4/30/2006

Spring at Last

Clear Skies and temperatues in the high 60's had been predicted all week. As so often the case the forcast was horribly wrong...low 50's and heavy fog. But today, today the promised spring weather came at last. Beautiful clear blue skies, warm sun with just the slightest hint of cool breeze. The type of day that reminds me that yes indeed, I do live in California, and yes Spring (with a capital S) is here.

So what did we do with our beautiful day? We played at the beach, along with about 500 other people. This was Blu's first time at the ocean, and she found it very exciting! Lots of bouncing up and down and giggly talking at the waves. It was nice to watch her experience the beach for the first time, although I'm sure that she will enjoy it more when she can move around more.

What else did we do?? well, we made eggs florentine for breakfast. That was delicious. And I made chocolate chip cookies tonight for dessert, yum! we also polished off the last of a box of
chocolates from cocabella and started on the one that we picked out yesterday.















In my opinion Cocabella is the best Chocolate store in San Franicsco. They carry chocolates from 12 different counties and some of the most origianl and decadent! flavors around. A couple of my favorite pieces are: the dark chocolate with passionfruit ganache, dark chocolate with a whole prune stuffed with marzipan and the strawberry balsamic truffle.

I knitted quite a bit as well, several inches on a new project - which I will talk about next time. And the pocket tops and collar on Blu's Cable Jacket. I expect I'll finish that tomarrow. At last!

Finally the Blu pic of the day. She is happy spring is here too!

4/27/2006

Practicality is subjective

How practical an item is, is definately in the eye of the beholder. To me: this is a pincushion.















To Blu, this is a chew toy. Which is the more useful? Probably the chew toy.















Apologies for the crappy pics. As you can plainly see, I'm still using the camera phone. Fear not though, the end is near. May 10th. The day on which this is released. I am waiting with baited breath.

The pincube was inspired by a Japanese patchwork craftbook that I saw this morning in Kinokuniya. It took all of about 35 minutes to make. Hint: I see many more of these in my future. The fabric is little sample bits of some Amy Butler Charm, and a BackTack 3 contender. I rather like the floral stripe combination, but I'm not decided yet.

4/25/2006

Frankenkitty















May I present Frankenkitty - brought to life with stuff, fluff, thread and cloth. He is my BackTack 3 prototype, and surprisingly wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be. (Cheated a bit, he's half machine stitched, half hand stitched - so much for learning to machine sew.) I think that I could actually pull this off, although I am glad I practiced. The hardest part was turning it inside out, though some of the difficulty may have been the remnent I was using. I think that it was a very 'open' weave and the stitches turn inside out really easy and fall apart. I'm hoping that with a tighter weave, and maybe an adjustment of tension it will be better. and maybe some better quality stuffing, he's a little lumpy in spots and I like a nice firm softie. But in all not so bad huh? I received my back tack matchups last week and am very excited to see what everyone comes up with. I think that its amazing that there is such a common need for more creative endevors that hordes of people sign up to send little things all over the globe. and speaking of little things....what do I send along with the stuffie??? It seems there is all this talk and expectations of extras, and I'd like to send something but what? I must think on it.

Thank you to everyone that emailed me on Blu's Spots. She is doing better and better everyday. and now looks only mildly polkadotted!

4/22/2006

In which we have a weekend with more chicken pox, and less sleep















This is what Blu-chan looked like on Saturday. Luckily, that was about the worst of it. Today it is much better, the sores are mostly little scabs now and she no longer has any fever. But it was a very boring and sleepless weekend for us all.















However all that time on the couch meant that I finished the second sleeve of the Cable Jacket. Now all that I have to do is sew up seams, attach sleeves, and knit a collar. Oh, and find some buttons. I guess thats quite a bit, isn't it? It always seems to me that once you finish the second sleeve of a piece that its basically finished, but thats not really true. There is always alot of finishing to be done, and then blocking, and darning in ends....well, I'll post a picture when its all done. I'm in the process of swatching two different things right now, and whichever I finish first will be the next project to be started.

