Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009: The Year in Review

Well, here we are at the end of 2009. Time for a look back on the craftiness that occurred this year. First, a final tally on my my Crafty Resolutions list for 2009 - my last check of the list was back in September (and oh how optimistic I was about what I thought I could accomplish).

1) Finish the following UFOs:

2) Design more stuff and write more crochet patterns including: coasters, fingerless mittens, and pot holders.
Completed - at least the coasters part. Designed and up for sale on Ravelry are the citrus and watermelon coasters. I'm hoping to get more patterns on paper next year.

3) Try to sell a project - either on Etsy, at a craft fair, or word-of-mouth.
Completed - sold a fat bottom bag. She loves it and she's had lots of people ask her where she got it. I've got some bigger plans for 2010.

4) Learn to knit socks on double pointed and/or circular needles.
Completed - the first pair was given to KMP. I've also made some baby socks. All were made on DPNs and while I'm hoping to learn other techniques such as the magic loop method. Started a sock-a-long with "C" which is under way but has no deadline by which we have to finish. Stress-free knitting is always better.

5) Go to MS&W 2009
Completed - and it was a fantastic weekend!!!

6) Visit the new Lion Brand Yarn Studio in NYC.
Visited the studio with the Queen in October. I would highly recommend it for the experience (though you can get the yarn cheaper elsewhere).

7) Complete the following new projects:
  • Make at least 1 blanket for donation (charity TBD) - no progress on this one yet

  • Baby blanket for Decklin or Saoirse (due in May) - Completed for Saoirse's arrival in May.

  • Baby blankets for the other babies that are sure to be announced in 2009 - The starghan was completed and I'm going to crochet like the wind today to try and finish the overdue Afghan of the Sandman before 2009 officially ends.
  • Traditional crocheted tablecloth for future Sister-in-law - I was going to make this for her bridal shower gift but I could not find a pattern that I loved. Instead, I made the cake for her shower.

  • A shawl from the Amazing Crochet Lace book - Yeah, that didn't happen. I think I'm going to take shawls off my list for awhile. They aren't inspiring me like they used to.

8) Take another class at Joann's - cake decorating, sewing or quilting.
Actually took 2 more classes in cake decorating. All that is left is fondant and gum paste flowers. I have also come to the realization that I cannot take up quilting or any other form of sewing projects until we move into a bigger home. The craft room is packed and the cabinet is full of cake making supplies. There is no room for more crafts at the moment.


While not all items were crossed off the list, I still feel pretty good about 2009. It was a busy year outside the crafty activities, with the addition of Seamus to the family and my brother-in-law's wedding. I'm working on the list for 2010 and it's looking quite ambitious.

Many thanks to everyone for reading along with the blog this year. Wishing you all a healthy, happy and crafty New Year!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy Holidays!

I had hoped to have about three other postings before today (the afghan I'm close to finishing, the flower crafts I've been working on, the new projects I'm getting ready to begin) but there's just been a lack of time for blogging. Considering we leave for the holiday tomorrow, I'll have to hope that some free time to blog will be available next week. My crafty time over the holidays is already booked with first finishing the afghan of the sandman (I'm finally on the border!) and starting another baby blanket that needs to be done ASAP. The little girl is due on January 4th though I'm kidding myself if I think I can make that deadline.

I leave you with a photo of our tree this year. Can you find the little sheep among the branches? Perhaps I should knit or crochet him a little scarf and hat for next year.

Holiday Tree 2009

Wishing everyone the happiest of holidays!

Friday, December 18, 2009


Since our first Christmas together six years ago, Sean and I still cannot wait until Christmas to exchange gifts. The very first year, we exchanged gifts the weekend after Thanksgiving. The tradition has continued though we have (most years) waited until December. Sometimes we make a big deal of it - wrapping everything and picking a special time to sit and open them together - and other times, we're too excited to give the gifts to the other person so we'll hand them the box to open when it arrives at the door. The later is what happened for me this year - and how could it not when the boxes arriving are from KnitPicks!

Sock needle holders, yarn cutting charm, blocking mats and the knitted bag kit in green (which thank goodness he ordered it a while ago because it's out of stock now).

Knit Picks Order

Don't I have a wonderful husband? :)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Doppler Effect

I was just preparing for, it's December 8th. I had a feeling back in September when I started crafting and shopping for the holidays that the season was going to fly by at warp speed. Sometimes I hate it when I'm right.


Usually I like it very much. :)

In the last week, I've been all sorts of crafty but not much to show for it on the crocheted or knitted front. The afghan of the sandman has been worked on but it still has so far to go. I know the finished product will be so lovely - but I just can't seem to sit down and plow through the final rows until the border. The project has been ongoing for too long. I've lost patience with it and just want it to be done. I also lost a crochet hook while working on it. No idea where it went even though I lost it in the living room. The couch cushions have been searched, the couch lifted to check the floor and even the chaise was shook to see if I could hear the little hook inside the frame. I have another hook of the same size but I do hope to find the other one. It was a beautiful shade of lavender.

