Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A New Knit!

I have played a little with yarn this month! I've been trying to work this into my over-scheduled life this month and didn't make it before seeing my sister on Christmas Eve so she'll be getting this tomorrow. I took a couple days completely off and worked on this two evenings while watching movies.

yarn: Lion Brand Wool-Ease in chestnut tweed
Not the best stuff around (or even in my stash), but I know my sis wouldn't hand wash and I had a ball of this in my stash that I thought would go nicely with her jacket. It works up much softer than expected.

Hopefully, it's worth the wait. This is The Very Braidy Cowl (ravelry project page). I love it! I did a provisional cast-on and then grafted the ends together to eliminate a seam... not being a fan of seams where they're not absolutely necessary. =) My kitchener stitch needs a little work so it'll be more even, but when I handed it to my mom (a knitter), she didn't find the seam until I pointed it out. heh I suppose we're always our own worst critics. My sister doesn't knit at all so I'm not expecting her to even notice. I did add an extra 4 rows between repeats 1 & 2, 3 & 4, and 5 & 6 for a total of 12 extra rows. I wanted it to still fit close enough to block drafts, but not too close so it would be more comfy and not quite so turtle-necky. Perfect! Yeah, I'm definitely making one of these for myself!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Have a Furry Merry Christmas!

I made cookies to take to my vet and put together a collage for inside the card and thought I'd share. Yes, I have a zoo. =)

Don't freak, some are on there twice! heh Actually, they all are and Cosmo got three pics this year. =) My vet asked once if I had a pic with all the kitties together. I have an older one from right after I moved to Spokane and were all hanging out on my new bed (incl Mugsy), but this one is from today at lunch. Food is the great equalizer! Couldn't get them to look up at me though. lol Furry pile-ups are common around here, but there's usually at least one missing from the mix.

Mugsy - yellow lab mix, 13y
Reilly - minpin/chi, 4y

the kitties, left to right in the bottom pic
Cosmo, 13y
Phoebe, 7y
Baxter, 8y
Sebastian, 13y
Xander, 8y 

They're a lot of work at times and I spend probably more than I should on them too sometimes, but they're worth it and keep me sane. =) Still, cheaper than kids!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Busy. Shopping. And a lack of yarny fun.

Hey, strangers! It's been awhile, huh? I've been busy lately. Busy. That's such a relative term. The past few weeks have been much, much busier than normal, but I finally took an entire day off this week... and it. was. awesome. A much-needed break. I hadn't actually had a full day off work in over 3 weeks and I was definitely feeling the burn(out). Two almost-full-time jobs'll do that to ya. It's only temporary though and for a very good cause (moving!) and it'll all be worth it in the end. =) Things have lightened up with job #1 too so I'm feeling a bit less over-committed this week (and more thankful for job #2 too!) and it looks like the next couple weeks will be more of the same. Ahhhh. Much better.

With the new time commitments (combined with being an hr away from any decent stores), I decided I needed an alternative to running all over buying gifts this holiday season. Enter: online shopping! Yeah, yeah, I've done it before of course, but this year, I pretty much did it all online and took better advantage of some of the great sales. Packages have been showing up and so far, only one shipping snafu. I received a package with a packing slip that didn't match the contents of the box. Good thing the missing item wasn't for a gift! Yeah, I got myself a couple of Christmas/birthday presents too. =) Hey, at least I know I'll like what I got me. heh

There has also been a definite lack of yarny relaxation time. I did pull out one of Reilly's sweaters and re-knit (this is twice now) the neck. A certain little dog can't be trusted in knitwear unsupervised - he tries to undress himself in the only way he knows how... with teeth. I've pulled out yarn to make him a new sweater. Alpaca and wool - perfect for a little dog with basically no natural coat and scrawny little legs and single-digit temps. I've learned a lot since making his other sweaters so I'm confident this one will fit even better... if I ever find the time to work on it. My camera's also been collecting dust. I can't wait until I'm moved and settled back in the NW and can start really living my life again... Limbo kinda sucks. Just a few more months... =)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cushy, fuzzy = happy kitties

