Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Enablers Weekend...

The first knitting blog post after Wool-A-Palooza is traditionally dedicated to the flashing of stash acquired at the fairgrounds, but this year I dedicate this post to my ENABLING FRIENDS!  While I did not acquire as much yarn and fiber this year as I have in years past, I did get a few amazing things...but I had an absolute blast hanging out with some of my favorite enablers of all time!
Just WHO are you calling an enabler, Pretty?!?
Who am I calling enablers?  Well, first let's call Jenny out...look at her, encouraging even the First-Years...
Brenda loves to shop, and I think she had fun!
Oh, and who else but an enabler waits in line with you at a favorite booth for half an hour to check out, shopping right up until the purchase point?  That's right, it's enabler Annie!
Deciding how many colors she "needs" in her stash...
Don't get me wrong...I love them for the enabling!  You see, I am what you might call "shopping challenged" (though not nearly as challenged this year as in years past).  I have a tendency to pick up an item, consider it for a while, then just decide that I don't really "need" it...so I put it down and walk away, looking back wistfully, saddened by my own frugality.  I need the enabling, or at least a little peer pressure, to help me get my shop on!  So, thank you Michelle for making the first purchase of the day!
Mini skein for hexipuffs...I wonder if any
of us will actually knit that pattern...
And thank you Jenny, for asking the hard questions,...
How could ANYONE not buy yarn here?!?
...and for making me feel really good about my restraint, especially at the Pollywogs booth, with all that Lamb's Pride!
Ooooh!  Pretty!
It was a lovely day, hot but not too hot, and we laughed and took pictures and bought yarn and other items!  
Wow!  That's one happy knitter!
Lest you might think that my knittahs and I are the only enablers out there, we even took photos of total strangers, to prove that we are part of a larger knitting enablers community than you might have guessed...
Knitters, "in the wild"...
(I did tell these ladies that they would be in the blog, but I didn't get their names...I hope I run into them again someday.  I think we'd be friends...look at all the Lamb's Pride they are purchasing!)  Overall, the event was a really fun time.  Fiber and yarn at the fairgrounds, with a fair atmosphere and fair food, and the fairest friends of them all...it's no wonder that I'm still smiling on Wednesday!  Oh, and I also have this new stash to smile about:
Textured cotton for a tank or two, sock yarn for another hitchhiker,
pins from Gita Maria's beautiful collection, beads for my new
Pandora bracelet, and some fiber for spinning...Yay!
Until next time, I will be fighting the urge to cast on a cotton tank top and a new hitchhiker...and to get out the spindle again for this gorgeous mohair blend fiber...  Hey, where are all my enablers?  Should I keep fighting, or just dive right into it all?!?

I hope that you had a lovely holiday weekend, and if you knit, I hope that you get to a few festivals through the summer this year.  This one is always on Memorial Day weekend, so mark your calendar for 2013, even if you missed t last weekend...you won't be sorry!

Thanks for stopping by, and Knit in Good Health!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

"X" Marks the Spot!

X is the 21st letter I have knit.  There are 5 more to go before I finish the Alphabet Soup, but X feels like showing off, so today's post is brought to you by the letter "X"!
X marks the spot where I sit and knit at home:
X marks the spot where the cats sit to watch the birdies and baby skunks!
Look!  It's the X of a different color!  I love photoshop!
X also marks the spot where I got my coffee this morning!:
Sweetie is laying of f the sauce for summer,
so all my coffee comes from here now...
AND, best of all today...
X marks the spot where the Great Lakes Fiber Show is taking place!
The girls of Cleveland Knits West lovingly refer to this annual event as Wool-A-Palooza, and that's where you'll find me all morning and afternoon today!  As a matter of fact, by the time you read this I will be catching my ride down to the fairgrounds, and the cats will already be missing me.
Why is there an "X" in my window?
C'mon out, if you live anywhere near the Wooster area...it's a great time! And, it's your chance to meet my favorite farmer from That'll Do Farm (you can meet her at the Flying Pig Fiber & Friends booth), where I'll be getting my CSA produce, starting THIS WEEK, Yayyyyy!!!

