Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Hopefully Second Time's a Charm

I had this post all typed up this morning, hit the wrong button, and it went away to some other place never to return. I hate when that happens. I'll try again.

This is what we enjoyed after dinner last night. There are 2 Ben and Jerry's scoop shops downtown within walking distance of each other. I'm not so sure that this is a good thing on free cone day. It is delicious but I am glad this only happens once a year. This is what we felt like afterwards.

I finally got around to downloading the pictures of the last package from my secret pal. Thank you Colette for your generosity. Can you believe that I did not own this book.

I have looked at it often and thought of buying it. Now I don't have to. When I first opened the package and saw the yarn, I thought it was the Peruvian wool. Well, as soon as I picked it up, I realized my mistake. It's ALPACA - and it is so soft and luxurious. And the colors are exactly what I'd choose for myself. Colette beaded the earrings herself - I have already worn them and received several very nice comments. This was my first secret pal experience and Colette made it very special. Thanks!!

I finished knitting the baby sweater and all it needs now are the buttons. Isn't it cute! The Manos Stria is fun to use and the colors are so vibrant. The pom poms really make it.

I also started another sweater for me. I must be one of the few knitters who hasn't made this pattern. Yes, it's the back of my Ribby Cardi in Mission Falls wool. This seems like it will be a very warm sweater.

Lastly, I show a sky for Sandy. Enjoy!

Friday, April 21, 2006

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For ...

Free Ice Cream. One of my favorite days is coming. Tuesday, April 25th is Ben and Jerry's Free Cone Day. For those of you unfamiliar with this special day, let me fill you in. Participating Ben and Jerry's Scoop Shops give out free ice cream from noon to 8 PM. Here is the link if you want to check out if there is a shop near you. Just to let you know, I have absolutely no affiliation with Ben and Jerry - except I like their ice cream. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

5 Places I Knit

There's a contest going on - list 5 places that you knit other than home or a yarn shop; OK - I'll try to pick 5 interesting ones since I bring my knitting with me everywhere.

1. Waiting in line for rides at amusement parks (Storyland, Six Flags, Disney)
2. In the dentist chair while the stuff was setting for my crown
3. In the bathroom while my daughter takes her bath
4. Waiting for Peter Pan to start at Madison Square Garden
5. While drinking appletinis at a friend's house

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

My Weekend

We spent a nice weekend in New Jersey and we bid bon voyage to my parents who left on a fabulous 16 day cruise across the Atlantic to the Azores, Spain, Monte Carlo and Italy. The pictures in the brochure make it look so luxurious - I can imagine myself lounging on a chair by the pool, sipping an exotic drink while I knit on my latest pair of socks. Dream on! I hope my parents stay safe. They are both in their 80's and have some health issues. Mom has had to back out of the last two planned trips because she wasn't up to the physical activity and Dad was just in the hospital a few weeks ago for a pacemaker. They deserve a fun and relaxing trip!

The children celebrated Easter with an egg hunt and Easter baskets. As we walked back from the hunt, I saw some pictures that made me think of Project Spectrum. One with all the colors:

and one specific to April's colors:

The children celebrated mostly with candy and I celebrated by checking out the new yarn store - Stix-n-Stitches. The people were very friendly and there were some people sitting and knitting. One woman was finishing a beautiful Einstein coat, something I have thought of making. Hers was in a wonderful brownish Lopi although I would probably make it out of something softer. I was very tempted by some of the Elsabeth Lavold - they had a nice selection of her Silky Wool and Silky Tweed, but I only saw two colors of the Hempathy - one being a beautiful chocolatey brown. But I resisted since I had recently looked through my stash. I have several places where I keep my stuff - my closet, 2 cedar chests and a few large Rubbermaid containers. This means that most of the stuff is out of site and you know what that means ... out of mind. As I get older, and my memory isn't what it used to be, it is always a surprise to go stash diving. Oh, look, I totally forgot about that or what was I thinking I'd make with that. So, I refrained from buying since I really need to get a handle on a few things. Ok, I lied - I did buy one skein over at Modern Yarns. A skein of Lobster Pot Bulky to make the One Skein felted clutch. They also were selling the weavettes which tempted me. I'll definitely go back to both shops when I am in Montclair again. I also took my mom to Suzette's (on Church Street) for lunch. We both ordered crepes and were very happy with our choice (we'll have to go back for some of the dessert ones - they looked delicious).