4/21/2006

Chicken Pox=1. me=0















The chicken pox is kicking our ass. We spent a very fretful night last evening. Blu didn't want to do anything, not eat, play or sleep...she just fussed and sat dazedly in Pete's arms as he walked around with her in circles. This morning was more of the same, little whimpers and half hearted playing. I feel very sorry for her, she's so little and has so many spots! they are even on her eyelids. This picture is from yesterday, so it show nowhere near the amount of spots now. We are glad that this is a mild case, I don't think that I could take it if it wasn't.



So not much crafting going on around here. I've actually been doing quite a bit of studying, looking at flashcards while I nurse the baby in bed. Making flashcards is a mindlessly soothing activity for me. I've made so many hundreds, that I can just run on autopilot and make them rather fast. Its also rather nostolgic, reminds me of time spent last year cramming with my friends right before tests and secreting myself in the library until 1Am the night before Kanji midterms.

After the baby was born I sort of lost my drive to study, and it felt like all the Japanese that I knew floated out of my head. It was disheartening to feel that I could lose it so fast, after studying so long and hard. But now I seem to have found some new energy and am working again in ernest. Although I can't meet with my tutor everyweek, I try to cover the chapters she assigned and just keep going. I think some of this new momentum is from finding blogs of other people learning Japanese, and reading about their struggle. Just this morning, looking at the Back-Tack 3 roster I found Red Swirl, who is a crafter and has the most beautiful 'a' characters that I think that I've seen. Mine suck in comparison, but I write illegibly in both japanese and english, so its not like thats surprising.

I guess its not true that I haven't been doing anything. I finished the main body of the Cable Jacket, and have about 5 inches of Sleeve #1. It turned out rather well, a couple of wonky bits but I'll discuss those when I finish. Stay tuned!

4/19/2006

Spots

It started yesterday. One on her head, one on her thigh. By this morning the little blisters were popping up all over. The back of her head is covered, her diaper area, the backs of her knees. Everytime I look there are more of them, yet she seems blissfuly unaffected by the change in her skin.
Chicken Pox. It took 4 doctors to arrive at this concensus. They hmm-ed over her dotted skin, while she giggled and smiled; pleased with the simultaneous attention of 5 adults. An unusually young, and unusually mild case they said. Its rather uncommon now, due to the vaccine, but apparently there is an outbreak in San Francisco right now. I bet they are kicking themselves since they let us sit in the waiting room for 20 minutes. As we left, a sign on our door "do not use this room". Secreted contagiously out the back entrance, regulated home to sit inside with our spots. Tomarrows 4 month shots will have to wait. And she still smiles at me, with a spotted face.

4/18/2006

Coffee Cozy redux - the pattern

Wow. I never would have expected people to actually think that my little cozy was cool. I actually felt kinda bad for entering this because it was so quick to make - and not nearly as cool as some of the other entrants, everyday panties? Wow. But it was fun, and it used up the end of a ball of yarn. Which is good, cause those little leftover bits tend to accumulate and hound you until uses are found for them. So I didn't think that this deserved a pattern, but it was requested - and how could I refuse a commenter?- so here it is:

The Coffee Cozy:

gauge: whatever you like -
i used 6 st/ 1 inch on size 8 needles (this was the original project gauge)
Needles: size 5 dpns - again whatever you like to fit measurements
Optional: crochet hook and contrasting yarn for embellishments

I'll spare you the math, but if your interested the number of stitches cast on is simply a reflection of gauge versus desired circumference - minus 20% for ribbing. So if you use a different gauge/needles adjust accordingly

Instructions:
Cast on 40 stitches loosely. Divide among dpns, and join (careful not to twist).
Knit in rib (k2, p2) until desired length. - Mine was approx. 3 1/2 inches but I only ever drink small cups of coffee, if you are a grande or vente kinda person knit longer.
Bind off loosely.
Weave in ends.

Decorate as suits your fancy. or if you want a handle....

Handle:
cast on 4 sts on dpn.
knit across 1 row. Do not turn work
knit again right side pulling yarn across back of work.
This starts the i-cord.
knit in this manner (trying to maintain even tension) until slightly longer than cozy.
Bind off.
sew both ends to edges of cozy and bind off ends.