I've also been working on the sock-a-long with "C". Not much progress there either since my time is focused on the afghan and I've been dozing on the train instead of knitting. Good thing we don't have a deadline for completion (a stress-free knit-a-long). I also have a fear that I'm going to run out of yarn before the pair is finished. I'm making a men's medium sock and the weight of the yarn, the size of the needles and even the gauge match the pattern. It's just that the first sock looks really wide.

I also decorated my first ever gingerbread house. I don't really love it - mainly because I was lazy and used the frosting that came with the kit instead of making my own royal icing (which would have been a better consistency to hold the piping detail). It looks festive but I would have liked to do a lot more detail work on it.

Gingerbread House 2009 02

This was a pre-baked kit that came with the frosting, tray, candy, gingerbread house, tree and scary looking gingerbread men. That's why my gingerbread man looks like an island medicine man with the crazy gummy headdress and multicolored beads all over. Just looking at him makes me laugh.

Gingerbread House 2009 01

I used some fondant to make the snow man. He's definitely not for eating (it's a solid ball of fondant) except for the candy attached to him.

I'm hoping to make one of these from scratch next year - bake the gingerbread myself so I can have open windows. There's a way to melt down Jolly Rancher candies and make them into stained glass windows. Then you can put a light inside the house so the windows have a nice glow.

And maybe - just maybe - I'll contemplate the idea to someday enter the National Gingerbread House contest held at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC. Of course, this wouldn't happen for a number of years and I should first just visit it in person. Did somebody say road trip for next fall?

And lastly - here's a photo of the ladybug cupcakes I made for my boss' farewell party last week. She's the woman who inspired the ladybug coaster pattern.

Ladybug Cupcakes 02

Look at all those updates in one post! Whoooosh! Right past you before you knew it, just like the past few months. Let's hope the rest of December slows down a bit so the holidays can be enjoyed and savored rather than rushed and frantic.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Completed Project: Advent Calendar

Finished this before Thanksgiving - and it gets to be used today. Sean is looking forward to the Lindt chocolate and Ghirardelli caramel squares hiding behind the doors.

Advent Calendar 03

No rhyme or reason to the images on the doors. I just picked stuff that reminded me of the holiday season and tried to make it look good. It took much longer to finish this than I thought it would. Covering up the original paint job took a lot of coats of white paint. Here's the before photo:

Advent Before

Only took me a year to paint this - at least I got it done in time for the advent to begin.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thankful (and crafty) Weekend

Hope everyone had a splendid Thankgiving! I know I did. I was lucky enough to spend it at home with my wonderful husband and close friends. The company was superb and the food was delicious. The only downside was how quickly the time flew by.

Perches, Mr. Perches and bebe came for Thanksgiving and stayed a couple of nights to visit. We had a wonderful time catching up, going to the aquarium, munching on leftovers, watching favorite movies, and yes - being crafty. I give you the fruits of our Saturday morning labors - reindeer!

Reindeer 2009 04

A new color scheme for this year compared to years past. They have already been delivered to Sean's work place where people were happy to see them (and surprised they were done so early). A half dozen followed Perches home to adorn her Christmas tree and I have a handful left for my own tree. We didn't get a chance to make reindeer food but I'm hoping to do that this weekend.

I was also the very lucky recipient of these beautiful, handmade by Perches herself, stitch markers. I LOVE THEM! Seriously - when she gets her Etsy store up and running, you should buy a pair of these markers.

Stitch Markers

We also made a quick trip to Joann's on Black Friday. It was late in the evening and we were on a mission to get Perches some size 6 circular needles. What could've, should've been a 10 minute visit to the store lasted closer to an hour. We wandered through the isles, seeing what was on sale and what looked interesting. Decorations and containers, trees and swags, fabric and notions, and then the yarn department. Perches helped me NOT impulse buy yarn for a baby blanket. I so wanted the colors and yarns to go together but her eyes confirmed my own - they just didn't. I'll need to pay the premium cost to get the right yarn in the right colors from the manufacturer. I did end up buying some fat quarters which were half price. The selection was slim as it was one of the few areas ravenged by black Friday shoppers.


What am I going to do with these swatches of fabric? Your guess is as good as mine. I'm thinking they would be great as purse or pocket lining. At 79 cents each, it's okay that they don't have a predetermined purpose right now.

Hope you found time to fit in some craftiness over the holiday.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


As I was going through my photos on the computer, I realized I never posted these cute ones of Seamus.

Seamus and Sheep 1

Seamus and Sheep 3

Sheep Toy

Yes - that is a stuffed green sheep. I found it at the grocery store (of all places) and just had to buy it for him. He loves it and he's able to get his mouth around the belly to squeak the squeaker.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Holiday Seamus

Proof that two weekends ago, I got Seamus to sit still long enough for a photo:

Seamus - Holidays 2009 (2)

Isn't he just the cutest? And to answer the question in advance about how I got him to smile - I had a bunch of treats that I gave him when he sat still and looked at the camera (ye olde positive reinforcement trick). I think he was about to open his mouth and whine that he had not yet received a treat for doing the right thing. Hence, it looks like he's smiling.

