Sunday, June 29, 2008

More fun with photos

Custom mini Busy Baby Book for an etsy customer + scrap red fabric + my new photo setup = cooooooooooool.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Latest finished project - my first scarf in a long, long time

Practically everyone who learns to knit starts with a scarf, and about 3' into it they start to hate, hate, HATE knitting. Scarves are a dumb first project because they take forever and they're right in your face, so any mistakes you make are there front and center all winter long.

However, sometimes you need a mindless project, something you can memorize and just zone out for a while instead of having to pay attention to row counts and stitches and blah-de-blah-blah. That's how I ended up with this beauty:

It's made from Reynolds Odyssey merino wool in color 404, which is a lovely grey/purple/tan/green mix that worked nicely with this pattern. I used all of two skeins, and while I thought it was going to be a bit on the short side, once I washed it and blocked it, it was suddenly a lot longer (and wider - thanks, lace!) and is now the length of a normal scarf.

The (free) pattern is "Two Weeknights With Warrick Worsted Wave Scarf," which can be found here. It works up into the prettiest, simplest lace pattern that's sooooo soft now that it's had its soak.
I had so much fun with this one I may have to go stash diving to see if there are any other scarves in there waiting for their turn on the needles.

Sometimes I'm silly

I ordered a photo cube a few weeks ago, and it's been sitting in a (big) box on the floor in my living room while I dug myself out of a pile of housework and projects. Today I finally had the time to put it together and play with it for a little while, and boy, was it fun! It's amazing how much crisper and more professional everything looks in a well-lit white cube.

But on to the silly part. What was the first thing I photographed? One of my SWAK blankets? An amigurumi animal? Nope. It was a Happy Meal toy I put together backwards and have been saving for just this occasion, because it makes me giggle every time I see it.

Much more fun than photographing blankets, even if it doesn't pay me anything.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Jessica sweater designed by Jennifer Thurston, knit in Lana Gatto wool by Filatura e Tessitura di Tollegno S.p.A. (or however it's supposed to be capitalized).

This was a fun sweater, one where just about the time I would get sick of knitting on one piece, it was done and it was time to do something else. Of course, that meant it took me four nights to sew the whole mess together, but it's not like I had anything better to do ;)

And it knit up right on target for sizing with the needles and gauge suggested, so whoopee! No adjustments! No disappointingly small sweater!

If I make this again in another colorway, I think I'll sew the striped part onto the picot edge a little differently. The way I did it this time - slip stitching it to the same row I used to turn under the edging - makes it flip out a little too much for my taste. I'd rather have it lay flat, which it should do if I just attach the striped sections a couple rows down the inside of the picot.

All in all, I loved this project - can't wait until it's cool enough to wear it for more than 10 minutes without breaking out in hives! Stupid summer ...

Back from vacation, full of yarn

Sorry for the lag in posts a week ago, but I was away on a short vacation to scenic Blacksburg, Virginia. My husband and I both graduated from Virginia Tech, and he was going to be in that general area on business anyway, so it seemed like a good time to introduce Lazy Kid to the college she will be attending (in 15 years).

It was a good trip, full of hiking and eating and swimming in the hotel pool. And no trip to Blacksburg would be complete without a trip to Mosaic.

After a (blissfully child-free) hour of cogitating over which colorways would work best for my projects, I came away with two yummy yarns:
First up, Ty-Dy 100% cotton from Knit One Crochet Too, in color 795. As you can see, this sucker hit the needles fast - before I even was finished with my current sweater project - and after three failed attempts at getting the gauge right, I think I'm pretty close now. It's about the same thickness as kitchen cotton, but it's the caviar version - so soft and drapey it will probably bag out as badly as the bamboo version I made of the same sweater. This is being used to make the "ballet" sweater from the July 2006 issue of Magknits (which is kinda beside the point since Magknits went kaput and took their archives with them). Luckily, the designer has made it available elsewhere, so you can find it here.

Exhibit B: Ranco Multy in Color 314 from Araucania Yarns (75/25 wool/polyamide). Check out the link for a much better photo of the colors ... it's much prettier in person than in my badly-lit kitchen. Once I invest in a ball winder these babies are going to turn into the Clover Lace Wrap from Stitch N Bitch Nation (link to the picture on Ravelry here). Good thing I was looking up a link for that ... found the errata page with some major sleeve renovations ... it would have sucked to find that out after I had already turned out Gorilla Sleeves (or Pygmy Sleeves).

