In typical overachiever fashion, last night I whipped up a batch of Chocolate Shortbread from my new favorite cookbook -- Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook. I wanted to make the brownies, but I didn't have 8oz. of bittersweet chocolate laying about.
These are very good and well they should be with three sticks of butter going into one pan of them! And speaking of pans. I consider myself a reasonably decent baker. I have *numerous* baking pans and cookie sheets, but no Martha, I do not have a 8" X 12" pan. I have 4 - 9" X 13" pans and even a 7" X 11" pan, but I do not have an 8" X 12" pan. Am I the only one? (BTW, the recipe did just fine in a 9" X 13", thank you very much!)
Conversation in our kitchen as I was feverishly whipping these up while Pete cooked dinner (read microwaved Stouffer's & Kid Cuisine - god love him for putting up with me!):
Maddie: Mommy, why are you doing that?
Pete: Because she likes to do that kind of stuff.
Me: Because I'm having a crisis.
Pete: And she's eating her way though it.
I'm just going to spew some stuff out here about what I've been struggling with lately -- the lack of balance in my life.
This is nothing new really. I've been like this for as long as I can remember. Maybe it's the oldest child syndrome or something. When I started working I worked the extra shifts -- 60, 70, 80 hours a week in the summer -- no problem! When it came down to choosing a major my second semester junior year, I choose English lit. Reading several novels a week and writing dozens of papers a semester so that I could graduate on time wouldn't be a problem, right? (It wasn't -- I even made Dean's list all those semesters.) Then after college -- I got a job at a big corporation and of course I gave my life to them. I worked nights, weekends, at the end I even worked in New York despite the fact that I lived in Chicago. (Yeah -- I flew there every week and lived in a hotel.) While working there I was promoted over and over and got all the awards and took on all the special projects.
Are you getting the picture here?
And it isn't much better in other areas of my life. I read voraciously -- I craft voraciously -- I know how to make homebaked bread! My sister's used to call me Martha (you can guess why). It's just all too much!
So here I am after over working myself all last week. Then Saturday I put in probably 6 hours of work and was stopped only by the fact that we had dinner plans up in the city. Despite the fact that we got home at almost 2am, I got up at 8am Sunday morning and put in 11 hours of work. *It's. . .happening. . . again*
I have to find balance. You can see that this has been a problem throughout my life though. Pete says that I don't know how to relax and it is true! But even I have reached my limit!!!
I have orders piling up for Black Sheep Bags and I have over 100 sites for the webring in the queue (when I checked a few days ago -- I'm scared to check now). I want to craft! I want to come up with new designs for Black Sheep Bags -- I have design ideas and no time to try them out!
This is why I have migraines -- I can see that now. So I'm going to be making some changes. I have to -- I have my family to think about.
Okay -- still with me? I don't believe it! Here are things I actually want to find time to do:
So I know that I have to re-design my patterns so that they can be printed by a small press -- no more printing photos, cutting them out, gluing them to backing paper and then to patterns. This takes *forever* and I can't keep up with demand -- I'm 3-4 weeks out on shop orders right now. That's just not good! That's just one change though -- I need more.
So, I'm working on finding balance. I was doing pretty good for a while -- stopping work at 5 or 6pm, but I've let that slip. No more! I need to get back on track. I know that this is an issue with me and I just have to start putting effort into it.
Balance is a good thing.
There's a new collective crafting blog / website out there called Whip Up. They were sweet enough to link to the knitting book review website that Theresa & I co-author --Two Friends Collect Books. Wasn't that nice?
Looks like it is going to be a very fun site as many of my favorite crafty bloggers will be contributors. This is one you will want to subscribe to and keep your eye on! I'm predicting many wondrous things!
Anyone recognize the title?
At any rate, I'm trying to forget my UPS woes. After a late night of working I dove into Julie & Julia and once again stayed up too late reading. It's *so* good! Is anyone out there reading along? The aspic grossed me out and all that liver and kidney and such -- I'm not so sure.
