Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Yarn along - Down at Fraggle Rock

Joining Ginny at the Yarn Along today.

 Having finished with the box to mail to family out west - it arrived safely - I went back to the sweater for Mouse.  It is about 8 inches so far, knit from the bottom edge and I am shooting for 18 minimum so I must seriously buckle down.  I am also working on a crocheted hat for my dad.  It is called Lidsville and I love it. I have to lengthen the inner band and stitch it to the hat (so glad I called mom for his hat size - yes I started making him a hat without it) and add the button on top before I am done.  I will be making another for myself and figuring out how to scale it down a bit for the boys.  It does however put the Fraggle Rock theme song in my head.  I spun the yarn shown (red) and used it and a brown wool for the hat, the homespun changes from red to russet to green to brown to blue through the yarn and I really enjoyed the changes and how it worked up.  Normally, I end up giving away my spinning, so this was extra fun.

On the reading front I am going the the Anne of Green Gables series again, like visiting old friends at Christmas and it always makes me feel in the mood to clean and bake.

Oh the overexposed blue things are the gloves I sent for which are helping my hands greatly.  I also noticed I was sleeping with my hands bent up under my chin and have been working hard at keeping my wrist straight while I sleep.
Some finished work to round out my post.  I finished the two pairs of socks for Butterfly and the stone soup necklace for .... um not telling.

Hope you crafts & baking are going well.  ~ Julia

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

tasty and crafty bits

 Thrift store frames for husband present.  My father - who used to be a professional photographer - is taking a picture of each kid for inside these, instead of school photos.  I really dislike school photos, stupid expensive and they always seem to look weird. So I popped the backing and the glass out and...
Spray painted them copper, three coats and a matte finish.  $4 present.

 Apple pie with beef fat instead of butter or shortening in the crust. Very flaky and tender. I happened to have the fat - rendering for soap but not actually making soap continues around here - so I figured I'd try it. I did tell them - after they ate it and praised it.

 Scarf finished and about to be wrapped for my uncle. I love the texture.  The yarn was a problem I ran out before the end only to find that the yarn was discontinued.  I was upset, I did not want to rip it to the beginning but what else could I do! Then I was at Joann's on Black Friday - not a bad experience for those of you who have not done that - and saw this lion brand yarn labeled Fisherman's wool, and as I was fairly sure the color was a match and the label stated 100% wool, I grabbed it. I can not tell were one begins and the other leaves off.

 As you can see I remembered to photo it at the last possible moment.

 And this is what I am calling a Scacowl. (Scowl) the table is a yard wide. the scacowl is doubled in the picture and longer than the table. It is so soft and light and pretty! It can be wrapped around the neck three times or twice and having one loop over forehead and ears, sort of a scarf/cowl/necklace.

 A more detailed shot.

And the mohair cowl for my cousin. Back to knitting with one set of hands, wrapping with another and doing craft projects with the kids with the third. Oh wait, only one set of hands, that explains why I am so tired.

Hope your projects are going smoothly and that you too have a friend, who when you tell her you have too many projects to finish before Christmas, kindly sends you more great ideas! ~ Julia

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Yarn along - just keep knitting

~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs.  I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading? ~ Ginny at Small Things

 This is a thrift store find, I got this soft fuzzy yarn for 99 cents.  It is acrylic and nylon. I was only able to get one skein, but they had another that was in a pale green that co-ordinates okay. Truthfully, I am hoping just the one skein is enough as I think it is better by itself. This is on it's way to being a cowl for my Aunt, she has a lot of pain in her neck so I wanted something pretty and very lightweight. I need to get it done fast as I need to ship it.

 This is a thick scarf for my uncle, and needs to get shipped too. The problem, I am out of yarn. This is a Spanish wool, natural coloring and soft and warm.  I am knitting four strands at a time & love the result. My Uncle is a surveyor and while he mostly works in the office now, I wanted something warm for him.  

 Another crocheted bead soup necklace, this time on memory wire. I think it will be a bit nicer to wear and lighter but it moves differently and is not as dramatic as the other one. It was easier to control the tension and move the beads where I wanted them, but I could not put it down, each strand had to be finished before I could let go.

Some progress on the socks, but I mostly set them aside to finish up the items for boxes that need to be mailed before Christmas.  I would like to be done with everything to mail and ship it out on Monday (I was hoping for today, but that is not to be.)  Mouse's sweater has also seen little progress.

On the reading front, I am mostly reading blogs and reports on screen as I can read and knit that way.  I have also decided to try listening to podcasts and have been searching for interesting free ones.

