Free Stitch Markers

August 31, 2008 § 1 Comment

stitch marker

No, I’m not giving away any kind of special stitch markers, but you can make these yourself for free in a snap. A wise knitter (my grandma) passed on this great idea to use short lengths of plastic straws as stitch markers. They are free (recycle one from a yummy milkshake) and they come in lots of different colors and sizes. The best thing is that when you drop it on the bus or it flies behind the bookshelf it’s no big deal. I keep a short length of a couple of different colored straws in my little notions bag that I keep with me when I am knitting and cut a new marker when needed. They can be cut really thin or thick and used over and over.

Right now I am still working on the OK mittens (old progress about OK mittens here and here) and I’m using different colored markers for the thumb gusset than the marker for the beginning of the row. Generally I don’t knit with size 15 needles or anything like that so I never need a really big stitch marker, and little straws work really well for small needles sizes, like for socks. I got the pretty blue straw along with a green, pink, and orange straw at an ice cream place on the beach. Another good reason to have a Cannon Ball (vanilla bean ice cream floating in espresso).

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lilac lake

August 29, 2008 § Leave a comment

finished lined mittens

Finished the lined mittens for a friend and they should be warm and toasty with soft alpaca/ mohair lining on the inside.

Pattern: Teresa’s Lined Mittens (by Mavis Adams, Spin-Off- Summer 2008 )

Yarn/ outside: Abundant Yarn & Dyeworks/ Naturally Dyed yarn, superwash wool, “Lilac Lake”

Yarn/ lining: Nashua/ Julia, wool/alpaca/mohair, “dusk”

cigar box totoro house

August 24, 2008 § 1 Comment

cigar box shrine

I finished my cigar box shrine. Started a year or so ago at an art day with my artsy work colleagues. It’s purpose is to sit by my desk at work and remind me of peaceful nice things. I had to take it home after a while because seeing it half done was not peaceful for me. I’m liking the finished project now. I also made a Totoro for my box. Everything from My Neighbor Totoro makes me smile.

chibi totoro

My handmade Totoro is the chibi variety, small and bouncy. Now my box can return to work and remind me of my favorite scene. (This clip isn’t dubbed in English, but you don’t need to to understand what they say at the beginning to appreciate the wonder of Totoro’s.)

“bury your crap and return”

August 20, 2008 § 1 Comment

swatting bugs
We went backpacking this last weekend to, ya’ know escape the city and the heat, and rejuvenate in nature. The blurry picture of me swatting bugs away from my face explains the trip well. It looks like I’m smiling but I might have been crying. Highlights of the trip included 90+ degree weather, near heat stroke, 2300′ elevation gain and a bad map. Did I mention the bugs? When we finally arrived at the little lake nestled deep into the Bull Run Wilderness we filtered some murky lake water to drink, went swimming with the orange bellied salamanders until we couldn’t stand the bugs anymore and then hunkered down in the tent until it was time to eat. I’m mostly being sarcastic but I loved the salamanders. After eating we spent some more quality time in the tent listening to flies buzz around and around. Of course clouds rolled in and we saw one star through the little tent window. Luckily we didn’t sleep very well so we could go out and put up the rain fly when it started to rain. We made it out of there and returned the crap shovel to the trail head before 11am (“bury your crap and return”-hand carved instructions on national forest sign). Oh, I’m not sure if I mentioned the heat and profound sweating.

I started working on my OK mittens again in the tent. I’m using a different mitten pattern because the other one had short rows that made incorporating the dot pattern much to difficult. I decided no to felt them, but I’ll knit in a lining like the other mittens I’m working on for extra warmth.

I didn’t get very many pictures due to my energy level but we were truly in beautiful surroundings. I would recommend this hike in early summer when the rhododendrons are blooming, the moss is green and the pikas are meeping. I would also recommend some physical activity for my self. I took a nap in the car and for 2 hours when we got home. Lars ran 12 miles. It took my calves two days to recover. Next time I want to escape the heat I’ll head to the coast with everyone else, or buy a baby pool for my porch.

decapitated Barbie and marzipan

August 19, 2008 § 1 Comment

Barbie-head nest
We had an ice cream social at my workplace and each program in our building brought a cake for the cakewalk. I of course jumped on the chance to help make the cake. We decided to make a nest and the idea evolved to include a Barbie doll head in the nest too. Mostly because we think it’s wacky and funny and we didn’t want any of our co-workers to think we are to normal. One of my immediate co-workers in my program, aptly named Barb, makes Barbie art which usually involves decapitating Barbie dolls and always involves transforming a Barbie in some way. We have a Barbie encased in a fiber cocoon on our office wall.

We made the marzipan from scratch (even blanched our own almonds!). The texture wasn’t fine as genuine European marzipan, but it still tasted like sugar-crack*. I love the marzipan part because it’s like sculpting clay and it tastes a lot better then play-do. I like making pretty food so I have always liked decorating cakes but I’m not a fan of frosting so I don’t reap any of the added benefits of licking the spoon or any thing like that. The nest it self was a masterpiece (I think) based on a Martha Stewart recipe (Lle Flottante, May 2006) for a spun sugar crown. Our nest is more “rustic” looking and in some ways a better fit for what we were making. See more pic of the cake at flickr.

The process was interesting since the sugar is only at the peak temperature for a very short time, possibly less than a minute. After that we just pulled out our own drips of sugar and built up the nest by hand. I’m sure Martha would not have been impressed with the process but it could have been worse, really there was very little sugar spattered, dripped, flung, or encrusted in the kitchen after we were done. The nest did deflate a bit over night and lost some of the body of structure due to moisture, so it would be most impressive to serve it right away. Now it feels like a challenge to try the recipe again and make a light dreamy nest like Martha’s, oh I mean like the people Martha pays to do all off her work.

I don’t think most of the people at the cakewalk were sure what to think about the cake-obviously they were blown away by our creativity.

*sugar in it’s most addictive form

Elna & Ken

August 10, 2008 § 1 Comment

sewtog

The quilt is finally getting some attention. We set up both of the sewing machines (yes! we got another machine thanks to my mom who found it at a garage sale for $20) at the table and have been frantically piecing away….well not exactly but we have been working on it. Lars started his first block and it was wonderful- after the tension was set right and not making ginormous knots on the back. I feel you should know that making a quilt together was Lars’ idea- of course I love it and embraced it. So his first block was great – not all of the logs were perfectly straight but it had a good handmade quality. The kind of shabby sheek look that anxious people like me have a hard time doing even on purpose. We had a total of about 5 finished blocks right now and none of them are really the same size (we’ll make them the same size in the end) so I’m not to worried about perfection. He took out his first block out and started again with a few curse words interspersed. Pretty good for only making a pillow in home ec before.

happy things

August 8, 2008 § 1 Comment

salt and pepper

the salt & pepper shakers make me happy when I open the cupboard

Today is a day off from work and my plan is to think about happy things (aka not work). I love my job but sometimes need to be really conscious about separating the stresses of work from my personal life. So besides the fact that I had my annual physical this morning, and they made me fast so they could do blood work, this day is dedicated to doing and thinking about “happies.” A good way to jump start happy feelings is to look at things that make me feel good, like the Blabla Boogaloos and pigeons. I have some ideas that I want to swatch too, yarn is always good for color therapy.

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