Monday, December 11, 2006

Wired

Amazing what a little coersion from the universe can do to lead you to something new, something different. Peeps, I'm talking about knitting with wire!

It all started with these candles.


Tiny Anais Garden Votives



Oddly enough, the universe threw the candles at me on Thursday while I was holiday shopping. I didn't NEED them but I can't resist most candles, especially one dozen 2 inch high candles in a beautifully adorned box.

Then on Friday, I saw this Twist and Loop had finally arrived on the shelves at Books a Million. Perused the book but resisted the urge to buy because I MUST finish my Christmas knitting FIRST! (Yeah, right)

And on Saturday, the universe finally threw a brick at my head with this adorable, ingenius pattern at Knitty - Venezia. I dreamed about this pattern all night, the beads, the colors, the wire, the excitement of something NEW.

I finally gave in and on Sunday, I dug out my bead box, found some 24 gauge wire, some simple glass beads and decided to try my hand at knitting with something other than fiber. I.AM.ADDICTED! The 2 inch candles are no longer naked, they have little handknit, beaded chaquetas (aka jackets for us gringos).


Tiny Votive Chaqueta (detail)




Tiny Votive Chaqueta



The multicolor one was my prototype. While the 24 gauge wire was just fine to knit with, I decided to use 28 gauge on the rest of them. I'm not going to stop until all 24 of them have jackets. Yup, some of you will be getting these for Christmas pressies this year.

Tiny Votive Chaquetas

Pattern: Mine on the fly
Wire: 28 gauge/24 yards (should be able to knit at least three jackets per spool)Beads: (Green hued votives) Blue Moon Beads sea colored mix and Natural gemstone Jade chips (be sure not to use plastic beads so that they don't melt)
Needles: Size 9 mystery double points (they're white plastic/acrylic from years ago; I think they're Lion Brand)
Misc: Wire snips, 2" tall (1.5" across) votives
Time: 1 hour or less per chaqueta (includes stringing beads)

Directions:

1.) String the beads randomly onto the wire (I spaced the Blue Moon beads and the jade chips using approximately a 7:1 ratio). I didn't count the number that I strung on but approximately 125 should do it.

2.) Using knitted cast on, loosely CO 15 sts (at least for me, this row was very ugly!)

3.) (Before knitting each stitch, slip a bead then knit the stitch) Knit 8 rows slipping beads in between EACH stitch (you don't have to bead every stitch if you don't want to. Play with pattern until you're happy with it cause its all about YOU).

4.) Loosely BO all sts continuing to slip beads into the BO row; leave a 12 inch tail.

5.) Use tail to stitch the two sides together.

6.) Continue using tail and loop wire through all of the CO stitches and draw them together tightly to close the gap to create the flat base for the chaqueta. Using wire snips, twist and tuck ends so that they're not exposed.

7.) Pop votive into the chaqueta to lightly stretch it so that it fits.

8.) Repeat until you're either tired of making them or you run out of beads and wire.

Notes: Stringing the beads takes the longest time of anything with this project. I may invest in a bead spinner or make one of these to make this part go faster. Or I may bribe Thing 2 to do it in exchange for Christmas gift spending money. Contrary to some of things I've seen on the internets, knitting with wire was not hard on my hands. I only suffered one minor injury where I carelessly reached into the bead box and very quickly found where the beading needles had disappeared to - ouch!

So what are you waiting for? Pick up those needles and start knitting with some wire!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Healing Hands - Crabtree and Evelyn Gardener's Hand Therapy


Crabtree and Evelyn Gardener's Hand Therapy


Where to buy: Crabtree and Evelyn
Price: $14.00 (US)
Price rating (1-5 with 1 = great value and 5 = expensive): 4
Size: 3.4 oz
Favorite or featured ingredients: Shea butter and bisabolol
Greasiness (1-5 with 1 = not greasy at all and 5 = very greasy): 2
Staying power (1-5 with 1 = constantly need to reapply and 5 = lasts even after hand washing): 2
Softness of hands (1-5 with 1 = not soft and 5 = very soft): 4
Fragrance: herbal upon initial application but fades quickly to become much more subtle
Overall rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Since this is the first review of hand creams, let me set up my criteria:
* I will use a product exclusively for at least 24 prior to reviewing.
* Each will be tested under the same circumstances when possible (variables such as weather are beyond my control)
* Each will be reapplied at regular intervals during the waking hours.
* Each will be tested while knitting with wool yarn for at least one hour.
* Each review is purely my opinion and experience and are not based on research based evidence
* I'll add updates to the various reviews as comments and suggestions come in

My Review:
I've used several of the Crabtree and Evelyn hand therapy creams over the years. La Source, Lavendar, Goat Milk and the Gardener's cream have been my favorites. The pros of these creams is the shea butter content which is great for super dry hands like mine. The tubes, while expensive, last a very long time because a little goes a long way. The fragrances tend to be subtle and yet pronounced enough if you really like good smelling hands. The Gardener's Hand Therapy smells a bit bohemian - like Patcholi - which my kids tend not to like to smell. But the fragrance fades quickly and isn't overpowering. Even though it is billed as a hand therapy for gardeners (which I am not), I didn't find that the cream has the best staying power. On cold dry days like yesterday (Dec. 3rd) which is when I tested it, I had to constantly reapply every hour or so. I also needed to reapply after hand washing otherwise my hands were horribly dry.

