Friday, December 28, 2007

Post Christmas Recap

Phew! The Christmas rush is behind us, I am endlessly surprised by how much work one little holiday can be. It was a very handmade Christmas around here and I want to offer one last recap.

I finished the hat - I actually made two simple 2x2 rib hats out of Noro Silk Garden. The first was much too small, I think I'll send it to Afghanistan. The second was perfect and since it's a little chilly here, by his standards, he's wearing it all the time. It's beautiful, and I'm glad it's appreciated. I never did finish the felted clogs and the scarf is still a wip, but I'll get them done eventually.

In addition to making many gifts, I did a fair amount of handmade shopping mostly on Etsy. I'd like to share some of finds with you here - they are each worthy of your attention. There was a great silk screened organic cotton tee from Vital. An artist book or two from the talented Nikki Thompson. Some fun Letterpress Printing from The Rarrarpress, and the Sherwood Press. Some zines from Heroes and Criminals. A well drawn indie comic from Joe Havasy. And the funniest dang Gocco printed library pockets from Papermenagerie. Really, take some time to browse these shops, you won't sorry you did.

Now that Christmas is done, all the gifts are giving, and the lines at the post office are gone, it's time for the New Year. New Year, new goals, new ideas, and new projects. Happy New Year Everyone.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Finished Objects for Christmas 2007

As I mentioned in the previous post I've had the Holiday Crafting Spirit, do in large part I'm sure to my pledge to buy or give handmade this year. Here's the highlight reel...

A Trio of Sock Monkeys - I love these guys! My man and I worked on them together, I have tons of patiences for knitting but only a small amount for sewing, so his sewing expertise was much appreciated. I got these as kits from Spinning Monkeys - I used the socks, and the instruction that came with the kits, but changed out the buttons and a few other details.

The Headline News News Boy Hat - You've seen it before, I've blogged it before. This one is for my niece and yes, it's exactly the same as mine. For a reason - the pattern calls for a two skeins, and in reality you only use the tiniest bit of that second skein. You can easily get two hats from three skeins. Mathematically it made sense to make hers the same as mine.

Felted Clogs - I love these also. They are so easy and fast to knit up. The pattern is from Fiber Trends. I used an incredible pallette of Nashua Creative Focus Worsted.

This is pairs one and two of four. The plain pair is for my Nephew - they match the dogs in his house so that the inevitable dog hair won't be as noticible, he hates the dog hair. I experimented a little with adding a fringe to the second pair. It only sort of worked - when I was finished felting them the fringe had become dreads, but with much futsing and brushing and trimming I got them to a place I liked. They are for my Dad's wife and I'm pretty sure she'll love them. At least I hope she will.

I've got two more pairs to make, but they are for my man and myself, so no rush. I also stil have to finish a journal for my niece, a felted bag for my man's mother, and a hat and scarf for my man. That means I've got some knitting to do, and there will be another finished objects post soon.

Monday, December 10, 2007

That Holiday Spirit

I'll be frank - it's no small task to muster that holiday spirit when you're a Minnesota girl in Texas. I've always been a bit of a scrooge when it comes to Christmas trees and decorating, it seems like a lot of work - you drag all that stuff out of storage, you dust it all off, put it all up, and then turn around and take it all down again. Too much for my lazy bones.

My book group had our monthly meeting on Friday night. In the spirit of the holidays we read "Holidays on Ice" by David Sadarias, drank champagne, and had a little ornament exchange. I sat that part out, not being one to ever put up a tree or hang stuff about the house, I have no real use for ornaments, and thought it best to sit it out. I didn't really love this book either, I kept finding myself feeling offended, rather than humored. The champagne was good.

Despite my distaste for indoor decorations, I have always been a fan of lights, the outdoor variety - I love how they twinkle in the snow and get all reflective and defused, it's pretty. But here in Texas we have no snow. There is the Trail of Lights - a 1 mile loop through Zilker Park here in Austin with a pretty extraordinary light display. It's the annual tradition here in Austin, a town that loves to run, to have the Trail of Lights 5k the night before the light show officially opens to the public. It's a sort of sneak preview for those that sign up to do the 5k. In my attempts to muster that seemingly allusive Holiday Spirit, I registered and ran the Trail of Lights 5k on Saturday night. It was 85 degrees at the finish line at 7:30 PM - it was not feeling one tiny bit like Christmas for this cold weather runner.

Meanwhile back at the workshop... I'm not a complete Grinch and I do like to give gifts. This year, as I've mentioned I have taken the pledge to buy or give handmade, and that means knitting, and lots of it. And because the Etsy shop has had more sales then I can seem to keep up with, it has also meant journal making, and lots of it. Even the baby has tried to get in on the act.

bad puppy

The only holiday spirit I have been able to muster so far this year has been of the crafting variety, and I suppose there's nothing wrong with that.

