Thursday, March 20, 2008

Politics Over Drinks

Though this is a crafty blog, I did want to post a big hello and welcome to my wonderful husband who has finally entered the blogosphere with his new blog, Politics Over Drinks.

He has an amazing way of understanding and presenting political issues and events in an educational and thought-provoking way. Even if you don't agree with his politics, you'll learn more about the system and the procedures by reading his blog. And, I absolutely adore his sense of humor. :)

I've got a permanent link to the blog on my side bar with my "About Me" information. Happy reading!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Good but...

The new cover art for the 2008 Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival has been posted:

I can't say that I really like it. Not that it isn't good, but it's just not my taste. I'm so happy I got my tote bag back in 2006 when I loved the artwork.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patty's Day!

St Pattys Cake 01

My second cake turned out pretty good, eh? And it's off to Sean's office today to be consumed.

And just wait until it gets sliced into - SURPRISE! It's made with real leprechauns! :)

St Pattys Cake 03St Pattys Cake 05

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Mesa, AZ Yarn Store: The Fiber Factory

Last week I was in the southwest for work - Mesa, Arizona to be exact. As has become a routine of mine, prior to my departure I checked to see if there would be any local yarn stores near the hotel in which I would be staying. I found two - The Fiber Factory and Yarn Fifth Avenue (formerly know as "Skip One Purl Too"). Only one was within walking distance so that was the one I was able to visit.

The Fiber Factory
216 West Main Street
Mesa, AZ 85201
(480) 969-4346

The Fiber Factory

I walked along Main Street in Mesa until I came upon this cute little store front. I got such an excellent vibe from the place as soon as I saw the painted knitting sheep on the front door. When I walked in, I was pleasantly surprised at the size and cleanliness of the store. There were weaving supplies galore - from roving to spindles to spinning wheels to looms, followed by shelves and bins of beautiful yarns, ranging from synthetics and bargain finds to some rather pricey and exquisite skeins. There were buttons and decorations and a very large library of books, magazines and patterns. There was also a large selection of knitting needles and almost all sizes of crochet hooks. This was a crochet-friendly store indeed!

I walked through the store looking at all the wares. So many colors and fibers and textures. It was wonderful. And the staff - super friendly! I know that if I lived in Mesa or Phoenix, I would be a regular customer at The Fiber Factory.

Now - as my husband and The Queen pointed out, I was not held to keeping to the yarn freeze while on vacation. And I wasn't going to buy anything - until I saw these sweet little skeins in lilac and rose.

Queensland Collection Bebe CotSoy Yarn
Bebe CotSoy LilacBebe CotSoy Rose

I only bought a skein of each (which I thought was very good for me). When the salesperson asked me what I was going to make, I answered truthfully...

"I have no idea. I just liked it."

The other small thing I picked up was a button for my tote bag.

Button 01

All in all, I left the store with less than a $17 purchase. Pretty good, if you ask me. Now ... what will I make with this new addition to my stash?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Progress Report: Eight Pocket Two-Tone Carryall Tote

From a sewn lining to a lining sewn into the bag!

Two Tone Tote 05

You can see the lining is also sewn onto the handles and what you can't see is that the pockets along the outside of the bag are also lined (though only on one side). All this sewing was thanks to the fabulous sewing machine I got for Christmas. I don't know that I would have ever lined this bag without using the machine.

I'm now attaching the handles (which are sewn by hand with yarn) so it's really starting to look like the finished product.

Two Tone Tote 04

Because I lined everything, I'm trying to figure out how I'll seperate the outside pockets into individual pockets. I can't sew through them with the yarn (which the instructions tell you to do) as the lining is in the way. And I don't know that I can bring myself to sew it by hand with needle and thread. It may just turn into a Four Pocket Two-Tone Carryall Tote.

After the handles are attached, I'll need to do a final round of single crochet along the top of the bag and attach the button flap. I'm going to use this cute button I bought at the Fiber Factory in Arizona.

Button 02

Can't wait to put this bag to good use!

So Much To Say

I've got multiple updates to post here. First, my trip to Arizona brought an early defrost to the yarn freeze. Secondly, I'm well on the way to finishing the Eight Pocket Two-Tone Carryall Tote. Thirdly, I had a blast at my first cake decorating class last Saturday. But all of these deserve their own posts - so I'll just do a quick update on item #3.