See, I was actually a vegetarian for several years -- even dipping my toes into veganism for a bit. I'm back on meat now, but I still get queasy at the thought of touching raw meat. I have no idea how she hacked apart that *live* lobster without fainting dead away.
So anyway, I was so sleepy that I couldn't finish the last 10 or 15 pages last night. I'm saving them for the weekend. And Pete plunked The Sea by John Banville down on my nightstand yesterday, so that will probably be my next read. More on that and the rest of the 2006 list when I find a moment to breathe.
And finally a note on Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook. I mentioned that I got it at the same time that I got Julie & Julia. Well, it's an excellent book and I already made one of the recipes from it -- the Chocolate Scones. They were so good! (How could they not be though with ingredients like cream, butter and chocolate. Seriously.) Pete even mentioned that he liked them. Oh, and this isn't like her other cookbooks -- this one has *tons* of pictures. It really is a great cookbook and I'll be trying lots more recipes from it. Maybe next time I'll even remember to take a picture. doh!
Okay, these two boxes just arrived. They were white when they left Hero Arts and presumably were in one piece. As you can see, they are marked with large stickers that say "FRAGILE". They have arrived as they always do, filthy -- and I do mean filthy -- ripped open and bashed in. It's absolutely ridiculous!! Especially when shipping for two boxes is like $85!!
I have a rubber stamp business (Stamping Online) so I am forced to put up with this. I have complained, I have asked for a different method of delivery. Nothing doing. So I deal with this. And I'm forced to wait for Hero Arts to send me replacements for all the damaged products while my customers wait. I can't stand it. Grrrrrrrrrr. . . . . . . .
Several years ago we were exploring and antiquing in historic Lockport, IL (just a few towns over) and I stopped in this little quilting shop. It seemed small and rather uninteresting to me. I don't remember if I even bought anything.
So, a few weeks ago when we made a detour through downtown Lockport, an accident of fate due to some bad traffic on the highway, I wasn't sure I wanted to take the time to stop in the shop again. Something told me that I should though and as we were driving past I blurted out -- Stop! I want to go in the fabric shop!!
Pete is awful sweet about these kinds of things and quickly agreed. Lucky for me that he is so indulgent of my whims, because this shop was not what I remembered! It was big and open and full of great fabric! After looking at everything twice (okay, maybe three times -- thank goodness they had comfy chairs for Pete & Maddie to sit in!) I decided on that lovely brown civil war print (civil war? who knew I liked civil war prints?) with some matching red. And I couldn't resist the "Kaye's Kitchen" fat quarter's.
I chatted with one of the owner's for a while and asked her about the shop. It seems that a while back her and another woman purchased the store and transformed it into what it is today. So let this be a lesson to you. You may want to give that shop that previously underwhelmed you a second chance. I'm sure glad that I did and I know that I will be going back!
*** Update *** Pete just emailed me to tell me that I forgot to include the name of the shop! Oops!
I can't believe how many recommendations I got! It will take me a while to go through them all, and obviously I won't be able to read *all* of these books in 2006. But there are definitely some that look promising! No time today, but I'm planning to get together the list next week. . .
I'm preparing my 2006 reading list (my 2005 reading list can be found here), and I am overwhelmingly underwhelmed. I'm coming up with a lot of books by people who I've already read. And as for new stuff -- every synopsis I read sounds just like something I've read before. Is there anything new (or old and undiscovered) and good out there?
So I'm going to go ahead and ask you all what your favorite books have been. They can be old or new favorites. And please leave me a sentence or two on why you like it (like a mini book report!)
If I see anything that catches my fancy, I'll add it to my sorry looking list for 2006 and post it here within the next week.
(My list is really weak on non-fiction right now, so feel free to give me recommendations in that category too!)
After I posted my first thrown together picot cast on, I received several requests for the "pattern". Since I had just come up with it on the fly, I wanted to test it on the second sock before I gave it to you here. Well, last night I stayed up past my bedtime getting that picot edging done on sock number two. So without further ado. . .
The Picot Cast On Tutorial for Hand Knit Socks
Well, after that you just go on with your sock as planned.