Think he's uber cute? I do - so I entered him into Hallmark's cute dog photo contest. Click here to view and vote for him --

Voting ends December 15, 2009 and winners will be announced late January 2010!
Feel free to pass this along to others to get Seamus some more votes or enter your own dog in the contest.

Here are a couple more from the photo shoot:

Seamus - Holidays 2009 (3)

Seamus - Holidays 2009 (1)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Keeping Score

Results of my weekend to-do list:
  • Make curtain for Office shelving --> completed though I had to use different fabric than I planned on and it's really not that functional to use all the time. It will work to hide the cluttered mess during Thanksgiving and the Christmas party.
  • Make craft room curtains --> didn't happen. I'm not holding out hope of it happening this weekend either.
  • Paint advent calendar --> almost done - completed about 70% of it before I had lost the drive to paint. Painting creativity ebbs and flows with me so I have to act on it when I get it and know when to stop when it's gone.
  • Colorflow lady bugs and gingerbread house decorations --> didn't happen. Must make the ladybugs tonight so there is time for them to dry completely before next week.
  • Start making reindeer candy canes --> didn't start making them but I do have all the materials. Will probably make them after Thanksgiving, in between decorating, Christmas cards and watching Christmas Vacation.
  • Christmas photo of Seamus --> completed and I got some uber cute photos.
  • Wrap Gifts --> completed
  • Organize craft room --> not completed - and in fact, the craft room became less organized because I was doing all these craft projects. Hoping to get things under control this weekend.

At first I was disappointed that I didn't get it all done. I felt like I had only done a few things but my wonderful husband pointed out all the other things I got done while doing part of this crafty list, such as the mundane shopping and laundry. There was also a trip to the dog park that Seamus thoroughly enjoyed and some work done on the overdue baby blanket. This weekend promises to be just as crazy busy with lots of stuff to do. Fingers crossed I can get a lot of it done.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Whirlwind Weekend Ahead

My to-do list for this weekend is daunting, and I'm not talking about the mundane grocery shopping, laundry and clean the house on the list. It is the crafty to-do's that are looking insurmountable - not each on their own, but all of them completed (or at least started) in one weekend is looking like too much. Here's the list:

  • Make curtain for Office shelving
  • Make craft room curtains
  • Paint advent calendar
  • Colorflow lady bugs and gingerbread house decorations
  • Start making reindeer candy canes
  • Christmas photo of Seamus
  • Wrap Gifts
  • Organize craft room

I need to get started and complete a few of these because Thanksgiving will be held at our house this year as well as a big holiday party a few weekends later. I've got to get this stuff done ahead of time so that I can focus on cooking and entertaining. I'm even going to have to break my own long-standing rule and put up Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving. The tree will probably wait until after Thanksgiving but the swags and Christmas lights will probably go up next weekend.

Any guesses on how much I will actually get done this weekend? And how much caffeine I'll need to ingest to tackle it all?

Sunday, November 8, 2009


On Wednesday I started a sock-a-long with my cousin, "C", who lives in the Carolinas. She has knitted in the round before for mittens but has not yet tried socks. Since I was itching to knit another pair after the Harry Potter socks and to use a much better instructional book for my second pair, I asked her if she'd be interested in the sock-a-long.

We're using the following book - Teach Yourself Visually: Knitting Socks. I LOVE this book! The instructions are great and the photos are excellent. It is sooooo much better than the book I used for my first pair of socks. We were going to each use a skein of the ShiBui knits yarn I bought in Portland last year. I shipped one skein down to her and then I finally got around to winding my skein. I was less than amused when I had the finished ball in front of me. No way was there enough yarn for two socks, contrary to what I was told when I bought the yarn. Sure enough I checked the yardage on the label and then the yardage needed for the pattern and it was only enough yarn for one sock. D'oh!

Luckily, I had the perfect solution.

A couple years ago --- has it really been that long??? --- I bought some Socks That Rock yarn in blue to crochet Sean a pair of socks. I bought 2 skeins knowing that a crocheted pair would need the extra yarn. I had never made the socks because after my first pair of crocheted socks, I knew they would be too thick for Sean to wear. So quietly in my stash the skein waited patiently...

...until I yanked them out, stuck one in an envelope and the other on the swift.

It took a while for the sock-a-long to get started given other projects going on and general busyness of life. It was on Wednesday when we started. "C" was going to her knitting group and I had given up hope of finishing the baby blanket any time soon. The sock yarn was calling to me and it would have been rude not to answer.

Here's all I have so far. The k1-p1 ribbing always seems to take forever so I'm only a few rounds into the stockinette stitch. The sock color is "In the Navy" and I'm using size 1 DPNs. I'm yanking on the second stitch of each DPN to avoid the dreaded ladders. So far, it seems to be working.

