Sunday, January 31, 2010

Adventures in Lace KAL: Casting On...

One of the the knitting techniques which I've decided I need to explore during my second year of knitting is lacework. So it was perfect that Kate over at Lazy Kate Creates suggested a little virtual lace knit-a-long (KAL) to help us all get through the final weeks of winter and to get me to cast on a project. (Click the little Adventures in Lace button in my side bar for more info.)

Official cast-on date is today...though I jumped the gun a bit and cast on yesterday because I knew I would probably need a bit of un-rushed quiet time to get started. Earlier this fall I had decided my first lace project would also be my first scarf having fallen in deep like with the Juliet scarf out of Knitting Little Luxuries. I'm knitting it up in my 171 yards of Merlot handspun merino I got in Nebraska last spring.

The first cast-on was doomed from the first round of lacework. First off I was YOing wrong (which I didn't realize being as I've only practiced on a small swatch of eyelets once last summer) and then I dropped a stitch and couldn't figure out how to pick it up. So I frogged and CO again. After the second CO I got about 4 rows into the lacework when I decided what I was creating looked nothing like the picture in the book. After consulting a technique book I discovered my incorrect YOing and so...frogging #2.

CO #3 was going along splendidly and I made it all the way through one repeat of the lace pattern (12 rows) at which time I had to put down my knitting to bathe the girlies and prep dinner so we would be all set to catch the Grammy's. For some crazy reason when I sat down after dinner I thought I could both switch to using the lace chart provided with the pattern (vs the written instructions) AND pay attention to the Grammy's. Somewhere in about row 6 I again dropped a stitch, tried to fix it, knit a few more rows, realized the whole pattern had shifted one stitch to the right, got totally frustrated and frogged AGAIN!

Before I cast on for the 4th time I decided to switch needles. Originally, being as I think the yarn would technically be considered worsted weight, I had planned to use my size 9 10-inch straights from KnitPicks. But then a couple weeks ago I won a collection of vintage wood needles in various sizes on eBay (because...well because I simply thought they were cool...and I seem to be slipping deeper and deeper into love with all things knitting/fiber related as time goes on) and since I don't knit many projects that use straights I thought it would be nice to use a pair for my scarf. I chose a pair of size 8 needles that have pretty nice points, but as you can see most of my new vintage needles are 14-inchers...

Which, while beautiful, are a bit of over kill for a 7 inch wide scarf. I decided the extra length of needles was adding to the whole awkwardness of this new undertaking and switched to my originally planned, shorter needles. It was a good switch. Not only are the shorter needles easier to deal with (which is also making my writs happier), the slightly larger size opens up the lacework a bit resulting in a lovely airy drape. I'm now 2 1/2 repeats into CO #4 and all is going smoothly. I've decided just to stick with reading the written directions as I seem to be able to follow them better than the chart at this point. I'm also finding out that lace knitting is good therapy for my tight knitter syndrome. Lacework really isn't fun to work when your stitches are I'm going to maintain control of everything in my life even if it kills me tight. So I'm working on loosening up a bit.

The original pattern creates a short scarf pinned to a close with a knitted rosette. I'm planning to just knit to the end of my yarn and skip the rosette all together for a little longer finished item. I'd love to have Juliet knitted and blocked by the end of the month so I can wear it out for my birthday in March! I think it's just about the perfect blend of feminine lace and blue jean casual that I can see it becoming a much loved accessory in the coming years.

And how lovely when Yarnica! falls on a Monday! Waiting on my doorstep after my noon yoga class was a box from Webs. Inside: 10 balls of Italian light gray superwash merino for my next new to me knitting adventure...a sweater! (Interestingly enough I chose a pattern that has a bit of lacework even before I made sure this lace thing was gonna work out OK. I guess one could call that self confidence...or total foolishness.)

I'm off to knit!


Friday, January 29, 2010

Gluten Free CCCs, Take 2...

Alternative Title: I Have a Tummy Ache from Eating Too Many Cookies...

