Friday, February 29, 2008

Eye Candy Friday for February 29th...

...the garden thinks it's spring.

Apricot Blossoms

The apricot tree is blossoming, the birdies are singing...if only the sky wasn't so overcast.

More Apricot blossoms and a bird

Up this weekend, some really mundane things like cleaning the house and going to the grocery store. However, once that's done, I can work on my crafty stuff. I'd like to finish the knitting with wire project, which shouldn't take too long because I have 75% of it done. I also want to pull out Sirena and do some spinning. I need to finish one of the fibers in process so I can work on the yarn I promised to make for a friend. I also need to start working on someone's birthday present...

Hope you all have a good weekend!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

stick a fork in it...'s done! (A mere 5.5 years after I started it, but it's done.)

Seahorses needlepoint pillow top

I also think I'm done with printed canvas needlepoint, at least the machine printed kind. This canvas was off by 6 rows (click on the picture and look at the bottom right corner to see my stitching vs. the printing on the canvas).

Anyway, it will get blocked and join its friend, the Just Nan Christmas ornament, in the stitching portfolio...I don't need to see this project again for a long time!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

say hello to my little friend...

...Al, the alpaca. (Or if you wish to address him by his full name, Sr. Alberto PĂ©rez de los Andes.)

My new mascot, Al

I adopted him from the Alpaca Direct booth at Stitches West. He protects my monitor and watches me work.

Since this is WIP Wednesday, I guess I should show at least one WIP. Here are the Lenore socks (ignore the little bulge on the side--the cup edge makes it pop out like that).

Ready for my heel flap, Mr. DeMille

The cuffs are as long as I want them, so it's time to start the heel flaps. Yay!

And, I am *this* close to finishing the Seahorses needlepoint. My goal is to finish that this month and get it out of my face. I'll post a picture when it's finally done. (
I am so ready to mark this off of my WIP list!! )

Monday, February 25, 2008

what I got at Stitches West... [long]

...I did very well.

I bought more this time than I have in previous year, mostly because I have some very specific projects in mind. I am knitting for two babies-to-be, plus there are some shawls that I want to make. And now that I'm spinning, fiber played a big role in my purchases.

I bought Ravelry and Stitches swag. I was lucky enough to get most my Ravelry stuff on Thursday—I got a button, the Rav and Bob pins, and the Ravelry bag. Then on Sunday, I bought a Ravelry t-shirt. I think I'm set. (LOL!) I also bought my 2008 Stitches West pin.

Ravelry and Stitches stuff

I have taken individual pictures of the yarn and roving and logged the yarn into my Ravelry stash. Rather that show the individual pictures and make this a really long blog posting, I'll show the over view pictures here. I have added a
Flickr set for my Stitches West purchases and included a Flickr badge in the sidebar.

First up, the yarn:

Stitches West 2008, yarn stash

I bought yarn for 4 shawls and several baby items. Next, the fiber:

Stitches West 2008, roving stash

I really wanted the Sheep to Shoe fiber in the Raven colors as I haven't spun any black yet. The other fiber just called my name!

I hadn't planned on buying a new spindle, but Carolina Homespun had the Spindlewood square whorl spindle in Purpleheart wood that I fell in love with last year, so...

Spindlewood Square Whorl Spindle

Not shown in these pictures are the fiber sampler from Chameleon Colorworks (Angora, Camel, and Yak plus some others), a Knitter's Block set, and a new ball winder (they are in the Flickr set though).

On Friday, I took Cat Bordhi's all day class "The Freedom of Foxglove Sock Architecture." Cat's a great teacher and I learned lots. Unfortunately, the yarn I chose for the class was too splitty and cause lots of problems. I switched to some cotton yarn that I had and it made my hands ache. At lunch time, I went to the market and bought some Artyarns Supermerino to start all over again. One frustrating thing was trying to find needles for the Supermerino. Yarn Barn carried a bunch of different needle brands, but the line was too long and I didn't want to be late to class. The only other needles I could find were Addis, too expensive when I knew that I already had lots of the size I needed in my stash. So I made do with what I had. My baby sock is a bit too small as a result. However, I love the architecture, so I will be making these socks using the right size needles. Here's what it looks like:

Foxglove Sock class project

The other class I took was Nancie Wiseman's "Knit with Wire" class on Sunday. This was a lot of fun. We got to pick from several projects so not everyone worked on the same thing. I chose a necklace with turquoise and white beads. (We all used copper wire.) Here's a section of my necklace:

Knit with Wire class project

It was great meeting my fellow Ravelers, playing the passport game, and just being with a bunch of people who share my obsessions!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Stitches West 2008: Check!