Socks for Sean 02

You can see the Shi Bui knits ball - less than half of half a skein of the Socks that Rock yarn. You can also see Seamus hoping to get his paws on the ball of yarn. While a cat will take the ball of yarn to play with it, when Seamus gets a hold of a ball of yarn, he runs off playing catch-me-if-you can, gnawing on the yarn as he runs and hides. Funny to watch but bad for the yarn.

I hope your socks are coming along well, too, "C"!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Damn Deadlines

The baby shower for little baby "Q" is today. Here's the blanket that was supposed to be all wrapped up and waiting for the momma to open it.

Sandman Afghan Purple 01


I did send the baby hat and booties and a card with a bow of the baby blanket yarn. The card informed her that a blanket was being made and would be sent upon completion. I should have had it done and at the shower but - c'est la vie. I believe baby "Q" is due mid December so I'm hoping to have the blanket done in time. If not, I'll bring it up at Christmas. And if not by then, hopefully before the spring. I love the Afghan of the Sandman pattern but it is going to be a long time until I make another one of these blankets. They take FOREVER and I'm not sure why that is. I'm a fast crocheter and the pattern is easy. It must be the yarn and hook size.

I also have a project that must be done by Christmas. Little Brodie is 2 1/2 and she would know the difference if her Christmas gift arrived in January. Her mom has informed me that she loves bright, bright colors. I think this yarn will do and it should look great on her new "big girl" bed.

Technicolor Dream Blanket 04

I was hoping to make a sweater for Edward but alas, I don't think that will happen this year. I will have to adjust the pattern for a bigger size and start in February so it will be completed by next Christmas.

Where did this year go??? It seems like June was last week and October was yesterday.

Friday, November 6, 2009

California Dreaming

I had a blast in California last weekend for the Mistress' wedding reception! Hanging out with the Mistress, the Queen, and our boys - it was so much fun. We pre-partied on Saturday with wine tasting at local vineyards followed by the main event Saturday night. Good times were had by all.

While we didn't visit any yarn stores, I did get to converse with the Queen and her current crochet project (gorgeous in person) and I picked up this souvenir to remember the weekend.

Wine Plaque 1

I wish they had one of these in regards to friendship and yarn/knitting/crocheting. Any ideas for one to make?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Completed Project: Garter for The Mistress

One of my dearest friends - a sister by choice - got hitched on Labor Day weekend. Since I could not be there in person, I made her a garter to wear.

05 Beth Garter

Yes, that is a skull button on the garter. Nothing less for Mistress Dark Forces. I also made a matching tie clip for the groom.

07 Beth Garter

You'll also notice the calla lilies on the garter, one of the Mistress' favorite flowers. The grey matched the sash of her beautiful wedding dress. I did a pretty good job considering this was the first garter I ever made and I had no idea what I was doing except for directions from the internet and a lot of hope.

I also personalized some beer cozies for the bride and groom. They told me they used them all weekend. It made me smile. :)

Beer Cozies

While today I celebrate my third anniversary to the most wonderful man in the world, this weekend I get to celebrate with Mistress Dark Forces and her man as they host what surely will be one hell of a Halloween reception in San Diego! The Queen will also be there and Perches will be there in spirit. Fingers crossed I can get the second garter finished before I leave so she has something to throw.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Completed Project: Baby Set (hat and booties)

This set is for a cousin due in December/January but with a baby shower in early November. They are keeping the gender of the baby a surprise until the birth so this set is in yellow and the baby blanket I'm making will be in lavender.

Hat and Booties 02

Both patterns came from Knitting-A-Day calendars though it is not actually a set (2 different patterns). Details (yarn, needle size) can be found on Ravelry for the hat and the booties.

For the hat, instead of sewing the brim to make a picot edge, I thread ribbon through the holes to match the bows on the booties. If I were to make the hat again, I'd leave out the holes and the picot and just have the brim roll up.

I was reminded when making both projects that I really need to learn to check the properties of the yarn I'm substituting for the yarn called for in the pattern. The yarn I used has a bit too much stretch so I'm not as happy with the results.

I have to buckle down and crochet! crochet! crochet! the baby blanket that must arrive in Massachusetts by November 6. But the sock yarn on my shelf is tempting me to bring DPNs and a skein with me to Chicago.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sunday, October 18, 2009

LYS in NYC: Lion Brand Yarn Studio and Purl Patchwork

At the beginning of this month, I had to travel to New York City for work. I love taking the train to NYC and points north. It's so much more relaxing than air travel. Not only to you have more room to relax, but you also don't have to worry that your needles, hooks or other crafty items will be confiscated by TSA.

I got into town in the late afternoon with plenty of time to meet up with the Queen and check out a couple of fabulous yarn and fabric stores. Our first stop was the Lion Brand Yarn Studio.

Lion Brand Studio

Do you see the woman in the front window? The staff members took turns sitting in the rocking chair to knit and crochet next to the giant knitting needles and crochet hook. Click here for the big version - might be easier to see it all.