Tomorrow is low pressure as it is just my parents joining us.  A nice fun relaxing holiday is what I am going for. My parents are bring salad stuff, dry sausage, and a feta cheese dip my Mom found a recipe for. We are putting out some other cheese, fruit cheese (I made,) summer sausage and cracker and playing games together.  For the big meal we are having turkey (with sausage stuffed under the skin,) stuffing, mashed potatoes, acorn squash, mixed veg, rolls, pickled cranberries, and cranberry sauce.  For desert, apple pie, pumpkin muffins, and an apple-cranberry crisp.  I am making the muffins and pie today to save space and time tomorrow.

Today is Mouse's birthday. We had the party over the weekend and he had a great time. I got extra hugs this morning and help in the kitchen - loading the dishwasher with me and setting the pumpkins to bake.  We stopped and got him cupcakes to take in. His school requires all treats to be store bought, annoying on so many fronts, but he was excited. When I was going to school, it was better not to bring a birthday treat than to bring in something store bought.

Have a wonderful holiday or if you live elsewhere have a wonderful day with your friends and family! ~ Julia

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

remains of the...Garden

 A dear friend was talking today about hardy herbs still lingering in the garden, and while I expected t use the sage on Thursday, I really thought that would be about all that was still working out there.  As I was surprised, I figured a walk in the garden was in order. Come with?  I did not spend a lot of time out here this fall busying myself with fiber related or child related projects and up can tell, but the garden seemed to survive despite me.
Chives growing rampant and attempting to take over the entire yard. Not sure I would mind really, but it might smell odd on mowing day.

 See I do occasionally weed, this is chive and creeping charlie growing just find in my weed collection bucket.

 Lavender - I hope this survives the winter I have some at my front door that has, fingers crossed.

 Lemon thyme - since it is here it will be added to the festivities.

 Creeping thyme - I think it did not like where I planted it as it was never much better looking than this.

 Sage - the star of thanksgiving menu!

 flat leaf parsley - I spent 69 cents on the two little bunches of this. Scraggly looking little things but I had a recipe I wanted to try and if it didn't grow there was enough got that anyway. They just keep going and going, I have cut it to nothing at least four times, each time figuring well I got my monies worth out of that. It's back.

 Peppermint - I think this is growing again, I also think I need to make more tea.

 Rosemary - Growing well - tea and thanksgiving here too.

 I am fairly certain these are last years' onions - oh well I can use some nice green onions.

 Lemon balm - also appears to be re-growing. Yay for more tea!

 Oregano - I should make some tomato sauce with this.

 Spring planted garlic - I am going to try to tuck some garlic in yet this fall.

 Collard greens - Aren't they pretty. I might add these to thanksgiving dinner as the store did not have any brussel sprouts.

Horseradish - I want to harvest some before it has died back so much I do not know where to dig.

We all have unexpected treasures in our lives, my garden is one of them for me. From the outside it is not much to look at but it is a bit like a walk of discovery, hidden in there are treasure untold. Thank you for exploring them with me. Next year I plan to add plants for dying, do a bit more weeding, and I want to ask the neighbor if I can cut back some of her trees that are shading my property. Hopefully that will help my garden to grow.
Hope your garden is growing or sleeping well and that you have a wonderful time with your family this week. ~ Julia

Monday, November 19, 2012

Yum and a busy weekend

Coddle - this is a yummy soup my husband makes.
 One year my husband was looking for something to serve on St. Patrick's day that was not corned beef and cabbage as we would be eating that on Tuesday with company. He read a lot of recipes for Dubin Coddle and his is his adaptation of all of those. Bacon, sausage fried in bacon grease, potatoes, onions, cream. Basically it is cream of the yummiest bits of pork soup.

Bead Soup necklace
 Crocheted then braided bead on wire necklace, it was a lot of fun to make. Christmas present.
Brown and pink bracelet and earring set.
 Friday I beaded, a lot. My husband is from a large family on both sides, he has cousins as young as our oldest.  These sets are for them.
Purple and turquoise bracelet and earring set.

Green, hematite, and pale blue bracelet and earring set.

Earrings to go with the first bead soup necklace.

First beaded chain of second bead soup chain. 

Pasta Carbonara - Friday's lunch
All that hard work deserved a nice treat and a great way to use up leftover pasta.  Off to knit, I think I need three more sets of arms to get everything done in time.... 35 more days.

