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Bad with Zippers

My bike. It has a white frame.I bought a bike!I love my bike. We go places. I ride Gertrude (that’s her name) to work, the store, lunch, and many other adventures. We are grand friends.As you can see, Gertrude has a rack (but no basket) so that she can carry stuff. Really, the only thing I need to strap to the rack is my bag – the problem is that my bag is large and I was worried about spills. Thus, I had to bring out the sewing machine and install a zipper.This was difficult.And the results were not perfect by any measure.But it worked. When the zipper is closed, nothing can escape!The end.

The Spice Conundrum

My friends, I enjoy cooking. It is quite fun and usually results in very, very delicious rewards. If you haven’t tried this hobby, I highly recommend it.Now. When someone cooks often – and when many of those recipes are non-midwestern fare, one quickly amasses a very large spice collection. The keeping and storage of these spices can become quite a conundrum.  Most spice racks fit about 25 spices. At the time that I started looking into solutions for my growing collection, I had 35 spices. Why would I buy a spice rack if I couldn’t fit all of my spices?!? What would the point of that be?After lots of searching online, I decided on these cute little tins:IMG_6453.JPGAren’t they perfect?Why no, I did not pay $2-3 each for these (as I’ve often seen them priced). Instead, I bought them from this website for a little less than 75 cents each (though shipping sucked. a lot.)I love the windows – and how you can see through them to the colorful/beautiful spices below.IMG_6455.jpgBut once I bought a BUNCH of these, I found myself in a new conundrum. How should I store them?Ideally, I wanted a shallow shelf to hang on my wall with these lined up.But, let me tell you, there are no shallow shelf stores. Nor are there shallow shelves that show up in the thrift stores with any sort of regularity. The obvious solution would be to build one – but I live in an apartment and I have no access to power tools. That would have definitely been a HUGE weekend project for something so simple.I resolved myself to storing these stacked on my counter for the interim. It bothered me that they had no home… but there was nothing I could do.And then. One day. I was driving down the road, stopped at a stoplight, smiling to myself about the Girl Scout cookies I had just bought. When suddenly – I noticed what looked like a shallow shelf leaning against the stoplight.In a quick dash, in the frigid air, I grabbed the shallow shelf and it was mine. And quite perfect. Check it out:

IMG_6456.jpg

Yup. I have a LOT of spices.

Which brings upon the final conundrum: Why the heck does this shelf have one leg longer than the other?I know it’s hard to tell from the photo – but it was clearly manufactured like this – the ends are rounded and finished. I’m open to your guesses.

Time for Crafts

IMG_5574.JPGI made some pillows!!! And it was super easy!I saw some gorgeous Orla Kiely textiles at Target yesterday and in a crafty binge of productivity, decided to make some pillows for my couch.  I didn’t realize just how much my couch needed some good throw pillows until my delightful nap this afternoon. I would say the napability quotient has significantly improved.I was particularly proud of how I finished the orange one (formerly, a long rectangular dishtowel):Orange PillowI do so love when I get to use some buttons!Anyway, it was super, super easy.And they are going to work perfectly well with the blanket that I’m working on! I swear, some of the colors are exactly the same.Here’s a quick tutorial for the ones that started out as placemats (much easier to make if you don’t have a sewing machine). It was so easy that words aren’t even needed – the photos do all the explanation.Making a Pillow*Crafty bonus: I pilfered the stuffing from old/extra pillows. Yay for re-using what I have! Good for the earth and my wallet.

Moving right along (da da dum, da da dum)

Movinnnnn’ riggggght alooooong….Ok. Um. Update: I graduated. I have a Masters degree!I am done with school (until I get a Ph.D. or maybe something else. This definitely wasn’t my last degree).And I’m knitting. Mindless garter stitch. Behold… something resembling a blanket:IMG_5488.JPGI am currently planning for 30 squares. This is 12. I fear that I am nearing the point where the space and time continuum slows and I lose steam. I wish you could feel how soft it is. Because it’s Calmer and very awesome.Also: Important announcement:Hopefully, this blog is going to be moving and shaking again. Specifically, it’s going to be interesting. And semi-regularly updated. And full (full) of useful information, tutorials and some patterns now and then.For real.So stay tuned.