If you look at the web site, you'll see photos of the inside.

Is this technically a local yarn store or is it really a retail store since it's owned by a large company? I'm going to keep it categorized as an LYS since there is only one store and even though all they sell is Lion Brand yarn. It was a great studio, one that I would frequent often if I lived in the city. While the prices of the yarn were not as good as a 40% off coupon at Joann's, I was tempted to buy skeins and skeins of it. There is something about a well-done yarn display that can make even the most frugal shopper through skeins into a basket regardless of price. Luckily, I regained my composure and put back the 4 skeins I whipped off the shelf. But there was one skein I could not put back. I had not seen it in stores before and the colors were just too good to pass up.

Lion Brand Sock Yarn 02

It's sock-ease yarn in the most delicious colors. This must be skein number 15 in my sock yarn collection. I wanted to buy tons of other stuff I didn't need - the Queen laughing with me (and sometimes at me) as I walked around the store saying "I need this!" even when I didn't know what it was. I ended up with just one other item - some black eyes for a dustbunny long overdue.

Lion Brand Studio Purchases

The Queen also picked out Homespun in Barley for her future blanket. Once these baby blankets are done and friends stop breeding for at least a couple months, I'll be able to start on it. :)

The store was great and I'd highly recommend it. For me, my trip meant other item crossed off the 2009 Crafty Resolutions list!

Our next stop was to Purl Patchwork, which is the sister fabric store to Purl Soho.

Purl Patchwork

The Queen picked up some beautiful fabric sets. I didn't buy anything there, but not for lack of wanting. I'm just not in the position to start yet another crafty hobby until I get either a bigger house or a larger storage cabinet for the craft room. If you ever did want inspiration to start quilting, Purl Patchwork would do the trick. I should also mention they had great spools of embroidery threads perfect for crocheting doilies.

We had planned to to Purl Soho, too, but the lure of frosty brews and pub fare was too strong to ignore. We had a wonderful evening chatting over copious amounts of beer until the hour grew late and the knowledge that neither of us could skip out on work the next day forced us to head home.

I really must make the trip up to NYC more often (and next time not for work). It's too much fun to see the Queen and enjoy the energy of the city.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Perches is contemplating her own store and the Queen is getting uber crafty with fabric. I'm feeling the very strong pull of the creative world, too. Liberating me from the padded cell of an office cube. Freedom from pointless meetings where people drone on and on about unimportant and unnecessary things.

I sit in meetings and I imagine new designs and patterns.

I make lists of projects I want to start or finish while people think I'm taking notes.

I crochet in my mind to make the meeting more interesting. (I know - that one's weird. But if happen to do it, you know what I'm talking about.)

I envision a quaint little yarn store, filled to the brim with yarns of all colors and textures and prices. And I see my name on the door.


Someday - hopefully sooner rather than later.

In the meantime, visions of fiber happiness will make the days in the padded cube bearable enough for me to return each day.

And in the meantime, there may just be a virtual store front in my future, too.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

LYS in New Haven, CT: Yarn, LLC

This is a waaaay overdue posting about my trip to New Haven, CT back in July. I only noticed I hadn't blogged about it when I came across the photo of the store over the weekend. That also reminded me that I had not photographed the yarn I bought (nor did I add it to my Ravelry stash). That will be forthcoming next time I take photos.

So here we go - a yarn store review of Yarn, LLC in New Haven, CT.

New Haven Yarn Shop

There are two locations and I went to the one located downtown. I was glad to make it to the store this trip (I was thwarted by a late train in 2008). It is a tiny little store with an adequate selection of yarns. The yarn was organized by color and not by brand or fiber type which I found confusing. I was also irritated that few things had prices, either on the skeins or on the shelves. I don't like having to ask about the price of every skein I like. The saleswoman was very nice and her husband was there learning to knit (his first project - SOCKS! So very ambitious!). And though she was nice, I can't say that I liked the store that much. The selection was just a bit too limited and the organization of the store made it hard to find things. I did end up with a skein of sock yarn. At the time, I had just completed my first pair and I was excited about staring another pair. As of today, it's still in my stash - but it's not alone. I think there are 10 other skeins of sock yarn waiting to be used.

All in all, a decent little store but not one that I would recommend you go out of your way to check out. Perhaps the other store is different or bigger or better.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Completed Project: Baby Boy Starghan

Here's the starghan, finally finished - too late for the baby shower but in plenty of time for the baby.

Julie Starghan 06

After having to rip out the first attempt, I was true to form and hooked this blanket out in record time (just 10 days). The weaving in of the many ends took a few days (out of procrastination, not difficulty). I used Lion Brand Cotton-Ease (same as I used for a baby blanket last year, minus the terracotta color) and the size should be just right for the little guy's crib. As always, full details on Ravelry.

The blanket and one of the blue-green baby hats have been shipped to the momma-and-daddy to-be. I hope they keep the little guy warm and comforted.