Thanks for stopping by, and Knit in Good Health (with the new yarn and fibers you purchase at Wool-A-Palooza)!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Hey, Look! A Distraction!!!

Didja ever feel...distracted?
We're all trying to get her to look at the bubbles,
but she's distracted...I think by the bubble blower!
Yeah, me too.  This week has been especially bad with the distractions. Lovely weather that begs a body to go outside...or at least sit in the window, looking for squirrels and birdies...
Spring fever has hit, full force, and it has me really looking around my house, and thinking that it may be time for some spring cleaning! Distracted by dust and clutter this week, I have been a little bit brutal with the stash.  Don't let that thought get you too upset...mostly I am getting rid of old yarn, gifted to me by the families of knitters who have recently started shopping Heavenly Fibers at The Great Yarn Store in the Sky.  I'm not getting rid of all of it, because some of it is really great stuff, and even most of the acrylic is great for toys...but the smelly yarns, the sticky yarns, the partial skeins sans labels...anything gritty, greasy or grimy, or tangled...these yarns are landing squarely (but softly) in the trash:
Every time I turned around these past few days, I found something that needs to be cleaned out.  From the small corner projects (like the baskets I use to organize mail in the kitchen), to the BIG DEAL projects (destashing is a task that always seems to "loom"), I feel like I've gotten a lot done around my house. :^)  There has been some knitting on the baseball sweater, and also on the hitchhiker, but not much. =/  Still, it's been a good week!  So good, in fact, that I decided to celebrate with Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Muffins...I really wish you could smell these...Yummm!
Now that the weather is warmer, the bananas "turn" really fast.  This is the perfect recipe to use up those browning bananas...as a matter of fact, did you know that you can freeze mashed banana?  And you can bake in bulk to freeze the muffins, too!  Pretty cool, huh?  Anyway, the recipe follows this post, and I hope that you get a chance to try these easy-peasy muffins!

How has spring fever hit YOU this year?  Are you cleaning, or cooking, or both?  However it it hits you, I hope that you are enjoying yourself!  Thanks for stopping by, and Knit in Good Health!
_______________________________________

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Muffins
Makes 12 average sized muffins, or 24 "mini" muffins.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  

Dry Ingredients:
1 c. flour
1 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a large bowl, and make a well in the center.  Set aside while you mix together the wet stuff.

Wet Ingredients:
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. peanut butter
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 - 1/2 c. mashed banana (1 small to medium banana, this doesn't have to be terribly accurate)

In a separate bowl, beat together the wet ingredients with a fork.  The egg yolk should be broken, but the peanut butter will still be a little "chunky" looking.  That's what you want.

Pour the wet ingredients into the well in the center of the dry ingredients, and mix together gently.  My 7th grade home ec teacher said to never mix more than 20 strokes.  Everything should be moist, but don't overmix.

Drop into lined or greased muffin tins and bake 20-25 minutes.
(For mini muffins, bake 14-16 minutes.)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

To everything, there is a season...

...and a time for every purpose under Heaven.

(enter, dream-sequence-like, Pretty, dancing in a fragrant field of clover and wildflowers...enormous bell bottoms, empire-waist, rainbow tunic...ribbon and flowered headband with long, straighter-than-straight hair flowing down...the scene shot from under her platform shoes...turn, turn, turn)

I've made a difficult decision recently, which some of you already know...the shop, she is a-closing.  About a month ago, I made my first announcements - first to the girls in my knitting group, and then on the Pretty Knitty Jewelry page of this blog.  Right now, with all the busy-and-going-to-get-busier in my life, I am finding that I just don't have time for everything I want to do.  The shop was an add-on hobby, something to keep my mind from worrying during a stressful time for my family, and it has been a good thing.