Any who, a friend asked me earlier this week if I could make some cookies or bars for a community event one of the organizations she is part of is having this weekend. I of course said yes. But then I got to thinking...I only have gluten free baking ingredients in our house. I didn't want to go get "normal" flour for just a batch of cookies. I don't do cookies from a mix. (I have, in an "emergency", used a dough roll from the fridge section of the grocery...but this was hardly a cookie emergency.) Talking to my friend Monica about it (who also agreed to bake something) she mentioned that having a gluten free option might be a nice surprise for those who normally can't partake of goodies at events because of special dietary needs. So even though our gluten free flour is kinda pricey, I decided ONE batch of gluten free cookies wouldn't break the bank.

Since the only cookie I have experimented with in a gluten free way is chocolate chip, that's what I chose to bake. Besides, who doesn't like chocolate chip cookies? The last time I made GF CCCs they turned out tasty but VERY thin. Since then I've started using oat flour in addition to a brown rice flour mix in our pancakes, waffles, and muffins. It provides a little heavier texture more like we were used to from years of using whole wheat flour in everything, plus it helps things like pancakes stay fatter. I also like the very subtle oaty taste it provides. I thought using some oat flour in our CCCs would be lovely and hopefully would help with the spread problem we had last time.

But then today I had a "What Would Martha Do?" moment. (Actually I don't really care what Martha would do...but I thought it was kinda a funny reference to make here.) Oats, while naturally gluten free, are often processed in mills where wheat products are processed. Therefore unless you get "certified gluten free" oats and oat flour (which cost a small FORTUNE and are hard to find) you risk having some cross contamination. If I was indeed going to bake cookies and label them GF should I use the "non-certified" oat flour I can easily get here in town? I decided no. So that batch was made simply with a rice flour mix. And while they were just as tasty as last time, there were just as flat too. (Even though I increased the amount of Xanthum Gum.)

BUT...I wasn't about to make cookies to give away without baking some for our house too. The fam has been requesting them since Christmas! I'm not overly concerned with cross-contamination since gluten in small amount doesn't seem to negatively affect me at all, in our batch I used 1/2 rice flour mix, 1/2 oat flour...and viola!

Cookies that look, taste, and have the texture almost identical to CCCs made with wheat flour. (Hence why I'm kinda experiencing the sugar shakes right now and thinking a big green salad sounds really good for supper tonight!) They stayed thicker and are not near as fragile. Both welcomed results.

Since my Mom asked after my last experiment how I adjusted our favorite family recipe, I thought I would share it with you all!

Jenn's Gluten Free CCCs
Cream together:
2 sticks softened butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1-1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract (adjust to your taste...we like vanilla...A LOT)

1.5 cups gluten free flour mix (I use a homemade mix of 2 c. brown rice flour, 2/3 c. potato starch, and1/3 c. tapioca starch)
1.5 cups oat flour
1 teaspoon xanthum gum (gluten replacement)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2-3 cups chocolate chips (or a whole 12 oz bag...we buy them in larger quantities so I just dump until I'm happy with the amount)
1-1.5 cups nuts (optional-we like sliced almonds)

Allow dough (which is VERY thick) to chill while you preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. I use a 1.5 table spoon sized scooper to make dough balls on my air-bake cookie sheets, returning the dough to the fridge before it is needed to reload my sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Since GF cookies are a little more fragile than those made with wheat flour, I allow my cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for 3-4 minutes to firm up before transferring them to a cooking rack.



Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Reaching Out...

It's time for one of my favorite yoga events of the year...our 3rd annual food-raising event for the local food pantry. Mark your calendars and join us for Happy Hour yoga. Fun will be had!


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

When the Sun Shines Pink...

Today has 3 things going for it:
  1. It's Tuesday which means family taco night and Biggest Loser...our favorite night of the week!
  3. I have newly pinked hair thanks to Mary Beth at Expressions here in Grinnell. LOVE IT!


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My Knitting Nemesis...