Some thoughts. . . I'm thinking you can use just one needle size, but I like to have a cast on that is stretchy so that I'm not struggling to get it over my foot. And I chose the smaller needle for the inside since there is no ribbing to help keep the sock up -- I'm thinking this will help a bit. And you probably can sew down the cast on edge later, but why would you want to? Then you would have to worry about keeping the sewing loose enough (like the cast on) so that you could easily get the sock on and off.
I hope that you found my tutorial for making a picot edged sock useful!
Good news for those of you who, like me, are into crewel embroidery. Soon you will be able to purchase wool thread, linen and other supplies at the Wool & Hoop website. I exchanged emails with Katherine this afternoon to find out a little more and she is hoping to get the new items in her online shop sometime in the next month -- yipee!
She was so sweet and said that she will drop me a line when the shop is open. Until then she suggests looking for local needlepoint shops (oh, I wish I had one!). She also recommended these two online shops:
And in other embroidery news. Have you seen the cross-stitch charts from Anagram Diffusion? They are from France and their Collection "Monochromes" is incredible. I especially like their Sampler 4 Saisons. I used to do cross stitch as a kid, but hadn't really found anything I liked well enough as an adult to actually pick it up again. This may make me change my mind.
New fabrics from Denyse Schmidt? I just received a comment from a reader who has a site called Quilter's Buzz and apparently Denyse Schmidt has a line of fabric coming out in May called Flea Market Fancy which will be distributed by Free Spirit! You can see the fabrics in Gina's post.
Gorgeous, aren't they?
Well, I finally scraped together $8 and bought myself my own domain name. You can now get here by typing in www.boogaj.com. Exciting, isn't it? I got my domain name and one for Pete (www.petelit.com) over at Go Daddy. I've been using them to host my website for Black Sheep Bags for over a year and haven't had any trouble. (I also host the websites for a couple of charities through them -- COPE and The Tim Klotz Memorial Fund.)
In other news, I just went with my Mom and sisters to see Wicked. It was *so* good!! So now I have to read the book. You know how I am. Maybe if I order it now, it will get here by the time I finish Julie & Julia. I love it when I have books lined up!
First of all, I appreciate all the people who wrote to thank me for running the ring. It was good to hear some positive feedback. I also think it's good to put things out there when they start to bother me. When people write in and I reply, it's a great exercise that forces me to delve into the real reasons that things are troubling me. Here are some conclusions that I came to:
First of all, I was frustrated because I was putting in many hours of work and getting no tangible benefit. No thanks, no appreciation, no pay, no feedback -- not anything really. And it's human nature to not want to do something if there is no benefit. Now if I heard, saw, was told -- wow, the ring is a good thing and it has made my life better in some small way -- I would consider that a pay-off. Just think about it for a minute. You are putting in hours of work and you are receiving pretty much nothing in return. That just doesn't work for humans! So I'm sure that was a huge source of my discontent.
Second, I discovered that quite a few people believe that the ring is "automated." Yep -- that it is some machine doing all this. HA!!! I mean, I have to laugh at that or I'll cry. Seriously! I don't want to think of the hours I've put into this and people think that there's just some machine behind it all. So maybe that explains some of the lack of communication from my ring members? I'm not sure because I maintain the ring homepage, so I thought that kind of put a human face on things. But maybe not. Any ideas? Is there a way to make this into more of a community? Maybe then there would be less of this feeling.
At any rate, I have heard from some of my readers and I know that some people do enjoy the ring and find it worthwhile. So for now I will soldier on. Just remember, keeping a ring this size in working order is a *huge* job, the pay sucks and it really eats into my knitting time. Expect occassional crabbiness.
Okay, you have to give me your opinion. I need to hear what you think. I just sat here for the last couple of hours adding sites to the ring. I love my ring and try to keep it in good working order, but working on the Knitting Blogs Web Ring take a lot of my time.
So, I re-opened the ring on the 7th, almost two weeks ago. And I have added over 50 people already. Now go look at the comments. Go on, I'll wait. . . . oh, back so soon? Yeah, not one comment. People seem very eager to join. I always get a lot of applications when I re-open the ring. I usually get some people who email me, trying to get me to hurry up and add them. Then I do get them added and that's that.