Monday, October 12, 2009

"One of these things is not like the other..."


Do you love this skull mug as much as I do? I picked it up at Annapolis Pottery. It has beautiful blue hues around the outside and a greenish blue color blend on the inside. I really wanted to take it to work so I could sip my coffee from it during the dreadful staff meeting but I don't think my co-workers would get it. They think I'm crazy as it is.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Easton, MD LYS - Yarns & Company

Made another trip out to the lovely Eastern Shore a few weekends ago. Seriously - I need to move there. If only I could get a job there making what I make now or perhaps a teleworking position that would allow me to work from home. That is the dream!

We started in Easton and walked the quaint streets while enjoying the absolutely gorgeous fall weather. We popped into Irish Traditions, a store which was the most authentic Irish store I've seen stateside. I picked up some Christmas gifts (yes - CHRISTMAS gifts) and saw the most wonderful paintings and knitted items. The store owner was so nice, too.

Unfortunately, the Christmas gifts didn't exactly stay Christmas gifts as I gave them to Saoirse last weekend out of fear she'd outgrow them before Christmas.

Irish Shop Purchase

We then popped into Jake's Pet Boutique where there were plenty of items with which to spoil Seamus. But they didn't have his favorite treats so while we were tempted by the items for sale, we didn't purchase any.

The next stop was Yarns & Company just down the street.

Yarn and Co Easton MD

Proof again that Sean is awesome, he kindly took Seamus for a walk around the block and I checked out the store. I'm sure I could have brought Seamus in with me, but the 11 year old Yorkie in the store wanted nothing to do with Seamus nor Seamus to do with him.

Yarns & Company is a super cute store with a rustic feel. There is a great selection of yarn and the prices are very reasonable. The ladies in the store were so very friendly and I got some assistance with my sock and hat knitting issues (those pesky loose stitches at the beginning of a DPN in the round, aka ladders). I ended up buying some gorgeous hand-dyed yarn from Australia (which also came with a free shawl pattern) and a little skein of baby yarn in light blue. I also got a pair of bamboo knitting needles in size 5.

Yarn Purchase Easton

This store had the best prices for Clover needles I've seen (besides Joann's with a 40% off coupon). The store is definitely worth checking out if you're on the Eastern shore.

While we had a nice time in Easton, we were itching to go back to St. Michaels. I had hoped we'd like Easton more since the homes are bit less expensive than St. Michaels but one must follow their gut and our guts were drawing us back to St. Michaels. I'm guess the same was true for Seamus as he seemed a lot more relaxed and happy-go-lucky (i.e. not barking at everyone and everything) on the streets of St. Michaels as he did in Easton. Seamus also enjoyed our lunch at the Crab and Steak House. He loves hanging out under the table and barking at dogs passing by.

Seamus at Lunch

I did make another stop into Frivolous Fibers. They had changed the layout of the store slightly since last I was there. There is now a couch and it is a bit more open. I didn't buy anything - not for lack of looking and not for lack of wanting. I'm just very much aware of the mammoth stock pile of yarn I have at home and the number of projects I have to get done by the year's end. Best to put off some other yarn purchases while I get the things that need to be done, done.

What about the yarn I bought in Easton? Of course that doesn't count because that was my first visit to the shop. Plus, I do have projects in mind for the purchases. I'm using the shawl pattern that came with the hand-dyed yarn to make a birthday present and the light blue yarn will be made into a baby hat using the size 5 needles. :)

Sunday, October 4, 2009


My husband is wonderful for so many reasons, one of which is his understanding of my enthusiasm (obsession) with crocheting and knitting. He's even so kind as to feed that obsession. Case in point - a couple weeks ago he came home with a bag full of crocheting and knitting books. A coworker had brought a bunch of books to work that she had been given by a neighbor. Before donating them, she gave first dibs to her coworkers. Sean scooped up all the crocheting and knitting books available and carted them home on the commute. What a guy!

So here's what I've got:

Books 01

Universal Yarn Finder by Maggie Righetti - It's an index of yarns including names, where you can buy it, needle gauge, texture, cleaning care, yardage, etc. I guess it's like Ravelry's database in hard copy. But one thing to note - the book is copyright 1983 and 1987. I don't know how many of the yarns in the book still exist or if the descriptions are still accurate after 22 years. I'm really happy my cover doesn't look like this one.

DMC: Spring Into Crochet No. 15230 - Designs by M. Kathleen Colussy and copyright 1986, I'll be honest there are some ugly patterns in here. The best one is the cover design.

The Harmony Guides 450 Knitting Stitches Vol. 2 - Considering the price on Amazon is $42.99 for this out of print item, getting it for free was quite a deal.

Treasury of Crochet Edgings by Sharon Valiant and Judy Teague Treece - Seems like a great book at first glance.

Crochet in 4-Ply Cotton #7106 by Hayfield - A lot of motif white cotton tops. Maybe 2 of them are wearable.