I knit my first hat last winter, a basic beanie for Scott. That poor cap has several comical issues. First of all I didn't really understand yarn properties and Scott's main requirement was that it wasn't itchy. So of course I stayed clear of wool and choose to knit it in sage green cotton. Those with seasoned yarn knowledge will snicker at this point knowing cotton has very little elasticity. I cast on, knit, decreased the crown, wove in the ends and presented Scott with a beanie that was more like a slouchy stocking cap..that grew a little every time he put it on. He proudly wore it around the house for about a week before I took it back, ripped it out and started over by casting on fewer stitches. After the second knitting I ended up with a hat that was an inch too short...a true beanie I guess...but rather dorky looking. Rather than rip it out and knit it AGAIN, I thought I could just pick up stitches around the rib and extend it a bit. Great idea except for the fact that at the time I didn't know a stretchy bind-off method. So while it was longer when I was finished, it leaves a red pressure line across Scott's forehead when he wears it. (Which to his credit he does wear it around the house...what a devoted hubby.)

By this fall I had gotten over the disappointment of hat #1 to cast on for my Button Tab hat.

Before I go on let me just say, I'm sure most of my frustration with hats comes from the fact that:

  1. I think of patterns like recipes...general instructions with room to tweak to fit your style. (Or yarn desires.)
  2. I never knit a swatch to check gauge. (I know, I know...)

So anyway...the button tab hat pattern was well written and easy to follow, I just screwed up...twice...and ended up tinking and knitting a section of it (including all the decreases)...twice.

At this point, having had only a slightly better experience with hat #2 (well, maybe a little better than slightly, it's wearable even if not perfect) and thinking that maybe hat knitting just isn't my bag, I was already committed to hat #3 having ordered the yarn and OK'd the pattern with Scott for a Turn a Square Hat. (Having subscribed to the designer's blog after checking out his website, Brooklyn Tweed, I can honestly say I have not seen a design of Mr. Jared Flood's that I don't love!)

As has been the trend with my hat knitting, I got to knit it twice. Again, a lovely well written pattern, I am apparently just bad at following directions (or counting rounds.) The first time I finished it late one night after Scott had already gone to bed and thought it would be fun to have it stuffed into his coat pocket as a surprise for him to find as he got ready to head to work the next morning. I tried it on myself being as we have very similar sized heads and it seemed pretty big. The next day my hunch was confirmed. So I sat down with my needles, to rip back and shorten things up. The hat is still plenty roomy, I'm sure due to the fact the tweed yarn I used was technically heavy worsted rather than straight worsted weight. But I think it turned out lovely, just like my model...

Even though I find myself checking out lace cap patterns on Ravelry, I think hat knitting is going to move to the back burner for a bit...I have other knitting adventures in queue. Like the Adventures In Lace Knit-A-Long in which I have signed up to participate. Lace knitting, here I come!


Winter Wonders...

Bitter cold has given way to fog and heavy frost. This morning we awoke to world of fuzzy white. Amazing fragile spikes of frost that begged for the attention of my camera.


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Visions of a Lazy Sunday...

I hope you too are blessed to be spending the day with those you love.


Friday, January 15, 2010

The Watered Down Version...

I'm not even sure how it all started...but Tuesday night during dinner Scott, my brother and I found ourselves giving a very general lesson in genetics. Without going much into detail about the process we explained how girls have 1/2 of the "instructions" needed to grow a baby in an egg. (And yes, I used the" kinda like a chicken" analogy because how else do you explain what an egg is to an 8 and 3 year old?) We also explained that that the other 1/2 of the "instructions" come from sperm, which a boy has. There was actually no need to discuss anatomical parts and I felt like our conversation was informative, factual, but very G rated.

So imagine my shock yesterday when, as Brea and I were simply going about our day's activities, I found myself having the following conversation:

Brea: Mommy, you know that thing a Daddy has to help a Mommy make a baby?

Me: The sperm.

Brea: How does the sperm get out of the Daddy?

Me: (After a longer than normal pause as I was trying to wrap my head around the fact I was having this conversation WITH MY 3 YEAR OLD!) Well honey, it comes out a special way that you are a little to young to understand.