I hope all your projects are going smoothly and all your presents are done and wrapped! ~ Julia

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Yummy food and a longish day

Feather weight bread rising from a bowl made by my mother in law.
 I wish I could tell you that we ate healthy homemade food today, much like what I am showing today, unfortunately the lure of knitting with other ladies at my local yarn store and needing to get a few things from the store(s) led us to the temptation of store bought doughnut holes and McDonald's.
Ham & Bean soup which we had for lunch on Tuesday, also in a MIL made bowl - a smaller one though.
 The burger was tasty but the doughnut hole were sticky and oddly lemony. Oh well, Badger and I had a nice time, both with the shopping and crafting.  She made these cute yarn pumpkins and I worked on my socks and got a bit of help on a bead soup necklace (more on that tomorrow as the light is bad for pictures tonight.)
I meant to take a picture of the bread fresh out of the oven, but I blinked and all that was left of two 20inch loaves was this.
I really dislike that I planned so poorly today, as I don't want the extra junk in my diet and I think happy meals tend to make my children un-happy in the long run. We had a nice day, but there is a bit of tarnish on it for the loss of good intentions.

I hope that you are finding your days long enough to get everything done and live to your convictions. ~ Julia

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Yarn along - and going and going

~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs.  I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading? -- Ginny at Small Things.

I am still working on Mouse's Sweater -the green- but limited by my hand pain to between a half an inch to an inch at a time. It is going slowly but looks good and every time he sees me working on it I get a kiss. The red and pink things are socks knit toe up and two at a time. These are the practice version, the author suggested a practice pair in non-matching colors to aid in learning the technique and lessen confusion. These are a second practice pair as the first are done.  My kids were all very excited to see whose feet the practice socks would fit! It was a sock lottery, tiny feet trying out for the role of Cinderella or in this case sock owner.  Butterfly won. So I am knitting a second set to give her two matching pairs for Christmas.  These knit up very fast and the naughty little voice in my head is saying something about 'if I get everything else done, I could knit a pair for each kid, in time for Christmas!' I am thinking about drowning that voice.

I am still reading (more like staring puzzledly at) the weaving book from last week. Not to sure about it, the beautifully written and engaging historical sections have past into technical descriptions that make reading how to program a vcr easy.  I am adding this book on gardening plants used for dyeing, I have not started it yet, but many people have recommended it.

I love my tea cozy - a present from Resee last year - and could not resist adding it to the shot.  In the pot is cold earl grey tea brewed yesterday and left overnight with the tea in. I forgot to grab more coffee last night when picking up the kids from school, being distracted by realizing the Butterfly was sick.  She is home from school today and bored.

Meet the new addition to my studio family:
I am very excited to try it out!  My parents sent away for it as a birthday present and it arrived yesterday.  I am a bit irritated with the postal worker who left it on the bench by the door without even ringing the bell. She did not need to wait, but I was home and would've liked to bring it in right away. I had been watching for it but she arrived much earlier in the day than she normally goes around.  I only got it in the house before kid pick up time because the boys competition team (both boys paint figures and build models in an internationally placed team) stopped by to bring the boys there models and medals from the show in Chicago.  Beaver took Silver and Mouse (who made the team in July) took Bronze. I'll post pictures of the models tomorrow.

I am excited to see what everyone is working on!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

In my kitchen, in my life

It is 10:25, I have been awake since 6 and probably should have awoken about 30mins earlier, but oh well. Beaver has to be to school for gym by 6:30 Tuesdays and Thursdays.  I like that he has this option so he can keep Spanish in his schedule and take the reading lab. I dislike getting up, I dislike that he - who normally is great at great up - stumbled to the shower without checking the time, I dislike that he loves wearing the same sweatshirt every day all day! I dislike that I ended up yelling at him right before dropping him off, but I really dislike the disrespectful smart ass way of speaking he has picked up. So I will live with having yelled at him, and having made him angry by taking the sweatshirt and I will wash it (in really strong soap) and hope he remembers I love him.

After dropping him off I came home to wake up Butterfly, hoping not to wake Badger, nope! Oddly Butterfly was super crabby but Badger, who was soaked and chilled, was cheerful.  Toss a Badger into the tub and try to convince a Butterfly to eat hoping a little blood sugar would help. What helped was walking into the playground at school holding hands. It helped me too!

I came home to find that Mouse had taken all the garbage from bathrooms and bedrooms and gathered it together for garbage day, helped his sister out of the tub (husband was home but getting ready for work) and convinced her to get dressed. Other than wearing shoes he was ready for school and playing nicely on the computer.  We had a nice walk to school holding hands. 