Knitting Counterpanes by Mary Walker Phillips - Very fun patterns in this book.

Anchor White Crochet Lace: Book No. 11, Art. No. 17751 - So many wonderful lace pillows in this book. There is a round one I'm hoping to make. The only problem is that all patterns are charted instead of written out.

Sweater Design in Plain English by Maggie Righetti - I'm no where near knitting a sweater, but I hope this book will come in handy when I am ready.

More proof Sean is awesome is that when he placed an Amazon order for a book he wanted, he bought me a book off of my wishlist (because he's that nice and to get free shipping). This is one I've wanted for a while.

Books 02

Comparing this one to the older book on yarn should be fun.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Mercury Retrograde

If you didn't already know, Mercury has been retrograde since September 7th.

From the website:
"Mercury retrograde gives rise to personal misunderstandings; flawed, disrupted, or delayed communications, negotiations and trade; glitches and breakdowns with phones, computers, cars, buses, and trains. And all of these problems usually arise because some crucial piece of information, or component, has gone astray or awry."

Here's my latest WTF? moment as I'm learning to knit. Take a look at this photo and tell me what's wrong with it.

Baby Hat 01

Look a little closer...

Baby Hat 02

I'm sure that seasoned knitters can spot it right away. As for this newbie, I was about 5 rows from the end when I noticed it wasn't quite right. Something was wrong with the stretch of the material and it looked a big off. Finally I figured it out - all my stitches are twisted. Actually, all my purl stitches are twisted. I was knitting and purling continental style (which I find to be faster and more comfortable) and I apparently wrapped my yarn the wrong way while purling. So what did I do? Rip it all out?

I couldn't do that because I already have a project I do have to rip out -- all the way down to the first big of blue near the center.

Starghan 01

At first, the blanket was all wonky so I adjusted every other row to have a cluster stitch of 2dc - 2 ch - 2 dc instead of 3dc - 2 ch - 3dc every row like the pattern called for. I thought it was working great but then I laid it down to take a photo and here's what happened. It's got this weird bubble in the middle.

Starghan 02

So - rip, rip, rip! Take it out! Start again!


And it was supposed to be done today for a baby shower. Oh well. It should be done in time before the little one's arrival.

Can I blame these problems on Mercury retrograde? Yes I can. And therefore, no new projects until after September 29th. Plus I have plenty of WIPs that need some attention. Since they are already started, I hope they continue as planned without this kind of craziness.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I am here...

...with 3 or 4 posts to post. But the tooth extraction yesterday was less than enjoyable and I spent the remainder of the day on the couch watching bad tv. I didn't even crochet much, it was that bad.

This weekend - a post or three!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Checking the List

I can't believe the summer is over and it is already September! While my blogging has been infrequent, I have been quite busy with my hook and needles (and pastry bag and sewing machine). It seems like an excellent time for a review of how much progress I've made on my Crafty Resolutions list for 2009.

1) Finish the following UFOs:
  • Knitted Baby Blanket - Completed - and baby Edward loves it.

  • BUBBLES bubbles Wrap - I switched it to a scarf as I gave the second hank to Celtic Memory when I visited Ireland. The scarf has been started and while it has not plagued my existence like the wrap did, it has sat untouched for months.

  • Spiral Pentagram Motif Shawl - Still in a bag in pieces. I'm at the point of unraveling it all and reusing the yarn with some monster needles to make a simple garter stitch shawl. I saw one at MS&W this year and loved it.

2) Design more stuff and write more crochet patterns including: coasters, fingerless mittens, and pot holders.
Completed - at least the coasters part. Designed and up for sale on Ravelry are the citrus and watermelon coasters. I have sketches of potholder designs but I haven't looked at fingerless mittens yet. There's still time, right?

3) Try to sell a project - either on Etsy, at a craft fair, or word-of-mouth.
Completed - sold a fat bottom bag. She loves it and she's had lots of people ask her where she got it. I really must get some business cards made.

4) Learn to knit socks on double pointed and/or circular needles.
Completed - the first pair was given to KMP. I've also made some baby socks. All were made on DPNs and while the magic loop method looks interesting, I'm sticking with what I know for a while. Looking forward to a sock-a-long with "C" as we both knit with the ShiBui Knits sock yarn I picked up in Portland.

5) Go to MS&W 2009
Completed - and it was a fantastic weekend!!!

6) Visit the new Lion Brand Yarn Studio in NYC.
This is slated for early October when I travel to New York for work. (Queenie - you're in, right?)

7) Complete the following new projects:
  • Make at least 1 blanket for donation (charity TBD) - no progress on this one yet

  • Baby blanket for Decklin or Saoirse (due in May) - Completed for Saoirse's arrival in May.

  • Baby blankets for the other babies that are sure to be announced in 2009 - One is currently underway, the yarn is bought for another and there is yet another to be finished by December (yarn and pattern TBD)

  • Traditional crocheted tablecloth for future Sister-in-law - I was going to make this for her bridal shower gift but I could not find a pattern that I loved. Instead, I made the cake for her shower:
    Bridal Shower Cake 11
    If and when I do find a great pattern, perhaps the tablecloth can be a housewarming gift instead of a bridal shower gift.