A little "egg and pin" money for Pretty, but definitely not a replacement for the full-time employment that pays the bills.  A creative outlet or two, and something to think about other than my son being in a scary place, wearing a US Army uniform.  An occasional escape from the crazy-mad shower and wedding planning...something for just me in a time that I was crazy-busy doing so many things for other people.  The shop has been so good for me, and I love playing with clay and beads and jewelry stuff.

I suppose that I may bring it back someday, if I ever want to take the time to really devote to growing the shop into more than a hobby...but for now, I'm just not ready to make that kind of commitment to it.  So, thanks for the sales, thanks for the memories, and thanks for all the words of encouragement you've given me through this season!  I'll still be here, blogging and knitting and crafting, and maybe even making a row counter here and there, and I hope that you'll keep reading and knitting along.  I am definitely more passionate about knitting and writing, and sharing that with you, so the blog stays!  Yay!

Besides, to everything, there IS a season, and the current season (in sports anyway) is Baseball!  It's only appropriate, then, that the back of the Baseball Sweater is nearly finished!
Once I bind off the back, it's on to the fronts and sleeves, which should go pretty fast, even though a sweater is not an "instant gratification" project by any stretch of the imagination!  For instant knitting, I knit toys...like this letter P:
P is the 20th letter I have knit for my Alphabet Soup project, which (at 26 letters) is NOT instant gratification!  But, since each letter only takes a few hours to knit, sew and stuff, knitting the next letter is a good way to feel like I've accomplished something in my sometimes-limited knitting time.

If I only had a simple project that I could carry with me, I suppose I could increase my knitting time by making the most of the moments I spend in the passenger seat of the party car!  I used to keep a sock in my car ...just a plain, vanilla sock to pass the time while waiting on kids at sporting events and practices during the carpool years.  I have actually knit a LOT of socks that way!  But, I need something new...interesting but mindless...yarn in lovely colors that glides through my fingers like butter...a project I can pick up and put down frequently, without losing my place...I've got it!
Sweet Hitch-a-Hiker, you are all of those things, and I think I love you already!  (Several of my friends have knit this skinny shawl/scarf, and I have been infected with the hitchhiker love!)  After this, I don't know what kind of love I'll be infected with next...But for now, my Chroma yarn and I are going to enjoy the time we spend, hitchhiking together...thumbs up!!!

What are you working on?  Any plans for baseball season?  For the summer? I hope that you are doing the things that you love, and finding joy in the people who love you!  

Thanks for stopping by, and Knit in Good Health!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

24 hours of quilting...

Three cheers for Pretty!
Go, Pretty!  Go, Pretty!  
Getcha quilt on!  Go, Pretty!

(dances and shakes pom poms)

Besides finishing the 18th and 19th letters in my Alphabet Soup (R and H), I have been busy with a BIG project for my farming friend.  Her daughter is graduating high school this spring, and she put a shout out for some help in putting together a special piece of home to accompany her as she transitions to college life.  Over the last few weeks, I have put 24 hours into the creation of this keepsake, and I am so happy with how it turned out!  You've seen some of these photos before, but I can't help myself...here they are again:
Just a few "in progress" photos of the process...
As for the specs, I did a lot of research before starting this project.  Several websites into it, I realized that I was going to go my own way in the world of quilting, just as I have always done with yarny projects.  Many of the sites I visited told me the best ways to do everything, and they also told me that some of my plans would simply not work.  Apparently, I just saw that advice as a challenge, because I was able to accomplish just about everything I had originally planned for this T-shirt quilt...and most of my plans worked out just fine...better than fine, even...Excellent!!!
Can barely believe it's finished...Yay!
I am currently researching even more new techniques for my next t-shirt quilt(s)...because I already have collections of Mork's and Snake's shirts a-waiting!  (I am betting that Mindy and Dollface may also be interested.)  