The kitties are the recipients of my most recent projects. I finally pulled out the "blanket" I started back in February... decided I didn't really care if it ever got big enough to use as a blanket, stopped working the increases and crocheted about 6" more so it would roll inward for a bit of an edge. Voila! Cat bed! =)

Hmm... maybe it's a dog bed. ;-)

Still having plenty of this "suede" yarn (picked up cheap at Big Lots awhile back - a long while, heh) and few ideas what to do with it since I don't like this yarn in many patterns. I ended up holding three colors together, working in sc on a big hook, and made a pad to go into one of my hard plastic cat kennels. =^..^=

Love it! Reminds me of neopolitan ice cream, but much softer and squishier. =) I think this would actually make a great rug. I'll probably get ahold of some cotton chenille in colors to match my bathroom after I move and just get some rubber shelf liner to keep them from sliding around... though I'm sure the kitties would prefer I skip the backer. lol

Finishing that blanket into a bed? Yeah, that was my last old project sitting. I now have exactly one WIP... and I'm slowly working on the handle for that. =) I've always been one who has multiple WIPs at once, but I think I'm turning into a one- or two-project-at-a-time crafter. I'm loving not having a bunch of old projects lying around.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Swaps are THE best!

I've decided. Swapping is truly THE best way to acquire new yarn! The first time I traded someone on Ravelry, I traded yarn for yarn. I had something she wanted (that I was willing to part with) and got to go browse her yarn for something I wanted. What could be more fun?! I think we were both very happy with the outcome. =)

This time, I've been sorting through some things, packing up some boxes in anticipation of my Spring move and got to my knitting mags. I caved awhile back (good sale!) and bought the Interweave Knits CD of mags for a couple of years, meaning I now had physical copies as well as digital ones of a few issues. CDs weigh less than mags, so I put them up on the IK forum on ravelry and offered them for sale plus shipping... or possibly a trade for yarn. heh Hey, yarn is light and makes great padding when moving! Yeah, yeah, I'm justifying. lol Well, I had a taker! She wanted three of the issues in trade for yarn and was curious what I'd be interested in. I'm trying to make my away from animal fibers so am trying to not purchase/acquire any more for my stash and told her so. She offered a list and I said,whatever you think is fair. Friends, this is what I got in the mail today:

Why yes, I am a happy girl. =) You can't really tell in this photo, but that dark skein is a beautiful shade of blackberry! There's also honey dew, sea foam and cashew in the Knit Picks Comfy (cotton, acrylic) and pale blue in the Berroco Comfort DK (nylon, acrylic). I'm especially excited about the KP since it's not something I've had my hands on before. That blue Comfort will be perfect for the next baby boy that comes around too!

Kiddos did their trick-or-treating the night before Halloween since it fell on a Sunday this year. So on Halloween, I headed to the closest decent pet store (45 miles away), in search of a better food for Reilly. Along with the food, I also found a new dish... with speed bumps! 

Works like a charm! He now can't completely inhale his food in 5 seconds flat. =) The first time, the dish threw him off a bit (and he looked a little frustrated) but he's definitely sped up since then. lol Not much gets between this guy and his food!

The kitties also got something.

Saying Xander likes running water... is like saying Reilly likes food. heh This cat literally begs for me to turn the bathroom sink faucet on. I hate doing it, it wastes so much water, but he doesn't drink much otherwise. It took a couple days to convince him the faucet's not coming on for him anymore (and he still tries to convince me), but now the kitties seem happy with it. After I move, it'll be in a more central spot and hopefully the dogs will use it too. I had to laugh that my critters get filtered water, but I don't. haha

 I also went to Jo-Ann Fabric, not really looking for anything, just hoping maybe one of the awesome Wilton holiday pans would be on clearance. Look what I did find on clearance though! 

 Awesome. My sister is totally into skeletons and bats so I'm planning to use one of these for a liner to a felted purse for her. Might just have to use a little for something for me. Those dancing skeletons are just too cute! And the bats... adorable. =)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

Also, the tiny project from earlier in the week. I finally tried out tunisian crochet. I think Sebastian approves.