...I'm tired, my feet hurt, and my wallet is empty. But I met lots of nice people, learned new techniques in my classes, and had a great time!

Some of the highlights:
  • The Ravelry meet-up and meeting fellow Ravelers.
  • Getting my Ravelry passport stamped. There were several new-to-me vendors that I got to see that I probably would have bypassed except that they were in the passport.
  • Fondling lots of hand-dyed fibers.
  • Seeing the Blue Moon Fiber Arts Raven colors in person.
  • Great classes
I'm off to rest a bit and then take pictures of my new treasures. I'll be back with a stash post tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I think I'm ready for Stitches West...

...let's see:
  • Stash Inventory list printed? Check!
  • Market floor map annotated? Check!
  • Shopping list made? Check!
  • Class materials gathered? Check!
  • Homework done? Check!
  • Project to work on during down times? Check!
The only thing left to do is transfer money into my craft account. When I first started attending Cross Stitch Festivals 10 years ago, I discovered that the easiest way for me to control my spending was to put money in a separate checking account and only use that account for market purchases—when I'm out of money, I am done buying. This method works well for Stitches, too. Anyway, I'll go to the bank in the morning.

I'm looking forward to the Ravelry meet-up (which is the first event for me this year). I'd love to connect with other Ravelers in the area!

Open. Open. Open!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

long weekend, short work week...

...the three day weekend was great! And since I'm only working Tuesday and Wednesday because of Stitches West, I have a short work week. (Yay!)

So, first the shorter list: what I didn't do.
  • I didn't knit much more than a couple of rows on the Lenore socks.
  • I didn't spin anything.
What I did do:
  • Finished all of the fiddly little sections on the needlepoint seahorses and worked on the blue background.

    Seahorses needlepoint as of 2/19

  • Started quilting "The Wright Stuff." I did stitch-in-the-ditch between all the quilt blocks, and am working on the quilting mid-block. It is hard work pushing the fabric through the machine, so my shoulders and arms tire easily. But it's a start!

    Quilting the Wright Stuff

  • Did my homework for my class on Friday.
  • While searching for stash yarn for my class homework, I found some yarn that I had forgotten about. I photographed it and put it in my stash list on Ravelry. (It's also in my stash set in Flickr.)
  • Plotted out my course for the Stitches market preview.
  • Made a new Knit2 Bag out of "Knitmare on Elm Street" fabric. I'm using this bag to hold the sock yarn I'll use in my class on Friday.


    Chocolate and Pink Knit2 Bag - front

    Chocolate and Pink Knit2 Bag - bottom

    Chocolate and Pink Knit2 Bag - inside

  • Did a little more reorganization in the craft room. Nothing that is really visible...I really just shifted some things around to make it easier to access.
  • Enjoyed the spring-like weather and took some pictures of the things in bloom.

    Snow Pea blossom:
    Snow Pea blossom

    Weeping Santa Rosa Plum tree:
    Weeping Santa Rosa Plum tree

    Flowering Plum tree:
    Flowering Plum tree

Between now and Thursday, I need to finalize my shopping list and print out the final inventory list of yarn and roving so I can avoid duplicates. Then I'll be completely set...I can't wait!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Eye Candy Friday, now with real candy...

...courtesy of the Husband and Sugar Butter Flour in Sunnyvale, CA.

Valentine's Day chocolates

Clockwise from the top: Passion Fruit tower, Brandied Cherry, Raspberry heart, and Caramelized Hazelnut. These were marvelously decadent with the Domaine Carneros champagne that I gave him for Valentine's day. OMG...sooooo gooood!

