Thursday, February 26, 2009

Knitting in the Works

I have a couple projects that are rather on-going at this point.

My green socks I started to intentionally have a side project and that has been a nice project to work on here and there. I am knitting the Nagini pattern from Ravelry - apparently it has some Harry Potter reference, but I just really liked the pattern.

I'm knitting the gusset now and am going to try a new type of heel, I'll let you know how it works out. I figure it has to be better than short rows!

My other ongoing project is the barn raising afghan I mentioned in an earlier post. At this point I am still enjoying knitting the squares and I like how they are coming together.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

First Every Shop Clearance

I have decided to do a little house cleaning in my inventory. So I have listed a few items on clearance! (photoed above) Snatch them up before someone else does - happy shopping!

My Box Bag

I whipped out a box bag the other night. I say "whipped out" because I definately didn't take time and care into my measurements. I am certain if I had spent more time on my sewing my dimensions would have turned out properly, but as it is I like it. I needed the bag by Thursday and my only night to make it was Sunday - hence the rush.

I purchased a bit of interfacing and found 30 cent zippers at the thrift store. For the outside fabric I used a retro pillowcase I bought in December for 50 cents and for the lining a remnant I purchased last year. Simply, this was a very thrifty box bag.

I mentioned my dimensions didn't end up being quite right - solely because of my rushing. I made the bottom of the bag a bit fatter than the top, but it gave a nice effect in my opinion.

The main reason I am pretty stoked about this bag is that it fits my makeup, deodorant, toothpaste, face lotion, contact stuff, and glasses case! This makes me very happy because I really like to be a compact traveler.

In the non crafty aspects of life today is Ash Wednesday. The church community I grew up in did not have much emphasis on giving something up for lent so therefore I'm not in the habit of doing so. This year though I thought I might commit to something rather than give something up.

Since being out of collage, being married, and having a blog my personal journaling has suffered greatly. I'm not ready to make some outrageous commitment to journaling everyday like I used to because I just know that won't happen, but I would like to make the commitment of doing it once a week.

I just find journaling to be a good mental process for me as well as a healthy spiritual commitment. It actually makes me think about my life beyond myself and gives me a chance to be creative in a different way. So there you have it.

If you feel like it share with the blog world what you will be committing to in the season of lent go ahead and leave it in the comments.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Latest in the Shop

It's Tuesday and yesterday I wanted to post about my box bag and and Balsamic Red Pepper Jelly, but my photos turned out bleh so it will have to wait. Note to self: always best to wait for daylight before photographing anything (I have a feeling I have noted this before).

So for today I will share with you my latest Esty listing: simply navy. I am getting tired of knitting with navy yarn so this was my effort to use up some of what I have. Don't get me wrong, I very much like navy. The problem is my last two and half projects have been with navy (B.O.B., hat, and a glove) so it is time to move on.I knit this hat with my personal hand spun yarn. I dyed this yarn a bright navy that has some personality. This hat is lighter weight so it is perfect for those chilly spring mornings.

When knitting this hat I did some subtle mock cabling for the ribbing and then straight stockinette for the remainder of the hat. This detail give the hat a bit of simple femininity.

On a bit of a side topic I am in need of your advice. When I first began on Etsy it was very taboo to model hats. Many people said that they would never buy a hat that was being modeled because it had then been on someone else's head. Personally that wouldn't bother me so my question to you is this... would you prefer to see my hats modeled? Or would that deter you from purchasing one of them? I'm just wondering if things have changed or if I should still avoid modeling.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

My Etsy Story (and some stitch markers)

So in my frenzy of organizing last weekend I went through an old Rubbermaid filled with scrap booking paper, scissors, ribbon, and apparently my little Tupperware of beads.

If you happen to wander in my etsy shop and look at my first few sold items you'd see that I started on Etsy with jewelry in my shop (and poor photography). Selling jewelry was rather circumstantial actually.

I had started making my own earrings and bracelets for weddings I had been attending (you know the after collage rush). I could never find anything simple, yet different that matched my outfits so I resorted to making my own jewelry. Making a pair of earrings generally leaves you with plenty of beads which just got stashed away in my box of crafty things for a couple years.