Gotta love the catnip trance at the end. heh Catnip toys are one of the best things for practicing new stitches - nice and small and no one complains if you do make a mistake in the stitch! Since I don't have the right hooks for a larger project, this was perfect for trying it out on my regular hooks. =)

Here's a still shot. I love the look of this stitch - almost a woven look instead of very obviously crochet.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sometime, the budget's NOT the most important thing.

I was all ready to post about the new crafty thing I did last night... but apparently my little dog decided he hadn't had enough face time on the blog lately. Reilly has had a few issues in his four years and today, added one (or two) more. He had his first (and hopefully last) seizure this morning. Out went the budget I've been sticking to along with my work schedule for today and off we went to the vet. Bloodwork came back this afternoon with off the charts markers for pancreatitis. We'll hear tomorrow on the next test results. Hopefully, the outcome will simply mean a new super-lowfat diet and we'll be able to proceed without more bumps in the road. This has been one heck of a year for the critters in my little family. Can this please be the last health crisis this year? Please?! 

The craftiness? It'll wait.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Real Man

This guy cracks me up!

I made it for lunch today, but with homemade hummus instead of packaged. Yum!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

20s Babies

Finished both hats! And added crochet flowers. =)

So cute. I hope she likes them... and that they fit. lol I'm so early on getting these done (she's not due with #2 until January), now I'm debating what else to make for the girls. Baby/toddler stuff is so fun... and so quick!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Could it be?

Oh, yes, it could! Count 'em, SIX FOs in ONE week! From me?! lol

A friend has her second baby due this winter so I thought I'd make a pair of hats, one for the new little one due to make her debut in a couple months, though already named Katherine, and one for her big sis, Elizabeth! This is Katherine's. I've had this nice cotton blend (white and a bright pink/rose) in my stash with a babyish plan. I went browsing on Ravelry for a cute pattern and turned up the Poppy by Justine Turner. So cute! Love the 20's feel of it. =) I'm thinking they need a crochet flower on the side to add to the cuteness.

I finished this mid-last-week, but just finally got a chance to take a couple shots of it this morning. Work's been slow (hence all the yarny goodness around here this past week), but they finally came through just as I was casting this one off and I've been tied to my laptop the past three days... or I would've had big sister's hat done too! The knitting progress suffered a bit (and my shoulder/forearm is killing me), but my bank account will be much happier in a couple weeks. =) Back to a more normal schedule this week!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wrapped in love

Or at least alpaca and bamboo. =)

Last winter, a friend saw my then newly-knit fingerless gloves and asked for a pair so we went off in search of some great yarn while working in Portland. She picked up two skeins of Qina from Mirasol Yarn, a blend of alpaca and bamboo, in a beautiful charcoal grey. I haven't been knitting much this year so the yarn has been sitting, unloved, for much too long. Now that the temps are starting to drop (everywhere but here apparently), I thought it was time to pull this out and give it a go.

This weekend I finished off a few of my older projects that sat unfinished far too long, with this project as a bit of incentive. I didn't want to start anything new with all the old stuff still sitting there. Mission accomplished and guilt abated. =) So after finishing the others, I cast on the pair of delayed fingerless mitts for my friend on Sunday.... finishing Monday. This yarn is so yummy! Soft and warm. I think they'll be well-received. The pattern I chose, Fetching, knit up incredibly quickly and took only one full skein and just a bit from skein two for the second thumb. They weigh exactly 50g though so had I been careful, I could have used just the one skein after all, but I had fears of running out on that second thumb and having to pick back. heh

Love the picot bind-off!

Since we didn't have a specific pattern in mind all those months ago, she purchased two skeins of this luxurious-feeling yarn. Still having almost a full skein left, I decided I wanted to make something else cozy to go with the mitts. Using the cable pattern used on Fetching, I worked up a pattern for a small cowl/neck warmer with a button closure but didn't like the way it was coming out halfway through so I reworked it into a circular cowl instead and started over. Had to resize it halfway through and start over, but I'm pretty pleased with the results.