I mean, I don't know what I expect really. And every once in a while I get a thank you. (Maybe once every 100-150 site that I add.)
Okay, enough of the whining. I'm not shutting the ring down or anything, so don't go all crazy on me. I guess I'm just feeling very unappreciated and I just needed to vent a little.
It started innocently enough, probably around 1977, when I began to receive Highlights Magazine. I remember saving every issue, lining them up in order in the hutch over my desk. Leafing through them over and over again even though I knew where ever last hidden picture was. It was a natural extension, this jump from a love of books to a love of magazines.
A couple years later I realized that The National Geographic was coming to our house and I discovered the wealth of information it contained. They joy! My Dad saved these. Every issue -- downstairs in the bookcase. Then. . . the flood. I was heartbroken to see all those pathetic, waterlogged pages ruined and tossed into the trash.
As I became a teen there were the usual coming of age periodicals arriving in my mailbox -- first YM then later Rolling Stone. I'm sure many of you read the same make-up tips and record reviews.
The revolution came in my 20's. I discovered Martha Stewart! I subscribed to MSL and fell in love. This was a whole different magazine -- something I had no experience with, but it was me! I absolutely loved it. My sisters started calling me Martha. I still have every issue I ever got and I do look through them. (Although since the last move they have yet to be unpacked and I think about them a lot. Maybe that will be my project for this weekend.)
So enough about my magazine history! Here's where I am today. You can see a bunch of the magazines I've gotten in the last 4-6 weeks up top there. Several major categories: Homemaking (for lack of a better term), cooking and crafting. I used to subscribe to National Geographic and Smithsonian and all kinds of stuff like that but they kept coming every month and there was absolutely no way I could keep up. I always felt guilty and I kept them. Then one day Pete was afraid I was going to be smothered in my sleep due to the precarious pile on the nightstand. I just had to give a few up, so I did. Whew. What a relief!
Speaking of my nightstand. I have to show you where I stash the ever growing mountain of periodicals:
And at this point the camera battery died, so that's all the magazines I can show you. Pete said when I revealed my magazine obsession that a lot of people would write in and tell me that I had practically no magazines compared to them. I wonder if he knew how many magazines I had?
So, I'm going to try to list here the magazines that I have subscriptions to. I get confused and sometimes buy magazines from the newsstand when I have a subscription, so I am in no way saying that this in 100% accurate.
Hmmm. . . seems like I'm missing some. In fact, I think I subscribed to some new sewing magazine a while back, but I haven't gotten even one issue. And I used to subscribe to Food & Wine and Saveur, but I think those subscriptions may have recently expired.
Well, there you have it. I love magazines! The next magazines I'm going to be subscribing to are both part of MSLO: MSL Kids (because of the success of the sheep unit study from the last issue) and MSL Blueprint A new magazine aimed right at my demographic-- heh! (I laugh, but I am actually looking forward to seeing this magazine very much).
I think I'll go get some work done now so that Maddie and I can go to the bookstore before the snowstorm hits. I think I may need to pick up a few more magazines to get me through the bout of bad weather! One of my greatest fears in life is being without reading material.
** Update ** A comment by Denise reminded me that I also get Family Circle and Parenting (Parents? No, I think it's Parenting). At any rate, I started getting them for free and I have never paid for them or renewed them and they just keep coming. My father-in-law was in the magazine biz and from what I have gleaned it has something to do with keeping up subscription numbers which correspond to advertising rates. Who knew?
** Update 2 ** I forgot Cast On (which I probably wouldn't subscribe to, but I'm a member of TKGA -- Don't you wish they would update the designs in that magazine? Some of the detailing on the designs are so nice, but the designs themselves? Eh.)