Well, one day in late September of 2007 I happened upon Etsy from some Google search I was doing. I was instantly struck! I loved browsing the site, in fact, I couldn't get enough of it. After mulling over it for a week I decided I would try listing a few things since it was (and is) so inexpensive.

While I was listing my first couple items (including some jewelry since I had beads on hand) I made a sale!!! This is hugely rare on Etsy, especially now considering how the site has grown, but with that first sale I was caught hook, line, and sinker... er, for the non-fisher people - I was totally taken in!

I learned more and more about Etsy. I would obsessively refresh my shop (to see if I had new views) and hang out in the forums for extended amounts of time (for learning purposes, of course).

I learned more and more about running a shop and slowly tried to trim down my inventory to just fiber related items and just this past week I have finally made it. My last sewn item was sold and my inventory now solely consist of knits and yarn (sometimes spinning fiber).

As for the bead stash I found last weekend, well, it made me a little nostalgic and so I got to work making myself some stitch markers.

I am really, really happy with how they turned out. And I was so excited to find a use for the red seeds that I brought home from Swaziland - they look just lovely. I haven't decided if I ever want to offer stitch markers in my shop, but it is something to think about. For now I'll stick with my knitting and spinning passions and see where those take me.

What's your Etsy story?

My Weekend Sewing Project

Not sewing for this weekend, but from last weekend. I was just in the mood to make a bag of some sort (since bags are my vice), and I had come across this pattern in earlier blog reading and decided to go for it. Now I'll ask that you forgive the photography - I was impatient so I decided to use the flash.

The bag ended up taking me most of the day on Monday. I wasn't exactly planning on that, but oh well - what else shall one do with a holiday?

I'm glad to say there were no mishaps, such as me cutting fabric to the wrong dimensions or sewing anything backwards. In fact, I only got stumped a bit at the end for the putting-it-all-together part. The confusion just took some careful reading to get sorted out.

I am very happy with how the project turned out as a whole. Sorry I don't have any modeled shots, just the one of the bag hanging on a nail.

Side note: my apartment has TONS of nails in the walls. Either the previous dwellers had a lot of art or no one who has lived here previously can agree on where art should be hung. So silly.

For my next project I REALLY want to make this toiletry/box bag. I already have great fabric for it, but I need to get some medium weight interfacing and a green zipper. Oh how I love green.

You have all been rather quiet out there in blog-land, what are you up to?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Chalkboard Cozy

With the yarn I had remaining from David's hat I decided to go to cozy town.

I had some great vintage buttons in the raspberry and cream swirl that looked really nice with the heather gray.

This yarn is so soft and smooshy I'm sure it would make any french press owner almost want to snuggle with their coffee.

I listed the item just yesterday - go ahead, have a gander.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Finished Hat Shots

I have many things I want to post about because my holiday weekend was REALLY productive, but I am going to do my best to hold back so you can read some interesting stuff later this week.

Today I'll show you hubby's finished hat. He said he really likes how it looks, but it lets in too much wind. I supposed I could line it with fleece, but we'll wait and see how necessary that is.

I'm happy with how it turned out. I don't generally like turned up hats, but I'm not the one wearing it so that's not really important.

The pattern I used was Jacques Cousteau Hat (on Ravlery) . The only reason I even used a pattern was because I wanted David to see what the finished product would look like instead of me putting in a lot of work and then him not liking it.

I liked the pattern and it was simple. So simple in fact that I let myself get confused about the decreasing for no reason - but I didn't have to do any ripping out. I know I took a photo of the decreases, but apparently I forgot to put it on my flash drive so I guess you'll just have to look at David's face.

Also this weekend I made these Toasted Coconut Shortbread Cookies and I highly recommend them - really great! My only recommendation would be to take down the salt even just an 1/8 tsp. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

On the Wheel

This past weekend while I was touching yarn, I came across some roving that I have drooled and drooled over for months. This time the roving caught me with cash in my pocket and it won.

I knew the roving would win me over at some point - it is green, it is soft and squishy, it is merino, and it was only $10. So it was inevitable.

I started spinning it right away. And let me add it is very difficult to photo graph.

I have been spinning it rather fine, and I plan to do either a two or three ply. Probably only a two ply because that is about all I have patience for really.

