Friday, July 1, 2011

Friday, Funday, Funkday

Oh Friday!  I remember years ago when you were a welcome sign of the pleasures to come.  Now, you're just another day.  Another day to do laundry, run errands, argue with the two year old about the benefits of a nap (NOTE: I don't actually argue, I tell him to sleep well and close the door.  He then chooses to argue at the top of his lungs until he falls asleep out of utter exhaustion.) and then go to work after all that.  Bleh.  Not nearly as exciting as the end of the work week used to be.

Today, however, we tried something new.  Normally on a Friday, we can't go to the pool because I have to work and nap time usually goes to late to go to the pool after.  Seeing how our local pool does not open until noon, we don't have much choice.  Well, today Oliver and I decided that that was ridiculous, and that we just wanted to go swimming.  So, we had a little lunch and headed over for a pre-nap swim!  What an awesome idea!!  And the nap time ritual argument was a LOT shorter today.  Maybe, maybe, maybe, we have a new thing to help make Fridays more exciting!

For now, feeling better, I'm off to do some more of that endless laundry!  Happy Friday, Happy Canada Day, Happy 4th of July people!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Powerful Preparation Installment #1

When I was pregnant with Sir Oliver, preparation was so easy and relaxed.  I was so immersed in my pregnancy, so in tune with my baby, so ready and excited to have birth pangs, so ready to be a mom.  I had no fear.  I had a birth team of stars all ready to be with me for a gently wonderful home birth. We even did a belly mold!  I was READY!

Then, a week before my due date I was diagnosed with preeclampsia.  My midwives had to break the news that we would have to go to the hospital for the birth and that I was being induced on my due date. I did some crazy heavy grieving that weekend.  And then, we regrouped, replanned, and got ready.

I went into the hospital and was induced at 3 in the morning on Wednesday, February 25.  I had Oliver via Cesarean on Saturday, February 28 at 10 pm.  Yup, a long ride of Pitocin, epidural, etc.  Not at all what we planned, but gentle (I know, oxymoron), unrushed, and caaaaalm.  Oliver and I were both calm and it was all good.  Of course, he was non-responsive at first and they rushed him off to NICU for two days.  That was when I lost my cool.  It was NOT fun.

Thankfully, the nurses at the hospital were fabulous and after my two hours of recovery, those fantastic ladies wheeled my bed-gurney into the NICU.  They moved furniture so that I could see my sweet baby and I got to hold him right away.  Two days later I got to nurse him for the first time and on Tuesday, we got him all to ourselves in the room.  I finally put a do-not-disturb on the door so that we could all be alone.

And then, on Wednesday, a whole week after we went into the hospital, we took our little, tiny, sweet baby home.  It was the beginning of what has been an amazing, challenging, completely unhinging two years.

Now, I'm pregnant again, and it's different this time.  Come back next time and we'll talk about some of those differences.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Giveaway winner!

Hi there all you webonites!  I'm very pleased to announce that Miss Stephanie is the winner of my first giveaway!!  Congratulations Stephanie and thank you so much for keeping an eye on my little blog!  You can email me your soap choices and I'll get them out to you super fast!  Don't worry all you other peeps, I'll do another giveaway!  It's so fun!  Happy day everyone!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Work in Progress Wednesday #1

I've been stalking all the folks who participate in WIP Wednesday for a while now and figured I'd finally post alongside them all today.  Partly 'cause works in progress is my middle name, and partly because my current project is giving me major ajiduh (spelling Katie?  I spelled it phonetically).  My sister uses this word often to describe a situation that is stressing her out.  And yes, this sweater is a bit stressful even though I am also loving the challenge it's giving me.

I'm working on Elizabeth Zimmerman's Baby Surprise Jacket and it is not easy!  I mean, it's not exactly hard, but boy do you have to pay attention!  Here's my progress so far:

I've started twice, and ripped out 1 and 1/2 rows so far.  Buuuuut, I think I might have the hang of it now.  While I love her conversational style, Ms Elizabeth is not super detail oriented in this one, so there are little things you just have to figure out on your own.  It's actually awesome in the sense that you get an idea of how she thinks about her pattern making.  And, I'm really happy with the corners I managed to create here.