Obsession with magazines it is! I'll gather them up and post later today. And Chris asked if I would post about all the topics listed in the poll -- sure! Although it appears that you all aren't too interested in my musical tastes :)
First the final results of the product vs. process poll. As of today there have been 286 votes. 63% of people responding said that they were both process & product knitters, the process knitters came in second with 24% of the vote and the product knitters came up last with only 13%. The process and product knitters were really running neck and neck there for a while, so I was surprised when the process folks pulled ahead. I lean toward the process side myself with a bit of product thrown in for good measure.
On to today's poll. . .
I've had a few posts rolling around in my head for awhile and none of them is really jumping out at me. Any sound interesting to you? Go ahead, don't be shy! Cast your vote!
** Update ** Looks like the magazine obsession is ahead so far! I'll keep the poll open until tomorrow morning, but I'll begin gathering magazines "just in case".
Last night was quite productive. First of all, I finished the first Regia Jubilee sock (colorway 5472). See?
This means I'll be casting on for sock number two, thus trying to reproduce my picot cast on. If all goes as planned, I'll write up the "pattern" for you all and post it here on the old blog.
I also finished the book I had been reading, Other Electricities by Ander Monson. This was an odd book. He calls it a collection of stories, I guess I'd call it experimental fiction. There are charts, and diagrams and a guide to the characters and symbology (?) as well as a strange index in the back.
Overall the themes were quite melancholy (grief, loss) and the event were tragic (falling through the ice, murder) so I can't really say that I *enjoyed* it. Then again, I read in in only three sittings, so I guess that counts for something. It's definitely different and if you are tired of the same old, same old as I was complaining of, this may kick you out of your rut. I would say it's worth a read.
Now you know what this means -- I can start Julie & Julia tonight! No one expressed an interest in reading along. In fact, it sounds like quite a few of you have already read it! Am I this far behind the times? Maybe I'm losing my touch :)
. . . I'm not a Luddite, but I've been struggling with the whole podcasting thing. In fact. I just listened to my first Cast On podcast. Very fun and good to work by. (Time to make the patterns. . . I feel like the Dunkin' Donuts guy. BTW, did you know that he just died?)
Anyway, back to my surprising bout of technophobia. I did listen to the first couple episodes of KnitCast back when they premiered, enjoyed them very much, thought I subscribed to them and then promptly forgot about them. Well, my "subscription" must have failed because I was never notified of another one.
I re-discovered the whole podcast thing after Pete got his iPod and he started listening to podcasts. I once again tried to subscribe to several, this time through Bloglines. Again -- never notified of new episodes (are they called episodes? posts? casts?)
So, last night I went straight to the source -- the Apple Music Store. Now you get there through iTunes, so I'm not sure how to give you a link (I am *so* a luddite), but I was able to subscribe there and I was also able to download a bunch of the past programs for both Cast On and KnitCast. They are now safely on my computer and I can listen whenever I see fit. Whew.
I did see some other knitting themed podcasts out there -- Knitting News Cast, Secret Knitting, Crafty Chica Podcast -- any recommendations on these? Any recommendations on any others?
The bears are all knit with Rowan dk weight yarns from what I could tell, but I suppose you could size them up or down depending on whatever yarn you had. Many of the actual bears look similar, although there is a garter stitch bear thrown in and a couple of colorwork bears too. Many of the bears have little outfits, some quite elaborate!
I haven't knit any of these up yet, so I can't vouch for the accuracy of the patterns or the ease of following them, but the bears are super cute and so are the outfits. In fact, when I pulled out the book to write this up, Maddie asked if I'd knit her some of them. I haven't looked at this book in a while, but Theresa's post today has gotten me thinking. Bears and handspun may just be a great match!
(I'll post this over at Two Friends Collect Books too!)
A couple of books just arrived, thank you Mr. UPS, and I am very excited about one of them. Well, I'm excited about both of them, they are books after all and if you have been here before you probably have figured out how much I adore books.
At any rate, the book I'm excited about is this one:
Yep, Julie & Julia by Julie Powell. Now I'm right in the middle of another book (Other Electricities by Ander Monson), so if you would like to read along with me -- go buy this book! Go on! Do it! A little read-a-long -- what fun! (I'm like the Oprah of the blog ring. Ha! Maybe after we read it we'll find out that Ms. Powell really didn't cook any of the recipes from Julia Child's cookbook.)