As far as softness, my hands feel great when the cream is regularly reapplied. The cream is very tacky and greasy upon initial application. However, it rubs in within a minute or two and doesn't leave a greasy residue. I keep this in my knitting bag because it does seem to last very nicely on my hands when knitting. My hands aren't too sticky after application so I can immediately resume knitting without worrying about getting residue my project.

Overall, I really like this hand cream and its certainly one of my top 10 favorites. However, in my neverending quest for the "perfect" hand cream, this one is lacking the staying power that I want when its cold and dry. In the spring, summer and fall, its great but when the temps start to drop below 40, I need something more.

What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Curiously Clever Clogs Redux

Sorry for some of the cross posting from Crafster and Knitters Review forums. These are some of my more indepth observations and comments with regard to the pattern and my FO. If you don't have the pattern, a good bit of this isn't going to make sense:


More on the Curiously Clever Clogs. Here are a couple of finished shots of them:


Curiously Clever Clogs




Curiously Clever Clogs



Pattern: Curiously Clever Clogs by Stitch Diva

Yarn: (main body) 1 skein Patons Merino in Denim, (inner sole) 1 skein Cascade 220 off white, (outer sole) 1 skein Galway dark brown heathered

Needles: US size 13 Denise needles

Misc: clip on stitch markers, waste yarn, scissors, row counter

Time: 6 - 8 hours approximately


* IMHO, this pattern has a high fidget factor. I've been knitting for 20 plus years and have knit lace, fair isle, cables, etc. so I'm okay with fidgety patterns. That being said, the pattern is definitely worth fidgeting through. You will definitely feel more confident about short rows after knitting this pattern and the ktch and ptch stitches are so freaking clever. There is very little seaming which is an added bonus in my book.

* I flew through the sections of the main slipper body and inner sole. Where it gets fidgety is when you begin to attach the outer sole to the main slipper body. If I had been able to print it, I believe that the chart would have helped me with these directions but reading them on screen was just too hard for me. I also had a hard time envisioning how this pattern was constructed. There is a fair amount of written detail about it but I'm a very visual person and could not for the life of me figure out how the outer sole was attached to the main body (even though there are pictures of this too). It didn't help that my printer died and I couldn't print a hard copy of the pattern. After knitting the first slipper, I finally figured it out. Below are a few in progress pictures that explain some of the concepts that my poor brain couldn't grasp at the time.


Curiously Clever Clogs - attaching outer sole




Curiously Clever Clogs - Outer Sole attached




Curiously Clever Clogs - The flip side and the inner sole




Curiously Clever Clogs - Seaming the outer sole




Curiously Clever Clogs - inside out post seaming




Curiously Clever Clogs (with i-cord added) before and after felting



Needless to say, my first slipper is a lot more "special" than the second one. Unless I point out the issues though, you can't tell that its kinda twisted and wonky because felting concealed a number of the issues.

* I knit mine with a single strand of worsted weight yarn vs. the double strand that is recommended. Mostly because I didn't want to waste a ton of yarn on the first pair just in case they didn't turn out so good. I personally tend not to like hot feet and even single stranded, these babies are plenty warm and comfy. The sole is still nice and squishy (which is a value add that Stitch Diva promotes) and they're quite sturdy. I also didn't add the beads because I plan to needle felt designs on the tops of the slippers (though the beading is a very clever technique I plan to use on future clogs).

* I'd highly recommend that you knit a test slipper first (or don't be afraid to frog that first slipper) to get the hang of the ktch and ptch that you begin with the outer sole. It makes so much more sense to me now that I'm working on the second pair and I wish that I'd frogged the first slipper instead of plodding ahead.

* You can adjust the finished size by pulling them out of the wash sooner. After the first 8 - 10 minutes of felting, I could have easily blocked the clogs to fit my husband who wears a size 9.

* Use a row counter! There are several places where you go back and repeat certain rows and without a row counter, it can get very confusing.

* I would guess that you could get child sized clogs by knitting with DK weight yarn and using the same instructions for the regular clogs. I'm not sure that I'd try to adjust the pattern otherwise. Anyone else with the pattern have any suggestions?

I've cranking through these for holiday gifts and will post more on the needle felting once I decide what to put on each pair. The second pair that are pictured next to the first pair are made from Araucania Nature wool, Cascade 220 and Patons Merino. Can't wait to see how some of the others turn out. Best of luck!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Knitting while quarantined

We've been under a self imposed quarantine since last weekend. The stomach bug cooties invaded la casita de Muse, hitting King Thing first. He was out of commission for almost five days. I thought that we'd dodged the bullet but then Thing 2 got Montezuma's revenge on Tuesday. Needless to say, we decided that there was too big a risk of infecting our 80 something year old grandparents and decided to sit this Thanksgiving out holed up in SW VA. While my dreams of sitting back and letting Mom fix loads of coma inducing goodness were dashed, we did celebrate in our own slothlike way by holding the couches down with me knitting (more about this in a minute) and King Thing watching three endless days of college football. Oh yeah, we did absolutely nothing last week. I did cook a fitting Thanksgiving dinner for the four of us though we all ate in moderation, completely unsure of where Montezuma would strike next. I'm probably the only person on the planet who lost weight last week because I was afraid to eat. Thing 1 and I have (knock on wood) avoided having to pray to the porcelain. I continue to wipe the house down daily with disinfectant wipes and think seriously about living in a bubble until the wave of cooties ends in the Spring.