As for the flower...
I don't know how to crochet. Sorry. I taught myself what I needed to in order make the flower, using an online tutorial - I heart internet tutorials by the way.
I'm very sure that anybody can do better than this. So go wild if you know how.



And there you have it, now go make your own! And if you do send me a photo, ok?

4/16/2006

Coffee Cozy


whipup


This is a little cozy that I made over the weekend for the first Whipup sponsered WhipLash comp. with the theme "everyday creativity".


My original idea was for something to keep bottles warm,
but then I thought of how many times I'd been to a coffee shop and they'd run out of those java jackets. So I made my own. Good for the enviornment, uses stash yarn and super easy to boot!


In use:


Happy Easter!!!

4/13/2006

In which the sun finally comes out

At last. a partially sunny day! It is absolutely wonderful. I can't wait to go out, but it will probably still be cold. And guess wha? its supposed to rain tonight and tomarrow, and the day after that....

I have been rather productive I suppose. I am making a trial run of the Pointy Kitty from Wee Wonderfuls out of some white cotton scrap. All of the pieces are cut out, now I'm just trying to work out how exactly one goes about pinning all the gussets and parts together. It feels like I'm forcing the fabric together at odd angles..and I have no idea how I'm going to attempt sewing around these curves. Most likely very slowly.

As for Knitting: I've made definate progress onBlu's cable jacket. The progress being that I now know exactly where the buttonholes are going to go. Why is this necessary?? well besides the obvious, the right front is knit with the instructions "knit buttonholes that correspond to button placement". Thats right, you have to do all of the math yourself. Or in my case, have your husband do it for you! I knew that his job would be of practical use to me someday! So now that I know where all of the buttonholes go, when I come to a button spot I just replace the seed stitch border in the pattern row with a buttonhole. Pretty simple huh?

Yesterday I managed to order some different knitting things online as well. First, I ordered the proper Jaeger yarn for peters sweater. The substitute I had found, Rowan Cashsoft, while beautiful knit too thin a fabric for such a manly (hah!) sweater. A look in Atelier Yarns found nothing extraordinary, so I sucked it up and ordered it from Knitting Garden. The good news is that if this one is approved, I can order the entire sweaters worth 10% off. Also ordered was some Alpaca Cloud from knitpicks so that I can try my hand at the lace Trellis Scarf in the Spring Interweave Knits. That will also double as Mother's birthday gift should I get it done before the beginning of June.

Lastly because she is so adorable when she is sleeping, I took a bunch of pictures of the princess last night. Here is one:


Sorry about the darkness, but shes sleeping!

4/11/2006

In which I make several fruitless shopping trips

Sometimes I'm a complete ditz. In the past week I've made several outings; crossing the city with baby in tow, in the rain none the less, to stores that are closed. I tell you, it makes one feel exceptionally stupid to come to the store you've been looking forward to only to find that it doesn't open for another 45 minutes, wait around with fussy baby until then only to discover that if you'd read the rest of the sign you would have seen that it wasn't even open that day! That was the trip to Satin Moon. Yesterday it was the trip to the yarn store, at least then I didn't wait I just left.

But today! Today is Tuesday, and so everything is guaranteed to be open...If I go after 12. I'm torn though. Should I venture out in the rain, in what will probably be a most frustrating afternoon in hopes that I find something in my price range? Or should I just sit at home and knit and try to keep the baby from being bored? True, I would like some fabric - I need to at least swatch something for Back-tack 3 (yes, i signed up!) and I could finally purchase the Alphabet soup for M's Duvet. And I could go to Atelier Yarns and see if they carry Jaeger for Peter's sweater, or some laceweight but its raining....And yes I know I'm whining.

As desirable as increasing ones stash is, I don't know when or with what inspiration I will ever make stuff. Blu-chan, I discovered yesterday, is terrified of the sewing machine. So, either I give up my idea of learning to sew or try to get her used to it I suppose.

