Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Turkey Awareness Dye

It's that time again--holiday craft season has begun! I started my annual elving about a month ago, but I have only finished one project so far. It only took a day plus a few hours to finish, most of which was drying time, which took up Thanksgiving Day. Most people cook a turkey, but me? I cook yarn.

Using nine envelopes of Kool-Aid powder and 200 yards of wool, I made a very colorful skein of hand-dyed yarn for a friend's Christmas gift. My inspiration for this yarn came from the following image, which is a photograph taken during the Leonids:

 I took the better part of a skein of natural colored Cascade 220 and soaked it in a vinegar-water solution then laid it out in a casserole dish. I separately prepared the three blends of Kool-Aid in three individual jars.

In order to get the colors of the dye to replicate those I observed in the meteor shower, I experimented with flavor combinations. I used three packets for each third of the yarn dyed to get good color saturation. For the green, I used Lemon-Lime exclusively, and for the darker blue, I used Berry Blue. For the blue-green in the center, I combined two envelopes of berry blue and one envelope of lemon-lime.

Once the dyes were mixed in their jars, I poured them individually over the yarn, the green on the top third, the blue-green over the middle third, and the blue over the bottom third of the casserole dish.

 I put the casserole dish, yarn and all, in the oven and baked it for over an hour at 250 degrees. When I rinsed the yarn, some color bled out still, which makes me think it could have baked longer, though there is still a natural color definition between much of the color changes. Finally, I hung it to dry, and made a lovely skein.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Pattern: Quidditch Scarf

Now you can create your very own knit Quidditch Scarf to wear and support your favorite Quidditch team (or sport of any other sort, for that matter) in Hogwarts style! This reversible ribbed scarf is simple to knit. With a long, skinny design, this scarf can easily be made wider, longer, shorter, and can be worn long or wrapped around the neck.

This scarf pattern was primarily inspired to mimic the clean lines and blunt color changes of the Quidditch sweaters worn by the Gryffindor Quidditch team in the film Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (below is an image of Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley modeling the sweater for us).

In order to knit a scarf to fulfill your own personal team pride, you need to know the appropriate colors of each of the houses. Hogwarts House Colors are as follows:
  • Gryffindor -- Red and gold
  • Hufflepuff -- Yellow and black
  • Ravenclaw -- Blue and bronze (blue and gray in the films)
  • Slytherin -- Green and silver

Pattern: Quidditch Scarf

US 10 (6.0 mm) needles
Two skeins worsted weight wool, one dark color, one light color [recommended: Cascade Yarns 220 Wool]
Yarn needle for sewing in ends

Cast on 24 stitches in Main Color [MC]
Row 1: Knit 2, Purl 2
Repeat Row 1 for 23 more rows (24 rows total).

After initial 24 rows, switch to the Contrast Color [CC]
Repeat Row 1 for another 24 rows.
Continue alternating 24 rows of MC and 24 rows of CC until scarf reaches desired length.
End in MC.
Cast off.

Using yarn needle, sew yarn tails from cast-on, cast-off, and color changes.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

yoda, baby!

Star Wars. Well it has a following, right? Maybe just a little one. My dear husband loves Star Wars. Everything about it. He saw Return of the Jedi for the first time in the cinema when he was a boy. 

He does not know it yet, but for his birthday this year, I made him this fabulous knit Yoda hat.

I took Sunshyne Leland's pattern, Felted Baby Yoda Hat, and edited it in order to fit an adult head. Next year, I hope to sew David a Jedi robe so that he can go all out as Yoda for various costuming events. David also has this idea of making lightsaber whips, which are weapons that Sith warriors use during the Clone Wars and in some of the Star Wars novels. If he made one in green (Yoda's lightsaber is green), it would give the perfect touch.

Here is what I did to make the pattern fit an adult (see full notes on my Ravelry project page):
With US 11, CO 90. Begin decreases after 11 inches.
Ears: With US 13, CO 23 with two strands held together. Follow St st for 3.5 in inches/12 rows
  decrease row
  cont 3 rows
  decrease row
  cont 3 rows
  decrease row
  cont 3 rows
Decrease every other row until 13 sts left.
Follow pattern from here until end.
Flaps: Pick up 24 and continue in St st, decreasing every 4th row.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

unplugged... and plugging into the family

This month, I have been focusing much of my time on family life. We have done everything together, from visiting the amusement park, the beach, to traveling to Wisconsin to enjoy the company of family there, thrifting and stopping in local restaurants and specialty shops, from re-purposing much of our living space to re-purposing our time to focus more on things that matter most to us.