So today my house is empty, quiet and testosterone free for the first time in 10 days. Woot! Woot! As far as catching up, I've begun to set up a list of some of the hand remedies that you've suggested that I try on my sidebar. I'll gradually add links, etc. as I find them. I've got a few of them on order and will begin to review them as they come in. In the meantime, I'll review some of the hand creams that I'm currently using.

Now back to that Thanksgiving knitting. I finished my first pair of Curiously Clever Clogs by Stitch Diva.


Curiously Clever Clogs



These were my test knit pair to see if I liked the pattern. I think they turned out great even though the first one is a bit "special" and is slightly wonky. I decided to nix the beads in favor of needle felting designs on each pair (more to come of that very soon). I shoulda ripped it out after I figured out what I was doing with the second one. Alas, I was too bull headed and decided that I'd already invested way too much time to reknit it. The only other felted footwear that I've made are the Fuzzy Feet from Knitty. They were insanely easy. These are very fidgety. I'm going to blither about these in a separate post so I don't drone on forever in this one. I love the pattern and it is well written but for visual people like me, I needed more in progress pictures so I could understand what I was doing. Maybe the turkey clouded my head. Maybe I'm just a f**ktard. Now that I've figured out what the pattern is telling me to do, I'll be making several pairs as Christmas gifts this year. Just so you can see how huge these are before you felt them, here's a shot of the pair I finished knitting for my number my Grandma next to the first pair. Dayum!



Curiously Clever Clogs before and after felting



I've got tons o' crap to update ya'll on - birthday knits, FOs, test knitters wanted, patterns coming - but don't want this post to get too long. I'll probably post quite a bit this week as I won't be around next week (out of town working again).

If you've got a minute today, go give my knit bud Heaz aka Pixiestikz a big birthday shout out. She has brightened my life in many wondrous ways. H, your friendship rescued me from some seriously loneliness. For that, I will always be grateful :) Have an awesome day filled with lots of buttercream and love!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Sorry, love no time for bloggin'

You may or may not recall that I am a huge techno geek and yet, I've refused to buy an iPod. I don't do Apple, never have, never will. All you iPod junkies, don't even bother to try to convince me of all the wonders of the iPod. Its like trying to convince a diehard Republican to vote Democrat or vice versa.

My new baby (thanks to King Thing and the boys) and final birthday prezzie is this dookie brown Zune from Microsoft, of course.



Been loading music and videos on this baby as fast as I can since I ripped her from the box. Can you guess what music went on first?

Anyhoo, I know I owe y'all some goodies, some knitting and much more but I've got many years of techno repression to catch up on and just a smidge of time to do it in. I wish I could blame all of my lateness on the Zune but most of it is work related. And in the last 24 hours, I may have inherited an exchange student for the month of January. And there's this crazy Thanksgiving thing coming up next week and holiday knitting. Needless to say I'm (happily) thrashing.

I am compiling your dry hand solutions and will post on that soon though not before Tuesday because I'll be out of town again until then. I have wonderful birthday goodies to share thanks to your suggestions and by Tuesday, I should have a FO or two using the fiber I purchased. I decided that I loved all of your ideas so much that I'm going to send all of you assorted chocolatey goodness from the newly opened Chocolate Paper. Send me your addy by email (and I know who the 13 of you are so please be honest) and I'll get the goodies out to you sometime between now and after Thanksgiving. Thanks again for helping me celebrate well over a month of birthday goodness. I've got a chick weekend planned with three wild crazy Costa Rican women. What have I gotten myself into?

BTW - for those of you in the Roanoke area, AC Moore is clearing out seemingly all of the KFI distributed yarns (Araucania, Alpaka, Cashmere, etc.) for great prices (30 - 50% off). Get it before its gone (there's not much left thanks to my crazy buying frenzy this morning)!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Helping Hands

I'll warn you, I have a hand theme today so work with me and yes, this does have something to do with knitting.

First, thank you (hear my hands clapping for you) to my fellow Americans and specifically my Virginian peeps for rocking the vote yesterday. We were not content to sit on our hands and instead braved the weather and long lines to exercise our privilege to vote. Now, promise me you'll do the same in 2008. Pulleeezzzeee?!?!?!

On any given Fall or Winter day, here's where you will find my hands when not clenched on some knitting needles.



Yes, they're firmly wrapped around my favorite mug that is filled with something so close to scalding hot that my lips usually recoil before I even turn the cup up. These days, its tea which is not my beverage of choice but I'm trying to cut down on my coffee intake because I am way too addicted to it. Tea does not make me exceedingly happy but it will have to do.

Observe the stubby dry nails that have become brittle from the cold. Note the sad grey color of my hands. My fam calls this "ashy" which means that loads of lotion, cream, moisturizer, cocoa butter, etc. are in constant need from October - May. Couple this challenge with wool yarn that sucks the moisture out of your body if you venture near it and what you have is seven months of dry hand misery. Now I know that I'm not the only one whose hands suffer when the weather gets cold. And yet, every year, I go through gallons of different lotions that claim to cure dry hands only to be disappointed time and again with their performance.

Here's where you can lend me and your fellow knitters a helping hand.

Send me a review of your favorite hand lotion/moisturizer either by email at indigomuse at verizon dot net or in the comments. In your review, please include the full name of the product, how much you paid for it, where you bought it and why you would recommend it to your fellow fiber fiends. I'll randomly select a different one each week for my own personal review (and your input too if you've tried the product)which I'll post here on my blog. We'll do some voting and a drawing in a couple of months for some post holiday prezzies.