So it is 10:36 and my garbage is out, my dishes washed, bean soup bubbling away for lunch, bread rising for dinner, floors are swept and the whole day seems bright if cold. I know that 30 is not really cold, I live in Wisconsin, if this were March we would be running around in sweaters talking about how warm it is, but I am cold.  I want a fire in the fireplace.

I will be casting on the second half of my mismatched toe up two at a time socks today, they are Butterfly sized and will be a Christmas present. She won the whose foot will fit into these practice socks lottery. Now they all want socks.  I doubt I will get the rest done for Christmas presents but maybe I can start right after.

Each year I make the Children make presents for their siblings and try to make the godparents a homemade gift too. Usually that ends up being something I made decorated by them. Badger has taken this to heart. Her siblings each got homemade birthday presents from her - so did I which required closing my eyes, and teaching my husband to finish a beaded bracelet - she has also made my mother her birthday present. The photo above is her present to her siblings for Christmas. Recycled Crayons, she also made a second set (my muffin tin for melting wax is a 6 holed one) with different colors of glitter mixed in.

I hope you are getting along in your holiday preparations and are having a productive Tuesday! ~ Julia

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Yarn Along - bring on warp speed.

Linking up with Ginny and the other wonderful ladies of the Yarn Along.

Warp speed knitting - when you suddenly realize that you have way too many projects to get done before Christmas. I am warp speed knitting. The real problem is I have been have this pain in my left thumb. It starts after I have been knitting awhile or knitting tiny for a long time, it will if I push it eventually cause my wrist to hurt and hurt badly enough to stop me from knitting (switching to spinning after it was hurting did not help) for a few days. It seems to bother me less when working on larger (10) needles or switching from small to large sizes. I am worried and aggravated by this new problem.

On my needles, I have the sweater for mouse in green tweed wool and a cowl in mohair for my cousin. I can get about one repeat in the sweater before having to switch projects so at about 1/2 and inch a time the sweater will be taking a while. The cowl is wool I bought at my local yarn shop, the knitting instructor was stash busting her home and brought in all this wool she would never get to. She had packaged it in bags with a pattern and enough wool to complete the pattern.  I bought this ball with two others and a shawl pattern for $10. I hope to make a few cowls with it. It is so fluffy and soft to work with, this is the second cast on as I managed to twist the join on the first and had about 2inches on when I noticed. 

I am working on reading up on weaving so that I can play with my loom.  I would really like to make a table runner - just a simple rectangle here nothing fancy - as a Christmas present. so I need to get on that. This book Weaving A Handbook for the Fiber Arts by Shirley E. Held is a very interesting read with lots of history and charming side facts. Well written and engaging as a history text, I do think I was looking for more of a how to but maybe that is in later chapters.

Hope your projects are going well and your needles are going clikkety-clackety at a reasonable pace! ~ Julia

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

tea parties and other fancy things

For Butterfly's birthday she got to invite a bunch of friends from school over to the house for screaming... I mean for a tea party. They were delightful.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Friendship is...

Funky tea cozies and scones eaten together late at night.  It is get togethers started much later than expected and paused as they start because of violin practice (Butterfly started taking lessons two weeks ago) and parent teacher conferences. It is it does not matter how odd our days were now we are together planing of the days of our lives and catching up. Hope you had a nice drive home - I am holding your phone ransom for another girl's night.

Yarn along - habits and panic

Late again! Thanks for hosting the yarn along, Ginny.

 I found this yarn at St. Vincent's for 79cents a skein, I bought all ten! Mouse wants a hoodie sweater and I was going to use the pattern I posted last week, but I started (and finished) reading the Knitting Sutra and found myself slapping my head in a huge duh! moment when she started talking about gauge. The light over my head (mocking me) was oh course the stitches per inch thing could be used to build the garment not just to verify the yarn selection. DUH! And when I got over (mostly) feeling rather dumb and was filled with a sense of freedom. So I kept the 3 rows knit followed by a row of purl stitch pattern from the sweater pattern I spent hours looking for and then ditched the rest. I am building the sweater from the bottom and having a great time. Oh and I get a huge smile and a huge from my Mouse every time he sees me working on it.
I have been wanting to make myself some socks for a while now, so I grabbed this book at the library - like The Knitting Sutra I may need to buy it - and am knitting up a pair of sample socks to get the technique.  I even when along with the knit each one a different color to practice thing.  I am enjoying the socks and looking forward to making them in much small yarn! The kids are all hoping the socks end up sized right for them - and I will have to make a second practice set to have matchers. So one of the kids is getting two pairs of wool socks.