Here are the details for A Fetching Cowl:

Yarn is DK weight, size 6 needles (a set of dpns will work, but a 16" circ makes it even quicker!)
Gauge: 25 st and 26 rows to 4" (worked in rib pattern, unstretched of course)
Finished measurements: @17" around and @5" tall (again, unstretched, the rib allows plenty of room to pass over the head)

CO = cast on
BO = bind off
PM = place marker
st = stitches
K = knit
P = purl
C4F = transfer 2 st to cable needle, hold to front of work, K2, K2 off cable needle
C4B = transfer 2 st to cable needle, hold to back of work, K2, K2 off cable needle

CO 110 st in a stretchy CO (I used the cable cast-on)

PM and join in the round.

Round 1 (R1): *K4, P1*, repeat to end of round
Repeat R1 until just before the halfway point. If using my measurements, repeat until your cowl reaches just shy of 2 1/2". (I did this by weight since I was working with a small amount of yarn and wanted to get the most out of it - just weigh the remainder of the ball you're working from and work your cable round when you have a little over half left.)

Cable round: *C4B, P1*, repeat 10 more times, *C4F, P1*, repeat 10 more times.

Repeat R1 for another 2 1/4" (or adjust if you've made yours smaller or bigger).

P 1 round. (This will help a bit with the cowl wanting to roll and make it match if you've used the cable cast-on.)
BO in your favorite stretch manner. Weave in ends. =)

Resizing the pattern -For a larger or smaller cowl, simple add or subtract your CO stitches by multiples of 5 and adjust your cable round to suit your CO number. A multiple of 10 CO stitches will result in an even number of cables leaning right and left, but no one will notice if there aren't an even amount!

Perfect as a set! (And ridiculously quick to knit! Hmm, Christmas gifts anyone?)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

What's this?!

Not one...

not two...

but THREE finished objects today???

Yep! I now only have TWO UFOs! And one of those only needs a strap added (all crocheting finished) once I manage to actually find one. The other is a crochet blanket started earlier this year that I really need to start working on again. Been awhile since I didn't have any UFOs from previous years lurking around. heh

**The pics all link to the project pages on Ravelry if you're interested in details. =)

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Budgeting... and yarny goodness

About a month ago, I started using Mint.com to track my spending/savings to see exactly where the money's going... and where I could cut back. I used to be pretty anal about my budget, then I took a travel job... with a bigger paycheck... and quit caring quite so much. lol Not saying I haven't saved, but I know I can definitely do even better!

Saved a bit of money (and even better, time) this week. I was asked about swapping some yarn last weekend by a fellow raveller and being a yarny girl, of course I let her twist my arm and took a look at what she had to offer. This has to be the best way to get new yarn. I pass on some great stuff I don't want anymore (in this case, part of it I'm allergic to) to someone who would love to have it and I get some great new yarn to play with too. All for just a few bucks for shipping. That's not the saving part though. I discovered I could pay for and print a shipping label on usps.com, getting a small discount on shipping, free delivery confirmation and even get free pick-up! No trip to the post office? I'm sold! The scale I bought awhile back came in handy too. =) So off it went today, headed for MA. And surprise! Mine came today!

Two balls of Aussi sock in sahara dessert - lovely shades of brown, tan, grey and blue.

And some elsebeth lavold silky wool in emerald green

and lava.

Yeah, I'm a happy girl. =)

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Happy October!

I'm a few days late, but I LOVE October! The apples and pumpkins, the chill in the air, the crunch of fallen leaves under my feet, the gorgeous, colorful trees! What's not to love?! I can't wait until the trees really start turning around here - so far, not much color to be found, but it's coming!

The cooler temps have brought back a bit of my knitting mojo. I pulled out the scarf I started back in August and am pretty close to being finished. Just deciding how long I want it to be. No new pics. It looks the same, only longer. ;-) Trying to decide on a hat pattern to go with it. Or maybe just a pair of mittens - I know those would get more use. Any suggestions on patterns?