I'll start this coming Monday. I can't wait to hear what y'all are using. I'm willing to try almost anything at this point.

My hands were busy working on the Double Top Secret Project last night while the election results sllloooowwwwllyy came in. It's almost finished. Sorry I can't show you more but I can tell you that I love how its turning out.

What I will show you are the latest additions I made this summer to my knitted friends collection. These pink cuties are modified Thrifty Critters.



Thrifty Critters with Mods

Materials
Body - 1/2 skein (about 35 yds) per critter of Moda Dea Cartwheel in Raspberries and Neopolitan
Eyes - tiny bits of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino and Blue Moon Roving
Needles - Clover bamboo double points size 4
Time - not sure but probably 2 - 3 hours for both including detail work

Finished size
6" tall

Mods
I decided that mine needed legs and arms the same length though they have a varied number of fingers and toes. Since I don't crochet, I made a 6 stitch bobble for the eyes and embroidered the pupils using Blue Moon roving. The hair is also roving and I gave them each a braided rattail. To stuff the body, I crammed fiberfil into a stocking leg and then crammed that into the body cavity. I then filled their bums with rice so they'd sit up on their own before securing the stocking and cinching up the last few stitches.


Notes
This pattern was fun to knit, a tad fidgety but then again its on double points and a great way to use up bits of yarn. The cartwheel yarn feels great but because of its thick and thin nature, its hard to get a consistent gauge when knitting with it which is why I went down so many needle sizes. I'm thinking about making some with elf hats to give as Christmas gifts. They sit so nicely on the mantle that they're begging to hold a stocking.

One final hand note. There is this naughty bit that I had to share - The Ketchup Effect. I don't know what the movie is about but this clip is too funny for words. Don't watch it with the kiddies in the room. Enjoy!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Monday Musings

Nothing like starting the day with some retail therapy at The Fresh Market right as they open on a Monday. The shelves are stocked with fresh goodies, samples abound, peaceful music lilts through the store and the best part of all - very few shoppers. I return to my desk, refreshed, relaxed and ready to start the work week.

Many thanks for your kind birthday wishes. It has truly been a wondrous celebration. If my friends both real and virtual are any indication, then 37 is going be a VERY good year for me. Plus, Astrologyzone.com predicts that the next year is going to be fab for Scorpios. I'm feeling the astrological love in a major way. Tonight is the finale with dinner for four at a friend's new abode. I'm looking forward to lots of laughs and the warmth of friendship.

As far as your entries in my mini-birthday contest, I'm having a hard time choosing from them because they're all so good. I did buy small prezzie - a pattern at Stitch Diva to make these cuties


cause I have more stash yarn than I know what to do with and I need to get cracking on holiday gifties. I'll be doing a quickie yarn crawl as I trek from one end of the state and back (for work) later this week. With your suggestions in hand as a "shopping list", I'll make some purchases and post the winners on Monday. I can't wait!

I'm almost finished with the double top secret knitting project (and cast on for another one to celebrate) and am very pleased with how this one knit up. I might flash you a peek when I'm finished. I found myself without my double points that I needed to finish a critical piece of it. I was sad, very sad.


Sad Muse when she's without her needles
Originally uploaded by indigomuse.



I always look forward to four hours of knitting time in the car and really wanted to finish this piece during that time. Suddenly, I recalled reading last week about double knitting in the latest issue of Knitty. I laughed to myself about how pigs would fly before I would try something like that. Well, let me tell you, there must have been some swine soaring over the skies of Virginia last night. Because I never planned to use the technique, I honestly didn't pay close attention to the article. But somehow, I remembered the basics and in no time was double knitting a circular tube without double points with much success.

I came, I saw, I DKed
Originally uploaded by indigomuse.


Now for those of you who know how to do this already, you'll laugh at me for not having tried this technique sooner. But for those who haven't, its so simple, so magical, so damned easy, a caveman could do it - LOL! Needless to say, I had to smurk the entire way home.

A slight non-fiber related rant for my fiber kindred in the US: Help me prove the political pundits wrong on Tuesday. Get off your arse and VOTE! I'm not going to tell you who you should vote for nor will you see me spout off about politics in general, but nothing makes me sadder than to hear that the expectation is that 2/3 of Americans will stay home tomorrow. Come on people, women in particular. Our ancestors worked too hard - and yes, many of them died - so that you and I would have the right to vote. Don't squander that beautiful gift. Your vote DOES count!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Help me celebrate my birthday!

*** Edited to add: Lookie, lookie. My felted fortune cookies are on the Craft Magazine blog. I'm almost famous!

I was awakened at 6 am by the Beatles "Its Your Birthday" courtesy of Thing 2. Oh it wasn't intentional. He just blasts the Beatles at all hours of the night and morning because they help him get back to sleep. Lucky me, right? But it was still a fun way to wake up even it he didn't plan it. By 7 am, the sun was rising over the mountains and I couldn't help but smile. It is quite a beautiful day to be alive.

So tonight at 9:16 pm, I'll be 37 years young. I gave myself a birthday treat of a Caramel macchiato and a cranberry orange scone from Starbucks and some applewood smoked bacon from Fresh Market. Yum! All my favorites and none of them good for me. Who cares, its my birthday and I can do what I want. Besides, this is the closest that I'll get for a celebration since we'll be schlepping Thing 1 and Thing 2 to Halloween socials all over the Valley tonight. The bummer about a Halloween birthday is that you don't really get to have a "regular" party. Oh well, I can think of worse things.

