Tuesday, August 30, 2011

{Cast on: Laverne}

Readers, meet Laverne by Snowden Becker. 

She is a charmingly simple laceweight teeshirt knit in a fuzzy yarn, which in my case is primarily Knit Picks Alpaca Cloud, perhaps with a contrast border in a deep blue from my stash:

It's a pattern I actually paid for, which is pretty uncommon for me.  There are so many free patterns out there that I want to knit, and funds are so strapped right now that I frequently try to not pay for them. This one was only $5 though and I'm delighted to say that it is written very clearly so to be easily understood and the modification for bust shaping and waist shaping go above and beyond other free patterns that I usually deal with.  I think this was money well spent. 

I am SUPER excited about this knit, but gauge is going to be important so I'm trying to take this first part slow so I can do it properly. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

{Winner from Mama Roux!}

The winner of the giveaway of a circular needle holder from Mama Roux is....  Knitterly Designs!

  knitterlydesigns said...
"I could use one of these. Very cute!"
You get to choose the style  from MamaRoux's Etsy site!  Thank you so much to everyone to entered! 

Friday, August 26, 2011

{My Favorite Dinner Recipe}

The Giveaway from Mama Roux is still going on through Sunday!
Comment on THIS POST and be sure I can get a hold of you if you win!! 

Don't worry, this isn't about to turn in to a cooking blog. hehe I'm not much of a cook, so when I find a recipe that is healthy, yummy AND easy to make then I want to scream it from the roof tops! 
Right now sitting on the desk in front of me as I type this is my dinner plate, which looks like this:

This is Chicken Sloppy Joe's and I LERVE it.   It's one of those recipe that I have to be careful I don't make too often or I'll get tired of it because seriously, I could eat it like 4 times a week (and between days for lunch) and I'd be happy as a clam!  I have no idea where I found this recipe, so I'll type it out for you here.  I have it hand-written in my recipe binder.

Ingredients: 2-3 Cloves of Garlic
2 tablespoons EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
2 pounds of ground chicken
1 carrot, peeled and grated (obviously if you pay attention above I skipped that and just chopped baby carrots)
2 celery sticks finely chopped
1 onion chopped
2 table spoons red wine vinegar
2 table spoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon worchestershire
1/4 - 1/3 cup of hot sauce
1 cup tomato sauce
1 cup chicken stock
8 rolls

Instructions: brown your chicken with the EVOO for about 5-6 minutes.  Add the carrots, celery, onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook for 7-8 minutes until your chicken is brown all the way through and the onions are translucent. Meanwhile, in a bowl mix red wine vinegar, sugar, worcestershire, hot sauce, tomato sauce and chicken stock.  Pour your mixture in to the pan and simmer until you have the amount of sauce left over that you desire.  (I like mine a little more saucey! hehe)

DONE. It's like, 20 minutes.  Enjoy!!

(More updates on the knitting front tomorrow. :) )

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

{Wow... Just Wow.}

How often seriously do you stumble over the most gorgeous products you've ever seen on Etsy?  For me it's like that everyday.  But this.... you guys... I don't think you even have to be a fiber enthusiast to appreciate the colour and the luminance captured in this yarn.

It's a two-lady team from Germany and they have several shops.  I've only pulled just a few examples of their work (they have PAGES of offerings in each shop!)

These yarn above are from the shop Dye for Wool and are all wool and wool/silk blends.  Seriously - do you see this colour???? All of the ones pictured are between $25 and $27 dollars, which I think is very reasonable.  They are so incredibly breath-taking!

Then these ones are from their shop Dye for Yarn, and are all 100% silk with a price between $34 and $35, which is still totally comparable to other yarns that don't have this kind of depth to the dyes.

Then... THEN! They have a jewelry shop too!   It's called Balanced Entropy and this is my favorite piece from that store:

This is called "Moonflower" and is $47. Way cool.

Friends... family... distant relatives and complete strangers: look no further for my Christmas, Birthday, Anniversary or graduation gifts.

You're welcome.

Monday, August 22, 2011

{More Frogging than Anything}

Don't forget to enter the giveaway for a circular knitting needle organizer by commenting on my last post! Entry deadline is Sunday, Aug. 28th!

The last three days have been more frogging than knitting around here it seems.  I can't find just the right project to get my mojo back, but at least I'm trying, right?