Up this weekend: I am finalizing my plan of attack for the Stitches West marketplace--Stitches West starts the 21st and runs through the 24th. The Student Market Preview is Thursday night and I plan on doing a lot of my shopping then. (I also plan on attending the Ravelry meet-up and Student Mixer events that take place before the Market Preview. If you are a fellow Raveler, I am needleloca.) I also need to do my homework for my class on Friday (all day; The Freedom of Foxglove Sock Architecture). I also have a class on Sunday (Knitting with Wire), but it doesn't have homework.

After that...well, it's a 3-day weekend! One extra day for doing something crafty. Maybe I'll start machine quilting "The Wright Stuff." I'd love to get that quilt finished and off of my list!

Have a good one!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

WIP-it Wednesday and craft room pix...

...first the WIP. Here is the current state of the Seahorses needlepoint pillow top:

WIP: Seahorses needlepoint

I'm getting closer to the end! The seahorses are all stitched now and I'm working on the background. Thank goodness I'm all done with the oranges and yellows--they are not my favorite colors. I have no idea what possessed me to get this kit in the first place. Finishing it is a personal challenge, but I don't know whether I'll actually use it once it's done!

I took a few pictures of my sewing/craft room. (I am in the process of adding notes in Flickr to help identify what is stored where.) This is the smallest bedroom in the house, so it's pretty full in there. Here is the view from the door:

Sewing/Craft Room 1

You can see that the sewing table takes up a lot of room, but I love this table. The table has an extension that folds down when not it use, but when it's open, I have lots of room for machine quilting. The ironing board is setup most of the time. Under the sewing table are two fabric containers that hold my spinning fiber.

Moving to the left, here's a look at the armoire that contains all of my quilt batting, the fabric for the current quilt top in process and my beading supplies. On top are the storage boxes for all of the kitted cross stitch projects, cross-stitch fabric, baskets, and rubber stamps. The bookshelf holds most of my knitting and quilting books; the TV, cable box, and DVD player (note my clever separators between the cable box and DVD player), quilting rulers; and project binders.

Sewing/Craft Room 2

On top of the cubbie units that hold my yarn are the white craft organizers I bought for my needlework fibers (silks, perles, overdyed floss). The oak organizer holds DMC floss wound onto bobbins; my tools hang above on a wire rack. At the bottom of the picture, you get a glimpse of the fabric drawers that hold my yarn and my stack of knitting magazines.

Sewing/Craft Room 3

Here is the fabric closet with the curtains closed and with them pulled back.

Sewing/Craft Room 4 ... Sewing/Craft Room 5

There is a lot of fabric packed in this closet! There are also two organizers full of sequins, beads, and buttons, and a third one with screws, molly bolts, framing supplies, nails, etc. Along the top of the closet are photo and pattern boxes that hold things I don't need as often. The baskets at the bottom hold canvases that I don't want crushed and things that I need for items that are queued.

The last picture shows the door, with a peek into our bedroom (that's my Turning Tides quilt on the bed being enjoyed by Sombra). Here you can see my circular and double pointed needles on the right, the scarves and sock bags hanging on the door, and "The Wright Stuff" quilt on the left, waiting to be machine quilted.

Sewing/Craft Room 6

After looking at these pictures this morning, I think I still have a bunch to do. At least, it's in better shape than it was a week ago!

Monday, February 11, 2008

sidetracked on the weekend...

...didn't quite do what I planned, but it was worthwhile anyway!

Instead of spinning or working on the leg warmers, I finished organizing my craft room. I really wanted to start quilting one of my long-standing WIPs, but I didn't have enough room around the sewing machine. Plus, I still hadn't put any drapes in the room and I was worried that my needlework fibers (hanging up on the wall) and quilting fabrics (stored on open shelves) would start fading once the good weather arrived.