Wanna see something really scary?


Halloween 1979
Originally uploaded by indigomuse.


I know its a little fuzzy because its a picture of a picture but this is me and my brother on Halloween 1979. Doncha love my 'fro? I was Ms. America (for like the umteenth year in a row who knew that Vanessa Willams would beat me to being the first Black Ms. America.) and he was a dead sexy pirate. I laugh every time I look at it.

I've been showered with the blessings of friends for the last week. It actually started a month ago with Heaz taking me out to dinner when I was in the MD/DC area for work and surprising me with BUTTERCREAM ICING CUPCAKES! I was in heaven and have the pictures to prove it. You know you have the best friends in the world when they give you buttercream :) Thanks H! You really are the greatest.

The Things and I went to Halloscream at Busch Gardens two weeks ago and had a blast. In 30 years, I'd never been. The place was packed moreso than it is in the summer. And its all dressed up for Halloween. This is a pic of Thing 2 after one of the little shows Witchie Poo and Pumpkin too. He got to be a part of it and they're all saying the magic word he chose which was Lasagne.

Witchie Poo, Pumpkin and Thing 2
Originally uploaded by indigomuse.


Last Wed., my Fab Five knitting and spinning buddies took me to Petticoats and Petitfours for a delish lunch. And guess what it ended with? A tiny buttercream cake!

Buttercream Cupcake
Originally uploaded by indigomuse.


Yes, they love me and I know it. Right back at ya! These wonderful ladies saved me from some serious loneliness when I thought that I was the only knitter/spinner in this area. Y'all make me laugh til my sides ache the next day and fill my heart with such joy. Your friendship is the best gift I could have. Thanks!

My best bud Adri and family came up this weekend for some celebrating. This is what old people do to celebrate.


Sleeping beauties
Originally uploaded by indigomuse.



Yup, we eat and sleep while the kids tear the house down around us. But we're sleeping so we don't care. Adri made me an adorable apron and gave me some kitchen gadgets. I'm a sucker for gadgets.

Finally, a gratuitous knitting picture. Its a sneak peek of my final prototype of a project that I'm working on that will be sent off for test knitting soon. I'm loving these colors and the yarn in a major way. I can't wait until I can show you what I've been working on.

Double top secret knitting project
Originally uploaded by indigomuse.



Present Time, Present time, Open the Presents and See What's Inside

No presents yet but here's how you can help me celebrate my birthday. McGuyver and Ebayman (aka Mom and Dad) gave me lots o' moola for my birthday. I used to just spend the money on the kids and when they found out a few years ago, I got into mega trouble. So, now they want to SEE what I've bought as proof that I spent the money on myself. I've used the money for spinning, fiber, knitting and yarn for the last several (for example, I purchased my first Golding spindle and Arwen the spinning wheel in recent years). It is so hard for me to rationalize spending money on myself. Its that mom's guilt that plagues so many of us. It got me big time this weekend. So much so, I filled up a couple of online shopping carts and then cancelled before I placed the order :( I know that some of you out there who will remain nameless, have no problem spending money.
So, if you could spend a couple hundred dollars on something knitting or spinning related, what would you spend it on? Books, exotic yarns and fibers, kits, needles, something I haven't even thought of? Please include in your comments the specifics like names of yarns, fibers, gadgets, etc. and where you would buy it. I'll choose some prezzies for myself from your answers and the winners will get some goodies too.

The deadline for your answers is midnight Wednesday, Nov.1st EST.


I'm celebrating Samhain (pronounced Sow-win) this year in addition to Halloween, since I was made an honorary Celt by my friend Ellen's family last year. Supposedly, being born on Halloween means you're gifted with clairvoyance. Maybe I need to break out the Ouija board or do a little divination - LOL! Whatever you do to celebrate, have fun and be safe!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Fab Five (er Four) Friday

Two posts in one week - sound the alarm!

Happy birthday to Mr. LeBon Bon.



Still makes my heart swoon after all these years. He was my first celebrity crush. My boy is a tad bit older than moi but our birthdays are a mere few days apart. I've got four more days until I hit the big 37. I'm careening toward 40. Yikes!

In other Duran Duran news, Andy Taylor announced that he was leaving the band yesterday :( Thus the reason why its now a Fab Four Friday. I can't believe that they were still together after so many years. I know they're not like the Stones or Beatles but they certainly ushered in a new genre of music in our pop culture. Ah, nothing like a trip down memory lane.
No don't say a prayer for meeee noowwwww. Save it til the morning after.....

Fall hit my hood this week. Check out this beauty in my backyard. Sandy would have enjoyed the fluffy white and blue sky. I know that I did.


Fall in SW VA 2006
Originally uploaded by indigomuse.



Speaking of my hood, go give a shout out to one of my real world knitting/spinning friends, Robin. She's celebrating her first year in bloglandia. Happy first, Robin! She's having a contest that you can enter too. I know she has some treats to share if you win.

What I did this summer #27 - Mason Dixon Warsh rags


Mason Dixon Warsh rag
Originally uploaded by indigomuse.


Yup, I was a joiner even if it was for a short while. Shhhh, don't tell anyone. I saw these cuties and was absolutely mesmerized. I made a couple of regular ones and then took some stupid pills and decided to make one on the diagonal. And then lost it somewhere in the pile of finished objects. If I find it, take a picture cause its a beauty. Took me four hours on one of many road trips to not only figure out how to work the increases and keep it in pattern. These were made with good ole cotton and with the exception of the one I lost, they've been a staple in my kitchen.