I'm giddy. Can't you tell?
(And in case curiosity is eating at you, the other book in the box was Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook. Yeah, I don't think I've really revealed it here, but I have something like 100 cookbooks. Maybe more. I'm afraid to count.)
When I was at the Fold on Saturday, I saw the wall of merino fiber in every conceivable color and homeschooling crafts came to mind! I grabbed a bag and tried to get a bit of just about every color so that Maddie and I could try our hands at making some felted beads. Aren't the colors gorgeous all piled up together?
I gathered the necessary tools, which seemed to be only dish soap, towels and a bowl for the warm soapy water. (I just kind of surfed around the web a bit this morning to see if I could find some different "how-to's" to lead me in the right direction.)
What we did was this:
Here are the finished beads and the bowls of water. Not much output, but we also tried some beads with some BFL and they just didn't work out at all. And keep in mind -- you have to roll these for probably 5-10 minutes each (5 for me, 10 for Maddie who didn't use much pressure). Maddie thought it was a lot of fun though, so I'm sure we will be doing it again.
Oh -- and see her sheep up in the left hand corner? MSL Kids had a section on sheep in the Winter Issue and this was one of the crafts. Cute, huh?
So here is a close-up of our beads. I'm thinking that I want to try some with other colors layered on top, or maybe I could embroider them after they dry. I seem to remember seeing something like that somewhere. Oh the possibilities!
** Update ** The "Process" and "Product" knitters are dead even! How interesting! I thought it would be all one way or the other. And the majority of you say you are ambivalent and have answered "a little a both." Please feel free to leave a comment too! I find this subject fascinating for some reason.
I did find the wheel of my dreams, but didn't purchase it (a Lendrum black walnut Saxony, for those who are interested). I tried out lots of other wheels too -- mostly because Theresa was looking for a wheel and since she was pulling them all out I had to give them a try too; and I have to say it was a lot of fun. The only wheel I had ever spun on was my Ashford Joy which I purchased through the mail having never spun on a wheel in my life - *gasp*!!
Oh yeah. . . I was going to tell you about the Wensleydale, wasn't I? Well, there wasn't a single solitary skein of Socks that Rock in the entire shop -- can you believe it? I think we hit it right in between the old put up and the new, so maybe that's the problem. I didn't walk away without anything from Blue Moon though! See that gorgeous fiber up top? That's some Wensleydale (so I finally get to the Wensleydale. . . ) in the "Flintstone" colorway. Now I'm very impatient and today I already tore a chunk off and spun it up on the Joy, made a center pull ball and two plied it. Here's the results. . .
The Wensleydale is a handsome sheep with long, lustrous locks. Unlike a BFL or Merino, the wool isn't really all that springy. I would describe it more as a drapey wool and I believe it is used in weaving quite a bit although I saw on some site that it makes lovely, durable socks. Hmmmm. . . .
It was very nice to spin up and reminded me a bit of my experience with Romney, although the Wensleydale is much finer and quite softer. I haven't given my little sample skein it's bath yet, but I'm hoping it will soften up even more with a good washing.
Other goodies were purchased, including some things that should help me to get my loom up and running. My last attempt at weaving was somewhat of a disaster, but I am now armed with Learning to Weave and a woven scarf kit from Blue Moon. I was up late last night reading all about warping the loom -- how exciting!
Guess I better run because I had a bit of BFL on a spool that I quickly plied before spinning up the Wensleydale and I figured, why set the twist when you can set the twist and kool-aid dye at the same time? Well, I just remembered that I threw the skein in a pyrex measuring cup with a couple packets of kool-aid & some hot water about 3 hours ago. Must go see what it looks like!
** Update ** Well, I checked out the kool-aid dyed mini skein of BFL and it's kinda dark pink and very fruity smelling despite *many* rinsings -- some which included soap. The "dye bath" was a super dark red and this is all I get? And every rinsing brings me more bleeding. I tried kool-aid dyeing once before with equally sketchy results. Think I'll stick to the lanaset dyes in the future.