So this is what I did on my weekend:
  • Moved all of the hanging fibers into two new drawer organizers that completely block the light.
  • Hung up all of my scissors, rotary cutters, and other tools where the fibers used to be.
  • Moved all of the sewing patterns and ready-to-sew doll clothes (don't ask how old these are...) into smaller boxes and bins that are easier to manage; put them on the top shelf of the closet.
  • Purged a bunch of odds and ends that I have no idea why I still had them--most were trash or recycling
  • Moved a lot of loose stuff and keepsakes (newspaper articles and the like) from shoe boxes into archival-safe photo boxes.
  • Put up one of the drapery rods that used to be in the living room into this room; hung new drapes (gotta love Target for inexpensive panels!)
  • Hung a set of canvas panels on a tensioned curtain rod so that they hang in front of the quiting fabric to block the light.
  • Put away yarn and roving that were still in bags; put away loose knitting needles
  • Found the top of my sewing table and found the floor!!
I need to take pictures of my room so you can see the new space.

It was a nice weekend, weather-wise and we were able to let the cats out to play in the backyard. They loved checking out the lawn and seeing what was new. The Husband did a little gardening, so there were dirt clumps to check out beneath the cherry tree...

Checking out the yard ... What happened here?

This is a nice place to sit

It wasn't craft-less weekend because I did work on the Lenore socks and the Seahorses needlepoint. I'll post pictures of those on Wednesday. In the meantime, enjoy the sky from this morning...

February morning

Friday, February 08, 2008

Eye Candy Friday misc...

...I finished the Josie yarn, but it's a little, shall we say, "energized"? On the average, it's a little thinner than I have been spinning so when I plied it, I put too much spin in it. I'm hoping it will relax some after its bath.

So for what it's worth, here's Josie:

Josie yarn

and the dime shot:
Josie yarn, closeup

The Specs:
Finished 02/06/2008
Yarn Wench
Falkland Wool roving (4.1 oz) in Josie
Spun half by spindle and half by wheel; plied on Lendrum Folding wheel

Navajo-ply, yield: 337 yds.

17 WPI average, Fingering

So that's another WIP that comes off of my list of things to finish this year. One long-standing project that has been hibernating for some time is a cross stitch mermaid. I haven't even looked at this project for a while, so I pulled it out of its cover this morning. This is the Queen Mermaid pattern from Mirabilia.

Queen Mermaid WIP

As you can see, I have only done part of the bottom. If you click on the picture and look at the bigger version, you can see the yellow threads I basted in to mark the middle. I always start from the middle and work outwards. In the larger version, you can also see empty spaces where crystals or beads will be sewn.

This is the third Mirabilia mermaid that I have done. There are two finished ones hanging in my bedroom. I have finished "Deepest Love" and "Waiting for Ships." So far, "Waiting for Ships" is my favorite:

Waiting for Ships

Up this weekend: continue working on the Lenore socks and the needlepoint picture; pick up the leg warmers again and make some progress. Now that Josie is off the wheel, I need to work on one of the other yarns that are in process...maybe the Angora Cottage Merino Silk. I haven't touched that in a while!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

no-WIP Wednesday...

...because I showed them to you yesterday! (Guess I should have waited until today!)

Aside from Ravelry, one of this things that distracts me from crafts is reading. I read a lot and I read fast. I read a little every morning and every night (and sometimes I read in between times, too!). I prefer to read novels and mysteries (escaping reality is a good thing). I particularly love James Patterson, JD Robb/Nora Roberts, Debbie Macomber, and Diana Gabaldon.
I really don't like to read non-fiction books, except when it comes to crafts. I love a good knitting or quilting book!

Now, the Husband likes reading, too. However, his tastes are more towards the non-fiction end of things. His favorite books are about history, Native Americans, and the outdoors—hiking and biking trail books, the Roadside Geology book series, and field guides of all types.

At this point, I own most of the knitting books that I consider to be essential (well, not counting some haven't been released). I really wasn't looking for a new knitting book to buy until I saw this one. Given the number of field guides in our house, there was no way I was passing it up!

Field Guides

The Husband, of course, was amused...

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

weekend spinning...

...yes, there was spinning over the weekend. I finished the singles for the Josie fiber and started Navajo-plying it.

