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.