Showing posts from January, 2008

working on a long post...

...I haven't disappeared. So here, have another Carmel Mission picture:

I'll be back with the longer post when I finish it.

quick hits for Monday...

...because it's been a pretty busy work day! So just the important stuff:
We had a great time in Monterey. On Saturday the rain held off enough for us to walk to the wharf,

tour the Carmel Mission,

walk on the beach at Carmel,

and do a little window shopping in Carmel proper (Souvenir yarn...yes!!)

I had great plans to work on the arm warmers and leg warmers, but instead I started my Lenore socks:

When we got home, there was a notice that I had a package at the Post Office. This morning I picked up a box that held this:

This adorable little sweater was knit from Pigeonroof Studio's "Kalypso" sock yarn. The fiber is also from Pigeonroof and is Wensleydale in "Plumthorne." This gift came from Terry, who won my blog contest. Unfortunately, you can't see the wonderful purples in this fiber...and it's so soft!! Thanks, Terry! I just love it!

When I got to work, the first 2008 installment of the Rockin' Sock Club was waiting for me! If you want to see …

quick post from Monterey...

...we're here and all checked in. Our room has a fireplace and is quite wodnerful. The pool is a few steps aways. If only it wasn't pouring rain!

We have reservations for dinner at a tapas restaurant. It will be a nice, relaxing weekend.

Back on Monday. Have a great weekend!

falling under the Ravelry spell...

Image I understand what everyone has been saying! It's not just the fact that you can load your info, look up patterns and yarns, and find people with like interests—it's one fabulous piece of software! It's very well thought-out. Yes, it is still evolving, but it is quite impressive.

As a result, my lunch-time crafting has taken a backseat to Ravelry project loading and just plain wandering around in it. Since I haven't made any progress on the WIPs, I'll show you some old needlework projects instead.

If you've been following along, I've been working on this seahorses needlepoint project (latest picture in this post). I've mentioned that the canvas was printed wonky and that I much preferred counted canvas work. My favorite designer for counted canvas work is Susan Portra. I have done three of her smaller pieces and have a bunch of her designs in my stash. Her designs can be difficult to find, but I was smart enough to buy as many as I could find in 199…

spinning again...

...feels good! I spent a good portion of Saturday spinning with Sirena. (She had been sitting in the corner for far too long!)

Rather than starting something new, I decided to finish the Josie roving that I started on the spindle in July (!). I'm spinning it on the thin side and it was taking forever on the spindle. I swapped over to the wheel and while it's faster, I still didn't finish it over the weekend. Here's the first bobbin with a dime for comparison:

I split the roving into 8 lengthwise strips to get longer lengths of color. I'd like to make it a 2 ply, but a lot depends on how much I want to fiddle with the spindle spun stuff that's not already on a bobbin. I may end up with a Navajo-plied yarn. We'll see...

When I wasn't spinning, I was working on the needlepoint pillow. This is also slow, but I feel like I've made progress (even if you can't tell from this picture).

I didn't do any knitting over the weekend, as I'm finding the bl…

Eye Pr0n Friday...

Image know, a combination of Eye Candy Friday and Yarn Pr0n Friday!

I donated a bunch of yarn to a charity knitting group and we met at Purlescence Yarns for the hand-off. Of course, I can never leave the shop without buying at least one thing! So, new to the stash...

...Smooshy in Beach Fog. This is definitely petting yarn! Not sure what I'll do with it yet, but I love the color.

One of the things I love about living in Northern California (well, California in general) is the weather. During yoga class yesterday morning, we remarked how loud the birds outside were singing. When I left class, I saw why. There were lots of birds, lined up on the tops of all the buildings, sunning themselves and singing away. I couldn't get a good picture of all the birds, so here's one:

See how blue and clear the sky is in this picture? Bay Area, California in January. LOVE IT!

Up this weekend, a little biscotti baking for my contest winner, a little needlework, some spinning with Sirena, and p…

How I bake 295 biscotti in 5.5 hours [long]...

...or how to use 15 cookie sheets for one baking run. Here's a little bit about biscotti and my process. Oh, and that 5.5 hours up there? That doesn't count the time needed to dip them in chocolate.