Last night I read, although read is a very loose term, The Three Incestuous Sisters by Audrey Niffenegger. You may know Niffenegger as the author of The Time Traveler's Wife (which was an excellent book -- if you haven't read it, please do!). But this book is much different.
You might find The Three Incestuous Sisters in the "graphic novel" section of your local bookstore, but that's misleading. It's more of an art book. All the images were created by Niffenegger using an antique process called the aquatint.
And the story line? I don't know how to describe it, so I will let Niffenneger:
I tell them to imagine a silent film made from Japanese prints, a melodrama of sibling rivalry, a silent opera that features women with very long hair and a flying green boy. I never try to explain what it means; you can find that out for yourself.
All in all a very enjoyable experience. Something new and different in a day and age when it is hard to find a book that breaks the mold.
Speaking of Audrey Niffenegger. I was driving home one night, alone in the car and Selected Shorts came on NPR. They were having a reading of "The Night Bookmobile" by Niffenegger. (Looks like the audio is not available for listening online -- darn!) And I have to tell you that this story struck me. It was one of those things where it just gripped me and didn't let me go and I got home and sat in the driveway and listened to the end and loved it so much that I cried when it was finished because it was over. And I still don't have a copy. But I just found where it was originally published in Zoetrope and I'm going to go buy that issue as soon as I finish typing this. (They have an excerpt there through that link too.) Let me just say that if you are a lifelong, maniacal reader like I am -- you should read this story.
Last night I stayed up late finishing Wendy Knits by none other than our prolific knitblogging buddy -- Wendy! I have to say that this is a knitting book unlike any other that I have read. It's not a pattern book (although it contains 20 great patterns) and it's not a book of knitting tips (although it contains a ton of great knitting tips). So what is it? I would have to say that it's the story of a knitter.
My favorite chapter may be the first chapter titled "I Knit, Therefore I Am." What it really is, is the story of the genesis of Wendy the knitter. We all have that story -- the tale of how the wool and needles called us and I find that fascinating.
The following chapters cover different aspects of Wendy's knitting life -- everything from how she got started blogging to what it means to be a fiber snob to knitting for charity. Some things may be well known to loyal readers such as myself and some will be new, but everything is interesting and much is sprinkled with useful tips. Almost an entire chapter is devoted to needles (and other tools) and their storage!
The patterns may be recognizable to her readers too. We have seen the beautiful "chocolate mint chip" sweater take shape, and now here is the pattern! (Made with Koigu -- drool. . .) Wendy's gorgeous Grape Arbor Shawl is included too. In fact, projects range from the easiest of all -- a garter stitch dishcloth -- to more complicate lace, cables and colorwork. There is truly something for everyone here.
And one final note. I have to tell you that I loved the final chapter on spinning. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because that's where I'm at right now in my fiber journey -- discovering the joy of turning fiber into yarn -- but I found her enthusiasm for this subject was really apparent.
Thanks again for the advance copy Wendy! I really enjoyed it! And I think there is going to be a "Fir Cone Scarf" in my future. (Now will I splurge and get the recommended cashmere!)
Oh yeah -- I'll post this over at Two Friends Collect Books too!
I haven't had much time for crafting lately, but that doesn't mean I haven't been thinking and reading about it! And my latest obsession has been sashiko. Sashiko is a Japanese quilting technique, usually using white thread on an indigo fabric. The patterns are usually very regular and symmetrical and quite striking because of the bright white thread against the dark blue fabric.
I recently was able to get my hands on two books on the subject The Ultimate Sashiko Sourcebook by Susan Briscoe and Sashiko: Easy Elegant Japanese Designs for Decorative Machine Embroidery by Mary S. Parker.
I found The Ultimate Sashiko Sourcebook to be more useful for what I would have in mind. It starts out with a bit of history which is nice. Following that is a very clear section on materials and tools -- I love the fact that it shows you what the Japanese characters for "sashiko" look like on all kinds of labels in different fonts so that you could identify them.
Basic techniques are covered next and lots of photos are included. These techniques are then shown off with some simple projects -- samplers, coasters, bags pillows -- and some more unusual projects -- greeting cards and a noren curtain.
