Wednesday, September 28, 2011

And The Winner Is....

I guess I overestimated the readership of this blog as I received only 2 votes on what my one-hundreth project on Ravelry should be.

The two votes were both for socks though for different patterns (one for the crocodile rock pattern and one for the twisted Celtic cable pattern).

Since one of the voters was Sean and the twisted Celtic cable socks are for him, that is the pattern that won. (I hope you understand, Mistress.)

I'm hoping to cast on for his socks in the next few weeks.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Dreaming of Fabric

Oh, how I am yearning to learn to quilt!

Perhaps it is because of the sewing related newsletters and advertisements from JoAnn Fabrics...

Perhaps it is the little drawer of fat quarters I've acquired over the years...

Perhaps it is due to the beautiful creations by friends that inspire me...

Perhaps it is the need to learn something entirely new....

And I want to sew some other projects, like placemats and pillows and bags, perhaps a tree skirt for the holidays...

But not yet...

I cannot give into this urge and head to the craft store with reckless abandon to budget and disregard for the lack of space in the craft room.

But someday....


Saturday, September 24, 2011

LYS - All About Yarn in Columbia, MD

Another item to cross off my Year of Lovely things list - visit a not previously visited LYS in Maryland. I had a handful to choose from but I hadn't yet decided which would be the right one. The decision was made for me when there was a Groupon which was $10 for $20 worth of yarn at All About Yarn in Columbia. How could I pass that up?

On a rainy Saturday, the address was plugged into the GPS and off we went. The store is located in a business park and it was a little hard to find. After a few wrong turns, we found it. From the outside (as the photo shows), the shop just isn't much to look at.

All About Yarn
8970-G Route 108
(in the Oakland Center - near Red Branch Rd)
Columbia, MD 21045

I wasn't expecting much (more on that later) but I was so pleasantly surprised when I opened the door. You have no idea you're in a business park once inside the shop. The displays of yarns, books, needles and accessories and the great lighting make it a colorful, happy and welcoming store. There are so many different brands of yarn at all different kinds of price points, from common to uncommon yarns, novelty to high-end - there is something for everyone. There was also a wall of Addi needles at very good prices. The store is twice as big as you expect. Go past the register to some displays on either side and then a whole other section opens up. So spacious! Sorry I didn't take some photos to show you. You'll just have to take my word for it.

I got my money's worth with the Groupon. I picked up some gorgeous Cascade Yarns  Quatro - 220 yards of 100% Peruvian highland wool.


I also got a skein of Mountain Colors Twizzle, a hand-dyed yarn from Montana. It is 250 yards of 85% merino wool and 15% silk - DIVINE!


There were so many more things I would have bought but I thought two without projects planned for them was enough. I can't wait to go back to the store and at least get some new needles if not some more yarn.

After such a glowing review and considering this LYS is not far from where I live, you may be wondering why it took me so long to check it out in the first place.

The answer is - the WEBSITE. It is awful.

I will be honest that I even had second thoughts about getting the Groupon in the first place because of the website. I was worried the actual store would reflect the persona of the website. The website is hard to navigate, it looks old, but most of all, it looks unprofessional. While the website gives you the basic information about the shop (location, hours, brands carried), it does nothing to help promote the fabulousness of the store. It doesn't need flashy animation or complicated programming - it just needs to be reorganized, cleaned up, and some fun photos added.

So don't let the website fool you - this store is definitely worth checking out if you live in or are visiting the area.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Help Me Choose Project #100

Finally! The cool crisp weather of autumn is upon us. Like the beginning of Spring, I feel the need to clean and organize and prepare for the coming months. As a crafter, this goes beyond just cleaning out the clothes closet and dusting the usually neglected crevices of the house. One of my main projects is to get all my crafty projects in order.

The craft room is actually in pretty good shape. In the Spring, I reorganized the yarn by keeping similar types of fibers and colors together and I found a way to store all the books and magazines in one place. The other bits of various crafts (beading, fabric, paints, etc) are also where they belong. I also donated a big bag of unused and unfinished motifs including some spare yarn. That freed up a considerable amount of space in my cabinets.

What needs the most attention now is my list of projects and trying to figure out what I am going to do with all these beautiful skeins of yarn I’ve collected without a designated purpose.

I’ve started by reorganizing and cleaning up my Ravelry stuff. I had oodles of projects in my queue but I didn’t really intend to make them all. Instead, I had used it as a holding bin for projects I really liked or would love to make. So I cleaned it out and added my favorites to my favorites. (Seems like a no brainer, I know. I just never took advantage of the favorite features until now.)