I have had a good solid 10 days off work, during which we took a four-day vacation, reorganized (and scrubbed down) the kitchen to make it an eat-in space, re-purposed the dining room to hold all of our paints and family art and craft supplies, and built movable displays for David's artwork. I am tired from all the hard work and long days, but encouraged by the progress we have made and the time we have spent together.

There are several things that I really wanted to get done during my time off that will have to wait, but I am happy with how everything has turned out so far. The house is beautiful and comfortable, and is in good shape for moving our lives back indoors as summer comes to a close.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

a day at the farm

Much of the way we measure and talk about the passage of time with our little ones is by seasons--it seems so much more tangible to them than calendar months and years. They are fully aware of how humid it feels, or how the tomatoes are turning red on the vine, or how the evenings offer a wonderful cool relief from the hot, long days. It does not matter that July is over and August is nearly upon us or that school is in session again soon.

One beautiful summer day when the sun was not quite so hot, Evelyn, Esme and I took some time to visit Learning Tree Farm, which is a lovely educational, fully functional farm run by volunteers. We met all sorts of creatures, from the barn cats to chickens, from donkeys to ponies, sheep, and goats. We observed the vegetables, nearly ready to be picked, the sweet scent of the flowers, the tang of the herbs and spices on the air. There is nothing quite like the sound, smell, and fell of life at the farm.



There are very few outings (for me, anyway) that are easy with the two girls and just one adult. The zoo, the woods, and the farm--those are easy, and fun, and wonderful. The hardest part is always the leaving. No one ever wants to leave.

Friday, July 15, 2011

this moment

{this moment} - from SouleMama - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 
If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

butterflies of Brazil

Evelyn and I went to the annual butterfly show at the Krohn Conservatory. Featured this year were many different species of butterflies native to Brazil. The butterfly exhibit was in the large seasonal room, which is airlocked so as not to allow foreign butterflies into the local environment. The habitat was filled with many plants and flowers that are native to the Brazilian environment.

Perhaps the most beautiful butterfly we saw at the exhibit was the blue morpho, which is the national butterfly of Brazil. One of the world's largest species of butterfly, the blue morpho has a wing span of five to eight inches wide and has vibrant blue wings lined with black. When closed, the wings are a dull brown with dark eyespots that provide the butterfly camouflage from predators. There were dozens of other butterflies present in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes.

Always an educational experience, this trip to the Krohn Conservatory was especially unique. Evelyn and I discussed deforestation of the butterflies native rain forests in South America as the largest threat to these butterflies.

It was hard to capture photos of the butterflies as they moved so quickly, especially since it was a lovely, sunny day. Children and adults alike are permitted and encouraged to gently and respectfully interact with the butterflies.

summer fun

This summer has started out with a daze of great weather and splashes of fun. We have spent a lot of time in the garden, at the splash pad, on bikes, and visiting local attractions and parks. David is working on artwork much more these days, which is a relief. He seems so happy when he has a regular creative outlet. We set up a studio for him in the apartment in our back yard. It is just the right size and has excellent natural light with windows every few feet. The studio's kitchen and bathroom are not yet functional, but once we get the plumbing up and running, it will be absolutely perfect. David's parents came down for Father's Day, and we had a lovely picnic in the garden with my parents to celebrate the day.

Friday, July 8, 2011

this moment

{this moment} - from SouleMama - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 
If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

$5 in Paris

I cast on for this sweater in February. By March, I had most of the body done. I set it aside for two months in order to knit up some baby things, but picked it up again at the beginning of June, when I finished the bottom ribbing and picking up the sleeves.
The pattern, $5 in Paris by Anna Peck, called for alternating stripes throughout the body and sleeves, but I kept with one single color in order to highlight the subtle color changes throughout the Malabrigo yarn in Tuareg. I also did short sleeves so that I could wear it on cool summer evenings. I love this sweater. I love it's easiness and comfort. And I love Malabrigo yarn. It is the softest wool I have  worked with yet.

Notes on my sweater: CO 152 for small on US 6 for a smaller neck (could have gone down another needles size or two). Switched to US 8 after ribbing. Worked pattern as written, for the most part. Tried it on two or three times to make sure fit was right. Did no side shaping. Sleeves: Had 43 saved stitches, picked up additional nine for 52 stitches. Knit seven rounds before doing nine rounds of ribbing, then BO.