Here's what I learned/remembered with this quilt project:
  1. Everything has to be "just right" when fusing interfacing to jersey knit...the temp of the iron, how the shirts are washed and cut, the timing.  Read the directions carefully.
  2. Fleece is way stretchier than I think it is.  I mean, it's a knit, so it stretches...but I always forget just how stretchy it is.  Perhaps if I work two or three of these this year, I will remember that the next time I sew with fleece.
  3. You can never have too many pins when securing the quilt top to the batting/backing...you may think you have enough, but you'll probably need more.
  4. Fleece will work as a backing, and the quilt will be plenty warm even without batting in the middle!  Omitting the batting also makes the finished blanket less bulky and easier to fit in a standard washer and dryer.
  5. Fleece will also work as a binding, but it has to be pretty wide, and the mitered corners don't press down and lay nicely without some encouragement.  The finished width of my purple, fleece binding is approximately 3 inches, but it could easily have been wider, and I "encouraged" the corners by tying them together with some embroidery floss in fun colors!
  6. Oh, and I still love to sew!  It's been awhile, but I still love it!
I added some fun buttons to the quilt!
Now that the quilt is done, and all the specs are on mysewingcircle.com (I'm PKJewelry there too), I hope to get a couple more letters finished for the soup, and also to work on the baseball sweater...all of a sudden I miss the baseball sweater.  I think I'll go knit for awhile!

Thanks for stopping by, and Knit in Good Health!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Holy Stitching, Pretty!

It's been busy around here!  Checking in to let you know that I have finished the Peanut socks:
Two weeks for these tiny socks? Sheesh!

that match these Gramma Socks!
I can't wait to share my sock love with Peanut!

And I have been stitching my heart out on a t-shirt quilt...
I forgot how close my flesh gets to that needle...careful, Pretty!

I think this is my favorite shirt of the bunch:
Holy COW, indeed! 

This weekend, I hope to get a lot of the hand-stitching done so that this will be ready for gifting before summer...I can't wait!  And I am also dreaming of getting some more work done on the Baseball Sweater (no new pics, sorry!).  

I hope that your springtime busy is not stealing your stitching time...and if you're a mom (or a gramma or a mommy or "like a mom" to someone), I hope you get some time this week with your favorite members of the younger generation!  Happy day to you all!

Thanks for stopping by, and Knit (and sew) in Good Health!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I used to. . .

At our last knit night, I overheard one of the knitters say, "I don't pole dance...anymore..."  Looking at her, I never would have guessed that perhaps she knew how to pole dance!  I know, I know.  It may have been a joke, but it got me thinking about things that I don't really do anymore.

I used to roller skate almost every Saturday.  In my defense, everybody did...it was the 80s.  About a decade ago, I helped to start and organize an annual family skate night for our church, and it was fun!  But, it's been a few years since then even. 

I used to play the trumpet.  Actually, I also used to play the flute, then the clarinet, then the trumpet, then the trombone, then the french horn.  I may or may not have dabbled with a guitar and some keyboards along the way as well, but I never really worked at them.  When my elementary school band director heard that I had taught myself to play the trumpet the summer after 6th grade, and then landed 3rd chair in the 7th grade band, he said, "Nooo!  Saxophone is next, not trumpet!"  I never did pick up a saxophone, and I still own a clarinet and a trumpet, but I can't remember the last time I tried to make a sound with either one.

I used to swim a lot.  I mean hours and hours upon hours in the pool, all summer long, swimming laps for the sheer enjoyment of it.  I was not a fast swimmer, and I never won any awards for my swimming.  Slow and steady was I, striving for "poetry in motion" with every stroke (that's what one of my early swim instructors told us to work towards)...minimizing the splashes, imagining myself long and lean, toes pointed, cutting through the water like a little red sports car glides across the pavement without resistance. Waltzing in my head as I freestyled my way along, kick-two-three, kick-two-three, "Daahhh, daahhh, da dummmmm!  Da, da, da, dahhh, da dummmmmm!"

