Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A year of firsts

Sorry I've been mia. Work has kept me very busy up until yesterday. I'm not complaining. I'm so very grateful to still have my job especially in light of the fact that many friends, family, co-workers and colleages are losing or have lost theirs. I'm trying hard not to get overwhelmed but some days its hard than others. I've been given notice that I might only have a couple of months before I need to start looking, depending on funding. I'm keeping my fingers crossed and am sending a blanket prayer to anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation.

Mavis (Coltsfoot Corgi by the Northrun Lights) - Dec. 22, 1992 - Dec. 14, 2007

The year of firsts reference is to our first year without Mavis our beloved Pembroke Welsh Corgi we had to put to sleep last December. Not a single "first" went by without someone in our family remembering it. The first Christmas was the hardest, the first time we dropped food on the floor and she wasn't there to slurp it up, the first snow that she didn't get to roll in, the first trip to the beach without her, the first fourth of July that we didn't have to calm her down from the fireworks, the first Thanksgiving. The last of the firsts was this weekend - the first anniversary of her leaving. I still get choked up when I think of her. I miss her so very much. The Things want another dog and I can't bring myself to do it yet because I'm not ready to have to make the decision to take a life again anytime soon. I doubt myself everyday, that I did the right thing. I pray for her forgiveness if I was wrong. Our lives are richer for her having shared it with us and yet missing something now that she's gone.

Okay, this entire post isn't an entire downer. Just needed to get some stuff off my chest. Since I posted last a lot has happened. I celebrated my 39th birthday (40 is coming fast), Thing One got his learner's permit (yikes!), Thing Two is hitting puberty (ack!) and I've cast on for a few projects. See, I am still knitting...


Alan Dart Advent Penguin

Handknit Hokie Chalet Socks

Walk in the Woods Jacket

The penguin was part of a birthday gift to a dear friend, the chalet socks are for me and hubby for the holidays and yes, the thrummed jacket is finally finished but I'm still weaving in a zillion ends.


Heifer Holiday Fundraiser

Team Ravelry for Heifer International is having a donation drawing for a WONDERFUL FIBER ARTS BASKET!The contents of the basket include:
Addi Pearls Jewelry Kit
Poems of Color Knitting in the Bohus Tradition book by Wendy Keele
Handmade chicken and egg tape measure
Two 25g Rowan Kidsilk Spray shade 571 (taupe)
Two 25g Rowan Kidsilk Night shade 611 (pink)
Two 600m Fleece Artist “Suri Blue” 50% Suri Alpaca, 50% Blue Face Leicester hand dyed pumpkin/harvest orange
“Tulips” Baby Cardigan kit with pattern and Dream in Color “Classy” Worsted Superwash Merino wool
Red and Green standing Knitting Basket
Chichi the Pig pattern

We are raising money for Heifer International, an organization dedicated to ending world hunger.

HERE’S HOW IT WORKS:

1. Each donation drawing entry is $5. You may make as many donations as you like.
2. You can make multiple entry donations through the Team Ravelry Donation Link (or single entry donations through Pay Pal).
3. Scroll down to the middle of the page using the Team Ravelry Donation Link on the Heifer International site.
4. The first donation option listed is: General Team Donation. This is where multiple entry donations are accepted. Follow this link through to make your donation.
5. Your donation will be made in private. Heifer International will provide the Team Leader, indigomuse, with the information needed for donation drawing entries and winner contacts.

HOW CAN I GET MORE INVOLVED?

• Make as many entries as you possibly can to win the fiber arts basket!
• Tell as many people as will listen about this important cause. Ask them to enter the donation drawing too!
• Join our exciting team! Your name and donation amount will appear in the list of contributors.

The donation drawing closes at midnight EST on December 21, 2008. The winner will be announced December 22, 2008.

Please, help us help others by ending world hunger one family at a time! If you have any questions don’t hesitate to PM indigomuse (if you're on Ravelry) or e-mail her at indigomuse@msn.com.

To see pictures of the basket contents, visit the Team Ravelry Heifer Blog.

Thanks and good luck!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Purple Nurple yarn

Remember this "Purple Nurple" yak/merino roving that I dyed a week or so ago?

Custom Dyed Yak Merino Roving

Well it's all spun up, navajo plyed and made into yarn, a gift for my friend CM's birthday.

Purple Nurple predrafted roving

Purple Nurple singles


Purple Nurple navajo plyed yarn

Close up of Purple Nurple yarn

This yak/merino is yummy stuff to spin. Must.buy.more.soon. I hope she likes it. If not, I'll gladly take it back - LOL!