I finished the second book in Nora Roberts Brides series this morning. It is a charming read. I like how she can make the characters seem as real as a close friend, but they are a bit cookie cutter. group of female friends + group of male friends (sometimes plus conflict) = number of heartwarming book equal to the number of men and women we started with. That sounds harsh and she does do other work which I also like but it is not really meant to be, I like them, tied up with a bow.

Habits - I am sorry it is getting to be a habit to think about posting more than to post - I hope to improve.

Panic - 60 crafting days until Christmas!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Thoughts on a Thursday

Last week Tuesday Butterfly turned 6, this is her dancing before school that morning.
 It is 7:24, Beaver is at school. Mouse - woke up early to crawl in my bed for extra cuddles - is ready for school and unloading the dishwasher to help me. Butterfly is whining that her socks are too big, her pants are to short, she has to sneak back in her bedroom again, basically that she is awake. Until a moment ago Badger was asleep - the last sneak in woke her up. Jim is asleep. Time to take Butterfly to school.

It is 8:04 I drove a much cheered (amazing what breakfast will do!) Butterfly across town to school, it started to rain.  My wipers were replaced last month and it had not rain until Saturday, when I found out they do not work anymore. I really need to go bug the place that put them on.  Badger helped me load the dishwasher, mostly so she could get toast. She did not like the cinnamon bread I made for breakfast and just wanted plain buttered toast and don't stack it mommy. (side note: she has invented a new swear word - Oh Crazelle Stacks! - terribly cute.) Soon I will be walking Mouse to school, time to find the umbrellas.

It is 8:45 Mouse is at school, the rain stopped for the whole walk. Normally, there are a few other kids maybe a mom walking them but no one else is walking. Today there were 4 people walking for exercise out on this wet dismal day. I am going to read awhile with my coffee and book, and finally have my cinnamon bread for breakfast, then I need to print this pattern for Mouse's sweater. I bought a bunch of German wool from St. Vincent's two months ago and I think it will be enough to make him a nice sweater, I'll do the sleeves last just in case, but you can't say no to 100% wool skeins for 79 cents. I bought all they had. His sweater will be a heathery green. Today is Badger and Mommy do errands and crafting time at out Local Yarn (beading and spinning) shop.

It is 2:12 I got the coffee and mattress cover we needed and some cookies to bring to crafting, Badger picked them out. We got to the shop and De was chatting with M, who I think is pretentious and while she is an instructor there is pushing her own agenda often at the store's expense. I wanted to get two yarns to use for sample socks (reading Toe up 2 at a time socks and she recommends practicing in worsted weight in two different colors once to get the hang of it) knitting needles for the girls, size 7 needles for myself and a 40" cable for the knitpicks system. I also got a new gauge, locking stitch holders and pearl cotton for a Barbie Wedding dress (i picked up a pattern book at the library, thinking I would knit some simple cloths for a Butterfly Christmas present, of course she caught me looking at it while I was on the wedding dress page!)  Normally there are a lot of other ladies but today not so much, so it was a lot of shopping then waiting for them to be done talking about a class they want to offer (I won't be taking it) but I ended up getting involved in the conversation which, along with reading The Knitting Sutra, has changed my plan for Mouse's sweater.  I will be using the stitch pattern - k 3rows, p 1 row - for the sweater but making the body in the round in one piece stitches based on gauge and his measurements rather than slavishly following the pattern. Later, M left and another lady joined us, she was working on a complicated (to my eyes) beaded bracelet. I would like to learn the technique,eventually.

It is 6:59, Homework is mostly done, violin lesson for Butterfly went well, but oh the homework.  Too much to have practice and lesson both before dinner. getting her to finish tonight was difficult. Have to work on getting dinner earlier, Jim seems to be working later and later into the evening... it is nice that he can work from home but he seems to be working 24/7 lately and always seems to be running late on the days that are busiest for the kids and me. I know he likes to do the cooking but I think I need to pick up a few days a week and make something that I can start cooking early in the day and is just ready to go.

It is 8:10, Dinner was yummy, pork roast with a spice rub that was so tasty, baked potatoes and corn &peas. The kids are all in bed, I expect the Badger to keep leaking out of her bed for hours yet. I shall sit and watch some whatever is on while starting Mouse's sweater.
Beaver's last cross country meet of middle school. He is the boy that is further away, I meant to get a better shot but as he got near me he yelled out - "I'm Freezing!" they made him take off his hoodie right before the race. He lives in that thing.