Coming soon .... Pictures of the finished objects for Christmas 2007 - felted clogs for many, a felted messenger bag, a second Headline News newsboy hat, and Sock Monkeys.

Monday, November 26, 2007

What I'm Thankful For...

Turns out it did get cold, the front pulled in on Wednesday afternoon and temperatures here in Austin plummeted 45 degrees. It went from a record high of 89 degrees to a brisk 40-something in mere hours. It was absolutely Thanksgiving weather, and I was thankful for it.

I started the Thanksgiving Holiday by participating in the 17th Annual Turkey Trot 5 Mile (8k) Run for charity. Some 10,000 runners ran through Downtown Austin and the UT Campus. It was the perfect way to start Thanksgiving Day, I spent the rest of the day feeling healthy, and a little cocky, and absolutely guilt free. I was thankful for that.

After the race, and before going to dinner, I finished the Headline News Hat I had started, and as I said I would, I wore something warm, and hand-knit, and was thankful for it.

I really love this hat

Dinner was fantastic! Very traditional fare at a friend's, with tons of her family around. I made these Sweet Potatoes. They were well received and I was thankful for that. I was also thankful for the invitation.

I was especially grateful that all three of the Wonder Mutts were included in the invitation and joined us for the holiday. I am thankful that I have three dogs, I am thankful that they are really GREAT dogs, and I am thankful that I have friends who love them.

I spent "Black Friday" at home, knitting, and surfing Etsy. I will uphold my pledge to Buy Handmade for the next big holiday. And yes, I couldn't be more thankful for that.

I spent most of Saturday at an Adoption Day for Blue Dog Rescue. And a good part of Sunday at Brunch with friends at the best damn Mexican Restaurant in Austin. I am thankful for Blue Dog and the work that they do. I am thankful that I have friends who eat Brunch. And I am thankful for Mexican food.

I come away from the big Thanksgiving giving thanks, and that my friends, is what it's all about.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Austria ...? Nope, Not Austria Just Austin

Turns out the plans couldn't be made and I won't be traveling to Austria this winter. Just an ordinary Christmas here in Austin TX and a secret wish that it was colder here. I almost hate to admit it but the most exciting part of going to Austria was the promise of a taste, just a taste, of a real winter.

When I left Minnesota I swore I'd never grow nostalgic for winter. I went on and on about how much I dislike the cold, about how daunting it is to live where it snows all the damn time, how I would never look back fondly on below zero days and snow up to my eyebrows. And I suppose that all remains true.

Now I'm here in Austin TX and I'm harboring a secret desire that it was colder here. Not the hurts-your-face and freezes-your-eyelashes cold of January in Minnesota. But cold enough to wear all those beautiful scarves and sweaters I want to knit.

I did just fine this Spring and Summer knitting with cotton and bamboo and other warm weather fibers. I was perfectly content, in fact happy, knitting tanks and sleeveless tops. But now it's late Fall and the weather is turning wintry in most places and the current issues of the knitting magazines, and all the blogs in blog land are filled with beautiful winter knits, and I've got a secret nostalgic yen for cold.

I'm not the only one either. Yesterday in my knitting group we dreamily admired several patterns, only to concluded with disappointment "but when would we ever wear it?". I was trying to decide on a yarn to start Flair, and I pet and I cooed over some incredible llama, but concluded "it will be too warm", and settled for cotton, again. It's not that I don't love cotton, we all know that I do, but honestly a touch of alpaca, or a smidge of mohair would be lovely.

In the end, I suppose I feel better having confessed my secret yearnings. I suppose I will continue to knit jackets and sweaters and scarves that I know I will only wear but maybe once a year here in Austin. I suppose I could take up skiing and thereby have a reason to travel to cold and snowy places. I suppose I could knit with rich warm animal fibers and send the finished objects away as gifts to loved ones left in the cold. I suppose we all make sacrifices...

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. And the weather man has forecast a cold front, a big strong cold front. There is a good chance that tomorrow the temperature here in Austin won't get out of the 40's, there's a chance it will feel a little cold just for the day. It will surely be back in the 70's by the weekend. But tomorrow, Thanksgiving Day, it will be cold, and I will wear a warm hand-knit something, and I will be thankful for it. Have a Happy and safe Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Knitting Nightmare and Austria...?

I had a complete failure come off my needles today. I had been working on the Rib and Cable Gaiter from the One Skein book. I was using Blue Sky Alpaca's Alpaca and Silk. I loved the process. Simple to memorize the pattern, a fast little project, a lovely yarn, more cables, a warm winter accessory. And then ...

The Knitting Nightmare

I did the bind off and what to my wondering eyes should appear...? A really big, really floppy, really disappointing finished object. It was simply huge.

So I thought, maybe I can full it a bit, shrink it down just a touch, I've got nothing to lose really. The result: Ruined. It didn't shrink it stretched. And now I have a really really big, really really floppy, really really disappointing, wet, sad, something. Ugh!