The problem I am having is that I have no project for this yarn. I realize that may not seem like a real problem, but I usually don't purchase yarn or fiber without a project in mind.

I don't need any hat, mittens, gloves, or scarves so that type of accessory is out. I already have a french press cozy (made with my first ever hand spun), and I won't have enough for a cardigan. I really want to knit a kitty doll, but I have no one to give it to and I don't really want it to be green. I don't know, maybe a bag? Thoughts?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Hat Progress and Cozy Madness

The hat is coming along nicely. I am very pleased with how my yarn is knitting up. I didn't try to make this a variegated gray, but it looks really great - if I do say so myself. Also I can't get over how soft this merino super wash is! I purchased it this weekend at my lys (local yarn shop).

I'm very excited that I can say I have a "lys". This is rather a new development, sort of. Kim had booth at local antique store for awhile, but now she has a window space is a shop she is sharing with a local scrap booking business. So the amazing selection of yarn has grown and is even more tempting than before. Anyhow, I just thought I'd give a little shout out since my hat yarn is made with lucious fiber from her shop. Oh and you can find her online here.

In Etsy news French Press Cozies still seem to be of great interest so I knit up this B.O.B. inspired cozy. I'm planning to stitch on some wood buttons this evening. The cables and ribbing aren't exactly like the sweater, but I did use the same yarn. Even so, I might have to call this one "Bob's Sweater". Maybe it will prompt someone to name their french press Bob. We'll see.

Onto my hat knitting! Have a great day!

Monday, February 9, 2009

New Project

I haven't written much about knitting recently because I haven't had a project that has gotten me very excited. So what do I do? Just cast on another project, yeah doesn't make much sense really.

I started making these "quilt" squares for the Barn Raising Quilt in Knitalong. This will be an ongoing project, especially considering I don't knit that many socks (which is the type of yarn used for the squares). Anyhow, they are quick and rather mindless little projects which I'm enjoying.

The project I am VERY excited to start is my husband's new hat. For those of you who are popping onto my blog for the first time let me tell you that David has NEVER asked for anything knit. In fact, any offer I have made of something knitted has been kindly declined.

Recently David has had a need for a new hat so we found the perfect simple pattern and yesterday I dyed this yummy merino a sort of charcoal color - I'm calling it "chalkboard".

This soft and snuggly yarn will be knit into this hat: Jacques Cousteau (ravelry link). I wanted to cast it on this morning, but as I tried to quickly wind it into a ball my skein became a knot and I ended up being 20 minutes late for work without the yarn. But tonight I will begin!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Etsy Gift Guides Feature

This french press cozy of mine, Transitions, was featured in the "modern" section of Etsy's Gift Guides - for the whole week!

Granted, no one has purchased it, but it has definately introduced some new folks to my shop, so yay!

Just thought I'd share!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Canning - Strawberries and Tomatoes

Some of you may recall my excitement late last year about learning to preserve food. For Christmas I got this awesome book by Ball which has oodles of great recipes for canning, and I a got a jar lifter from mom - jar lifters are VERY helpful.

So I have been monitoring the produce section for good sales so that I could dive into some canning and this week was gold! Strawberries for a dollar a carton and roma tomatoes for a dollar a pound! Hooray!

Looking through my awesome book I chose one of the many strawberry jam recipes, and also found a yummy looking recipe for bruschetta.

The jam turned out really, really great. I went out and bought a very fresh loaf of white bread from the bakery, toasted a slice and spread some butter and then spooned on the jam. I was instantly back in my grandma's kitchen and it was summer time. I'm even drooling a little bit now as I type about it - yum.

Now, for the bruschetta. I can't say as many wonderful tales about it simply because I haven't tried it yet. But I must admit my hopes are rather low.

See, I'm still learning about this canning thing and I think I packed my tomatoes a little too tight which means not enough of the yummy wine, vinegar, and herb mixture may have made it into the jars.

I could be wrong, but if I'm not I'm sure they will still taste good on pizza.

Those have been my recent canning adventures, in the world of knitting not a lot is happening. I am knitting some gloves to match my new hat but I'm not yet sure if I want the gloves so they may be listed on Etsy.

I'm getting ready to order some yarn for a baby blanket (out of Knitalong) for a friend, but the big news is David actually ASKED for hat!!!!

