listen for, uh, 25 years. It has become the theme song for Scott's group of fishing derelicts and you should see them all shake their booty and laugh like little girlie men every time they make fishing plans.

The preparations for this year's Opening Day weekend excursion began weeks ago, increasing in intensity this week. As expected, my little knit fishies were not easily wrangled into a hat formation, so I had to laugh when Ravelry popped up babycocktails' fishy hats on the random assortment of favorites! I printed out the pic, squinted to chart the pattern to graph paper, used 2-3 strands of leftover yarn at a time with size 10 needles and -- TA DA! -- a grown-up sized fishy hat!

But wait, what's that string hanging from the top?

But of course! A dapper collection of de-hook-ified lures; just what every well-dressed fisherman needs!

The forecast is for sunny, warm days this weekend, but I bet those nights around the campfire and the early mornings standing in/near the river will be chilly. I know one bald fisherman whose head and ears will be toasty warm.

Have fun, guys! I'm looking forward to that fresh fish dinner on Sunday evening, but I think I'll defrost a lasagna that day anyway, just in case you throw all the big ones back in. ;-)
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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

condensed creep

I had to laugh this morning when I read Anne's post about yarn creep and then turned my head to the left. Our projects are generally contained to my office, but ooh, the stuff bubbles up fast and oozes out of the closet and all over my desk at an alarming rate!

Believe it or not, I cleaned this space on Sunday. (It is now Tues., 8 a.m.) Also unbelievable: this is a real office from which I conduct business and do the work that supports this goofy family o' mine.

Included in this condensed sprawl, clockwise from the orchid:
- crocheted water bottle holders
- sock yarn to be used for fishies
- knitting/weaving books and mags from yesterday's library visit
- knitted fishies
- sock yarn that has been used for fishies
- quilt block of the month supplies
- Leah's sweater pattern (she finished the first sleeve last night)
- another knitting library book
- gloves in progress for my sister
- cotton yarn and hook for another water bottle holder
- Leah's charity quilt
- Leah's 2nd crocheted hat , from handspun yarns

And off to the left there, the stash of fun projects yet to come, including a basket on the floor, filled with the yarn chosen for my next stranded sweater.

Meanwhile, did you notice mention of fishies in the above list? That, my friends, is because we are nearing the time for annual festivities of a most enormous magnitude. You see, this Friday morning will commence the camping debauchery and rituals that accompany Opening Day of Trout Season. :::insert dramatic glorious music and imagine a glowing halo around the sacred trout on a pedestal!::: Scott has been prancing around the house for weeks, giggling with glee, prowling Cabela's, reviewing his equipment, and tweaking details of the weekend camping trip with his buddies.

Since he recently asked me to knit him another hat, I figured I'd make a few of these guys and see if I could wrangle them into an ultra-silly hat. Still not sure if it'll work, but I also have an alternative plan. Either way, I'm doing my part to keep his bald noggin warm while he goes off to play with the fishies (and the guys who love them) this weekend.

BTW, if you're a fan of Pink Floyd and ever get the chance to see The Machine, grab those tix in a heartbeat. They are amazing, fantastic, phenomenal. Go. And take me with you! :-)
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Saturday, April 12, 2008

she's so 1974

What's a girl to do when her next American Girl Club meeting will focus on the newest historical character doll, Julie from 1974?
Since dressing for the time period is nearly as much fun as learning the history and doing games/activities that were popular at that time, Leah couldn't resist pulling out the crochet hook and some stash yarn, and following The Darling Diva's Snow Day Hat pattern (because listening to your mom and just winging it Will. Not. Do.).

The hat and belt are ready. I wonder if there's an embroidered shirt still to come.
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Thursday, April 10, 2008

glove love

Pattern: Karendipity's Hand Painted Gloves

Yarn: Koigu handpainted and Dale of Norway Baby Ull

Needles: size 1 circular, magic loop style

What I love: The long cuffs. Different pattern on each finger. The braid at the edge of the cuff.