On a more cheerful note: Why all the warm wintery accessories when I live in Texas...? Austria. Austria...?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Finished Objects and a Wee Rant about Size

As promised this post has knitting content. Including finished objects, my first cables, a shrug that fits, and a book I love.

I just finished the One Skein Single Cable Scarf. I knit it with the Blue Sky Alpaca's Dyed Cotton. I should mention, if I haven't already, this is quickly becoming my most favorite yarn. It's soft, it feels good, it knits beautifully, and it's grown organically. Yumm.

Got Cotton Cables?

I loved this pattern. Fast, simple, and yes my first go at cables. Who knew it would be so simple to add such great detail. I, for some unknown and silly reason, erroneously had it in my head that cables would be hard. There not. And I'm so pleased that their not that I've gone cable crazy - I've just cast on the Rib and Cable Gaiter from the same book, and the Headline News News Boy Hat from Stitch and Bitch Nation. Give me a couple weeks and I'll be all cabled up.

I also made another of the One Skein Wonder Shrugs and this time it fits. I used the Blue Sky Alpaca's Dyed Cotton again this time, and the same size 6 needles but I made it 3 sizes larger and it fits. Fits just the way I want it to fit in fact. I like this pattern a lot, it knits up fast and makes a sweet little garment. My only complaint, and this is becoming an irritant with lots of patterns, I shouldn't have to knit a double XL, I think of myself as a pretty average sized girl.

my model is half my size

This past week I ordered a copy of Moreno and Singer's Big Girl Knits. I LOVE THIS BOOK! Really, it became an instant favorite. Mostly because I do think of myself as a pretty average sized girl, average with a bit of tummy and booty the size of Texas, but average. And it's more than just a bit tiresome to have to knit the extra large measurements given in most knitting patterns. I don't want to rake the muck, but I'm not, nor have I ever been a size 2, and I personally don't know even a single knitter that is. So what gives? Who wears all those itty-bitty garments...?

Back to the book - I LOVE THIS BOOK! It's smart, and funny and written with wit. It's chuck-full of good advice on really important things like which necklines work for a busty bust, which hem lines look best on a booty like mine, how to emphasize your waist, and draw attention to your curves. It also gives really thorough instructions, including the math, to make any pattern fit you just right. It also has beautiful patterns. The kind of patterns that sent me straight to my Ravelry queue to line 'em all up. If you're a truly big girl, or even an average girl with curves, I highly recommend this book. I for one have got some serious knitting to do, and I look forward to the fit.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Doing My Part to Live a Little Greener

So it's been awhile since I've posted about ways in which I've been doing my part to live a little greener and love my planet a little more, but I have been making changes, some big and some small.

First the big, and really the least interesting. We've just finished upgrading the house, we did a new furnace, A/C, duct work, weatherizing, attic insulation, and a new tank-less hot water heater. The City of Austin and Texas Gas both have some great rebate programs to encourage more efficient energy use, and of course we went with the greenest choices all the way around.

I've gotten serious about the back yard compost pile also. The City of Austin does collect yard waste separately and composts on a large scale, but the kitchen compost had been going in the trash until recently. I was inspired by my neighbor who had stopped by to let the dogs have a romp while I was making a giant pot of soup. As I was about to toss the pile of scraps and peelings she asked if she could have them, stating her compost pile was a little heavy on leaves and needed the nutrients. I let her take that pile home, and have since started my own pile out back. It easy and sort of fun, and since I have every intention of putting in my vegetable garden next spring all that black gold will come in handy.

Lastly, we've made the switch to biodegradable poop bags for the dogs. It may seem small but I've always felt really horrible about the plastic bag consumption in this house. I have always justified it by telling myself that I was recycling the plastic shopping bags by using them to clean up after the dogs. Well no more! I don't accept plastic shopping bags anymore, anywhere and I buy the biodegradable bags for the poop. I feel better about it. I saw on my local news recently that the City of Austin is considering a city wide ban on plastic shopping bags. They have asked retailers to try it on a volunteer basis while they figure it out. We would apparently be the second city in the nation to institute such a ban the other being San Francisco. It's great to live in a city that at least tries to encourage it's citizens to live a little greener and do their part for the planet.

Next post - knitting content.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Frenzy (hardly) of Finished Objects

At last I finished the Montego Bay Scarf, sans fringe. It was the fringe that was holding up the show. The scarf has been knit and blocked for a couple weeks, waiting for me to muster the motivation to add all that fringe. But enough is enough, I wore the scarf around the house yesterday and decided it's perfectly lovely without the fringe. And since it's finally getting to be scarf and sweater wearing weather here in Austin I wove the ends and declared it FIN!