Meanwhile the baby sweater progresses - we made pom poms at work yesterday for the hat with this cool tool from Clover. I think I might need to get one of these for myself. I am also working on the P socks and I started this project from some Silky Wool I had in my stash. My excuse for starting yet another project was that I needed some mindless knitting and all of the other projects were at spots where I needed to do some thinking. Yeah, that's it...

I'll leave you with a nice closing shot.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Felting Over Soap

When I first saw this craft, I thought that it would be a great thing for my then 4 year old daughter and I to do together. Plus we would have some fun gifts as a result. I’m talking about felted soap. It really is an easy thing to do with kids - and clean! First gather your supplies: soap, wool and water are all you really need. Probably a towel to catch the water. I also have this plastic felting mat which has ridges on it to aid in the felting process – not necessary, but fun.

I bought a bunch of handmade soap when I was at Cummington last year – some from Bay Colony Farms. I usually cut the bars in half because I like to have a nice little bowl full of pretty soaps next to my sink and the small sizes are more convenient. I also purchased a bag of felter’s candy from Mielkes Farm when I was at Rhinebeck 2 years ago. I have made a bunch of soap, but this bag never seems to get any smaller. By the way, if you don’t have any “handmade soap”, the first time I tried this, I grabbed a bar of Dove soap. So, choose a color of your wool, rip off a piece, spread it out a bit and wrap it around your bar of soap.

Get your wool colored soap wet and slowly begin to rub the fibers with your hands. Go slowly at first, forming the wool around the soap. You can even add other colors – here are some appropriate April colors for Project Spectrum.

It really wants to move around a lot. I do this over the sink, using the water from the faucet, but when my daughter is doing this, I have her stand over the mat, with a bowl of water nearby. Start off with hot water – be careful with the temperature of the kids water. My daughter seems to be a lot more sensitive to temperatures. What I think is warm, she thinks is burning hot..

As the wool becomes formed to the soap, you can rub a little harder – really getting those suds going – felting the wool around that bar of soap. And don’t forget the water. I run the water over the soap periodically – washing away the suds. I also alternate between hot and cold water, thinking that this may help the felting process along. This is where you can use the mat if you have one – rubbing the soap/wool over those ridges. Remember to work the edges and corners also. This whole process will be very sudsy.

When the wool is nicely formed around the soap, you can rinse the bar again, getting rid of some of those suds and let it dry on the towel.

Then place a few bars in a bowl and admire your work.

These make great gifts for the kids to give their teachers. Or for that hard to buy for friend - make some soap to match the colors of her bathroom.

Have fun!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

There's a Viking in my Home

Wow, it's been a whole week since I even turned on the home computer. The blog has been sadly neglected and I apologize to anyone who left comments since I obviously have not replied to anyone. However, another machine in my house that has been sadly neglected for the past few years was brought out and played with - and it doesn't seem to be annoyed with me for the lack of attention. Unless it is luring me into a false sense of security and then wham - it'll go off and do it's own thing! Introducing the Viking in my life:

I've got the sewing bug again. I am actually working on a prototype of a possible Christmas present. There are a few of us girls that exchange "crafty" holiday gifts each year. It can be tough choosing the right thing to make. After all making one of something is a lot different than making 3 of the same thing. And you don't want to pick something that is too complicated (or too time consuming) for the same reason. I think I may have the perfect gift, but can't mention what is it just in case one of the girls reads this. The prototype is just about done and I see a few things I want to change in my next model.

As for the knitting that has been going on - presenting two of the projects for Project Spectrum April:

The Pomatomus socks in STR (Fred Flintstone colourway). Margene helped me make this decision so, after getting the proper fishing license, I cast on for this very entertaining project.

The jury is divided on the gender identity of this next item. Some say they would only put it on a girl and others say it could go either way. Apparently the color purple is the problem.

Either way, it is a quick knit. Maybe I will try to have a little conversation with one of the soon to be new moms and see what vibes I get. After all, I don't want to make something that is not going to get used.

Stay tuned for a little tutorial in my next post. It does involve wool but not in the way you might think.