BTW, acrylic yarn doesn't felt. All I'm sayin'. Most of you are saying "Duh" right now. Duh, I knew that alrady too. Let's just say I must have had a couple of out of body experiences this week. Someday, I'll show you what happened. I'm gonna blame it on mega PMS.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Cloudy with a chance of ...WTF?

Woke up yesterday to the weather forecast - "cloudy today with a chance of snow". S.N.O.W. WTF? Now I know I live in the mountains and yes it can get cold but snow in October is just plain crazy. Let's hope that this isn't a sign of what the winter has in store for us in SW Virginia. I love a few snow days but I don't want to get socked in for days on end. Nothing like a little Monday bitchin' to start the week off right. Don't even get me started about Blogger on Friday. Oy!

Anyhoo, after many attempts, I gave up on trying to post on Friday. I love technology. I hate technology. Just depends on the day. Finally, some pictures for ya since I've been a bad blogger.

What I did this summer #44 - Made a shawl for my best friend's daughter

It was for both her 5th birthday and her christening. I used the Knitty pattern "Tie One On" and added various modifications to make it smaller. I'm happy to post the mods but would like to have one or two people test knit it first. Any takers? If so, drop me an email.

Miri hates wool so I wasn't sure she'd even consider wearing it (I used Cascade Indulgence for a small portion of it). But she loved it and prissed around in it. She's the only little girl I get to knit for so I truly enjoyed the change of pace from knitting for boys. Below are pictures of the shawl, a close up of the loom bloom pin and Miri wearing it to her special day. The Weavette is too fun for words. I see doing more with it in the future and perhaps I'll get a larger one.


Miri's Shawl
Originally uploaded by indigomuse.



Miri's Shawl

Materials
Body of Shawl - (1 skein) Cascade Indulgence and (2 skeins) Aunt Lydia's New Wave Crochet
Shawl Flower pin - Blue Sky Alpaca Silk and clear seed beads
4" Weavette loom
Needles - Denise Sizes 5, 8 and 15
Time - not sure but probably 6 - 7 hours including the weavette flower pin

Finished size
I'll have to dig those up but it fit a very petite five year old with a bit of grow room

Notes
Overall, this pattern was fun to knit and wasn't the least bit fidgety. It's a good project for a quick gift.


Shawl Pin Close-up
Originally uploaded by indigomuse.


Miri's Christening
Originally uploaded by indigomuse.



As for the here and now, there is much knitting in la casita de Muse. I hit a brick wall for most of the month of September and then had a burst of creativity over the last week or so. I've been working on some patterns and might have a couple ready in the next few weeks. If you've expressed an interest in testing knitting for me in the past, please send me an email. I'm putting a contact list together for future reference.

You'll probably see more pictures than long written posts in the immediate future. I'm enjoying reading your posts, comments and of course seeing all of your inspiring knits. Happy spinning and knitting :)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

101 Things I Did on Summer Vacation

Does anyone remember having to write about your summer vacation when you went back to school in September? I remember writing about lazy days by the pool, hooking up with friends, sweltering hot but fun practices at band camp (yeah, don't start with the jokes) and otherwise being bored to tears. Long gone are those days where the most one had to worry about was putting on sunscreen. Hell, I'm sure that I didn't even WEAR sunscreen back then.

Alas, this summer hearkened back to those days of yore. While I now have to worry about a crapload more than I did when I was 16 (like making sure that ALL of the Things are wearing sunscreen), Summer 06 was the stuff that dreams are made of.

I'm having a "Life Comes At You Fast" kinda September so my plan is to slowly climb back on the blogging wagon in the coming weeks. I just logged into Bloglines for the first time in three months today and was completely blown away by the number of posts since I read anything last. I'm sure that I missed some significant events in people's lives and that makes me sad. Y'all are like the big family that I never had and while I wanted to keep up, I had to focus for a few months. But things are settling into a weird, Twilight Zone kind of routine. The Things get up when the alarm clock goes off in the morning, there are no fights over the bathroom or what to pack for lunch, homework is completed with little or no whining and we've been to school on time every day this month. I keep waiting for Rod Serling to pop out of a closet and narrate these strange occurrences 'cause its too good to be true.

While I'm excited about my favorite season - FALL - starting in just a couple of days, I'm truly sad to see summer go. King Thing and I are already trying to figure out where we could live so that we'd have access to eternal summer ((((sigh)))). When I have a spare moment (which aren't too plentiful these days), I'll post pictures and regale you with stories of sun and fun. And of course, there's plenty of knitting peppered in there too. I need your help though. Here's the deal:

* I have 101 things to share about Summer 2006 and they're numbered from 1-101 in a spreadsheet in random order (not by order of my favorite to least favorite).

* I'll tell you about 2 activities in each post

* The first two people to post in the comments section for that day with their requested number gets to choose what I post about in the next post.


Why bother, you ask? Well, you get to hear me blither on and on (hey, you guys asked me to start posting again) and I don't have to think about what order to tell my little summer stories. Any questions? Good. Let me pick one to start off with...