Josie yarn, plying progress

Because I spun it on the thin side, the plying is taking a bit longer than I expected. But I think I've plied about half of the singles so far. I should finish it this week.

The Lenore socks are coming along, but slowly. Normally, I do a little knitting at lunch time, but since my invite to Ravelry, I've been spending my lunchtimes entering stuff there!

Here are the Lenore socks so far:

Lenore socks, progress

I have finished the top cuff pattern and am now working my way down the leg. I like this pattern and it's easy to remember. I just need a few more hours in the day to work on it!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Happy 30th Birthday to the Daughter!

...and yes, I feel old! (gee, thanks...I hadn't thought about that in the last 5 seconds! LOL!)

Seriously, I know all parents say it, but I don't know where the time has gone. When they're babies, it's hard to imagine them as adults with their own separate lives. You just want to cuddle them and keep them safe from all harm. As they grow, you delight in their delights, praise their achievements, discipline when necessary, and just love them. The older they get, the faster time seems to fly.

The Daughter and me

For me, time went into warp 9 when the Daughter started high school. She was so busy with school, activities, and friends that it was all done by the time I caught my breath. Then it was off to college...grad school...and now the doctoral program.

Whew! She's worked hard to get this far, and she's taken us with her every step of the way. She calls to share her delights, announce her achievements, and ask for parental sympathy when things don't go as planned or hoped. We have a tight bond with our daughter and that, in turn, delights us.

So, happy birthday, Sweetie! We are proud of you and we love you!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Eye Candy Friday, and January recap...

...February sky (recap at the end of the post):

February Sky

OK, I know I said that there was going to be a long blog post, but this isn't it. As it turns out, the post was getting far too long to be put on the blog (at least I think it is), so I decided that it will become an installment in the Reflections section of my web site. When it's ready, I'll post a notice here.

To make up for it, here are more pictures from Monterey. Another Carmel beach shot:

Carmel Beach

This seagull was oblivious to the activity going on around him...

Seagull at Carmel

Back to the mission, here's a picture of the basilica from the front...

Basilica at Carmel Mission

...and from the side.

Basilica at Carmel Mission

January Recap

I didn't get as much done this January as I have the past two. After my visit to cross stitch hell, I didn't much feel like doing any more of that for a while. So here's the list, such as it is:

  • Just Nan 2002 Christmas ornament (cross stitch)
Worked on:
  • Black leg warmers in Caron Simply Soft yarn (knitting)
  • Spinning 4+ oz of Yarn Wench 100% Falkland wool top in Josie; moved to the wheel
  • Seahorses pillow (needlepoint)
  • Violet Needle Roll (cross stitch)

  • Lenore Socks from BMFA Rockin' Sock Club (knitting)
Works In Progress (did not work on):
  • Montego Bay wrap in Walking on the Wild Tide yarn, using Montego Bay scarf pattern from Interweave Knits Summer issue (knitting)
  • Spinning 4 oz of Angora Cottage 70% Merino and 30% Silk roving in purple
  • Spinning 2 Chasing Rainbows rovings together in the Heather colorway: one Merino-Bombyx (2 oz) and one Merino wool (2 oz)
  1. Cascade Fixation anklets (knitting)
  2. Central Air socks (knitting)
  3. Hopi by Susan Portra (needlepoint)
  4. Peacock Majesty by Just Nan (cross stitch)
  5. Paint it Black quilt
  6. Flower Power quilt; top finished, need to sandwich and quilt (quilting)
  7. Jungle Songs quilt; top finished, need to sandwich and quilt (quilting)
  8. Queen Mermaid by Mirabilia (cross stitch; still languishing in its stretcher bars)
  9. Sangria shawl (knitting)
  10. Twinkletoes slippers; just need to make one (knitting)
  11. Wright Stuff quilt; sandwiched, just need to quilt it!
(Yeah, I have a bunch of unfinished objects...gotta whittle that list down some!)

Up this weekend: Spinning! Yay! Let's see if I can finish the Josie yarn...

Eye Candy Friday...

...and I'm looking forward to the weekend! This week we harvested plums from one of our trees: Corncockles have sprouted up all o...