Unfortunately, the temps have dropped so I have no excuse (other than being down with a flu-like cold over the last few days) not to cast on for the rest of Walk in the Woods.

Tell me, what are YOU knitting now-a-days?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Thrummed cardigan, anyone?

The Wrong Side of the Back of the Walk in the Woods Jacket

Wrong side of the back of the "Walk in the Woods" Jacket

I'm so very tempted to leave all of these unwoven ends hanging free and call it a thrummed cardigan. Is there such a thing? I believe it would be quite cozy on really cold nights. However, considering the heat wave we're having right now, its not the easiest thing to knit on. I'm not casting on for the front until it cools down a bit. It has felt like a heating pad in my lap over the last few days. But I was determined to finish the back before I took a break from her so I willing roasted.

Back of Walk in the Woods Jacket

Back of Walk in the Woods Jacket

I swear I can't see the vibrancy of the detail until I take a picture of it. Its like one of the pictures that you stare at until another picture appears. It just looks like a bunch of colors in person.

While I wait for the weather to cool down (those are NOT words you will hear from me very often) so that I can cast on for the front of "Walk", I'm spinning up some custom dyed yak/merino roving that I bought at Maryland Sheep and Wool this year from The Fold.

Custom Dyed Yak Merino Roving

Its gorgeous stuff and purple is my color right now. Alas, this is destined to be a birthday prezzie for a dear friend. I can't wait to see it knit up. Its so rare that I get to see my handspun actually put to use - LOL!

Happy spinning and knitting everyone :)

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

A Walk in the Woods

Fall is one of my favorite seasons. I love the crispness of the air and the transformation of the verdant Blue Ridge mountains into a veritable color palette. I can't think of a better time to cast on for the Walk in the Woods Jacket from the Interweave book "Inspired to Knit" than now. I haven't found a book in ages that excites me as much as this one does. There are several patterns that I can't wait to cast on for but this one beat the others hands down.

I dove into the stash and was surprised that I had 75% of the colors in either Manos or Malabrigo yarns. The other 25%, I decided to spin up and dye using the Rupperts Corriedale I bought at Maryland Sheep and Wool this year. Twas a labor of love washing, carding, spinning and dyeing that yarn but it was worth it. I love the results.

Flicked and carded batts of corriedale fleece Pyramid of corrie batts.jpg

Washed and carded batts

Corriedale yarn bulky spun

All spun up into yarn

Handspun Corriedale yarn in the dyepot

Cooking up maroon yarn goodness

Skeins of handspun and dyed Corriedale

Happy dyed skeins

Sleeve swatch of "Walk in the Woods Jacket" Casting on for the "Walk in the Woods Jacket"

Finally, casting on

Fleecy goodness

What I felt like once it was all over...

I've learned so much just knitting the sleeve as a swatch. A year or two ago and I would have impaled myself on my needles before I would have taken on such a large scale intarsia project. There are SO many ends to weave in. But I'm madly in love with all of these colors. And I will love this sweater forever so I plod ahead and am 1/3 the way up the back. I screwed up one flower on the sleeve (its an Amish mistake, right Robin?) and knit it in the wrong color. I might frog it, I might say the heck with it and leave it. I'll decide another time. The inconsistent thickness of yarn makes me a little crazy from time to time but it seems to all work out in the end. And while it is NOT a portable project, it has been an easy project to pick up and put down thanks to my magnet board. And its knitting up quickly. I'm hoping to have it finished by my birthday later this month as a prezzie to myself (and perhaps to wear to Stitches East which continues to be an on-again/off-again prospect). We'll see if I'm all smiles after another week or so of knitting on it.

On an unrelated note, I've started a Ravelry group and Heifer team for Heifer International supporters called Team Ravelry (you can also visit the team's progress through Team Heifer HERE). If you love Heifer and its outreach, please consider joining or supporting our efforts. We're planning to do some fundraisers, knit-a-longs, team projects, etc. in the future. I'm going to be posting more patterns soon and Heifer will again be a beneficiary. Lots of fun is planned for the coming months. Hope you'll come along for the ride.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

But does she knit anymore???

Yes, I still knit and have actually done quite a bit over the last few weeks. But work and life have kept me from blogging regularly. I've included some shots of several completed knitting and spinning projects and random fun I had fun with the fam in DC a couple of weekends ago.