I've really been feeling this fall orangey colour that I have an abundance of in my stash and decided I wanted a fabulous cabled cowl.  Something with a lot of intricate weaving cables that would keep my attention.

I started out with the Caera Cowl which I LOVE but after frogging it and recasting on about 3 times, and getting frustrated with the FIRST paragraph of directions, I gave up.  It's these instructions here which do not make sense to me:

"Next row: Begin row 1 of Cable Pattern 1, followed by row 1 of cable pattern 2. 
Work one pattern repeat of 12 rows of cable pattern 1, (followed by two 6 row repeats 
of cable pattern 2. Remember Cable Pattern 2 is half the size of Cable pattern 1 in rows)."

does this mean I do the first row of pattern 1 ALL the way around (for however many repeats of row 1 of the pattern) and then on the next row of my cowl I do row 1 of pattern 2 ALL the way around my cowl, then I flip back and start with pattern 1 again and complete the whole chart?   OR do I do one repeat of pattern1, then 1 repeat of pattern 2, etc....  I tell ya, neither looks right with the picture for me.  If anyone wants to go investigate and let me know what I was missing, I'd be grateful.  The comments all say it's a great "easy to understand" pattern, so maybe I'm making it more difficult than it needs to be. Sounds about right for me. lol

SO - then I cast on for the Cornflower Cowl instead (about 4 times to get the count right) and I'm half way through the first repeat, but I'm just not feeling it.  If you look at the Caera again, then the Cornflower, you'll see there's just no comparison and my heart has been set.   I'm thinking of maybe searching for something in another gauge that I can adapt by doing more repeats or something.  We'll see.

After much frustration, it was the Mailman to the rescue! Sunday I was informed of a surprise package that came in the mail for me!  It's my kit from the Unplanned Peacock yarn that I won AGES ago!! I was so delighted!!

It's Steven West's Daybreak pattern along with two skeins of fingering weight Superwash! YAY!  It was the kick in the pants that I needed.  I'm kind of in love with the colour combination he's wearing in that picture on the front, so I swapped out the golden-yellow colour for (what else) but a coppery orange to go with the deep brown she provided.  I'm in LOVE. :)  

So there's what I'm knitting on right now, between panic attacks about school starting next week. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

{Giveaway from Mama Roux!}

Mama Roux contacted me a few days ago about hosting a giveaway here at my blog and seriously... how could I say no??  Her things are so pretty!!

She sews tote bags and knitting needle holders and sells them over at her Etsy shop Mama Roux Handmade.  Here are a few of her creations: Circular Knitting needle holders!

I ADORE the patterns and the colours!  These holders are made with velcro to hang over a hanger or pole (brilliant) and each pocket is labeled in American AND metric sizes.  YAY! No more conversion on the computer! hehe   Her bags are just as cute, both knitted and sewn. You should check them out!

I'll draw one name at random from the comments on this pose one week from today on August 28th.  The winner will choose the needle holder from any on her Etsy shop!!  This is a $25 value FREE!  Just leave a comment and be sure I have your contact information in case you win!

Don't forget to visit Mama Roux Handmade to see other pretty things!

Thank you so much Mama Roux! I feel blessed that quality craftspeople such as you want to give pretty things away to my friends. :) Good luck everyone!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

{I'm BACK! }

My camera finally arrived in the mail!! (Thanks Dad!) and so I can show you my (not so many) knitting accomplishments since I've written last.  The weather has finally broken and it was only about 62 this morning, so I'm hopeful that soon my knitting mojo shall return. I'm even sipping Chai Tea as I write which is definitely a good sign.

The FO completed furthest back is this sweater, which I have been promising a picture of for AGES.  It's from the pattern Shrug This by Toni Kayser.   It's a free one on Ravelry but it's also been published in the One Skein Wonders series.

I made it from two skeins the most SUMPTIOUS yarn I've ever come across and the colours just screams of fall. The body yarn is Superwash Merino Aran by the Unplanned Peacock, who is local to SW Virginia, and the ribbing is in Pales DK (held double, I think) by Gaia's Colours. Both are discontinued but if you can find them used on the Ravelry exchange they are well worth the extra trouble to find.  The length is longer than the pattern as written with lots of waist shaping put in.  It turned out this length because I just wanted to knit until my yarn was gone but it's actually a little but awkward.  I haven't worn it out of the house yet because it's been so hot, but ripping back the length a bit may not be out of the question. 

