Sunday, November 13, 2022

Lost in time

 OMG - where did October go?!  

And we are already (nearly) halfway though November. 

I have been busy learning to make metal jewelry. Metal is not as forgiving as fiber but not nearly as unforgiving as I had first believed. I am really enjoying the class and I have learned to do many things. The teacher is really fun and I have great classmates.  

I am also knitting a jacket from Elizabeth Zimmermann. It's been a great knit so far. I want to get it done so I can wear it this fall/winter. It's going to be tough though, since I've only just reached the armholes. 

In the things I didn't know column - November 15 is National Bundt Cake Day. Coincidentally I made a orange/honey/poppyseed cake yesterday. It smelled absolutely fantastic while baking and tastes lovely. Its appearance is less than pleasant. I need to make another one to see if I can correct the errors. 

I've since learned that I need to let the cake cool for 10 minutes before inverting it. That will help the cake come out of the pan. I also need to do a better job buttering and flouring the pan, but that isn't news or new. 

I don't know if you can tell from the pictures but all the poppyseeds fell to the bottom of the pan instead of staying suspended in the batter. Advice says to mix the poppyseeds in a small amount of the flour and fold them in right before putting the batter in the pan. My recipe said to mix the poppyseeds in with all the flour. 

My bundt pan is also bigger than the recipe.

Now my only real decision is - Make a double batch or acquire a new, smaller, pan. Choices. 

Also - The Great British Bake-off - fantastic (I'm sure most people know that already). I have heard a lot about it, but I had never watched it before. I found it really inspiring. I have all kinds of new things I want to make and try. Vanilla sponge and Italian buttercream. But how many of my fails will be because I did something wrong and how many will be because I used gluten-free flour? 

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Oh look - another Yarn Crawl, and swag!

 OMG - two posts in one month! 


This weekend was the KC Yarn Shop Crawl. I love a good shop hop. It's such a great way to get out to shops you haven't been to before, visit old favorites and see what is happening in the local fiber craft scene. I participated in last year's Shop Crawl as well and I was thrilled that it was happening again this year. 

I ordered this sweet crawl bag weeks ago. It's a good quality canvas bag and will hold a decent sized project.  I picked it up at the shop I most often frequent, The Yarn Barn in Lawrence KS.  They have a great deal of weaving stuff and whenever I need something for weaving it's always my first stop. Bonus - you can see the actual colors which really helps me when I'm designing weaving projects. 

Thus my first Shop stop was the Yarn Barn where I acquired some lovely Malabrigo.  This will become a lovely scarf (I HOPE) for my mother. (sorry all the first two pictures are sideways not sure how to fix that at the moment)

My second stop was Yarn Social. This is a nice little shop that has a lot of yarn you won't find elsewhere in KC (at least I haven't).  I bought this cute little sock measuring tool.  I haven't knit many socks over the last couple years (I already have a dresser full of socks to wear) But this looks really useful if I should decide to start knitting all the sock yarn I have in my stash.

My 3rd stop as Unwind Fiber Arts in Lee Summit, MO. I probably shouldn't admit favorites but this is my favorite straight up yarn shop in KC metro. Their variety and selection is outstanding, both yarn and tools. I bought this lovely pile of yarn to make a sweater. It's cotton/wool so there is a chance I'll be able to wear the sweater more than one month a year. So many of my beautiful hand knits don't get much wear because the weather in Kansas is so mild compared to Minnesota/North Dakota. 

Then came the LONG drive over to Excelsior Springs, MO and Knit Ewe Together. This is a really cute little shop in a really cute little town that I need to explore more. I bought a skein of yarn for my mother because it is her colors and I bought a skein for me that is local and small production (the yarn name is the sheep the wool came from).  It's a darn good thing they didn't have sweater quantities in aran weight because I would have NEEDED to bring it home for Macoun, which is a fantastic cabled cardigan I want to make. I bought some yarn for it from Camilla Valley (in Canada). It was a nice yarn, but didn't quite have the look I wanted, being a bit lighter weight and ended up being pretty 'airy' in the swatch. I have since used the yarn for an Adult Surprise Jacket (one of Elizabeth Zimmerman's brilliant ideas, as modified by her grandson Cully). I have almost finished that, just started the sleeves. 