Until later...

Another baby pinwheel sweater (for King Thing's cousint's new baby)

Another baby pinwheel sweater View of back of pinwheel sweater

Experimenting with Spinning Techniques including navajo plying

Experimenting with spinning techniques

More little peas...

More little peas

Fiber Fairies were made for the 2008 Ravelympics

2008 Beijing Olympics inspired fiber fairy Finished fiber fairies

Still adding colors/sections to the Seafoam wrap...

Ocean waves wrap still chugging along

Experimented with natural dyeing on roving and yarn

Naturally dyed fibers and roving

Experimented with using acid dyes

Experimented with acid dyes

Had tons of fun at Madame Tussauds in DC and visiting the FDR memorial

King Thing with Beyonce at Madame Tussauds in DC

Thing 1 and I hate war stones

Me and my bro hanging with Chief Tupac at Madame Tussauds in DC

Hillary with Bunny Ears


Clicky for more photos from the DC trip.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Home again, home again jiggetty jig

I can't recall what nursery rhyme the title is from but that's what I kept singing in my head when I finally got back home after a week long vacation in Chitown with King Thing. Not that I didn't have an absolute blast but considering we've been gone so much this summer, there really is no place like home.



King Thing was in Chicago for a two week long training session. His company kindly offered to send me up to visit him and we chomped on the opportunity. My dear friends in Raleigh kept Thing 1 and 2 while I was gone and we were able to spend several days alone for the first time in probably 10 years!



I had a couple of days on my own while DH attended classes on the campus of McDonalds University (no, he doesn't work for Mickey D's, they were using their training center) so I made the most of those days by visiting Oakbrook Center Mall. In the process, I made three new retail friends - Lush, Lucy and Lululemon Athletica. Everyone working in the stores were so nice and helpful. I don't think I met a single unfriendly person while shopping. I even found these wire sheep at Anthropologie.


Wire and bead sheep at Anthropologie at Oakbrook Center

I spy wire sheep and friendly peeps


People in Chicago seemed to be very eager to help no matter what the problem was. The weather was picture perfect so we decided to spend our time tooling around downtown Chicago. We rode the train and several water taxis.

Three planes converge during the air and water show More Downtown Chicago from a water taxi

We rode on trains, water taxis and watched planes


We watched the air and water show while sipping drinks in the lounge on the 96th floor of the Hancock Center.

The Lounge on the 96th Floor of the Hancock Center in Chicago

We shopped the Miracle Mile (thank goodness I'd bought new walking shoes or my feet would have fallen off by the end of the weekend). Visited American Girl Place and the Lego Store even though we didnt have kids with us.

Lego Tarantula Lego Sue takes Chicago by storm

Saw some pretty cool street performers.

The Original Chicago Tin Man street performer

Ate a Chicago style pizza at Giordanos.

Mmmm, Giordanos

Had incredible meals at Wildfire and Fultons by The River.

Full moon outside of Wildfire in Oakbrook
Downtown Chicago taken from the patio of Fultons on the River

Gnoshed on fish and chips and beer at Elephant and Castle near the Union Station train stop. Visited the Field Museum and saw lots of cool mummies in the Egypt exhibit and of course, Sue the T-Rex.

Close up of Sue the T-Rex Wrapped mummy with face mask Globe with Chicago Skyline

Visited the Navy Pier. Saw a castle in the middle of downtown Chicago. Looked up at the Sears Tower.

Yep, a castle in Downtown Chicago Looking up at the Sears Tower

In all, we had several fabulous days together and reconnected in way that we haven't in ages. We're already planning our next trip - woot woot.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Fancy Schmancy Messenger Bag

Thanks for all of your kind comments regarding our trip to Playa del Carmen. The kids and I love traveling (King Thing kinda does but prefers spend his days holding the sand down in Norfolk) and hope to do more in the coming years. I still can't get over how blue the water is. I just close my eyes and imagine it over and over and over again.

So back to the real world. I can't complain. I believe that the mountains of SW Virginia are gorgeous in the spring and summer. Everything is so green and I love hearing the peaceful chirping of the buggies and froggies (as long as they keep their distance) at night. I'm sad that the summer is already half gone. As much as I love the fall, I'm cringing at the thought of cold weather - brrrrrr.