The buttons are cut from antlers! Oh my goodness I love them!  They've been in my button tin since I got them for Christmas two years ago from my mom waiting for just the right project.  

Okay, on to my knitting from my trip home.  The plane rides and layovers are always long and annoying, so I decided on some intricate Fair Isle to keep me busy.  At the top of my queue for a long time has been Selbu.

I used Marks and Katten Fame Trend for the background and some Knit Picks Palette I had kicking around for the cream pattern.  I loved knitting it and watching the stripes appear and the pattern take shape.  I really think this was my most favorite pattern to knit ever.  Unlike lace, it's instant gratification!  I totally recommend giving this one a try.  The chart is an easy one too.

That's it for completed knitting for the past month. Crazy, right? I have a couple pairs of socks on the go right now, but they really aren't interesting or complete so I don't think they count. lol

Other FOs include non-knitting (really, non crafty) type things such as.... CARPET!  Our landlord GRACIOUSLY paid for new carpet in our rental home and I can not be more pleased.  We've been here for almost 6 years now and he said he wanted to reward us as good tenants. Yeah!  We did all the heavy lifting though in that we completly moved out of our house and then back in to it two days later.  The Uhaul never moved! lol  Here's a peak at the difference:

BEFORE: 40 years old, dingy, stains, holes, and no padding:

AFTER: bright, clean, and NEW!

It seriously feels like a new house!  I love it but it was  LOT of work.  It's like we moved but without moving. lol We're still unpacking  a few boxes and I've taken one huge load of miscellaneous junk (to me) for the Goodwill.  I made a few tough calls so that our house wouldn't feel cluttered again like before.  I gave away my wedding dress.  Hopefully it'll find a home with a bride on a budget who doesn't mind a little alteration.  It was a gorgeous gown but it was just taking up a LOT of space in my tiny closet. 

I'll wrap up with a couple of photos from home:
My sister and her two oldest girls:
(I'm sure she'll love me for the no-makeup pic. hehe But the girls are cute!)

And the baby, her youngest and my Goddaughter:
doing her fashion pose. hehe

They are getting big too fast and seeing them once a year is not often enough.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

{Christmas Knitting?}

I got a call from family back home that my camera is on it's way , so that's good.  I'll be able to have pictures for you of my FO's from the last month and maybe get this blog up and going soon. :)

I'm also thinking ahead to Christmas Knitting.  I'm definitely cutting back this year because I think there are certain family members who just aren't *thrilled* with hand knitting. And I want them to be overjoyed and EXCITED to get my hand knit gifts.  It's not like they save me a bunch of money or time or anything. *scoff* 

IF you aren't a family member, check out my Christmas 2011 tab at the top for my first planning thoughts and then let me know what you think!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

{Do You Ted?}

Ted.com may be one of my very favorite websites of all times, ever. In all of history.  It's an open source learning site chalk full of speakers on every inspiring, interesting, scientific, or humanitarian topic you could think of.  I can spend hours getting lost in 18 minute speeches.  It's a grand morning when that happens, let me tell you.

This morning I was browsing my regular blog roll and came across an old post from an Interior Designer that I enjoy, Colour Me Happy, that mentioned a Ted Talk from Eliazabeth Gilbert, writer of Eat, Pray, Love.  In this speech she talks about creativity in a way that I've never heard before and it almost brought me to tears.  Go listen to it so the rest of this post makes sense to you.

The reason I was almost in tears is directly related to a recent crash and burn I experienced, creatively speaking.  I spent almost one entire week earlier this summer sewing clothes.  I started with a pattern for a skirt, got stuck and moved on to a skirt with no pattern that wouldn't fit over my hips and then a dress that looked terrible followed by another skirt that I was SURE would work, and may still work some day when I lose 10 pounds.  Not one actual piece of clothing that I would be comfortable wearing and one huge pile of pieces of clothing shaped fabric to mock me was what I was left with for my efforts and enthusiasm.

At the end of this week I felt like a huge failure, and no matter what I tried I wasn't cut out for sewing. All my dreams of making my own wardrobe some day were down the drain and really, why try when I just spend all this time only to fail again and again? 

After listening to Elizabeth, I feel like if I just keep showing up at my sewing machine, and I keep doing my end of the deal, eventually it will click.  That's a better feeling than just defeat.