Last week while the other half was in Austria I finished The One Skein Wonder Shrug by Glampyre. I used Blue Sky Alpaca's Dyed Cotton, quickly becoming my favorite yarn. The shrug is cute, and fast to knit. The only trouble is it was also itty-bitty. All is not lost though, I'll give it as a gift to someone much smaller than I, someone who will love it, or at least pretend to, and I'll make myself another a couple sizes larger this time. In fact I've already started.

Have a safe and happy Halloween.

Friday, October 26, 2007

I took the pledge

This morning I took the pledge, the pledge to buy handmade this holiday season and to encourage others to do so also. It wasn't really hard to take this pledge, I buy mostly handmade anyway. Or make things. I do it for myself, and I do it for my gift giving.

I've said it before (right here on this blog) and I'll say it again - I believe in the crafting revolution, I believe that we as crafters, and the people who support them, can create an economy outside of the big box marketplace. I believe everyone should LIVE ARTFULLY and BUY HANDMADE!

Think about it, buying handmade often means getting a higher quality product. Buying handmade means your getting something mostly unique, something that' not quite the same as everyone else's. It also often means buying locally, or at the very least more locally, and that my friends is good for the environment.

So I ask each of you to at a minimum follow the link to The Buy Handmade Consortium, and show your support, buy handmade, if not everything, at least a little bit. Thanks!
I Took The Handmade Pledge!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Pomp and Circumstance

Aaron Johnson (Rescued Mutt no. 3) graduated from Basic Training at the Lee Mannix Center for Canine Behavior this past week. Needless to say I'm proud. He was the youngest pup in his class, he's just 5 months, and pretty much off the curve. And it's not just me who thinks so either, so does the trainer and everyone else in class. He'd have made the honor roll if there was such a thing. Congratulations, Good Boy Aaron.

Obviously I love all my dogs, they are all good dogs, but I love them all for different reasons and in different ways, because they are all very different dogs. For example; Aaron is the smartest, he's also the baby of the family, and therefore the silliest. Layla is the neediest, the neurotic one. She's also the most elegant, and gentlest dog I've ever known. She's a lady. She has a way with making other people and other dogs feel at ease, everyone who meets her loves her. The Mike is the affectionate one, the most attentive and loving. He's the giant lap dog. He's also a complete meat head, which cracks me up.

One thing all my dogs have in common is we train together. Next up for Aaron will be an Honors course and his Canine Good Citizenship Test. Layla and Mike both do Agility and will be trying Rally Obedience after the New Year. Mike has already passed his CGC Test. Way to go Mike! Layla has tried and failed - she is too attentive to the "stranger" and the "strange dog approaching". Mostly I like that she fails the test because she's too sweet, and we'll continue to take the test from time to time, just for fun.

Training isn't just an hour a week for us, it's an everyday thing. Everyday we walk, and every walk is a training opportunity. Everyday we play, and practice, and think together. Everyday we take advantage of whatever opportunity we have to spend quality time together. We do it because it's fun. We do it because it makes me proud and them confident. We do it because it brings us closer together. We do it because a good dog is just that much nicer to be around. We do it because there is nobody I'd rather spend my time with than these three good dogs.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Be the Change: Art Clothing As Expression

As I mentioned ever so briefly in a previous post I am participating in a wearables show at Ripple River Gallery in Minnesota. The show - Be the Change: Art Clothing as Expression opens October 17th with an artist reception on October 20th, and will stay up thru December 9th.

I've known about the show for some time and have had several projects that either I decided were too ordinary, or that I didn't love enough. However, most recently I decided that a shawl of my own design from this bundle of color and delicious fibers was going to be the ticket.

The gathering of colors and fibers

The finished object is not only extra-ordinary, I also love it. The color combination and fibers all worked beautifully together. The shawl has a beautiful hand, and drapes well. It will be a pleasure to wear. This was my contribution to the show.

The shawl close up

The shawl full length

If you happen to be in MN, you should try and find your way to the Ripple River Gallery. This show happens to be just in time for fall colors, and I'm sure will feature many innovative pieces from some very talented artists.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

ETSY TX Crafters Trunk Show

I'll be participating, although not attending, the ETSY TX Crafters Trunk Show at the Etsy Labs in NY City Sept 28-29. See for more details & join in all the fun!!!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Nothing Makes a House Feel Like Home....

Nothing makes a house feel more like home than curtains you've sewn for yourself. Or so said my friend in Berkeley when my friend in Iowa City took me to the fabric store to pick out fabric for curtains 2 years ago when I moved into an apartment that is now 4 dwellings past. (Yes, I moved three times in a year and a half).

I think I must be feeling settled in this little house Austin because I've finally sewn the curtains.

I'm not overly sentimental usually, but sewing the curtains gave me cause to think about said friend in Berkley, whom I knew in Minneapolis, and other said friend in Iowa City, whom I also knew in Minneapolis. I find myself here in Austin, sewing curtains, thinking it's a little bit amazing how far and wide friends can scatter and still stay friends. And how much things can change, but still be sort of the same. And how where you live isn't always home, but sometimes it is.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Minneapolis - From a Knitter's Perspective

A little more on my recent trip back home to Minneapolis, this time from a knitter's perspective. I am a knitter after all.