My queue now contains 12 projects that I am actually planning to make because I have the yarn, pattern, kit or the desire to make them. It is much more manageable and I don’t get stressed like I did when I saw an unattainable goal of 50 things I’d never be able to do.

But now – which one do I do next? I’ve got 99 projects in Ravelry so the next one will be number 100. A bit of a milestone, don’t you think? Would you be willing to help me decide the next project that I will have on my hook or needles?

There are twelve projects listed in my queue and they are in no particular order. Most of them are projects for me but some are for others (socks for Sean, a few hats for friends' kiddos). Take a look at what I've got (in Ravelry - you'll need to log-in) and then vote by leaving a comment.

Things to keep in mind:
1) I've got three projects in progress right now - a simple baby hat, a knitted shawl for a friend and a cable capelet for me. There's also a blanket listed as a WIP but it's actually hibernating.
2) I've listed some possible yarns from my stash for each project but those are just ideas. Once a project is selected, I'll get your input on which yarn to use.

I'll keep accepting votes and comments until Friday of this week. The results will be posted next week. Thanks for your help!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Completed Project: Mandy for The Mother Bear Project

I found out about the Mother Bear Project during my trip to the Minneapolis Knit and Crochet Show in July. It's a great charity "dedicated to providing comfort and hope to children affected by HIV/AIDS in emerging nations, by giving them a gift of love in the form of a hand-knit or crocheted bear." For a $20 donation, I got the yarn, crochet hook, and pattern to make a crocheted bear. It also included the tag and the shipping costs to get it to the kids overseas.


This was a fast crochet project and a fun one to do. The instructions are super easy with only chain and single crochet stitches. This would be a great project for any beginner. I did tweak the design a bit by giving her some red shoes and her skirt is slightly different from the pattern. The ears are a bit more cat-like than I wanted but I didn't really understand what the pattern wanted me to do. Maybe the little flower decoration will take attention away from the less than perfect ears. It took me three tries to embroider a face I liked. The plain round eyes looked creepy when I tried them though I didn't find them creepy on other people's bears.

And I named her Mandy because I had the song "Mandy" from the movie White Christmas floating in my head the other day. Random.

Mandy Mother Bear 05

Mandy Mother Bear 04

As always, details on Ravelry.

To learn more about the Mother Bear Project, visit You can see other bears on Ravelry, join the group on Ravelry, and also buy the patterns. Once you buy the pattern, you can make as many bears as you'd like as long as you send in $3 per bear for shipping.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Completed Project: Ravens Scarf

Ravens Scarf 01

As always, details on Ravelry.

I completed this in plenty of time for the official start of the NFL season. (Sorry - I just don't give a hoot about preseason football.) I think it compliments my Ravens shirt ever so nicely. I expect it will also look good with my black winter jacket.

It also looks great on Seamus.

Ravens Scarf 04

Go Ravens!!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Butterflies 2011

My parsley plant proved to be a haven for butterflies again. This time I was prepared to keep the little guys (and/or gals) safe. I bought a butterfly enclosure so that once the caterpillars were big enough, I could keep them hidden from birds. Four caterpillars cocooned and one so far has become a butterfly. The other three are still there but I don't know if they have died or if they are waiting until the spring to emerge.

The photos below show the journey. Enjoy!

First ButterflyCaterpillars 01Caterpillars 02Caterpillars 03Caterpillars 04Caterpillars 05
Caterpillars 06Caterpillars 07Very Hungry CaterpillarCaterpillars 08Caterpillars 09Caterpillars 10
Cocoon 01Cocoon 02Cocoon  03Cocoon 04Cocoon 05Cocoon 06

Butterflies 2011, a set on Flickr.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

New Project: Summit Wrap

This project was started with gusto in July but thanks to the aforementioned time warp, the progress did not continue as planned. I had high hopes of completing it by August 24. I didn't even come close to being half done by that deadline.


It's a lovely and free pattern from Knitty called Summit. I happened upon it when I wanted to use some fabulous ivory silk yarn I bought at last year's Knit and Crochet show in Manchester for some kind of wrap for a friend getting married. Her dress is was a simple, ivory silk dress, perfect for the bride and the beautiful beach setting. When I saw this wrap on Ravelry, I thought it would be perfect - simple yet elegant, and the instructions seemed to be something I could handle.