  • A shawl from the Amazing Crochet Lace book - I completely forgot about this resolution until I reread the list today. Socks are way more fun right now so I'm not sure if I'll get to this one or not.

8) Take another class at Joann's - cake decorating, sewing or quilting.
Actually took 2 more classes in cake decorating. All that is left is fondant and gum paste flowers. I have also come to the realization that I cannot take up quilting or any other form of sewing projects until we move into a bigger home. The craft room is packed and the cabinet is full of cake making supplies. There is no room for more crafts at the moment.


Wow - that's a lot of the list just 9 months in. I think I'll reevaluate what is left on the list and those projects that need to be completed (i.e. baby blankets) so I can better plan out the last few months of the year. Suggestions? Comments?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Annapolis LYS: Yarn Garden

Last week I was in Annapolis for Sean's dental appointment. Instead of spending the 90 minute appointment in the waiting room, I drove over to the Yarn Garden yarn store. I'd been meaning for years to stop by and check it out. I was glad to finally have time to do so.

As always, I try to be completely honest with my yarn store reviews while trying my best to soften the negatives. (Can you tell where this review is going?) So please know that this is my honest opinion of the store, not a dig at the owner or patrons. Here goes...

This may be the worst LYS I've visited to date.

The Yarn Garden is located on the second floor of a building which is part of a strip mall. This strip mall is now adjacent to a recently built and GINORMOUS residential/retail area with high end condos and apartments, restaurants, and specialty stores galore so the stores and store facades look a bit old and dated. I still had hope for a cute little store as I walked up the stairs to the store.

Yarn Garden Annapolis

Upon entering the store, I was unimpressed. The lighting was bad, the walls needed paint and the merchandise was soooo unorganized. There were no prices on the yarn. Instead, what appeared to be post-its cut to size were taped to the shelves with handwritten yarn names and (sometimes) prices. I could not figure out the organization of the yarns as to color or manufacturer or fiber content or use. It was maddening! There were patterns available - but they were in different parts of the store and organized in one place by publisher, another place by type (blankets, sweaters, etc) and another place by a combination of both - I think. I'm really not sure.

But I looked beyond all the disorganization and searched through the shelves for something to catch my eye. Something different, something unique, something that I had to have.

I found nothing.

Not a skein, not a hank, not a pattern, nothing.

I'd seen most of the yarn before in other stores and online, in better colors and at better prices. The sock yarn was drab and scratchy, the stocking patterns were hideous, and the wall of notions was behind the counter so I couldn't even see if there was something I might want. When I did see a book I thought I might like, I picked it off the floor (where it was displayed, propped against a shelf) and attached to the book was a giant dustbunny. While I had originally assumed it was the disorganization of the place giving me not-so-great-vibes, it was now confirmed that in fact this store was dirty. I left not long after the dustbunny encounter.

The woman behind the counter was nice enough - she did say hello and good-bye - and I didn't think she was rude, but I didn't find her that friendly or warm. There were ladies at a table learning to knit and they were having a good time so maybe I missed the subtle, unconscious charm of the store that they seemed to enjoy.

In summary, I won't be making any return trips to the Yarn Garden and I can't say that I would recommend it to anyone either living in or visiting the Annapolis area. I hate writing such a negative review because my dream is to someday own my own yarn store and I imagine the owner of Yarn Garden loves living his/her dream of owning their yarn store.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Completed Project: Knitted Socks

I finally did it! I knit socks!!! Wahoo!!!!

Basic Socks 03

Basic Socks 02

And here's proof that I did knit the pair of them.

Knit Socks 05

All the details are on Ravelry but here are the highlights... I used the basic sock pattern from "How to Knit Socks" and bamboo DPNs. The bamboo made it much easier to learn to use DPNs since the yarn wasn't sliding all over the place like it was when I used metal DPNs. The yarn is Opal Harry Potter sock yarn that I purchased in Ohio. I loved the colors of it - even more when knitted - as well as the name of this particular color: Dumbledore.

I'm going to be a bit boastful here and say how proud I am of myself that I learned to knit socks and that they came out looking so good. The only problem with them is that they are a bit too small for me. I can put them on and they are comfy but the knitting stretches a bit too much for my taste. I should have swatched it to make sure the yarn and needles worked with the pattern but I was so determined to just knit. So instead of keeping this lovely pair and never wearing them, I'm gifting them to the lovely KMP who just moved back to the area and will need some warm socks when the colder winter months approach. I'm glad to know these special socks will have a good home.

I'm now on the hunt for some good baby bootie/sock patterns to accompany all the baby hats I'll be making. Thank Goddess for Ravelry, Lion Brand and all the other online pattern searches! If you know of a particularly good one, leave a comment or send an email.

Knit Socks 08