First up, my knitting. I knew I'd have ample opportunity to knit on this trip. There was the airplane, the two and a half hour car rides, and quality time with my sister, who also knits. I brought all the ingredients for the Blue Sky Alpaca Fitted Tank. A fine choice since Blue Sky Alpacas also calls Minnesota home. I made respectable progress on the tank, finishing the front and a solid 4 inches of ribbing for the back.

I love this project, the pattern is simple without being tedious. And the Blue Sky Alpaca Dyed Cotton is quickly becoming a favorite yarn, it knits up fast, doesn't split, and is amazingly soft in the hand. Delicious.

A side note of irony - the this is really sort of stupid kind of irony - I was not allowed through security at the airport because the hair care products in my carry-on baggage were to large. I had to return to the check-in counter and check my carry-on. I was however allowed to cram my knitting into my purse and sit happily knitting on the aircraft with my pointy, metal knitting needles. hmmm...

I visited the MN Textile Center. Another amazing resource tucked away in Minneapolis. The gallery was a bit sparse. Although there were several pieces in the foyer by Sock Monkey artist Rebbecca Yaker. They involved sock monkeys, blenders, and meat grinders. Just exactly the sort of dark ironic humor I appreciate.

I made a few stash enhancements, although I was very disciplined, and didn't go over board, and only picked up things I couldn't get here in Texas. From the shop at the MN Textile Center I bought one beautiful, and hefty skein of hand-spun yarn by The Cat That Walks on Water. And I picked up a copy of Annie Modesitt's Romantic Hand Knits. A true celebration of style. It was reasoned that carrying books home on the airplane, since I had to my check bags anyway, was cheaper than the shipping charge from Amazon.

I only visited one yarn shop, the one that was my mainstay when I lived in Minneapolis. I was honestly a little disappointed. It's not that it's not a nice yarn store, it is, but it's not Hill Country Weavers. I have a new appreciation for how truly wonderful my LYS is. I told my sister, who has visited me here in Austin and therefore been to Hill Country Weavers, that I was sadly disappointed, and she confirmed I've been rightly spoiled by the inventory at Hill Country. Despite my disappointment, I didn't leave empty handed. I picked up almost 300 yds. of hand dyed soy silk by Two Sisters At Play, another MN vendor. It's gorgeous.

So with a restrained stash enhancement, a new book, a slightly more than half done sweater, and an appreciation for my LYS, I left Minneapolis. A pretty great place from a knitter's perspective.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Minneapolis - The MN Center For Book Arts

I've returned from my first visit to Minneapolis since moving to Austin TX. I remembered Minneapolis was a beautiful city, and a great city, and was only a little amazed at just how pretty it really is. I felt a little nostalgic, and like I missed it a little, but reminded myself that the weather is truly a factor for most of the year. Our visit was over one of the nicest weeks of the year, and I only needed to remind myself that soon it will be cooler here in Austin, and I wont freeze my ass all winter.

In addition to lots and lots of family, and a pleasant run around Lake Nokomis everyday but one, we visited several of my favorite art and craft related places. What else would I do.

The first was the MN Center for Book Arts. An old familiar stumpin' ground for me - prior to my move to Austin I worked in The Shop for years, and was a member of the Artist Co-Op. The MCBA is a rare resource in the world of Book Arts, as well as a beautiful place to visit. There is a bindery, a letterpress print shop, a gallery, and of course The Shop.

The current show in the Gallery space is "We, too, are Book Artists" and features the largest collection of Book Arts by Afro American Book Artists any where in the world. At only 24 artists it seemed a little sad in an ironic way that it is the "largest" collection. The work was mostly political. There were several letterpress printed broadsides that I liked quite a lot, as well as a few books available to "gently handle". I appreciated this not only because it makes art feel more democratic, but also because it is the only real way to interact with a book.

The Shop there at the MCBA has been re-arranged some and was presently well stocked. I took advantage to add to my humble but growing collection of Artists Books. My favorites were two miniatures by artist Jessica Rosenkranz of Headless Press - "Chicken Story" and "30 White Roosters" and a fun little spoof called "How to Care or Your Art". I also picked up a few new zines, including two issues of the letterpress printed zine Ker Bloom, which is also available on Etsy at Artnoose. And a booklet titled "Notta Lotta Love Stories" by Evil Twin Publications, it is absolutely some of the best writing I've had the pleasure to read in a long time.

I also took advantage of the bindery and cut myself an ample supply of Davey Board for journal making. If I had been in Minneapolis longer than the 6 short days I would have loved to spent some time printing on one of the old Vandercook Proof Presses. But time was limited , as it always is on vacations.