Brea: Is it when a Daddy hugs a Mommy?

Me: Well...sorta.

Brea: Oh. Cause when I grow up and marry a MAN (I would love to know why her little 3 year old brain felt the need to emphasize the word MAN) and I get a baby in my tummy then I'm going to the doctor. Mommy, how does the doctor help a Mommy have a baby?

Me: (Glad we skirted around the sex talk to the more innocent birthing a baby explanation.) The doctor just helps to make sure the baby comes out of the Mommy's tummy safely and makes sure it is healthy.

Brea: Did a doctor help you get me and Lexi out of your tummy?

Me: Yes.

Brea: Was Daddy there too?

Me: Yes, he was in the room when both of you were born.

Brea: But sissy was at Aunt Pammy's when I was born right?

Me: Yep. Hey, what do you think you would like to have for lunch?

Brea: Ummm let me think...

End of the 3 year old version of The Birds and The Bees talk. Sometimes I think that girl is WAY too smart for her own good!

I have a feeling the next time I need to have that talk with one of the girls it won't be quite so watered down...or quite so easy!


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Making a Difference...

Once again I am amazed at how something as simply, and to some as trivial, as blogging can make a big impact on the world through the communities of individuals that come together through common bonds. I had no idea when I started talking about my knitting on this here blog a year ago that I would connect with so many other knitters out. I'm so thankful that has been the case!

Following the Haitian earthquake, the knitting blogging community got busy doing what they do best...sending up the signal (as Stephanie did on Yarn Harlot to round up Knitters Without Borders) for us to come together as a community to provide those in need with comfort. In this case rather than knitting up prayer shawls or wool socks or snuggle blankets, the call went out to support the organizations who are providing relief services to the affected areas. In my case I'm choosing to mention two very well known and highly respected organizations making a difference in Haiti today:
As many others have pointed out, just as each small stitch is needed to create a whole knitted item , each of us can play an important part in helping with the relief efforts. It took only 5 minutes of my time this morning to make a donation to the organization of my choice. I hope that you take the time to join your stitch with mine by making a donation to the organization of your choice (if you haven't already done so). One stitch at a time we can help to provide some comfort during this great time of need.

My heart goes out to the mothers and fathers, children and siblings, friends and family who today (and for many days to come) are dealing with trauma and loss far greater than many of us will ever experience in our very blessed lives. Many thanks to the men and women who are working to provide medical care to the wounded, grief care to the many who have lost loved ones, and food and shelter to those who have lost their homes. It is often in our times of greatest need that we are reminded of our collective responsibility (as human beings) for the care and well-being of ALL our neighbors...near or far, friend or foe.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Like Flipping a Switch...

Have you ever had one of those days that by day's end you can feel the bitchiness seeping out of your every pore? When for whatever reason a regular day to day interaction sends your thoughts and emotions spiraling down into a pit of darkness. It's like you're at the controls of a train engine pulling a full load of cargo and you get word that if you don't put on the brakes, or at least slow down a bit, derailment is eminent. But instead of heeding the warning you push on full steam ahead only to find yourself in a tangled mess at the end of the line.

Yesterday was one of those days for me.

As much as I hate to blame it on hormones, it's hard NOT to see the connection between my monthly hormonal cycle and "bad" days. It's like a switch is flipped and suddenly (though usually only for a day...or two...thanksfully) I totally lose the ability to rationally deal with any adversity (actual or perceived) in my life. How I wish a warning light would go off at the beginning of such days so I could lock myself away in my craft room without access to email, Twitter, Facebook, or my cell phone. It would be really nice to not have to wake up in the morning with morning after remorse over my negative (and sometimes immature) attitude and behaviors of the day before. (I'm so thankful that my husband, especially at the end of my worst of cranky days, still ends the day with a hug, a kiss, and an "I love you" before we drift off to sleep.)

Today I welcomed, yes WELCOMED, the end of this month's crazy hormonal roller coaster with the arrival of Aunt Flow. Already I feel calmer. Nicer. More able to deal with any challenges ahead. (At least for the next 4-6 weeks.)


Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Winner and Sock Talk...

Out of 25 unique commenters on my Knitiversary post for my first blog give-away, today's lucky winner is...

The thirteenth commenter was: polinium!

polinium said...

Happy Knitiversary!
This year I've made tons of socks, shopping bags for my mother, blankets, hats and other things I've forgotten. I'm polinium on Ravelry, but for some reason I don't keep track of my projects.
I hope you continue to be inspired by your new craft!

Congrats to polinium (I'll get in touch with you via Ravelry to get your address for mailing) and THANK YOU to everyone who took the time to comment and say hello and pass on your kind words. I love how something as simple as a joint appreciation for a craft can bring together total strangers in a way that doesn't feel strangerish at all!

I realized after my Mom commented on how the socks I knit her (my first finished pair...I have to say finished because remember this sock? The one that was started and frogged and re-started on longer dpns, which is now progressing along just fine...only at a VERY slow rate.) had been keeping her warm though the cold arctic blast that the Midwest has been "enjoying" the past several weeks, I've never posted about them here. I took pictures, mailed them off, and then put posting the story of their knitting on the back burner as not to ruin the surprise...and then the holidays happened.

This fall when I decided I was going to tackle socks, I ordered fingerling weight for 3 pairs thinking I'd have PLENTY of time to make 3 pairs in a little over 3 months before the holidays hit. (I often mis-calculate how much I can actually accomplish in terms of holiday crafting. What can I say...I tend to dream big.) By Thanksgiving weekend when I had all of 2 inches of my first sock knit, I knew there was no way I was going to be able to surprise my Mom with a PAIR of socks for Christmas without a change in the game plan. So while we were in KC over Thanksgiving weekend I stopped by Yarn Shop and More (which just happened to be 2 blocks from the yoga studio where I met my friend Monica for class on Black Friday morning, right by a locally owned coffee shop...good planning on our part!) in search of worsted weight yarn to knit up a pair of Peace Fleece Classic Wool Socks.

First off let me say that I totally fell in love with the shop the moment I entered the door. The walls were lined with yarn of all colors and weights and fibers. The staff were busying around with customers in the friendliest of manner. Knitters were hanging out around a big old wooden table clicking away. I had a lovely conversation with a fellow customer about yarn colors for the projects for which we were each buying yarn. I wanted to stay there ALL DAY...but alas I was needed else where that day. I WILL be returning for a visit and some knitting time the next time we are in the KC metro area!

After consulting with one of the shop's staffers about good wool or wool blend options for my socks, I settled on Perfection, a wool/acrylic blend by Kraemer Yarns in shades of my Mom's favorite color...purple. Normally I'm kinda a snob about only using natural fiber yarns, but an acrylic blend seemed like a good option for this particular project being as the socks can be machine washed. (I know...superwash wool. They just didn't have any that "spoke" to me like the Perfection colors. I'm planning to stock up on worsted superwash wool this spring when I go home to visit family and have a chance to go to the Brown Sheep Co. outlet!) By the end of the Thanksgiving weekend I had my first sock 2/3s of the way finished. Back on track for Christmas socks!

My first pair of hand knit socks!

The mis-matched stripe design has a bit of a story. I had planned to follow the pattern as far as using the contrast color for the stripes, heel, and toe but with the first sock I was so focused on getting the heel flap done correctly I forgot to change yarn colors when I started knitting that section. I didn't want to just finish out in the main color, so I decided to go funky mis-matched stripes. I think they turned out fun and am thankful my Mom likes fun and funky too!

I will admit they are not perfect. I had a major brain block about how to carry my yarns through the stripping at the top of the cuff and there's a few gappy issues at the top of the heel gusset where I picked up stitches along the sides of the heel flap. That being said...they are WAY comfortable and my Mom is actually lucky she has them as I pondered keeping them myself once I tried them on. Confession: I had never had a pair of handknit socks (or even tried any on) before I made these. I TOTALLY get it now when people say handknit socks are THE BEST. Lucky for me I miscalculated yardage in my head during my somewhat rushed time at the shop and accidentally purchased enough yarn to make TWO pairs. (Seriously, it was an accident...I was thinking yardage PER sock, not per pair. But really, who is going to list yardage per sock in a pattern...duh!)