Haven't finished up my crochet bag either. It's all finished other than adding a strap... something I haven't had any luck so far in finding. I'm looking for something probably an inch to inch and a half wide and long enough to carry messenger style across the body. I looked at Joann's but only found thin straps. Anyone know of a good place for something like that? I thought about using a belt, but would really like something with the rings attached on both ends for easier attachment.

Maybe a week or so ago, I hit Big Lots and found some awesome deals on critter stuff! Not sure why I never think of them, but I'll definitely be going in more often now. Seriously, dog toys for $2-3, pet beds for $7! Speaking of beds... I bought the beds for my mondo (but getting slightly less so) cats. These beds are roughly 15" across in the center. Perfect, comfy fit:

Well, someone else decided they just might be a perfect fit for him as well:

"What?! It's got a dog bone on it, right?"

A little spillover, but not bad for a 13-yr-old, 35-lb dog! heh

I've spent the past two days watching another photography seminar online while I work my day job (thereby making the day job not quite as mind-numbing). Nope, I can't get enough! It's so inspiring listening to those who've been there and made their businesses successful already. I always come away from these seminars amazed at how much I can learn in such a short time. I loved my photography classes, but I think I've learned more from these free (or nearly free) workshops/seminars than I did in school... and saved a good bit of cash too! Always a good thing. =)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

figuring it all out

I could get used to this view!

But I doubt it'll ever get old. Any guesses on what I decided? lol Okay, for those who maybe haven't been there, this was shot on the border of my two favorite states - on the 205 bridge connecting Vancouver,WA, and Portland, OR. As I said, I've been waffling for awhile between the areas surrounding Portland and Seattle, but when I step back and really think about where I might fit in best? The choice is really a simple one. Thanks, Virginia for further confirming my initial impression of both areas. It's nice to hear that from someone who's actually lived in both areas. Seattle may (definitely) win on the amount of cultural activities/stuff to do front, but Portland has the friendliness factor and some pretty cool cultural aspects as well. Of course, the particularly vegan-friendliness of the area doesn't hurt either! lol Now, it's just a matter of figuring out the best time to move and then find a place to live. I'm so excited to soon have my own place again!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

a lack of yarniness, but lots of indecisiveness

I just realized that since I finished my crochet bag, I haven't even touched any yarn. None. Haven't even had an urge to play with yarn. I have been spending more time of late on photo-based ventures however so maybe that's the cause. I've also been cooking a bit more - vegan lasagna anyone? Yum! I'm sure my knitting- and crochet-mojo will return once the temps start to dip once again.

I've also started to pack... though I still haven't completely decided exactly where I'm moving. I can't decide. Seattle area? Portland/Vancouver area? Both areas have so many pros on the list and really, very few cons... they balance each other out. The weather's even pretty similar (and I don't really mind the rain). I just can't decide! Every time I think I've made a decision, something pops up and makes me lean the other way. I think the hardest part is that I know I could be very happy with either choice. So what to do? Pick one out of a hat? heh Seriously, any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

5 days... what a difference!

I spend 5 days a week in front of my computer for work. Toward the end of every week, I am tired, I am bored, I am yearning for it to end.

I spent the past 5 days sitting in front of my computer watching a live photography workshop broadcast from Seattle. At the end? I didn't want it to end and was yearning for more. This is the fourth workshop I've been able to watch online this year and I just. can't. get. enough.

There's a big lesson there.

I'm working on a 6-month plan with a LOT of changes in the works. I'm excited. =)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Extra tofu?

Make mousse pie!

I used only 1/2 cup silken tofu for my lemon bars and since a package is 16 oz, that left me with a whole lot of an open container to use. I wasn't in a smoothie mood so... I pulled out my favorite vegan cookbook of late and searched for recipes calling for silken tofu. Chocolate mousse! Seriously, YUM! I subbed peppermint extract for the vanilla called for and use the chocolate brownie crust recipe from the same cookbook. The crust was only okay. I won't use it again without some serious tweaking, but the idea was good. A simple chocolate graham crust would have worked wonderfully had I doubled the mousse recipe. Next time. =P

Weights and measures

I can weigh yarn... and anything else up to 5lb.