Biscotti is plural of biscotto, an Italian cookie. Biscotti roughly means "twice-baked" and they are. First you bake them in slabs (loaves), cool the loaves before slicing, and then bake the slices. Typically when you buy pre-made biscotti, they are very hard and must be dipped into coffee, tea, wine, etc. to made them easier to eat.

There are tons of recipes available on the Internet and, of course, in cookbooks. I adapted a really great recipe that I found in a Usenet newsgroup in 1992. It's one of John Trinterud's Intercalary Day Tea recipes and it's a consistent performer. The best part about this recipe is that it produces a biscotti that is firm and crunchy, but not hard as a rock. And, it tastes great! (I found a copy here, but be aware that it is not ex…

And the winner is...

...Terry, with her answer of 11 cookie sheets--she was the closest. Congratulations, Terry!

So how many cookie sheets do I own? (click to enlarge)


As you can tell by the picture, some of these are well "loved." I usually cycle out one or two each year, and by the looks of this picture, there are at least 2 that are ready to go. Now, the bottom two sheets are the oldest cookie sheets I own. They are at least 15 years old and they've seen better days. However, I plan on keeping these two because when covered with foil, they are the perfect size for my chocolate bark.

For those who are curious about how/why I use all these cookie sheets for my biscotti, I'll do a "How to Bake 295 Biscotti in 5.5 hours" post some time this week.

Thanks to everyone who entered! I'm looking forward to another blogging year!

(Terry: send me email so we can figure out how to get your prize to you! Biscotti baking this weekend!)

Emerging from the depths of cross stitch hell...

...finished the Just Nan Christmas ornament. Take a good look at it, because it is being filed away in my Finishing portfolio to stay there until I can face it again. (And it's d@mn lucky that it's not being thrown across the room like I wanted to do last night!)

Normally, I love Just Nan's designs; they are usually easy to work up and enjoyable to stitch. This one? I just wasn't feeling the love, from start to finish. There was just something about it. And then there was the stitching for the charm...I know I don't like stitching one-over-one (one thread strand over one linen thread for those who don't know). See what looks like an empty space at the bottom of the charm picture? That's white stitching, people! White (I hate stitching white), one-over-one! ACK!

This piece proved one thing: I don't just dislike over-one, I hate it. So why did I even bother with it? Because the picture frame charm was not cheap and the design needed it to look complete. So…

It's Eye Candy Friday again!

...when we were moving things away from the windows before the installers came. I took down a quilt top I had been using as decoration. Hiding behind the top was a picture that I'd forgotten we had. Originally, when I hung the quilt top, it was "just to see what it looked like" and it stayed up on the wall for 2+ years. (LOL!)

So here is the beautiful metal and wood art piece/picture called "Fern."

The artist is Jim Willis; this one is #5 of 25 created in 1998 and copyrighted in 1999. Here is a detailed shot of the metal portion:

Beautiful, isn't it? We moved it into the living room where it looks right at home with the wood windows and Mission furniture.

Up this weekend, the final holiday cleanup. The Daughter left on Wednesday, so I can get my office (AKA her room) back in order and put away the Star Trek ornaments. I'd like to finish one of my needlework WIPs to get it out of my hair, but I hear Sirena calling me...I need to do some spinning! I'm …

WIP-it Wednesday...

...I've started a rotation plan for my needlework Works in Progress. Plan is a somewhat loose term. I work on whichever project catches my attention! Currently, I'm cycling through the cross stitch projects during my lunch time. I can get about 20 or 30 minutes of stitching after I eat. I can only work on the needlepoint picture at home because of its size.

Here's the current state of my needlework WIPs...

Just Nan Christmas ornament from the 2002 Just CrossStitch Ornament issue:

Peacock Majesty sampler (retired design) by Just Nan

Violet Needle Roll by Shepherd's Bush:

Seahorses needlepoint pillow kit by Janlyn (I think).

This is an annoying needlepoint project because the canvas was printed wonky. It's off by several rows at the top. If you look at the top of this picture you'll see where I tried to even out the edge and then realized it was way off. This kit reminded me why I prefer to do counted needlepoint/canvas work.

And just because there can never be too …

between storms...