A really fun new skill I've acquired with this pattern is now I can knit backwards! No, really. I'm knitting backwards. As in, not turning my work in order to do stockinette stitch. It's awesome! The pattern has small, repetitive bits of stockinette over 6 or 11 stitches. The knitting backwards makes it just a little bit faster than turning the work back and forth over and over again as the shawl gets bigger.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I'll have enough yarn for a slightly-smaller wrap. I (accidentally) left off one column of waves making it a bit narrower. As it gets longer I'll hopefully be able to guess when to start ending it so that I have enough yarn left to finish it. I'm also hoping that the finished wrap is long enough that it doesn't look silly.

Because I wasn't sure if it would actually get finished in time, I did not tell the bride in advance I was making it. I did let her know about it on her wedding day...but gifts were the furthest thing from her mind. Hurricane Irene had her sights set on the Outer Banks, the very beach where her wedding was to take place. So the wedding was moved up by a day and while tons of people were evacuating, Sean and I were driving towards the storm to make it to the wedding. It was a lovely ceremony with fewer guests than planned but they were happily married in the end. And everyone made it safely home before the storm arrived. Here are a couple of photos from Friday morning before we hightailed it out of town.



I believe that technically I have a year after the wedding to send a gift. Given the speed at which the first part was completed, I can't procrastinate. I'll need to fit this in as a project I work on at least once a week. Here's hoping I keep to that plan.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Knit and Crochet Show 2011

I had a wonderful time at the Knit and Crochet Show in Minneapolis last month. The Professional Development Day was the highlight of it all for me, and not just because I won some awesome stuff in the raffle. The presentations, both plenary style by Vickie Howell and Ellen Gormley, and the small group presentations by nine accomplished instructors and designers, were very informative and interesting. Lion Brand sponsored the day (thanks, Lion Brand!) which included giving everyone some free yarn and hooks with which to make some chemo hats for the charity, Knots of Love. Here's my improvised design:


I was not able to attend the CGOA event at the Textile Museum inducting posthumously the fabulous Jean Leinhauser into the Crochet Hall of Fame, but I can share with you the video that was shown that night:

Such an amazing woman who will be missed by so many people.

My sister-in-law and I went to the shopping preview on Thursday night and had a blast. One of my favorite purchases was a handmade sheep pin by Ogle Designs. My SIL and I each got one in different colors.


I had so many people complimented me on the pin and asked me where I got it. I hope I steered more business to their booth and now I hope I've steered you to see their website.

I picked up some Addi needles to make the purple scarf and I got a signed copy of Ellen Gormley's new book, Afghan Design Workshop. I also picked up some awesome New Zealand yarn called Kia Ora Kiwi Laceweight by Zealana. It is 40% fine New Zealand Merino, 30% Organic Cotton and 30% New Zealand Possum fibre.

New Zealand possums are a bit different from North American possums. They were first introduced to New Zealand as a viable fur trade but they have since become a threat to other wildlife as they have no natural predators to keep numbers under control. The government has to do some drastic things (as in killing loads of them) to protect other species of animals, mainly birds.

This yarn by Zealana is available for purchase from The Yarn Sisters. But you're not just buying some awesome yarn, you're also helping a conservation movement. Learn more about how this yarn is helping - "Save a Kiwi - Knit with Possum!"

I picked up three skeins in three lovely colors and I'm hoping to make a pair of gloves from them. This yarn is so incredibly soft.


My SIL and I stopped at another booth, this one completely for charity. Called the Mother Bear Project, the charity is "dedicated to providing comfort and hope to children affected by HIV/AIDS in emerging nations, by giving them a gift of love in the form of a hand-knit or crocheted bear." I picked up a crochet kit and I hope to make at least one bear before the end of the year.


The CGOA dinner on Saturday was also great - and there was more free yarn (and there was wine)!


Between shopping, free gifts and raffle wins, I had quite a haul of goodies when I returned home.


I don't have plans at this point to attend the conferences next year, but that could change. If you're been thinking about attending this fall or next year, DO IT! You'll have so much fun!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Midwest Meanderings

It is amazing how time has been flying all summer. First, I couldn't believe the Knit and Crochet show was a month away - then it was suddenly time to pack and go - and now it's three weeks later. Has your summer been like this, too, or am I just stuck in some kind of time warp?