The pancakes have been made, eaten and dishes cleared. The girls are busy setting up Polly Pocket play worlds. Scott's busying around. Sunday is just as it should be. Guess it's time for another cup of coffee and some knitting!


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Don't Forget...

Today is the last day you can comment on this post...

to win a copy of this book...

and a skein of yarn! (Now determined, but I'm not gonna share with you. Mwahaha.)

Thank you to everyone who has already left a comment! I have been so touched by all the wonderful words for my knitting, this little blog, and your own knitting projects/stories.

Tomorrow is the big day...I'm excited too to see who will be the big winner!


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Like the Swirling Snow Outside my Window...

It's how my thoughts have been this week.

I found out earlier this week that the owners of the quilt shop where I started working just a few short months ago have decided to sell the business. This news of course has sent my world a-spin on several levels.
  • My fun part-time job could soon not exist.
  • My fabric supplier could also soon not exist.
  • Emotionally I'm grieving for my friends as they work through this change in their lives.
  • And after some heart to heart with Scott about pursuing dreams, I am exploring what it would take for me to buy all or a portion of the business to continue to fill the needs of area crafters! (A possibility that both excites and scares the hell out of me.)
Currently I'm in information gathering mode. I'm making connections with area resources such as the Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development office. I'm scouring the Small Business Administration website for every nugget of information I can gather about what it REALLY takes to start a small business. I'm gathering info from friends and connections on how to approach this adventure not only with my excitement and vision, but enough caution and knowledge to better my chances of success should I find myself opening my own shop doors in the coming months.

I find myself moving through periods of extreme excitement and enthusiasm...often followed by periods of doubt and anxiety. It's all quite exhausting...and exhilarating. (AND...I'm possibly drinking a bit more coffee than normal as I work through it all.)

It's an adventure, that's for sure!

I'll try to keep you updated on how the process is going as it keeps going.


Sunday, January 3, 2010


(Hint: Make sure you read all the way to the end for a chance to celebrate this milestone occasion with me!)

Ringing in 2010 had a little extra special meaning to marked my 1st Knitiversary! (Remember this post?) Ironically I celebrated my 1st Knitiversary without any knitting. We actually got social for NYE this year and by the time we made it back home to PJ the girls and watch the big ball drop in Times Square (on New York time mind you), I was too tired to pick up the needles.

It feels kinda funny to be able to pin point when exactly I started a specific hobby. I learned to sew as a kid, watching as my mom made any number of items...quilts, clothes, curtains, etc. My interest in photography goes back to when I was about 5 and spent time with my Dad in the little dark room he had set up in our basement bathroom. Even the start of my yoga practice is hard to pin point to any more specific time than "sometime in the later part of 1999". And I guess if it wasn't for the fact that the day I decided to start knitting coincided with an existing holiday, years down the road I might not remember my exact Knitiversary either. But that's not the let's celebrate!