A Semester of Fortunes

IMG_5301.JPGSometimes, I can be a little bit superstitious.Heading into my job search, and a semester that I knew was going to be pretty rough, I somehow ended up with a rule that everytime it was reasonably possible, I HAD to eat a fortune cookie. I don’t know how many this ended up being, but there were a few in particular that definitely marked my semester… right up through my job news (Yes, I have one)!“Prepare yourself for a big change of events in your personal life.”This one showed up in my dessert a few days before my trip to Seattle.  Getting out of the midwest was nice and definitely a good change of scenery that reminded me that I need to get away from my job now and then. The vacation was definitely needed.“You will either be happy over a proposition offered or a new job.”This one came a few days before my first job offer… and right about when I got a call about my final on-campus interview.“A wish will be granted after a long delay.”I had this one at breakfast on Thursday (they have fortune cookies in the food court. Which means that since it was reasonably possible, I had to eat them at every visit, even breakfast).  This one was frustratingly true. I was waiting to hear from the University of Northern Colorado. I’d had a great campus visit on Monday, sought advice from mentors, and they’d checked my references-with every second, I was truly wishing that my phone would ring.Soon, it was time for me to go to knitting group (7 pm) and I had just about resigned myself to NOT going in favor of moping in front of the TV… when my phone rang. A few minutes later, I had the job offer (start date: July 1)!“Everything will now come your way.”And this is going to be the last of the fortunes… This one was from lunch on Friday. I think it means I’m on the right path. That I’ve got things figured out (for now, at least).

There oughta be a law

It’s a slippery slope.  And I’m here to try to save you.  Seriously.  I am the example of what can happen to you.  I mean, look what I’m doing now.  Well, a little peek for now:IMG_5160.JPGMmmmn.  Squrshy.I know.  Chemgrrl said it best when she saw it at knitting group and said “Are you knitting ANOTHER blanket?!?”I could only nod my head.It’s sooo hard to stop.  It’s an addiction, I tell you.  Really, I’m just trying to protect you.  Don’t make the same mistakes I did.Really.  Unsubscribe from the Mason Dixon Ladies.  Do not read the January One archives because her blankets and photography are a dangerous combination.  And if you’re serious, you should close out of your browser now.  Before you read anymore here.I don’t want to be responsible for your addiction.   I mean look how pretty this looks:IMG_5163.JPGLook!  It has some red in it!  Just the right amout.  Yoiks. You want proof of how badly I’m addicted to blankets?  Really?Well, first there was the giant blanket of blue log cabin-y goodness.Then, I decided to make a mitered square blanket (which was recently finished btw.  Photos to follow soon).And from there followed the need to blanket others.  Including my sister.  I crocheted that one.  My parents are next in line.And then I felt like starting a blanket to document my job search.  Something very luxurious.  Inspired by the Buncha Squares blanket (WARNING.  Blanket content, click at own risk. – scroll to the Aug. 14th entry to see the one I’m talking about).IMG_5157.JPGIsn’t it pretty?  I love it.  It’s green.  And log cabin-ey.  And small.  And portable.It’s my own Buncha Squares-inspired blanket – but I think I’m going to call it the “Choose your own Adventure Blanket” – it fits with graduating with a Masters, getting a new job, moving to a new state, and all sorts of other fun stuff that I’m up to.  ‘Cause I’m making this all up as I go.I need a summer blanket for when my wool log cabin is too warm, right?Oh.  I should take this opportunity to say that I’m knitting this blanket out of Rowan Calmer.IMG_5162.JPGHere are the rulez (which are made to be broken) in case you’re interested:

  1. I can do whatever I want for the center 5 colors.  Really.  Whatever.  And even if I think it looks like barf at first, it always looks so good once it’s framed in the creams.
  2. The outside 8 blocks have to be added opposite to opposite (not rotating around – ie courthouse steps style) and they must be in established cream/white pattern.  1/2 the blocks will have white as last two strips, and 1/2 will have cream as the last two strips.
  3. Every 3rd square gets to have the fun red strip in between two of the outside rows.
  4. This blanket has to be fun.  No frustration or anger or stress.
  5. I can’t plan too far ahead.  Other than by doing the weight thing and knowing ahead of time that I’ll need 3 more balls each in the two creams. Hrmn.  But I probably won’t need them for a long time. So I’m not worrying about that now (see rule #4).
  6. Since green is my favorite color, it’s probably ok if it takes the front seat in more than one square (see rule #4 and rule #5).

On epic projects…

I had this crazy idea a few weeks ago.  That since I’d finished an epic sweater project last semester, I could finish an epic sweater project this semester.  Because my unpaid intership, job, classes and job search weren’t enough.Anyway, over Thanksgiving break, I bought the yarn and then on the eve of the new year, I cast on for the epic project.  The sweater in question?  Venezia.IMG_4795.JPGCertainly a much easier project than the one I knit last semester right?  Haha.  I kid.I haven’t worked on it for like a month… but I did about 8 rounds last night and I think I can commit to doing a little bit each day.  Want to see the progress?IMG_5128.JPGIsn’t sooooo pretty that you want to eat it up?  I know.  Me too.  Last semester, I spoke of the sweater as a hot affair.  Venezia doesn’t lend itself to such wanton adjectives.No.  Venezia is a state of mind.  It’s my escape.  My daily vacation… away from my frustrating students and …. everything.  It’s the land far far away where it’s just me, some wool and a pattern that requires me to look at the chart every 8 stitches or so.  Grrr.