And last, but certainly not least Momo's Knitting Nook in Leavenworth KS. This is another really great shop on a very cute little Main Street and I should spend more time visiting both. I bought some more Malabrigo. This time for an Unlocked cowl. I probably should have checked the pattern to make sure I had the proper weight/amounts. Cross your digits for me.

And here is the last of the swag - Stitch markers (one from each shop) and a tassel maker. Last year it was a WPI tool and markers. Really nice and useful. 

Each shop was also featured local yarn (and it looked like each store had different ones featured!), mostly dyers, but also locally raised/spun wool. I really appreciate them for doing that. Yarn Social had local crafts people selling their wares on the sidewalk in front of their shop last year as well. Momo's also had the dyer in the shop talking to customers about her yarn and her processes.  It was awesome to see the stores supporting creative people that way. 

Let's see if I can get all this yarn used up before next year's Shop Crawl. 

Tuesday, September 06, 2022

Emerging into a world gone wild

I can't believe how much has changed in my world since last time I wrote here.

I quit my job, moved, did a LOT of temp work, got a new job and then things REALLY got interesting. 

I am now living in Kansas, one of the fancy KC suburbs. 

I have started weaving.  Its a long story:

My father's sisters (and my mother) have had an annual get together for several years. They all get together and quilt. The first few years were at a youth camp in ND. Great fun, worth the drive even from KS. 

My father's mother was also crafty and she had a loom that she made rugs with in her scary basement. I was always delighted to get to go down and help her. After she died the loom went through the hands of a couple of my aunts (there are a fair few of them). My Aunt Mary had it at her place and when her craft building (yes, she has a building for all her crafty activities, I am a bit jealous) needed to be replaced the loom came out and went into storage. 

In my family there is some debate - I remember Grandma telling me I could have her loom some day. My Aunt Angie says it was given to her. Who can say, the truth is aged by time and a child can misunderstand. Certainly not worth fussing about. But I did mention it to my mother, who mentioned it to my Aunts. I was asked if I wanted the loom and had a place to use it. Indeed I did! That trip to Aunty Camp included driving the van to my Aunt's house to acquire a loom. 

There was some fussing to get the loom into the room where it now resides. We had to make a new piece for one that had been damaged long ago (who else would have a piece of walnut exactly the correct size for making a new loom piece?). I took a class, wove some fabric, wove some rugs. 

Then I discovered that my grandmother's lovely loom, while it could manage some nice weaving couldn't do all the things I wanted to do. Then the trouble began. I found a loom about 45 minutes away for an amazing price. Again the van and I went for a road trip (this time Rob came along) and we brought home ANOTHER loom. This loom lived in my office (it is now in the care of a friend who wanted to learn weaving). It is a lovely loom, made of cherry and quite sound.

Then I found a weaving class I wanted to take, in North Carolina. So I started looking for a workshop loom. Something I can take to a class, and fold up warped (in case I didn't finish in the week the class happened). In fairly short order I found one - in St. Louis. Road trip! And thus the Baby Mac joined our family.

I joined the local Weavers Guild. There was an advertisement for a larger floor loom with much more complex weaving options. It is different than all my other looms - we had to borrow a truck and a friend to get it home and we couldn't get it up the stairs.  It now fills half of our living room. It's a beautiful piece of art, complete with brass fittings. 

Now a sane person would think that was sufficient. Luckily (?) I am not that person. The floor looms have been joined by a Gobelin style tapestry loom (which I am still trying to learn how to use) and a Navajo loom (the seller of the tapestry loom insisted I take it when I bought the tapestry loom). 