Housed in a restored warehouse space just one block from the river the architecture alone is reason enough, but of course not the only reason to visit the MCBA, next time you find yourself in my pretty, pretty home town.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

"a blog mostly about knitting, but also about reading, shelter mutts, and other assorted craftiness"

There's lots of ground to cover since my last post, seems I've been absent from blog land lately only managing a post about once a week. As my last post noted there's a new baby in the house, and new babies require lots, and lots, of attention. So while I have managed to keep up with my half dozen or so ongoing projects, and with Aaron (just barely), I have not, shamefully, been able to keep current on my blog.

However, this morning I spent a little more than 2 hours running all three dogs ragged, and now they are sound asleep on the office floor. (Yup, nothing makes me happier than all my dogs scattered about the office resting peaceful, it's truly a lovely thing.) And so I take a deep breath and begin a much overdue blog post.

On the knitting front: I started and stopped, and started again on the Josephine Top from the Summer Issue of Interweave Knits. Yesterday at my knitting group I quit the dang thing for good, and I frogged my meager 6 rows of Josephine. It's too bad really because it is a lovely garment, I just can't seem to get it going. It's the lace thing, every row requires no interruptions, I always have to have the pattern in front of me, and I just don't have the luxury of that much quite time, remember I've got three young dogs, and so I end up not working on it at all. So frogged! I guess I'm just not a lace knitter.

I have been making progress on the Montego Bay Scarf. That pattern I can memorize, and if I'm distracted momentarily it's no big deal, I can pick up and know where I left off. I like that. I also impulsively whipped off an Amanda's Squatty Sidekick purse, all that's left is the fulling, which I intend to do just as soon as the laundry is caught up.

On to reading; I've joined a new Book Club, one that actually reads books. I love my old book club, but as I mentioned previously it tends to be more of a "wine and eating" club, which I've got no problem with. The old book club seems also to have fizzled on getting together regularly. I miss the old book club and will definitely join them for some "wine and eating" should they manage a meeting.

The new book club actually reads books, and talks about them at their regular meetings. They also eat and drink, but that seems to be secondary to the reading. When I attended my first meeting they had just read "The Time Traveler's Wife", a book that has been on my list for awhile now and one of the members was kind enough to loan me her copy, which I started and intend to finish just as soon as I read this month's selection. This month's selection is "Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl". I'm not sure how it was selected but it's one I somehow got a BA in English without having read. I also just read "Water For Elephants" - I mention this only as a way of recommendation, it's a story well worth reading.

As for other craftiness, I've been binding journals, mostly for my Etsy shop. I seem to have set aside the Book Arts for knitting, and other necessities of life, but lately I've been making the time again. I've been working with my favorite sewn binding for hardcovers, the chain stitch. There is something tedious and repetitive about book binding, not unlike knitting, and that appeals to me very much. I've always enjoyed edition work.

And finally as for the shelter mutts: I've already pretty much covered that in the last few posts. The mutts are all well, and beautiful.

So that's the catch up post, pat your self on the back and resume breathing if you made it through this long, windy post. I'm off to Minneapolis, the first trip "home" since moving to Austin, and so I'll be absent again for another week or so. When I return I'll have finished objects from airplane knitting, tales of yarn store visits and stash enhancements, and news from both the MN Center for Book Arts and the MN Textile Center. Until then...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The New Baby In The House

There's a new baby in the house. He was my second foster for Blue Dog Rescue, he was born to a stray who had the good sense to stash her litter in a safe place, under a boat. Blue Dog Rescue won mom's trust and saved the litter. They all got boating names and foster homes. This little guy was called "Johnson". It only took a few days before I realized I could never let him go. He's what we call in the rescue world a "failed foster". The adoption is final, I'll be keeping "Johnson" forever. Because I come from Minnesota where everyone is named either Johnson or Larson, and my Mother's maiden name was Johnson, and my sister's married name is Johnson, and my ex-father-in-law is named Johnson, we won't be keeping that name.

I've named him Aaron. Aaron Johnson. He's a special little dog - smart, beautiful, happy, and with eyebrows to die for. He fits in beautifully with the rest of my small pack. He looks up to Mike, who will be an excellent role model. He's also the kind of spunky playmate Layla loves, while always respecting her dainty nature. I of course adore him. It was a perfect match.

The pack is complete. And happy. I will only be doing short-term respite fostering from now on, but I will continue to volunteer with Blue Dog and I don't feel bad about that. Welcome to the pack Aaron Johnson.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Where Have I Been

Gosh, you turn around and next thing it's been more than a week since you've posted to the blog. How does it happen...? Where have I been... ?

There was the new giant tattoo. It's my fifth tattoo, and for sure the most painful. It's going to be beautiful, but right now it's still too nasty to photograph. And too achy to love. And too sun sensitive to be outdoors. And not totally finished. There is still a few details to be added, in about a month when it's healed. I'm not looking forward to it.