A large section of the book is devoted to a pattern library that would keep you stitching for ages! There are over 100 diagrams which include both moyozashi (pattern) and hitomezashi (one stitch) sashiko patterns. Tips are given throughout the library section.
The book concludes with a beautiful "inspiration gallery" featuring samplers, quilts, coats and curtains by contemporary artists.
I would highly recommend this book if you are interested in learning about sashiko, or just finding out more about a different embroidery technique. And if you are looking for sashiko patterns to use when machine quilting -- check out Sashiko: Easy Elegant Japanese Designs for Decorative Machine Embroidery.
I'm still here. Just *so* busy. I re-opened the Knitting Blogs Web Ring which is always insane! And on top of that I am buried in the 2006 stamps that have arrived at my rubber stamp store -- Stamping Online. They are totally cute and it's keeping me very busy. I'm not even mentioning the folder full of Black Sheep Bags orders that I need to fill. I worked all afternoon Sunday trying to get caught up (and failing) there. (Did you see all the new shops?!?)
But busy is good. And Maddie has been an angel the last couple of days. And my migraines are staying in check. And my new migraine medicine hasn't given me any terrible side effects. So mostly I can't complain.
Off to do some more work!
More like. . . in order to combat bordom while getting caught up on the pile of orders for Black Sheep Bags. . .
I made a little Cafe Press shop. I'm not expecting anyone to buy anything really, but if you do -- I will donate the money from any sales made in the month on January to Heifer International, which is one of my favorite charities. I think I have to make $25 before they will even send me a payment, and I didn't build much profit into my "products", but go take a look-see!
Oh -- and if you want me to add any product, just ask!
Post #2 today! Can you tell that my migraine has decided to let up for a few hours?
I first wanted to point you to something I'm coveting. . . The Jordana Paige Knitter's Satchel (in grape, please :)
And also a review of Starbuck's new Cinnamon Dolce Latte -- yum! Too sweet for me, but I usually ask for less syrup in my latte. The cinnamony taste is so good though! I'll be ordering them throughtout the winter to keep me warm for sure.
I also worked a little more on the office organization. Hopefully I will have an update for you on all of that soon!
Why do I seem to be able to move forward so easily on shawls while my socks sit forever? The need to pick up stitches.
I love knitting socks, but they always seem to get finished slowly. I finish the top ribbing (or picot edging, in the case of this pair) and quickly move on to the leg portion. This part usually flies by! Then I do the heel flap -- no problem there. And the heel turn, which I think is kind of fun. Okay -- now it's time to pick up all those stitches. Oy! (Once I'm past the picking up, progress resumes. And I also like Kitchenering the toe, so there's no trouble there!)
I blame it on my less than stellar eyesight, which is probably true. Looking at all those tiny stitches as I pick them up usually aggravates me. (No, I don't have an Ott Light -- yet.) But even more than that, I think it has become a mental block.
So, if I were to make a New Year's Resolution -- which I'm *not* -- it would be to forge ahead and pick those stitches up right away instead of letting the poor sock sit for weeks.
SOCK NOTE -- This sock is 68 stitches around on US 1's. I tried a picot edging on the top for a change of pace. I also couldn't find my notes for my personal sock pattern, so I used the Dutch Heel instructions found in Lucy Neatby's Cool Socks Warm Feet. It's a shallower heel -- kind of flatter on the back -- than I'm used to, but I think it will actually be better for me.
I put these sock notes in here, because while I do take notes on paper, I always lose them or can't understand what I wrote when I look back at them. Then when I go to make calculations and plans for the next pair I'm hitting myself. The blog is the perfect place to keep these notes because it's easily searchable via the nice little Google thing over in the sidebar. Saves me lots of headaches!
The holidays hit me hard this year. I've had terrible migraines for a good part of December. So now I'm just trying to get caught up on work and playing a lot of this:
Very little energy left for reading or knitting or anything really (hence the video gaming). Hopefully I'll be back to my old self soon and have something more interesting to post!