What I learned: Color dominance. I had ignored this concept until now, but the handpainted yarn was really dominating the navy on the cuff of the first (right) glove, so I learned the "lift to the left" phrase to remind me that the contrasting yarn should be held in my left hand and it was smooth sailing from there.

Changes to pattern: I did my usual long tail cast-on because I couldn't figure out the 2-color cast-on described on the pattern. Otherwise, I followed the pattern as written and it was fabulous.

I liked knitting this pattern enough to start a 2nd pair for my sister. I'm 1/3 of the way through the 2nd glove of that pair and loving the results there too.
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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

in no particular order

I'm covering somebody's full-time job in one of my offices for 2 wks, so this is a quickie, but I wanted to share a few of our recent projects.

Leah and I spent much of Saturday at a charity quiltathon at the local quilt shop. She made a simple quilt of 6" strips, using quilt-as-you-go construction. She, of course, needed to do much flitting about the shop, talking it up with various quilters and store employees, so we took turns on the sewing. Our quilt was bound off by the end of the day and will be donated to the Hole In the Wall Gang Camp.

Our old water bottle carriers are in pretty tough shape, so I crocheted a new carrier out of cotton. Since we were always fidgeting with different carriers for different family members, based on the length of the straps, I got smart this time and put a button on the end of the strap, so it's adjustable in length. This prototype has been deemed a winner, so I'll make a few more soon.

Our old house has been through a lot over the years, as misguided previous owners remuddled it, added onto it in an agonizingly ugly way, turned it into a multifamily and back to a single family house, rented out rooms, etc. Anybody who's ever been here knows we've been slowly but surely fixing it up over the years, trying to undo the damage that's been done and then move forward with something more suitable. For instance, there's a lot of woodwork here. Much of it was painted turquoise or orange at some point in the past, possibly when the Brady Bunch was popular? Beautiful chestnut trim, painted orange! Gah!! Scott has spent countless hours stripping, sanding, and refinishing the windows, window trim, and baseboards, so most of them look great now. Some of the interior doors still look like this, though:

When we remodeled the downstairs bathroom and back hallway a few years ago, the door to the back stairway was taken down. It was in terrible condition and the frame needed to be repaired. That project kept being pushed off, until recently. When I came home from my client's office yesterday, I was greeted by a very proud Scott, eager to show off his most recent project. Niiiice.

Pretty gloves FO pics to come!
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Monday, April 07, 2008

spring sprang sprung

While on our walk yesterday, we saw flowers blooming and the slightest hint of green in the woods. This was sufficient for a little celebration of spring's arrival. Granted, we were wearing heavy coats and gloves because of the chilly temperature, but we celebrated spring nonetheless!

Scott put a few more sets of buttons up on Etsy last night. The above set will go up soon, either on Etsy or at Glastonbury Glassworks. I think the only reason they haven't been posted yet is that I'd like to keep them for myself. :-)

It's been a while since I rummaged through the bead and button boxes, but I did so last week (when my mom wanted to put together a necklace for a friend) and again last night. What a fun collection of pretties in there, some of which I didn't remember having seen before, so they popped up like little surprises. We're looking forward to offering them for sale at the CT Sheep, Wool, and Fiber Festival in a couple of weeks, but I think we're even more looking forward to meeting up with friends there and (hopefully) basking in the spring sunshine together.
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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Estonian Garden wrap

I finished the last dozen rows of the Estonian Garden wrap at a knit night last week, with about two yards of yarn to spare. Here, for Priscilla, is a pre-blocking picture.

And a post-blocking shot to illustrate the magical transformation that happens during the blocking process.

It's about 65" long, lightweight but warm. It was a good choice for vacation knitting, a good fit for vintage yarn received in a swap, and will always be a good reminder of the early morning knitting time surrounded by the all the glorious greens of Hawaii.

Even though there was snow here yesterday and today's about as colorless as it can be. In defense, I'm off to work on some colorful gloves before heading out for dinner and a show!
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