There was the first ever foster dog for the rescue group I volunteer for. An experience I won't soon forget. She's a beautiful little girl, and extremely bright, and she make the cutest little pig noises, but to say she has issues is an understatement. It's not her fault, she's been through a lot, so I forgive her. But I'm not too sad to see her go. She's found a forever home, and will join them tonight. I hope she can try to be a good girl, and I hope they are as smitten with her as they seem, and grow to love her very much.

There's been knitting, some, not enough. I missed my Sit and Knit for the tattoo. I cast on the Montego Bay Scarf, not enough progress to photograph. I cast on The Ruffles and Ridges shawl, or something like it, I'm modifying, but not enough progress to photograph. And I whipped off a bag and a bucket hat for fulling, but haven't fulled just yet.

There is Habu in the wings. The LYS got a new order of Habu Textile Kits, so I wisely snatched up the Kushu Kushu Scarf and the Paper Moire and Silk Boucle Jacket so I could get the colors I want. I haven't even thought of casting on yet.

There was a flurry of doggie day care, play dates, training classes, adoption days, home visits and agility courses, for my own dogs and the foster. The mutts run me ragged, makes me feel like a soccer mom, without the suburbs and the mini van. Just a sweet neighborhood, a VW Golf, and lots of dog hair and exercise. I'm not complaining. Really.

There is the new button press. I finally broke down and got a button press off ebay. It gives me an excuse for all the ephemeral bits, pieces, and scraps I keep saving. As well as an outlet for some small graphic projects. You can see what I've been up to so far at my Etsy shop.

And there it is - you spin yourself around a few times, and a week flies by. Now it's time to get back to all of it, and do it all again.

Friday, July 20, 2007

D-U-N-N DONE! Done Something for the First Time

My Neighbor and I have decided to host a block party for National Night Out, no big thing really just some family friendly beverages, ginger snaps, and a chance to meet our neighbors. Yesterday we went door to door to leave invites for people, and as we did we chatted, mostly about the fact that she is training to do a Half Iron-Man Triathlon.

One of the things she said as we walked stuck with me. She said "It's been a long time since I've done anything for the first time." It got me to thinking about doing things for the first time. There's a certain excitement that only happens the first time, even if you do those things again. If you do them again it's because you love them, or at least sort of enjoyed yourself, but the first time, that's a thrill. It got me thinking about things I've done for the first time, especially things I've done lately for the first time, and if indeed I did things for the first time often enough.

The Block party will be a first. In fact, moving to Austin was the first time I have ever lived anywhere other than Minneapolis. My recent trip to San Antonio was a first. I'd not been there before, and was not sure what to expect. Granted, it's not a triathlon, but I have, in fact done that also.

That's me post-race, in front of the then LYS. The store happened to be along the race course and the yarnies so graciously cheered me on, that I went back for a photo. I did the Triathlon for the thrill of it for sure. I wasn't sure I could, I wasn't sure I'd finish, I was pretty sure I wasn't going to drown, and it was the excitement of not knowing that made it so fun.

I was thinking about all this while I did finishing work on Sizzle. And that too is a first. My first hand knit garment. I've done lots of accessories, but never clothing. Again, it's not a triathlon, but it was still a little thrilling. Every week I'd say to the ladies at my Sit and Knit, "...I hope it fits", never sure that it would, and enticed by the fact that it would probably be beautiful, but it might not. In the end the shirt fits, literally, and it's mostly beautiful, and I'll actually wear it. It makes me a little proud.

I think the important thing about doing stuff for the first time is the thrill. The thrill of anticipation and not knowing for sure what to expect. The risk that it might suck - the pride in the accomplishment even if it does, and the new found passion if it doesn't. Thrills come in all sizes. We can't all be adrenalin junkies, we can't all run the Iron Man, and we can't all knit wedding gowns. But we can, and should, all experience the thrill of doing something, anything, for the first time.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Ravelry and a Frogged Tank

Sweet! I finally got my invitation to Ravelry. If you haven't heard it's an online community for knitters, crocheters, and yarnies. It hasn't fully launch yet, but is up and running with volunteer testers. You can still get on a list to be invited as a tester.

I've been poking around, trying to find my way, and so far I think I love it. You get a notebook to track your projects, you can put future projects on a queue, you can track your stash, your needles, and you library. There are also the usual friends, forums, and groups features that you typically find in cyberspace. The only draw back I've found so far is it seems a bit daunting to add my stash. Over all though I quite pleased to be a part of the community.

On another note... I finally frogged the orange Tank Top I've had hidden away since early Spring. It's an easy pattern from the One Skein Book, and I was working with Elsebeth Lavold Hempathy, which I love, but I just lost interest. I guess mostly because I just don't need another tank. So I frogged!

I'll reclaim the yarn for a future project. I'm think the Cast Off Sweater in The Natural Knitter.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Live from The Landing...