Over the past year I have finished:
  • 8 1/2 pairs of fingerless mitts/hand-warmers (1 was a prototype that has yet to get a mate.)
  • 2 hats
  • 1 bag/tote
  • 1 pair of socks (worsted weight)
  • 1 neck warmer/cowl
  • 1 coffee cup sleeve/cozy
  • 1 mitten (The second has been put on hold until I decide how I'm going to fix what I don't like about the first.)
Currently on my needles, waiting to be finished, are:
  • a sock (fingerling weight...started before the pair above...sigh)
  • a pot holder for felting
In my yarn stash waiting to be cast on is yarn for:
  • a hat
  • 2 more pairs of fingerless mitts (requested by friends/family)
  • 2 pot holders for felting to make a set of 3 out of the 1 currently on the needles
  • a lacy scarf (My first adventure in lace knitting.)
  • more socks
  • and a number of balls/hanks waiting for a specific assignment
Things I've learned over the past year:
  • How to: knit, purl, increase, decrease, YO, cable, change yarns for color variation and how to cast off 2 different ways depending on how stretchy I need the cast off edge to be.
  • I prefer knitting in the round, on double points, to knitting flat.
  • I tend to be drawn to projects that use needles in sizes 3-7. (Smaller needles means I have little chance of finishing a project in any reasonable amount of time. Bigger needles knit up projects quickly but I'm not a big fan of chunky knits.)
  • My favorite needles are wooden. My least favorite are metal.
  • I hold my working yarn as a "thrower" rather than a "picker". (Which means I have little to no hope of ever becoming a speed knitter. I'm constantly amazed at how quickly some people can finish up even sizable projects!)
  • I need a bigger library space.
  • Ravelry rocks!
  • There are a lot of knitting quilters, and vice-versa. YEA!
It has been a lovely year of learning and creating. I'm looking forward to many more!

To help celebrate this milestone occasion...and because I've always wanted to be cool like those bloggers who get stuff from retailers to review and give away to readers...I'm holding my first blog give away!

Over the past year I have fell in love with, and have been infinitely inspired by, Leigh Radford's designs and books. So I felt it was only appropriate to give away a copy of Leigh's newest book, One More Skein.

Additionally the lucky winner of this give away will receive a mystery skein of yarn with his/her new book. (I thought "mystery skei"n sounded much more enticing than "yet to be determined skein"...though I think it's safe to say it will be soft, made of natural fibers, and delicious.)

So how do you enter to win?

Leave a comment on this post by mid-night on Saturday, January 9th and share what crafty projects have been helping to feed your soul through the past year. Be sure that you include in your comment a way for me to contact you should you be the lucky winner. Through the magic of a random number generator, I will pick a winner next Sunday, January 10th. (Which will of course be announced here.)

* Please note, this give away is limited to mailing addresses in the continental United States.

Thank you so much for sharing the past year of knitting (quilting/family life/random everything else) adventures with me!


Friday, January 1, 2010

Lexi's First Sewing Project...

Shortly after I got my new sewing machine, Lexi started asking if I could teach her how to sew. I agreed that during winter break we would tackle a project. After a bit of discussion we decided to make a bag for the Nintendo DS she received for Christmas.

Yesterday we headed to the quilt shop so that she could pick out her fabrics. She was actually surprised that we were getting new fabric, and honestly we could have easily made this project from my stash, but being her first project I wanted to make it a little extra special. I think she was a little overwhelmed at first by the fabric selection process. We had decided to make a messenger style bag and had talked about how many different fabrics she could potentially use. She finally decided on 3 different blue/purple batiks for the outside panels and a lighter batik with a fun swirly pattern for the inside lining.

After doing a little design planning I set up Lexi at the machine to practice her seams while I cut all the pieces we would need to put her bag together. (I wasn't quite ready to let her try using a rotary cutter!) Having speed control on my new machine was so helpful for this learning experience.

Once she was comfortable with sewing a basic straight seam I put her to work seaming the handles and the front and back panels. She would sew and then I would iron, fit some batting for padding (which I fused into place with this cool no paper fusing web we have at the shop called Mistyfuse) and pin the next piece for Lexi to sew. When we got to the point of top stitching the handle strip I let her pick a decorative stitch and she very patiently stitched the length...twice.

Once we had all the pieces ready for construction I took over the sewing which included my first button hole experience. Thank goodness for that automatic button hole feature! Our finished bag is awfully cute if I do say so myself. We included a padded pocket for the DS console, a "roomie" pocket for the AC adapter, and a pocket on the inside of the flap for game cartridges.

The combination of fabrics and Lexi's choice of thread and embellishment stitches give it so much character.

We ended up needing to extend our original handle length just a bit, which gave us the opportunity to bring just a little bit of the inside fabric to the outside.

Lexi did a great job and it was fun to tackle our first joint project. I imagine it will be the first of many to least I hope so!