# 57 - Went to a Violent Femmes concert in Virginia Beach with Thing 1


So Thing 1 thought that it would be fun to go to a big concert on the beach. As luck would have it, The Violent Femmes were playing at the East Coast Surfing Championships while we were in town. A quick trek to the VA Beach Oceanfront and we were set. The opening band - Jackmove - was kickass awesome. We were stoked for the Femmes and even maneuvered to the front of the stage. That was where it all ended. A word to the wise - If you're an aging, self proclaimed "Grandfather of Folk Punk", perhaps you should consider playing better, not louder. Other than "Blister in the Sun", the rest of their performance was very, very sad. They tried to over compensate by cranking the volume up seemingly after each song. Also sad were the drunk 40 and 50 somethings in the crowd, trying desperately to act hip and cool. Falling over drunk on little kids and innocent bystanders is not cool, people. I got a great clip on my phone of the woman Thing 1 and I dubbed "Skinny Drunk Lady" but can't figure out how to post it to the web. This drunk chick tried many times to weasel her way behind the stage, into the VIP section, wherever she wasn't supposed to be. She finally ended up next to us (yippie), flailing her cigarette and beer everywhere before nearly passing out on about eight of us. After 40 minutes and eardrums throbbing from standing in front of the speakers, we hightailed it outta there. All, Thing 1 could say is "man, I'm glad that you didn't have to pay for us to go to that concert"." Huh? Wha?" Is all I could say for two days thanks to the ringing in my ears.

Sounds like I didn't have fun, doesn't it? But really I had a blast. It was great to spend the day doing something that Thing 1 wanted to do. We ate lunch together, people watched (and laughed - especially at the drunk girl who ran into a telephone pole on her bike. Don't worry, she was okay otherwise we wouldn't have laughed at her) for hours and just "hung out." Even Skinny Drunk Girl couldn't ruin our fun. This summer, I reconnect with my boy first the first time in years. Maybe next time, we'll go see a good band of aging rockers like Metallica.

PS. In case you were wondering, like a dumbass I did take some knitting with me 'cause I thought that I could sit on the beach, watch the sunset and knit while Thing 1 wandered around at the surfing/skateboarding competition. I cowered in fear that one of the many drunk people would spill beer all over me and my knitting as they stumbled all around me. In their defense, I didn't realize until later that I'd plopped down in the middle of the beer/wine garden area. So no knitting pictures but the good news is that my knitting escaped without injury.

PSS - It may sound like everyone at the VA Beach oceanfront is drunk. That's NOT the case. Unfortunately, this event had a huge beer and wine garden and it seemed like people were determined to drink up every last drop. That's not usually the case as VB is VERY family friendly, there are lots of police on hand keeping the peace and we've rarely encountered intoxicated people down there in the past. Just my little tourism plug for my hometown.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Not dead yet

Okay, I've endured some ribbing from my cyber and in the flesh friends as of late. "Are you still alive? Would it kill you to post just once this summer?" Apparently some bloggers in Richmond thought that I had met my maker :) Not yet, I can assure you that I'm still alive. The equation for the summer that has ruled my life is:

Two boys out of school for the summer + work kicking my arse (in a good way though) + several vacation trips + "Groundhog Day" laundry, house cleaning and cooking = very little personal time (aka blogging, knitting, etc.)

I'll be back in the saddle again after Labor Day when school starts, life returns to a routine and I sadly bid farewell to one of the best summers ever. So hang in there. I'll have some real posts soon. Lots to catch up on. Lots of photos. Lots of stories to tell. But still no buttercream.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Buttercream Icing

I've been craving buttercream icing since September 2005. I've been on a mission to find the holy grail of buttercream for over six months now. I even made a batch of a Martha Stewart's boiled buttercream. Took 45 minutes to whip (45 minutes people) only to find that it wasn't what I've been craving. Its still frozen in a huge tub in my freezer. I want the real deal. I want something like this...



Damnit I want to eat my screen this looks so yummy. The stuff made from butter. Good quality wedding cake icing. Not the crap you can buy at Kroger or Food Lion on a cake. That stuff is 100% whipped shortening and it leaves your tongue basted in oil for weeks. No, I want the kind that you should apply liberally to your love handles, hips, thighs and boobs because that's where its going to land after you've eaten it. Real sugar and real butter and a delicious pound cake or cupcake too. Is that too much to ask? I guess so since I have yet to find a bakery in town that has some. I've tried to find some at the beach and in Richmond too with no luck though I KNOW that those areas have to have some. They're simply hiding it from me. Damn youse, damn youse all to hell. That whimpering you hear in the corner is just me. I'm slightly hormonal (okay, seriously hormonal) and am close to a nervous buttercream breakdown. Pardon the bitchiness and no stitchiness. I hope to return tomorrow with my regularly scheduled blog.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Spring Bada Bing - April 22nd!



Saturday, April 22nd is the 1st Annual Spring Bada Bing craft show that the Richmond Craft mafia is hosting (For more info, click the logo above). Like a crazy woman, I submitted an app and was accepted a little over a month ago. Now you do the math, that doesn't leave much time to crank out hand knit goodies -which is why I've been AWOL as of late. What was I thinking? Overacheiver that I tend to be, I don't have nearly as much as I wanted for the show but I think I'll have a decent booth. Anyhoo, if you're in the Richmond area, stop by and say "hi" (I'm FiberEvolution in booth #48). Or come by to mock me :)

And yes I'm a little late reporting on the Spring Fiber Festival. I met some of the most incredible people. The rain held off and there were some of the cutest animals all around. I met up with some of my "peeps" but forgot to take a picture. But I manage to remember to snap just a few festival pictures.

Sister Knitter, Jane, in her beautiful sweater.



We both snapped shots of each other. To see me, visit her blog. I managed to forget to snap a picture of Emmy but it was wonderful to see her again.