I am still reading about Navajo style weaving and, while I have acquired supplies, I have yet to take the leap and warp it. 

But the true treasure is the warp weighted loom that I bought at a weaver's downsizing sale. It is the cheapest loom I own but to me it is without price. Some of my readers will know of my interest in Medieval history, this loom is among the very oldest style of looms.  Rob had asked me to marry him, I said I wanted a warp weighted loom as my bride price. Rob was going to make me one but there were technical issues (like he doesn't understand the technique of weaving and so his attempts to improve the design were not improvements). Then he was saved from perpetual fiancĂ©-hood by the sale. All he had to do was take me to the sale at an ungodly hour and then wait down the street until I had completed the purchase before collecting us and bringing us home. (in the corner of this picture you can see the Baby Mac. It is folded, having just returned from the aforementioned friend who exchanged the little loom for a slightly larger loom to continue her foray into weaving)

And in June the wedding happened, bride price having been received and all that jazz.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Organized? I could only hope.

Last July an online friend mentioned she had started using a bullet journal.  It sounded intriguing so I decided to give it a try.  I have lists, notes for projects, bits of research; everywhere.  I have a terrible time finding them when I want them.  A one stop shop for all those things would be wonderful - right? I have tried date books before but I don't need a page for every day of the week; I like Saturday and Sunday of the weekend together, since that is how I plan my weekend; I rarely need all the parts you end up buying (usually to get the piece I do want I end up paying for more pieces that I don't want) they have also been expensive.  In the end I have not found them to be terribly useful.

Like a lot of good ideas, this one is simple.  Take a blank book and turn it into what you need and will use. I love that the person who put this idea out there is really up front about: this is what works for me; give it a try; find what works for you and use it; throw the rest of it out.

My first idea was a Midori Travel Journal. But I'm not paying $40 for a leather square with elastic bands attached.  So I made a couple (one for a friend) and some inserts.  There are some really amazing people who create awesome things and give them away on the internet.  I found free calendars and things to print and a tutorial to use my sewing machine to turn them into books to use in the journal. My friend really liked hers.  I was not so thrilled.  The one I kept was, I think, made with leather that was too thin.  This meant the cover was always getting caught and folded/pushed around on stuff, especially when it was in my purse. The elastic on the outside spine edge was always getting caught on things.  Whine - whine - whine.

Idea number two was a Moleskine.  Luckily, Barnes and Nobel had one marked down, it was cheap and I could bring it home the same day.  This has worked really well for me.  It's hard cover so the pages and cover don't get mangled in my purse.  The flat elastic band doesn't catch on things nearly as often.   I think I have found my favorite weekly layout though.  Just the right amount of room for the things I need to write down (most of the time).

I tend to make up a new calendar layout every month or two and spend a lot of time looking at blogs for new ideas. There are some VERY artistic people out there.  I am not one of them.  My journal is NOT pretty, although I have started using different colored flair markers, but that is random and has no 'plan'.  It's just for a little visual variety.

As I find the lists, notes and bits of research - I'm putting them in the journal.  Being able to find them when I need/want them has been very nice.  I've added some trackers to keep track of my progress on my projects, exercise, and other goals.   I'm thinking about adding meal planning next.

I've filled roughly half the current journal (half the year, half the book, seems reasonable). I've started looking for a replacement.  There are a lot of nice options out there.  And a lot of things that give me the 'hmmmmmm' head tilt.  What are they thinking?!  Just the price variance on Moleskine books from site to site is awe worthy.

The Moleskine is good but it has lined rather than dotted pages.   Dotted pages will make some of the more layouts I've found useful easier to create.  At least I think they will. Won't know before I try.

Next up - I need to find my camera so I can add pictures to new posts.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Sleeping cats and pouring rain

It is raining,  the cats are sleeping, I'm drinking coffee.  Seems like a normal Monday around my house.

I am attempting to clean up some of the WIPs/UFOs that are cluttering up my house and work room. They have, again, gotten out of control.