My sewing machine has been buzzing with activity since a dear friend (Thanks TM!) gave me the Simply Sublime Bags last week. I've enjoyed repurposing fiber and fabrics over the last few years and this book certainly feeds into that addiction. However, I initially had a tough time finding good materials to make some of the stuff from the book so I improvised using what I could find which was a $5 tablerunner at Ross. Scroll down if you want to see the Tute for the Fancy Schmancy Messenger Bag.

No need to worry. I HAVE been knitting, spinning and even dipping into the dyepot. I'll flash those pictures in another post.

Fancy Schmancy Messenger Bag Tutorial
Making a messenger bag with a tablerunner (15)

I was inspired by the new Simply Sublime Bags book to make a messenger bag from a $5 tablerunner I scored on a recent shopping trip. I decided to photograph the process, in case I wanted to replicate it and am happy to share it with others who might want to make their own bag. The great thing about making this bag from a tablerunner is that its already lined. You could easily whip up a bag and use it the same day!

Please be kind with your comments as I'm still fumbling my way through sewing terms and techniques (I KNOW knitting but have never really understood all of the sewing jargon even though my crafty adventures began with sewing when I was four). If there are any glaring mistakes, please drop me a line at indigomuse AT verizon DOT net so that I can correct them for everyone's benefit. If you visit the Fancy Schmancy Messenger Bag Flickr set, I've added notes to many of the photos to help with the process. Finally, send me photos or links to your bags if you decide to make one using this tute. I'd love to see how they turn out. Enjoy!

Materials:
1 90" x 14" tablerunner
Coordinating thread
Fray check (optional)
2 rectangular metal D-rings (optional)
Magnetic closure (optional)

1.) Cut runner in half and put one piece aside to be used for the straps (and perhaps make another little bag).

Making a messenger bag with a tablerunner (1) Making a messenger bag with a tablerunner (2)

2.) Using 1/4" seam and RS facing, finish the cut edge.

Making a messenger bag with a tablerunner (4)

3.) RS tog, fold fabric in half (measurement from bottom to finished edge is 11 1/2"). Pin sides together and using 1/2" seam, stitch closed, backtacking ends.

Making a messenger bag with a tablerunner (5)

4.) Flatten corners of bottom to points (WS facing). Draw 2 1/2" line perpendicular to side seam and 1" from the corner point. Sew on line, backtacking ends.

Making a messenger bag with a tablerunner (6)

5.) Turn bag RS out and fold edges of flap in 1/2". Whipstitch into place, taking care to stitch through the lining only.

Making a messenger bag with a tablerunner (7)

6.) Cut 2 22" x 3 1/2" straps from other section of runner.

Making a messenger bag with a tablerunner (3) Making a messenger bag with a tablerunner (8)

7.) RS facing and using 1/2" seam, stitch two of the short ends together. Press open seam and top stitch on each side. Fold strip in half lengthwise. RS facing, pin sides together and sew the length of the strap using 1/2" seam. Backtack ends.

Making a messenger bag with a tablerunner (9) Making a messenger bag with a tablerunner (10)

8.) Turn tube inside out, press flat and top stitch edges using 1/2" seam. Serge or finish ends of tube with zigzag stitch and apply fray check (optional).

Making a messenger bag with a tablerunner (11) Making a messenger bag with a tablerunner (12)

9.) Using remaining fabric, cut piece measuring 7" x 3 1/2". Fold in half lengthwise and stitch as for strap. Cut finished piece in half and finish edges with zigzag stitch and fray check (optional).

10.) Fold one of the short strap pieces in half (RS facing) over one side of a d-ring and sew to one side of bag top. Reinforce with by top stitching 1/8" from edge. Repeat with other side.

Making a messenger bag with a tablerunner (13)

11.) Fold 2" section of one end of the strap (RS facing) over the other side of the d-ring and sew 1" from the folded end. Reinforce by top stitching 1/4" from edge. Repeat with other side, taking care not to twist the strap.

Making a messenger bag with a tablerunner (14)

12) Admire your finished bag!

Making a messenger bag with a tablerunner (16) Making a messenger bag with a tablerunner (17)

Mods:

* To give your bag more shape, turn runner inside out (before step 2) and cut fusible interfacing the shape of the runner. Iron onto WS of the fabric (not onto the liner) per manufacturer's directions and trim, if needed. Continue from step two.

* Omit steps 4 and 5 for a flat bag

* Omit steps 9 and 10 and simply sew the straps directly to the body of the bag.

* Add a magnetic closure or snap to your bag to secure flap.

***This pattern is for personal use and may not be used commercially without the express written permission of Tanya Brooks.