No, its decided. I must get outside. If only for the sake of my stomach. The fridge is very very empty, as we defrosted our freezer yesterday. There was enough ice packed around and inside the freezer to make at least 20 Margaritas - I'm serious! It was incredible. And amazingly, that freezer has yet to keep a pint of ice cream colder than slush. It took all day to defrost - mostly cause my ditzyness struck again, and I thought that the switch on the outlet where the fridge was plugged in was the on/off switch. Turns out it was a light! Who would have thought? (well not me) So the refrigerator was on all day with the door open. D'oh!

4/07/2006

New Technology


If the video does not display properly
click here to upgrade to Flash 8

I just figured out how to post a movie! This is very exciting. Yeah for us! Blu is now in live-action mode!

In which we finish a busy week





Its Friday! Hurrah! This was a very busy, and quite possibly productive week for us. I finished one project, made progress on another and set of on a whole new spectrum of projects. Firstly, I went to my uber-beginning-never-touched-a-machine sewing class on Wednesday. It was really basic, but a lot of fun. I'm glad that I went, because while I'm pretty sure that I could have figured out from the instructions how to wind a bobbin or thread the machine, it would have taken awhile. But I got it after being shown once so that was a lot of time saved. Also I got to get a bunch of frustrating mistakes out of my system (although I'm sure I'll do them again), and learned how not to swear at the machine when it jams up...Be very gentle. We made a little pillow thing...Mine of course had an "M" on it. I was inordinately proud of this pillow, not only did I manage to kinda freestyle some little flowers and swirlys - I was only 1 of 2 people who didn't sew both pieces of their pillow together while decorating the right side. Yeah for me! and that took all of 2.5 hours to do...Well its a start. I can't wait to take another class, either the buttonhole one or the totebag is next. It will be awhile before I can take one though, Pete and Blu-chan can't take these three hour chunks..She screams and he gets a headache.

However now I'm at home with a sewing machine and I don't know where to begin. I hope its not busted before I ever get to use it, but I push on the little pedal and it makes a kinda spinning noise but it won't go. (can you tell I have absolutely no technical terms for sewing?) I think I have to read the manual again. On the good side the appearance of the machine (Thanks Anai!) has meant that I had to clean the cabinet...and here it is my new craft space:


Please excuse the fuzziness. I took it with my camera phone, its better than nothing I swear.

See how nice and clean it is? That took most of yesterday. It was quite a production to pull off. Look closely and engrave this image in your mind. It will never be this way again. At least I have evidence right? That's gotta count for something.





There was a request for a photo of my finished pincushion attempt. Here it is:


Yes, it is another camera phone photo. Its made from the remnant that I bought at satin moon, and some crepe chiramen (sp?) ribbon. I have yet to add a button, because I don't have any. Its curious what types of things one accumulates...I have ribbon coming out my ears, but no buttons. Not surprising I suppose given my job history. Its really not a very suitable pincushion, a bit too soft, I'll have to think of something better to fill it with next time. The next one I'd like to do on the machine, if I can convince it to sew in a circle with a 1/4" seam that is.

Lastly, we have a new Blu-chan pic! I send her daddy photos at work all the time, so I have quite a collection on the phone, so while I was sending things from the camera phone I thought to throw this in as a freebie.

4/04/2006

rain, rain go away...

It has been raining forever. and it feels like it will continue raining, forever. Or as the weather says at least until next wednesday. I finished the back of Blu's sweater last night. Yeah for me! The cast off instructions gave me a bit of a turn. I had to take everything back once and I still ended up with four fewer stitches for the neck I think, but it will be ok. Babies don't have fat necks, just cheeks. I'm not following the pattern exactly at this point because I wanted to try a three needle bind off at the shoulder seams. I'm thinking of doing the sleeves in reverse too, but for now its pocket linings in duplicate.


This is our recent trend in sunday night dinners.















I thought that the browning of the top came out well so I had to take a photo. It was delicious and they are super simple.

And I'm rather excited because my sewing class is tomorrow, Yeah! It is also the beginning of back-tack 3 which I may or may not try out for.

Lastly we have a new Blu pic! (This is what you were waiting for right?)