Oh yeah, I used to dance.  I danced to the music on the radio in my mom and dad's kitchen when Gary Dee was the morning DJ on WHK radio.  I danced in the living room on holidays and special occasions when I had a fancy dress to twirl in.  I danced in the back yard to the music in my head.  Once, I danced in a dress that my mother had bought for her senior prom...I wore that dress to my senior prom, and I recently ran across it in storage.
It was swingy, and sparkle-y, and simply spectacular!  
Wow, finding that dress makes me want to dance again!  You know what else makes me want to dance?  This tiny tush, keeping time to Van Halen's Tattoo at my house last night!:
video
Future groupie?  Daddy and Pop Pop sure hope not!

Yep, I danced, too.  (Just for clarification, there was no pole involved.)  There is no video evidence, but I totally danced!  Then, after Peanut's bedtime, I played with yarn.  I used to play with yarn, and YAY!, I still do!!!  

Thanks for stopping by, and Knit in Good Health!

Do you still dance?

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Duck, Duck, Quilt!

Over the past month, I have made a new friend.  A Mama Mallard has nested under a bush near the building where I work.  She laid 11 eggs.  At first, I used my zoom lens to take photos of her and her nest, but she must have grown to trust me, because she lets me get really close, and I did not use a zoom lens or crop these photos at all...
On Friday morning, I took this photo of the first hatchling, just minutes after it escaped it's eggshell and moved under the mama for warmth:
And a little later, still under Mama's protective care, but all fluffy now:
By the time I left work yesterday, I could see four empty eggshells, but all of the babes were apparently safe and sound under the duck...no really new photo ops there, so I went home and grabbed some pics of my latest non-yarny creation, a t-shirt quilt for a friend! A couple nights ago, I turned a pile of shirts into a stack of squares...
Then I cut sashing fabric and threaded Old Faithful...
It was so fun to watch this come together, piece by piece...
I love the way this is turning out!
The top is nearly done, and I am planning to back it with cozy fleece...it's going to be the softest, coziest, funnest quilt I've ever put together!  In fact, my only regret with this quilt is that I will have to call it finished at some point, and I'd kindof like to work on it forever!  (No worries...Snake would like his MIL to make him one, too!)

I hope to get some work done on this later today, but I have been missing my baseball sweater.  It's a tough pattern, but I am starting to really like how it's turning out!
So, that's my week, in a nutshell (or an eggshell, I suppose!).  I hope that you are finding time to do what you love, even if you are busy!  Thanks for stopping by, and Knit in Good Health!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Hibernation

I once knit my daughter a hat.
She models it here, with her cat.
--- But the hat was too tight,
--- She'd like slouchy and light...
That one made her hair go all flat.

So I promised to knit her another.
After all, I am one knitting mother.
--- But I ran out of wool,
--- Before the hat’s length was full,
So I asked her to bring me the other.

I figured I’d rip out the stitches,
Creating more yarn, not more glitches;
--- And she said she would bring it –
--- But she hasn’t...well, dang it!
I wish I could know what the hitch is…

For, until I get that other hat,
The one that makes her hair flat,
--- This project, it snoozes;
--- Hibernation, it chooses;
And I guess, all in all, that is that.

Long story short (too late, I know), I made her a scarf and mittens last winter.  This past winter, she asked for a hat to match, so I bought yarn and set out to knitting a lovely hat, one that matches.  When I ran out of the yarn I had left over, I started to beg her to bring me the other one, so I could pirate that yarn and finish the new hat…that was sometime in late January…I am finally going to admit defeat, and put this project into hibernation…at least until I get that hat back!  lolz!

All is not lost on the project however.  I did finish knitting a letter “Z” last week, so I can give this hat a proper hibernation photo...  
...and I am making some progress on the Baseball Sweater...more about that next time.  For now, thanks for stopping by, and knit in good health!