Anyways - long story short, it was a great trip. While the 2011 Knit and Crochet Show in Minneapolis was the initial reason for a trip to Minnesota, it was also a great chance to see family in the area. That area included a 5+ hour radius from Minneapolis, too. Neither my DH nor I had ever visited this part of the country (beyond a layover at an airport) so the trip also let us add other states to our list of places we've been together.

Our trip from Minneapolis started with the 5 hour road trip to Wisconsin. It started out as a nice morning, but the rain came...

Sheets of rain, big drops pummeling the car, scary driving rain...but light in the distance made us hopeful for better roads ahead.


A few days in Wisconsin with family included two other states - Iowa and Illinois. Iowa was more of a drive-thru trip just to say we'd been in Iowa. The stop in Illinois was more of a destination. We visited the town of Galena which was historically known for being a major port of call for steamships. The town is full of history having hosted speeches by Lincoln and was the town where President Grant retired.

Inside of Grant's house with almost all the original furniture.

Downtown Galena

It is an artsy, fun little town with boutique-type stores along the main street. One of these stores was especially fun to visit - you guessed it - a yarn shop!

Fiber WILD! in Galena

What a wonderful little LYS this is! It has such a welcoming energy as you step through the door. The yarn selection is great as are the book, hook and needle selections. The owners are super nice and knowledgeable and the customers in the store (including yours truly) were having a wonderful time perusing the shelves for lovely fibers. While I normally try to find some local yarn when I travel, I wound up with two national brands.

I picked up some Flounce which, I found out later, is all the rage now. I had to have it once I saw the sample scarf being worked up in the store. The ruffles are so fun and the yarn is so soft. I chose purple as this will be my Ravens scarf now that football is back. The yarn is actually really easy to work with once you start. There are also videos online to help you figure out where to pick up the yarn edge. I'm knitting just 6 stitches on size 11 needles and it works up quickly. If it was my only project, I'm sure it could be finished in an afternoon. But I've got a few WIPs plus a book series I can't put down.


As always, details on Ravelry - but I will point this out, something that may be obvious to more experienced knitters but it took me a minute to figure out. The patterns and photos on Ravelry show a flatter scarf but I wanted the round, boa-type scarf. So - if you want a flat scarf with ruffles on only one side, knit stockinette stitch (knitting one side, purling the other). If you want the round, boa-type scarf with ruffles on both sides, knit garter stitch (knitting every side).

My other purchase was this Comfort yarn by Berroco. It caught my eye at the store as the colors are so nice and it is so soft. While I have oodles of baby yarn at home, I was with my sister-in-law who plans to have kids in the next few years. We thought it would be fun to buy the yarn for the hat and booties together so that when she does get the items, she'll remember when we bought it.


I should have bought my needles for the scarf there, too, but I thought I might get a better deal at the show. Lesson learned - but details about that and the rest of the trip in the next post.

From Wisconsin, we drove back to Minneapolis along the Mississippi river. It was a lovely trip along the water and was thankfully a rain-free drive.


While in Minneapolis, I didn't visit any local yarn shops as there was going to be plenty on the conference show floor. Plus, it was time to do some sightseeing!


I did find some crochet-related fun while on a tour of the Twins baseball park. Here's the front page of the Minneapolis newspaper the day the ball park was approved. Up in the right hand side - an article about crocheting!


Next post - actually about the show!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Happy Trails

The Knit and Crochet Show is next week in Minneapolis - hooray! I'm very excited about it even though I'm only going to be at the conference for a couple of days. I'm not half as prepared as I was last year but I'm ready for it.

There will also be a visit to Wisconsin where, in addition to crafting with my sister-in-law, I just might get to visit an alpaca farm! Isn't that awesome? I hope to also see the sites of Minneapolis including the gigantic Mall of America. A few days with extended family will also be wonderful.

So it'll be a crafty, family trip. If you're at the show and see my logo bag, please say hello. Otherwise, you'll hear from me next month. Or maybe if I have the opportunity, I'll have some updates on Twitter. Maybe even cute photos of alpacas!!!!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Completed Project: Tropical Colors Baby Blanket

When I make a baby blanket for a friend, I ask the mom- and dad-to-be if they have any particular colors or patterns in mind. Sometimes I get very specific details on what they like (i.e. purple, but not bright purple, more of a lightish blue-purple violet but not pastel) or don't like (i.e. no pink anything!). Some want to see pattern samples and others want to be surprised.

In the case of this baby blanket, I was given the following info - anything with blue and/or green - maybe even some orange. I was also told to let my creative juices fly! Or drip. Or whatever creative juices do.