Why it took me so dang long to break down and buy a scale, I'll never know. lol But I finally did. Saw one on sale at Kroger (of all places) walking down the baking aisle. Should I want to use this for cooking, that front readout portion actually extends forward to compensate for larger bowl/container overhang and of course, there is a tare function. Unlike the small postage scale I had years ago, this one also has replaceable batteries so I won't have to chuck it when the batteries die (as I did with #1). That's one thing I try to remember to check before buying any electronic gadget these days. =) So, no more eyeballing the remnants of skeins of yarn trying to figure out how much I used or if I have enough left for a particular project - yay! Funny enough, of the ones I weighed today, I guessed pretty dang close on nearly every one! Hmm, maybe I didn't need to spend that $20 after all...

Friday, August 20, 2010

Something you have to see

In case you haven't already found this blog on your own...

check out WooWork.com.

This guy is so creative with a bit of yarn and a hook... and a sense of humor. =)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Sweet, tart and a little twisted

I finished the bag I'd started in my last post. No finished pics yet though. The bag itself has been done a couple weeks, but I still need to find a strap for it. Just haven't made it to a store that has that sort of thing quite yet.

I also started a scarf.

I'm about halfway done and planning to make a hat and gloves with the same yarn. It'll go well with my chocolate brown wool coat. =)

I also baked just a bit.

A little sweet, a little tart... lemon bars! Haven't had these since I was a kid so when I saw these in The Joy of Vegan Baking, I just had to try 'em out. Seriously, good eats! =)

Monday, August 02, 2010

Chik'n... from scratch! (and a little crochet)

To add to my "comfort food" weekend... I tried the chik'n seitan recipe from Vegan Comfort Food.

How have I not made this before now?! It's so incredibly easy! Just vital wheat gluten, soy flour and some water, then cooked in a broth. I actually breaded and baked these for oven-fried chik'n (recipe from the same cookbook). I'll tweak the seasonings in the breading a bit next time, but it was good as written. Definitely another winner!

I also started something new on the yarny front...

details to follow when it takes more shape. =)

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Vegan comfort food

Why, yes... I did get a new cookbook. heh

I broke down and bought a copy of Vegan Comfort Food when I bought The Kind Diet awhile back. Finally tried a couple of the recipes today. I've been craving mac & cheese for awhile but finding a vegan version pre-made (at least in this part of the country) isn't an easy task. I did finally find Amy's new frozen  rice mac & soy cheese at the store. Nice that they're making an effort, but... it still has dairy in it. *sigh* I'd heard good things about the mac & cheeze in Vegan Comfort Food so... I made my own. =)

At first glance, the recipe doesn't sound incredibly cheesy, but amazingly, the macadamia nuts, raw cashews, carrot and potato (plus seasonings, of course) come together and result in a surprisingly good alternative to dairy-based mac & cheese. Definitely a keeper!

The fillet o'tofish from the same book:

Hmm, I think I may need to try this one again with thinner slices of tofu. The directions weren't incredibly clear how I was to cut the block of tofu so mine were a little thick, I think. They're okay I suppose. I was never a huge fish fan before going veg when I was a kid though, so I may just move on. I think the chik'n seitan is up next... =)

(Forgive the crappy photos. I just took quick ones with my cell before lunch. heh)

Friday, July 30, 2010

Another kool dye job

I tried it again.

This time, I used some the inexpensive wool I picked up at the fiberfest last month. It started out like this:

This stuff picked up the Kool-Aid really well.

I think I prefer the way the Lion Brand came out, but this stuff will be fun to play around with. I picked up a few different shades of KA yesterday and I'm planning to use a 40% off coupon at Michaels to pick up a set of Wilton icing gels. This is addictive! =)