And that current sweater project? "Jessica" designed by Jennifer Thurston. It will be done tonight, as I only have one sleeve left to sew in, if I ever get off the darn computer and start sewing.

Guess that's my exit line :)

Sand Art for Small People

We picked up some sand art kits from the $1 bins at the front of Target a few weeks ago, and they've been a big hit ... except that it takes me longer to peel off all the stickers than it does for Lazy Kid to pile obscene quantities of sand on the resulting sticky patches. And she gets frustrated when the color doesn't go in the tiny little spots she's targeting ... which is why I came up with my own version of sand art that's easier for small kids to handle.

Safety warning: This project isn't for kids who still put stuff in their mouths all the time, unless you REALLY want to be cleaning multi-colored sand-filled poop up for several days. And you don't, trust me.

Contact paper (clear or colored)
Colored sand
Optional: scissors and paper, or photos cut from magazines, or other flat stuff to stick down
Outside area to work that you don't mind having covered in sand


Cut Contact paper to be about the size of a sheet of printer paper. Peel backing off to expose the sticky side, then tape it securely sticky-side up to a table or work surface. I found it was easiest to use one of my trusty craft trays for this (makes it easier to pick up and knock off the excess sand at the end).

Stick down any paper or other flat things you want to use. If you want to mimic a "real" sand art page, cut shapes out of construction paper and then cut inside them to form just the frame of the shape, so that the child can sprinkle sand inside the outline. Or just stick down pictures, or sequins, or glitter, or random sticks that blow onto the sheet from the windstorm that has kicked up since you started the craft.

Let child apply sand to the sticky parts of the Contact paper.

We still had the sand in the little bags it came in, so I just cut the corner off the bag and let her pour it and spread it out with her fingers.
You could also put it in small bowls and let them use spoons or their fingers to sprinkle it on the paper. You can get really creative with this - put their hand down and sprinkle around it to make a handprint, then fill it in with a different color; trace letters or pictures you slide underneath the clear Contact paper; etc.

When you've finished all the sand stuff, pick up the paper and knock off the excess (and trust me, there WILL be excess). We did this by just picking up the whole tray so I didn't have to deal with floppy sticky sandy Contact paper much.

If you want to preserve the sand art (i.e. not have it dribble sand all over your kitchen floor for the next three weeks), stick a piece of clear Contact paper on the art so the sand is sandwiched between the sheets. If you want, cut the outside of the sheets to be even, or into a shape, but remember - the sand is going to REALLY dull the scissors fast, so don't use your good sewing scissors for this!

If you used clear Contact paper for both sheets, you can hang the art in the window as a suncatcher. Otherwise, it looks great on the refrigerator, or as a small placemat for snacks, etc.

Hope you have fun with this project! Now, let's just hope I can find a cheap source for more sand, because we're going through it at a fast clip around here ...

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

A cautionary tale

Once upon a time (Tuesday) I bought one of those squishy U-shaped neck pillows for my daughter to use with her new carseat, which otherwise seemed to propel her sleeping head forward at a dangerously lolling angle that looked worrisome (and uncomfortable). But when we got the pillow home and tried it out, it was way to overstuffed to work around her little nubbin of a neck.

"Not a problem!" I thought, getting out the seam ripper. "I'll just take out some of the beads and redistribute the rest of them so it's more comfortable for her."

The seam ripper was, of course, in my sewing room, so I sat down and started working on the project. I had a plastic bag all ready to catch the beads, and the three-year-old was safely engaged in some diverting activity far, far away. I had forgotten how much fun it is to work with polystyrene beads ... and these were literally the size of pinheads, they were that small. I should know, since they're now spread all over my studio. See that stuff on my jeans? It's not dandruff. Thank you, ceiling fan.

Thank you, static electricity.

(Hee - that looks like my hand is being swarmed by albino aphids)

Thank you, Lazy Kid, for the photos, especially the action shot of me attempting to milk the little monsters out of the nipple that was obviously their entry point during the original construction process. If anyone needs any help milking nanny goats or heifers, let me know - I had an hour of practice this afternoon.

Eventually I wised up and took the project out onto the front porch, where I ended up spreading beads all over the porch, sidewalk, and flower bed. I'm going to be vacuuming the little buggers out of my house for months. Grrrrr. At least the significantly smaller pillow works - that would have been the kicker if I went through all that and it still didn't work. Now I just have to find a place to store the beads where Certain People can't find them or reach them.

Note to self: All projects involving fake fur and/or polystyrene beads must be completed outside the house, preferably outside the county.