I started a Stained Glass afghan using scraps from the never ending acrylic supply.  It looks to be about 1/3 done.  I have several good size scrap balls made so I'm trying to focus on getting it done.  It is working up quickly.

I'm hoping if I focus on one project and get it as far as I can I will at least make some happy progress and have new things to wear and use.  And fewer things giving me baleful looks about being neglected.  I'm not sure if I have enough scraps gathered to finish this yet.  Like the Primrose Path afghan, I've sewn all the finished blocks together but I need to make more. The Stained Glass pattern tells you how many ounces are needed but that would require that I made some effort to keep track of how much I've already used.

I also found this really beautiful afghan I want to make.  I think I have enough in the 'stash' to finish it. Of course the list of things I want to make is HUGE.  I have found 8 new afghans to make just since Christmas.  In no particular order: Rose of Avalon, Lotus Moon, Cognac Matelasse, Flower Fountain, Geek-A-Long (there are 4 of these 2014 - 2017),  Lily Pond, Retro Ornament,  and Demelza.  (sorry for all the Ravelry links, some the public can see, some they can't.  I never know which).

So many ideas, so little time.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Holy COW

I'm not sure if any of my readers (both of them) know that I do historical recreation with my non-knitting/crocheting/quilting/working time.  Or that Saturday was my birthday. These two bits of information came together at my local historical group's winter event.

It was like my local group had a big party to celebrate my big birthday (that's my story, and I like it).

I even finished a new dress just for the occasion.  I'd actually started it quite a long time ago, but I'd just never gotten around to the final bits of hand work. I think it turned out pretty well, getting a picture of it was not as easy as you'd think though.  I always look rather goofy in pictures and I usually have my eyes closed. So here is a picture of me, on my 50th birthday, wearing my new dress.

 At least my eyes aren't closed.

It was a nice day.  I got to see and visit with a lot of people I don't have the pleasure seeing and visiting with very much, including friends from Canada and South Dakota that I haven't seen for more than a few years. It was quite nice.

The first 50 years were pretty good.  I'm looking forward to the next 50!

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Happy New Year

I wrote this on the 1st.  Some how I messed up and it didn't publish.

2016 was a mix of good and bad as all years are.  Bad things happened. Good things happened.  I  hope that in 2016 the good outweighed the bad for you.  May 2017 be so filled with good that you don't notice the bad.

I spent yesterday going through yarn and yarn projects.  I pulled a few projects that I'm not going to finish and am working on raveling, skeining and washing the yarn.  I started a new sweater on New Years Eve, but after finishing about half the back I ripped it back.  I'm going to knit this instead:

By  Frankie Brown .  So far I have managed to make two leaves

I've decided to rip back this afghan: 

I've found a couple of small block patterns I like and a bin to chuck them in.  Pixel Squares and Mini Hexies.  I found a good container to store them in and when I have enough I'll sew them up.  

I sewed up all the Primrose Path blocks I have and I need to make more.  Luckily I STILL have a bin full of acrylic yarn to use. 

Otherwise, yarn-wise,  I seem to have an ever growing list of things started and nothing on note finished. 

I took a long arm quilting class at a local quilting store.  I've quilted a baby quilt (part of the class), a charity quilt and my mother's Christmas quilt from 2015.  So far I've only used the all over patterns you follow but I'd really like to try my hand at free hand quilting.  At $15 an hour  I'm not sure when I'll manage to try that.  The staff and customers at the store are amazing though.  They have all been very helpful and if it wasn't for the kindness of the other customers (who are more experienced) my time on the machines would have been less successful.  

I've also been trying my hand at quilting on my regular machine.  So far it has been unsuccessful.  I can't get the tension right, I can't get the stitch size regulated and on and on. I've signed up for a couple classes online.  I'm hoping one of them works.  My next plan is to try one of the other machines I have.  Sometimes that does the trick.  I have no idea why.