Cute little sheep who just wagged his little tail the entire time I pet him.



Loverly and very soft llamas. Or were they alpaca. I wish I could keep them straight in my head...



Hand spun sample of some gorgeous llama that I scored. A five pound bag for $5!!!! This stuff is beyond words. Its.So.Soft!




A demo of wet felting.




Last weekend, me and The Things hit Busch Gardens in Williamsburg. One word - CHURRO. Yum!!!! Busch Gardens was one of the first trips that King Thing and I took together when we first started dating (it was a school trip and we were all of 15 yrs old - that was 21 years ago).

This is King Thing and Thing 1 (with a rarely photographed smile) on the skyride to England. Yes, the chucklehead wore that wool hat around the park all day. In 80 degree weather. For the sake of being "cool". Go figure. I'll think twice about getting on the skyride again especially after the problems with the one in New York this week and especially because I'm afraid of heights.



This is the view of Busch Gardens from a bazillion feet up in the air. BG is presumably the most beautiful theme park in the world.



On Sunday, we celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary and Easter sunrise service (had to get up at 5 am - yikes!) on the beach with my parents. Check out the sunrise that we were treated to. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge is in the background.



Been reading y'all's blogs and trying to catch up. After all of the craft show knitting is over, I hope to resume a more normal life. I have some patterns running around my head and some prototypes that I'm working on. Might need some test knitters in the coming weeks and I hope to have some finished projects to reveal too. So much to do, so little time. Catch ya later.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Spring Fiber Festival

Hello all. Man I've been busy. So much fun with friends, family and fiber fiends. I'll post more of my escapades next week. Just a quick note with regard to the Spring Fiber Festival that's tomorrow at the Sedalia Center in Bedford Virginia. If you're out there, please say "Hi." I'll have Rogue on if its chilly and Kermit the Frog lace bitters on my tennis shoes :) Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Sick days are for blogging

And sick days are for catching up with blogs too. My Bloglines feeds have been emptied out for the first time in months. Sorry that I haven't been liberal with comments but I'm barely coherent enough to post on my own blog. I've caught some sort of flu crud from Thing 1 and 2. They've had it since the weekend. I got bitch slapped with it yesterday. High fever and coughing and I sound like Lauren Baucall. Or Kathleen Turner. Or a person who's been chain smoking for 30 years. Sexy, huh?

So I thought that I'd catch up on your blogs and found that several of you are sick too. I guess misery loves company. Knitted socks abound in bloglandia. I need more Koigu before I knit anymore sockies. I've been sorely disappointed with other yarns and commit to only knitting socks with Koigu from now on. Thus the reason that some Lorna's Laces Shepard sock yarn went from being socks to these loverlies (hope you don't mind but some of the pictures were taken whilst I'm in bed today):

Mrs. Beeton's Wristwarmers





Perfect for using up bits of luxury yarns and adding beautiful beaded enhancements. The blue pair uses a beautiful variagated laceweight mohair/silk (whose ball band is long gone but I remember it being Italian), LL sock yarn and some laceweight cashmere reclaimed from a thrift store sweater last fall. The second pair are made with some of my handspun silk and mohair and the same cashmere. So soft, so decadent. I.Love.These.

I'm knitting like crazy through my stash so that I have some goodies to take to Spring Bada Bing. My plan is to bring felted tote bags, monkeys, some spring ponchos, felted flowers and some felting kits. I was crankin' stuff out like crazy until I got sick. Bummer. Here are a couple of ponchitos as I'm calling them. They're not big ol ponchos and are just enough to cover your shoulders during cool Spring and Summer nights.





The brown one is Patons Divine, Bernat Boucle and an angora silk blend reclaimed from a sweater this fall. The pink and green one uses the Knit Happens colorway of LL Shepard sock yarn and pink Manos. When I'm feeling better, I'll try to get an action shot that will do them better justice.

And here are a few forgotten FOs:

Felted Guinea Pig bed (the piggies fought over who would get to sleep in this all Winter)



I used Galway and Lion Brand Fun fur and modified a felted kitty bed pattern.

Buttonhole Bag with flower for my CA now NC best bud



I modified the pattern by simply knitting a narrow rectangle for the base and picked up the stitches to knit in the round. I also knit a few extra rows at the top for a sturdier handle (my friend wanted a bag that looked like the one on the cover of the Fall 05 Spin Off). I think I used two or three skeins of Knit Picks WOTA.

Black Fifi Bag which was an auction donation for Fat Tuesday



This Fifi (my original pattern) was my first felting project with Patons Classic Merino and I love felting with it. I used black for the body and grey for the base and bottom stranded with Lion Brand Fun Fur.

Blue Sky Sportweight Baby Alpaca scarf in eggplant and fuschia - YUM!



I bought this yarn on my first trip to the Yarn Lounge in Carytown/Richmond VA in January. I bought it just in time to be snowed in all weekend with nothing to do but knit. The pattern is Blue Sky Alpaca's easy knit scarf. I ended up knitting it on size 4s which took forever but I like the resulting shadow knit style. And even better, its MINE all MINE!

Recycled Felted Fair Isle bag



This tote was constructed from a beautiful but worn out Lands End vest. I felt like I was cheating when I made it because I didn't knit it - oh the horror!. But I love how it turned out. I even have some panels left to make a couple of little totes.

There are also some prototypes fresh off the needles that I'll show when they're in a more presentable form. Someone send me a few shots of bourbon or tequila to put me out of my misery. Blech...