So here's what I came up with...

Tropical Colors Baby Blanket 01
As always, details on Ravelry.

The pattern is Willow from the book "200 Crochet Blocks" using bright colored cotton yarn and a G hook.

My plan was for a 5 x 5 square blanket and I had made all 25 squares. But when I laid out the pieces, it was too big. I went with a 4 x 5 design which is still a little large but I liked the shape and size better than a 4 x 4. Plus I couldn't handle not using 10 squares I had already made.

I kept the border to a minimum as the blanket was already so big. It's one round of orange sc, one of green hdc and one of blue Hhdc. The final size was about 41" x 32".

Tropical Colors Baby Blanket 04

I literally finished weaving in the ends from the border about 30 minutes before leaving for the baby shower yesterday. I usually cut things close but this was a little stressful for me. The mom-to-be and grandmas and aunts liked the blanket (yay!) and I got to meet another Raveler who knitted the cutest little booties, hats and mittens.

There's a lull in babies now...I'm sure it won't last too long so I better get to work on my other pending projects.

Friday, July 1, 2011

A Rose By Any Other Name...

Thanks to a botantically-inclined friend, the identity of my mystery plant is
Lamb's Quarters (Chenopodium album)
. A wonderfully cute name for a plant to show up in this fiber fanatic's container garden.

Not Lavender 3

But it's not a plant, it's not a flower, it's not a bush, herb, fern or vine.

It is just... a really big weed.


So two nights ago I proceeded to unearth it from the giant blue pot. I had to hack at the soil with a trowel to get it to come out in clumps. It was a damn healthy weed with roots that had spread through that entire pot so out went all the soil, too. I had no chance of saving the coconut lining of the other container, either, so the whole thing was put in the trash.

The mystery still remains how these plants showed up in my garden. Was it a bad seed packet - labeled lavender but full of weeds? Or was it the potting soil mix (moisture control by Miracle Grow)? It wasn't birds or seeds on the wind since these plants were all started inside.

Oh well - it doesn't matter. The weeds are gone now. I'll be transferring basil to the big blue container and I hope to grow a formidable basil tree in it.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Lucky Find

On a recent day trip to St. Michaels, I made my stop into Frivolous Fibers. They've got a new sign up and they have reorganized the store. It looks lovely! As usual, I didn't need any yarn but that didn't stop me from checking out the selection. I was drawn to their new wall of sock yarns with bold and beautiful colors. I asked my DH if he'd like me to make another pair of socks for him. He looked at the wall and then found a basket full of - wait for it - Blue Moon Socks That Rock lightweight yarn! One of the owners commented the store had the lucky mistake of getting the skeins by accident. Blue Moon doesn't want new clients (booooo!!!!) so the store has been unable to get the yarn. In the end, it was a lucky find for me.

Socks that Rock Mustang Sally 1

The colorway is Mustang Sally. I've got a pattern picked out on Ravelry for some cabled socks but I need to purchase the pattern in order to make sure I have enough yarn and that the pattern will be large enough.

DH was warned at the yarn store that the date of completion for this pending project is way, way, WAY up in the air. Like, he might get this pair of socks in the next two years. In the meantime, it makes a wonderful addition to my stash.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

WIP: Burnham Wood Capelet

When I saw the Burnham Wood Capelet pictured in the Spring 2011 Interweave Knits magazine, I knew I had to make it. I scoured the magazine to find the pattern to no avail. Thanks to a quick search on Ravelry, it turns out the capelet was actually in the Winter 2010 magazine. The photo just made a second stop in the spring magazine. This was a very fortuitous error for me as I had not flipped through the winter magazine as thoroughly as the spring one.

This is the most complicated knitting project I've attempted to date. Not only is this my first attempt at knitted cables, it is also my first attempt at reading knitting charts and it is the largest knitted garment I've ever attempted.

Note the key word here - attempted. I have high hopes that I will make it to the end of the project with a capelet that fits and one that I adore wearing. But there is so much that can go wrong between a collar and the last stitch. I'll be checking in with Romi's Ravelry group and other wonderful knitters who have made this project.

My Ravelry project page is the most up to date and I've chronicled my progress in the notes. So far, I've completed the collar.

Burnham Capelet 04

Burnham Capelet 05

The delay in starting the next part of the shawl is a baby blanket I must complete before a baby shower in July. It's close to being done so I hope to pick up the capelet and get back to work on it soon.

What has been your greatest knitting or crochet challenge this year?