I'm back from a long, soggy, Holiday weekend in San Antonio. We did absolutely nothing to celebrate the 4th of July here in Austin. Too wet, Zilker Park was underwater so no fireworks, and no symphony orchestra. Instead we stayed home and cursed the rain.

On Thursday we began our long weekend away in San Antonio. It was nice, despite the continued rain. I bought a cowboy hat to keep myself a little dry, and we walked for miles, in the rain. We walked the Riverwalk, we saw the Alamo, the Spanish Governor's Palace, and the San Fernando Cathedral. The Alamo was jammed full of people, and was mostly just boring. The Spanish Governor Palace is a much better bet, we were the only people there and it's filled with great antiques and has a fabulous courtyard. The cathedral is incredible, and I'm told the oldest building in all of Texas.

The highlight of the trip, by a million miles, was seeing The Jim Cullum Jazz Band at The Landing. When I lived in Minneapolis the Public Radio Affiliate aired "Live from the Landing, on San Antonio's Historic Riverwalk, it's The Jim Cullum Jazz Band..." every Sunday evening at 5PM. I rarely missed a show for years. Like people get hooked on "must see TV", I was hooked on a radio show. I'd plan my weekend around catching the show.

I was thrilled to get a chance to see it all happen in person. They weren't recording that night, just playing. I was surprised by the size of The Landing, in my mind it was an old classy theater. In reality, it's a very modest little jazz club with a full bar and sandwiches. In my mind the tickets were expensive. In reality it's a $6 cover charge. And I'd venture a bet that it's the best $6 you can spend in all of San Antonio. The band is a bunch of old guys, very old school with suit coats and ties, and the chops to play 4 full sets.

I took full advantage of the opportunity and purchased two CDs, and had them both autographed by Jim Cullum. I'm not much of a "fan" when it comes to TV or Hollywood personalities, but I admit I was a little star-struck for old Jim Cullum. He's a bit curmudgeonly, wears a bow-tie, has messy hair, and has duct tape on his coronet. He was very gracious about the autographs, and chuckled when I told him I used to listen every Sunday Night at 5.

If you ever find yourself in San Antonio, and you want to hear a bunch of old guys play great jazz, pay the six bucks at The Landing. And if you aren't down San Antonio way, check your local NPR listings, tune in, and turn the radio up. You'll be glad you did.

On a little side note: It has finally stopped raining here in Texas, today the sun has shone. A few stats I found interesting: We've had 34.8" of rain so far this year, that's an all time record. Until today we had 8 consecutive days of rain. It has rained 42 of the last 70 days. That's a lot of rain, and that's global warming my friends.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Texas Floods and Knitting Delights

It's raining down here in Texas! And I mean like "40 days and 40 nights" raining, like "Texas Floods" raining, like "when will it ever stop fracking raining" raining. I've been putting off several progress photos, and therefore several blog posts in hopes that I'd be able to take the pictures in natural light. They're so much nicer that way. But I can't get outside with the camera because it never stops raining for longer than 2 minutes. I guess in some ways the rain is good, lake levels are back where they should be, and it's no longer considered a drought. On the other hand, all this rain is from disturbances in the Gulf of Mexico which means an early start to the hurricane season, and that, my friends, is global warming.

I don't wish to be a kill-joy and bring y'all down with talk of our depleted ozone, instead, if y'all will bear with the artificial lighting, I've got photos to share and I'll put off the progress reports no longer.

First up, as I mentioned in yesterday's post I attended a workshop at the LYS over the weekend. I did some stash building during said workshop with the intent of pushing my color boundaries. I started by picking out this skein of Kollage Dreamy, not a colorway I would usually pick, but I loved it. Then I added to the stash, and ended up with this little bundle of love. It will become a shawl someday. There's some 2nd Time Cotton in there, some Habu, some Wick, and some Cotton Twist.

At my Tuesday afternoon knitting group I had a small "tada!". I've completed the back of Sizzle. It sits on stitch holders waiting for the front. I'm just two rows into the front, but soon damn it, soon...Did I mention I love, love, love the seed stitch at the hem? Well, I do. I also love the Berroco Cotton Twist I'm knitting it with.

Also there is slow but sure progress on the Branching Out Lace Scarf from Knitty. I'm working it in a Lace weight Merino from Fearless Fibers.

And finally as I think I stated earlier, when I get tired of the lace pattern and the sweater, I experiment with the make-it-up-as-you-go lariats. Mostly I'm doing this with that Habu I got a few weeks back. I love the textures of these yarns.

So there you have the progress photos, the on-needles shots, the whips revealed. Proof positive that I really do knit. If it ever stops raining I will be able to take some photos out in the natural light, I may even knit outside, wearing SPF 50 of course, for fear of that depleted ozone...

And one last thing, there's an easy-to-enter contest going on over at Skeins Her Way, when you enter tell her Right Out Loud Sent you, I want that Suri Merino. Thanks!