Deep Forest, A New Pattern

IMG_5045.JPGThere is this point in the seasons when the trees are bare (or mostly bare) and you can see deep into the wood.  The light strikes across the tress and branches, casting a dark lacey web of shadows across the forest floor and on any visitors walking the paths.  I was intrigued by these shadows and the idea of a dark, dramatic lace when I designed this scarf.This is a pretty straight-forward pattern, with dramatic results.  You can knit it large, or you can knit it small – giving you a choice of a shawl or a scarf.The best part:  I designed it to be knit with sock yarn!  Its a great way to take on the shape and techniques of a shawl without working with super-fine yarn.  You can use sock yarn in just about any yardage – This is size small, knit with just 315 yards of Claudia Handpainted Fingering Yarn.IMG_5082.jpgI was also inspired by the abbey where my Aunt lives.  They do good works.  And make candy (to fund the good works).  The most delicious, incredible, sinful, amazing candy known to life.  But they need some help.  Building a bigger kitchen – so they can make more delicious candy.  You can read more about this here.Anyway.  20% of the income made from this scarf will be donated to the building of this new kitchen.IMG_5051.JPGThe details:Deep Forest Scarf/Shawl (Ravelry Link)Requires:  315 (360, 395) yards of fingering weight yarnNeedle:  Something that gives you good gauge.  I used US 6.$5.75So.  Onward.  Bring out those mountains of sock yarn.  And knit on!  Save the candy kitchen!

When the end is only the beginning…

Goodness, this one was a long time coming. But I finally finished. Finally.IMG_4778.JPGlets call this photo “artsy” instead of blurry.This project was an ever constant source of both pride and annoyance in my life for a long 4 months. When I started her, I joked about how she was this hot affair that I could not put down – an affair that I was sneaking in to meetings and squeezing into quick moments in the corner and between social engagements. Well, the scandalous affair is over. We’ve made it official (but not Facebook official. I don’t need my former high school classmates and distant family thinking differently of me).I’m officially in love with this sweater. And it’s real love. The kind of love that you curl up with on a cold fall evening. The kind of love that you enjoy showing off and bragging about to your best friends. The kind of love that doesn’t care if you’re wearing your holiday best or making a run to the pharmacy without a bra on. The kind of love that survives it’s turmoils and frustrations, only to come out better on the other side. In 50 years, I’ll invite you to the anniversary party.IMG_4814.JPGWhat I like:

  • The color. There were a few weeks where I hated it (I’d been looking at it long enough), but I just cannot go wrong with green.
  • The cost. I used some Patons Classic Merino – 6 balls at 5 bucks each makes this a nice, huge affordable piece of knitting.
  • The drape and usefulness. A few weeks ago, I bought an open cardigan from Target to throw on when I’m chilled or running outside for a quick bit. Now, I reach for the cardigan I made.
  • The addition of the buttons. So I can close it if I want to.
  • That my knitting group loved it. And I may have even inspired someone else to knit one. That’s always the test in my book. Usually, I’m the one following someone.

What I don’t like:

  • The errata. So confusing.
  • The spacing of the sleeve holes. They’re too far apart in my book. And I don’t think I’m the only one who experienced this, you can see similar on other ravelry projects. Here’s a photo to illustrate. The back is just too wide
  • not a boob shot

  • I don’t like the way that people don’t believe I actually knit it (kidding).
  • I don’t like the sleeve caps. I ended up cutting mine short (I only short rowed 2/3 the stitches) but placing them were written.
  • I also had issues with the way that the seed stitch triangles were on the front of the sleeve. I ended up decreasing my front triangles at a rate 1.5 times faster than the triangle on the back side.

Lots of technical stuff and tips after the jump, including more on the buttons (in case you too want true love): Read more »

Sock Block

A few weeks ago, one of my dear friends saw all of my unfinished projects and significantly guilted me about them… so much so that I finished all but one of my on-the-needles socks (and that one is the second to one that’s been lingering a LONG time). Which leaves me with 7 single socks. Seven. Luckily, guess what I got for Christmas?My Father Made me sock blockersMy dad made me some sock blockers!!! Yay! And they’re the perfect size… and the perfect amount because if you include the the two sock blockers I had prior…all my sock blockersI have exactly enough blockers to nicely display each of my seven single socks… which, when nicely displayed like such, comprise a portion of what is called my “guilt” board. It’s a bulletin board that displays each of the “singles” that are waiting for their mate. The more pretty and appealing that they look, the more I will hopefully want to finish them and get them on my feet. OOH – and I have a new rule – no more socks can be started unless there is an “empty” blocker it can hang on when it’s done. The problem?Mitten CuffI’ve got a thing for mittens lately. And no mitten blockers to restrict me.