Cake Decorating class #1: It was informative but we didn't actually do anything. We just watched the instructor make frosting and explain the equipment and give us tips and information on cake decorating. Our homework was to practice making frosting and using our supplies (of which I bought quite an impressive tool caddy with supplies in it - no worries as I got it at 50% off).

I got home and though I wanted to make a batch right away, Sean and I had tickets to see Celtic Woman in concert. It was a great concert and the performers did a magnificent job given the crappy venue of the First Mariner Area (having hosted a rodeo the prior weekend).

On Sunday, I had set aside time to get my cake decorating mojo going. I took out all my tools and prepared the area and measured, measured, measured.

Alas, my first batch of frosting was not very good.

I tried to do a double batch and my wonderful KitchenAid just wasn't big enough for all that sugar and Crisco. Thus, my frosting was too thick and not properly mixed. wasn't able to practice with the different frosting tips since the frosting was the wrong consistency. But the cake still tasted good even if it didn't look very good (hence, no photos here).

I have to make another 2 batches of frosting (one to frost the whole thing and the other for decorating) and bake a cake for Saturday's class. I learned my lesson - only one batch at a time. Let's hope I get it right next time and that I have some good photos to share.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Hello from Po-hone-ix

I made it safely out to Arizona. There was some turbulence that was unnerving (nothing like this though) plus a cab ride where the driver seemed to make his job interesting by seeing just how close he could tailgate people. I was white-knuckled for the ride to the hotel.

But the five hours on the plane were quite productive in the crochet sense. I finished the first half of the “A” pillow.

"A" Pillow 02

I do love the color – vibrant and fun. I think the hook size I used worked well with the yarn but the overall size was much larger than anticipated. I didn’t bring my tape measure so I included my cell phone there as a reference.

I was hoping to make the entire alphabet as a learning tool for little Brodie but 26 of these might 1) be too big for little hands, and 2) too big to easily store the entire alphabet in a toy box. So this project may be re-thought to just be pillows for their names (Brodie, Grace and TBD). I’m also not a huge fan of the font. Something simpler – sorta like Arial font – might be better for learning purposes. If anyone has different and smaller alphabet crochet patterns, please let me know.

Speaking of TBD, s/he is due in June. The gender will not be known until the big day so I’m making a gender neutral blanket – which was also started on my plane ride out to the southwest.

TBD Baby Afghan 01

So far, I do like the new Cupcake yarn by Lion Brand. I think as this blanket gets larger, I’ll like the overall color pattern more. Right now, it’s just a plain old granny square and I don’t like to give plain old anything to a new baby. I’ve got a back up plan if I don’t like the blanket when it’s done. And when TBD gets an actual name, then I can make the pillows for him/her.

I’m planning to make my trek to the Fiber Factory on Thursday night. They are open until 9:00 pm and I’m hoping to be out of work in time to walk over there and actually look around the store. Goddess knows, I’ll need to add an additional 15 minutes to my walk in order to get lost and then finally find the place.

The weather is nice, the work is going well - but I'm so looking forward to going home!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Air Crochet

Howdy all!

I'm off to Arizona tomorrow morning for a week long meeting - actually only Tuesday through Thursday, but Monday and Friday are travel days. My hook will be busy during the flight out there and back home.

Good news is that there are at least two yarn shops in Mesa to visit - one of which is within walking distance of the hotel.

While I would love to visit both, I'll probably only make it to the Fiber Factory. No rental car for me and I'm not up for walking 9+ miles one way for the other store. I hope to have a review for you all upon my return.

Wondering about the yarn freeze? Oh yes, my wonderful husband did remind me of it. But he also added:

However, as the designated authority for enforcing the moratorium, if you find something that is of such value and usefulness in Mesa that you want to get a travel exemption from the freeze, then I'll consider it ;)

Ain't he great? We'll see if I find anything worthy of breaking the freeze.

The eight-pocket two-tone carryall tote is coming along nicely, though slower than anticipated. I sewed the lining for the side pockets and attached them to the pieces. The bag is put together and the pockets are attached. Next I need to sew the lining to the handles and attach the handles to the bag. This will have to wait until my return from the Southwest.

But it may not get done during next weekend either because Saturday I'm going to be a little busy with my first cake decorating class at Joann's - YAY!!! I'm so excited! I registered today and bought all my supplies. A full update to follow.