Friday, May 27, 2011

this moment

{this moment} - from SouleMama - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Friday, April 1, 2011

this moment

{this moment} - from SouleMama - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

fresh off the needles

 I finally finished knitting another scarf, just in time for another round of cold weather! I used Rowan Cocoon on US 10 1/2 needles, and followed Whitney Van Nes's Mistake Stitch as a basis for this project, though I made some simple alterations to the pattern to make a long, skinny, striped scarf. Here are my notes:

Using main color, CO 23.
Follow mistake rib for four rows.
Alternate colors every other row, following mistake rib. End with four rows of main color.
Bind off.

My scarf ended up being about six feet long and four inches wide after light blocking and lengthening. The pattern looks relatively complex when it was very simple. The yarn, a merino-mohair blend, is quite possibly one of the softest and squishiest I have ever had the pleasure of working with. It sheds an unbelievable amount, though. I should have just enough yarn left over to make a matching Calorimetry.

Friday, February 25, 2011

tips for new dads

According to Amy Morrison at Pregnant Chicken, there are Eight Essential Tips that no new dad can live without. Definitely worth a read, and I guarantee you will laugh out loud AND find the tips conveniently useful!

tips for new moms

These 10 tips will help you survive and enjoy the early weeks as a new mom.

1. Go slow. We live in a fast-paced world. Babies move at a very different pace, as do new parents. Give yourself permission to move on "baby time."

2. Limit your other obligations. You will only be a new parent for a few months of your entire life. Think about how you can make the most of it.

3. Sleep whenever you can. Try to rest whenever baby is sleeping or being cared for by someone else. Rest can sometimes feel like a waste of time when there is constantly something to do, but keeping yourself as refreshed as possible will make everything else much easier.

4. Nurture yourself. You are putting out an enormous amount of energy as a new parent. It is important to recharge your batteries. Even a 30 minute hot bat, a short read or a walk with a friend could help you to rejuvenate. Think about two or three things you could do in less than an hour to nurture yourself and make it happen.

5. Think of your baby's crying as communication. Your baby needs to learn that his world and the people in it are trustworthy and reliable. His sense of trust is an essential building block for all other learning he will do. There may be times when nothing seems to help and you may just need to stay close, relaxed and supportive until your baby is done crying.

6. Keep your expectations to a minimum. Many parents who work outside the home before they have a baby expect that being home with baby will afford them many opportunities to get things done around the house. If you can keep your expectations to a minimum you may feel less overwhelmed and unsuccessful. Projects and chores can wait, so be willing to set them aside.

7. Accept offers of help. You will be giving others the gift of feeling included and helpful and you will be giving yourself the gift of help.

8. Ask for help. Many people around you might be interested in helping, but may not know how or what to offer. You can gently inquire if they would be interested.

9. Get together with other new parents. One of the hardest things about being a new parent is believing you are the only one feeling overwhelmed and confused. It can be very supportive to spend time with other new parents. Look for new parent support or activity groups through your local hospital, community center, adult education center, or La Lache League.

10. Expect to feel vulnerable. Bringing a new baby into your life changes you forever. Your feelings are simultaneously deepened and closer to the surface. You might find yourself wet with tears or spontaneously elated at a moment's notice. If you know that this rich emotional life is a natural part of being a new parent, you may be able to relax, tolerate or even relish these new feelings.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

In the crafting world, this repurposed Altoids tin, featured on Craftster, is one of the most inspiring projects I have seen in a while! I love the colors and I have a passion for owls. All the additions were actually made with card stock and ribbon, not paint. I will have to do some experimentation here soon and see what fun I can come up with!

malabrigo swap winter 2011 - spoilage for my victim

This latest round of the Malabrigo swap has a great theme: The Simple Life.
Things are simplified, as we are only permitted to send a total of FOUR items to our partner. 
  • 2-3 skeins of Malabrigo (they can be sent as is or knitted/crocheted into something for your partner)
  • Something edible or drinkable
  • Something to read or listen to (book/pattern(s)/CD/audiobook)
  • Something your partner can’t live without (something THEY say they can’t live without
It was rough. And I cheated a little with the edible/drinkable, sending a few little things as one. Included in my package to my partner were two skeins of Malabrigo Silky in Ravelry Red; chocolate, tea, and a gorgeous mug [something edible/drinkable], The Hunger Games on audio CD [something to listen to], and Burt's Bees Lip Balm [something she cannot live without]. I would have loved to receive this package, and it was a real challenge to come up with only four things.