I don't know if I can communicate how huge this is. David hasn't ever wanted me to knit ANYTHING for him and believe me, I have offered. So I need to get some nice merino and spin it up for a hat. I'm guessing he is going to want a neutarl brown, black, or gray, but I am okay with that.

So what is going on with all of you?

Well, since I'm doing a foodie post here's what's for supper tonight: Chili and Honey Chicken Legs, that homely Cabbage and Ramen Salad, some scalloped/cheesy potatoes that I sorta made up and put in the crock pot this morning, and for dessert fresh strawberries (and maybe chocolate pie, we'll see how things go).

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Music and Knitting

I finished my Amelia Earhart Aviator Cap. I felt this project had chance of looking really cute or bombing and looking like a helmet. I mean the photo on the pattern looks SCARY, but on Ravelry most of the projects look nice.

My first try I knit the pattern on size 8 needles as it called for, well this proved to be incompatible with my small head - as you can see in this photo on the left.

Since it didn't fit and I knit it in 24 hours I decided to cast on for a second try - begrudgingly. For my second attempt I used size 6 needles. I will admit through out the project I was nervous. I was sure it was going to be too small and I had decided if it was too small than I wasn't going to try again. Do you like how defeated I was? ha ha. Anyhow, the second attempt did work! But you must forgive the photo, I was up very early that day and the photo was taken very late at night, but here it is, tah dah!

I have been busy canning recently since there were some good sales at the super market. I'll post some photos of that soon.

I figured I has better update you on something I mentioned long ago, back in September. My fiddle lessons. Though I haven't mentioned them much I am still having them. I can only afford about one lesson a month - both financially and time wise it works out for the best.

Lately I haven't felt very motivated, but just this week David and I were planning music for a local worship service and thought maybe I could play a melody line on my fiddle just for an intro to something. Now I am freaking out a little bit. I can still back out so I'm not totally panicked, but it is only Wednesday so give me time. Anyhow, it is the melody line of my most favorite hymn, and since the words are poetry I thought I'd share a couple verses with you - just be glad you don't have to hear me playing while you read!

My Life Flows On (How Can I Keep from Singing)

Robert Lowry, 1826-1899

My life flows on in endless song, above earth's lamentation. 
I hear the clear, though far off hymn that hails a new creation.

No storm can shake my inmost calm

while to that Rock I'm clinging.

Since love is Lord of heaven and earth,

how can I keep from singing?

Through all the tumult and the strife, I hear that music ringing.

It finds an echo in my soul. How can I keep from singing?

The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart, a fountain ever springing!

All things are mine since I am his! How can I keep from singing?

No storm can shake my inmost calm

while to that Rock I'm clinging.

Since love is Lord of heaven and earth,

how can I keep from singing?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Wine Bottle Recycling

This weekend some friends, myself, and my husband tackled a really fun project - making drinking glasses out of wine bottles! They turned out gorgeous and we figured out some ways to make them even better next time!

You start with empty wine bottles and soak them so scraping the labels off is is easier.

Once the labels were scraped off we put a glass cutter in a vice and scored a circle around the bottles at whatever height we wanted the glass to be. David's strength proved to be helpful for this part, he could score them deeper than I could.

Next we lit some candles (note: you need candles stronger than tea-lites) and rotated the cut of the bottle over the heat of the flame then spun the bottle in a bucket of snow (ice water would probably work too). After a couple heatings and coolings - SNAP! You have a glass! (or you have a cracked glass, they won't all work out just right as you can see in the photo on the left)

Then David used a dremel and sanded down the edges, the rest of us helped by using emery paper. This is the part that we think we'll do differently next time. A friend of ours has a lamp work torch and we think the edges of the glasses would look nicer finished with the torch then with the dremel. Although the dremel and emery paper give them a cool rugged look.

For your own notes, we found that thicker glass snapped best. Oh and the bottle tops can be used as a really cool look for a mantle - put little votives under them! I'll have to get a photo of that too so you can see the coolness.

We are going to try it again soon and maybe make some sets for wedding gifts. The left one (green) is one of the super large bottles so I am going to put stones in the bottom and use those for planters.

FYI: I also have a few new things up in my shop. Two French Press Cozies, and a funky hat!