...the scene this morning as I left for work:

The next storm will come rolling in tonight or tomorrow morning.

I spent all day Saturday dismantling Christmas as putting away the decorations. We got the tree out of the house, vacuumed, and discovered our "new" living room. I really love the way the new windows look with our furniture. The only remaining Christmas item is my Star Trek tree. I still need to dismantle that and then get rid of its artificial tree. At some point during the holidays, the tree toppled over because the feet have become loose over time. Each year, I've had to fix the feet (read: duct tape), but it is no longer fixable. I'll have to get a new one for next Christmas.

Not much to report on the craft end. I've spent a lot of time working on the seahorses needlepoint, but you can't really tell that I've done that much. I forgot how much time needlepoint projects take. I also worked on the Daughter's leg warmers and one of my small cr…

Blogiversary and a contest... blog is Two today!

As I started my second year of blogging, it became clear that my original blog name (SolarCross) did not reflect the true state of my craftiness. While I still love cross stitch, it is no longer my primary craft. In March, I changed the name of my blog to something that was more me. Yup, Needle Loca, that's me! (Some days, the Loca part is much more evident!)

The last year has also seen an improvement in the quality of my photos and a move to Flickr as my photo repository. While the Blogger photo capability worked OK, Flickr makes it easy to track which photos are online. As a side benefit, a couple of my photos were selected for use in other web sites:
Clifton's Flower and Garden Center: "Apricots" picture on the Fruit Trees page
Schmap Baltimore 4th Edition: Cylburn Arboretum
While I still use my web site to document projects, the most current information will always be on this blog. It's much quicker to post to the blog, especially when I…

Eye Candy Friday / Yarn Pr0n Friday

...I've been craving some of this yarn ever since Blue Moon released the Raven series.

This is Lightweight Socks That Rock in the color "Grawk." It has a base of black with touches of green and purple. While I really love it, I'm considering using it as a prize for my Blogiversary contest.

Yes, I am having a contest! I'll post the details tomorrow.

We have a huge storm raging right now. I had to come home because the power went out at work and then the Internet was down at home for a couple of hours. I'm keeping this relatively short and posting it quickly!

Back tomorrow with the contest!

Back to work...

...more or less. It's been a pretty quiet day, which makes for a nice transition from being lazy at home.

As I move towards my second Blogiversary (1/5), I'm considering running a contest to celebrate. I have a couple of ideas, so I just need to decide soon.

In looking back at the last two years, I noticed that January seems to be the stitchery month—lots of my stitching UFOs were finished in January. So I think I'll continue the tradition and work on some of those languishing projects. Of course, this means I have to find where I have "stored" them!

I'm not going to post pictures of the leg warmers until I'm further along. Instead, here is a mosaic of Sombra. I've mentioned before that it's hard to take pictures of the cats because they always nose the camera. This mosaic shows you the progression of this photo session. (As with all my pictures, click to see a bigger version. Mosaic courtesy of Big Huge Lab's Mosaic Maker.)

Can you say "irr…

The 2007 recap [LONG!]

Let's say goodbye to 2007 with a recap.

Finished in 2007 (by craft, then alphabetical order)
BeadingPattern row counters: 4Cooking/BakingApricot preserves: 12 12-oz jars and 10 1-pint jarsPickled green beans and carrots: 2 12-oz jars, 2 1-pint jars, and 1 1-quart jarChristmas baking: 355 biscotti, 125 truffles, 4 pounds chocolate bark, 6 pounds sugared nuts, 725 cookiesCross StitchBirdhouse needle rollFlip Flop DaysPea Pod scissor fobSnow Fall needle rollWitches Brew pillowKnittingAlpaca Scarf in burgundyBlue Moon Corrugator scarf in Blue Moon handspun yarn (see Spinning below)
Calorimetry 1 (for the Daughter)
Calorimetry 2 (for the Daughter's roommate)
Charcoal Hat in Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick and Quick yarnClaret Hat in Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick and Quick yarnFawkes socks in Firebird yarn from Blue Moon's Rockin' Sock Club yarn; pattern from SocktopiaPeekaboo mittens using Caron Simply Soft yarn in Gray; plus one sample mitten in brownPoppy socks from Sundara Yarn's…