I'm not sure where these corners will be on the finished project but they look pretty good so far!  I am also loving the yarn I am using!  While Oliver and Dave and I were in Maine and Canada a few weeks ago I got to go to a lovely yarn store in Belfast, Maine.  Heavenly Socks Yarns, is small but packed with great stuff and I found this lovely hemp blend yarn called Hempathy.  I love love love this rich red and can't wait to see it on the new baby!  I also love that it will be a lightweight layering sweater that won't be too bulky for those sweet new arms.

Oh, and for all you handmade soap lovers out there...Check out my first giveaway!  Just leave a little commentyomenty if you're not a follower already and you'll be entered to win 2 bars of your choice of my latest soaps!!  You can find it all here!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Musings and My First Giveaway!!!

It's early for me to be up and functional.  And by functional I mean on the computer "working".  It was prompted by Miss Kimberly's (of chezsucrechez fame) morning email praising a photo and correcting an awful spelling error on my etsy site.  Thank goodness she caught it!  I HATE spelling errors.  Particularly glaring ones that are so right in your face you really should have seen it!  This was one of those by the way.  I had spelled Mojito-Mohito.  My sister Jessie will read that with shock I'm sure.  Well, anyway, that prompted this lovely burst of productivity and I'm riding the wave with some level of joy.  It will be interesting to see if I can keep it up AFTER Oliver has woken up.

Mohito is now spelled Mojito and speaking of etsy, zip on over and check out all the new soaps.  They are finally all listed! Hooray!!  And in honor of me reaching a goal this week (listing them and writing a blog post, and it's only Tuesday) I will be sending two bars of their choice to one of my sweet followers.  If you are already following the blog, do NOTHING!!  If you are one of the silent stalkers here and would like to perchance receive some soap then you just have to follow the blog! EDIT: If you are a silent stalker and enjoy silently stalking and do not want to follow a blog but would like to receive some all means leave some lovely comment below and I'll include ya...kind of along the lines of no-purchase-necessary and all that!   I'll do the random drawing on....randomly picked....Tuesday of next week.  Tuesday being the first anniversary of me putting this up.    Get following people!  Oh, and while I love fawning and empty praise, this is not necessary for winning as it will all be random.  Sorry siblings, I know this shameless pandering has worked in the past, but this time, forget it!!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Rub a Dub Dub It's TIme for the TUB!!!

I love making soap.  Lots and lots of soap.  I haven't bought soap in three years.  I love that too.  The best part of making soap is that I get to do it with my friend Lelayna.  She is sooooo amazing!  She raises her own lovely sheep, spins their wool and makes up the funkiest little items with her handspun yarns.  She is also a wonderful doula and is training to be a midwife.  Best of all, she is my friend!  Truly a blessing in my life.

SO, back in April, we decided it was time to make more soap!  I hired a babysitter this time since I wanted the chance to make LOTS, and we got to work.

Oliver wanted to help while he waited for his babysitter so we gave him  the non-soapmaking gloves so he could "work".

Then we got the oils, and the scale, and water, and the bowls, and the pots and the essential oils, and the molds together...

...and mixed and smelled, and talked, and laughed, and documented, and experimented...

pouring into the molds.  I line each with waxed paper so the soap don't stick.  Lala hates this part so I always do the lining:)

mixing until trace (kind of like making whipped cream) and you can see more oils melting in the other pot

...and wrapped up our baby soaps in their lovely pile of blankets to set...

cold process soap sits in its molds wrapped up like this to "incubate" overnight

...and then cut, and cut, and cut, until we had piles and piles of soap!

"Rose in Bloom" soap with added almond oil this time

From left to right: Mohito soap, Lavender, lemongrass and ginger, and rose all ready to cure for 30 days
All in all, over two days we made about 25 different soaps.  Hooray!!!

and now, today, I've finally started listing my concoctions on etsy to make them available to the world!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Baby Pants, Baby Legwarmer, Baby Mitts....Theme?

Hello all!  I'm so so so so happy to have opened my box of inspiration again this week!  My brother Daniel's girlfriend, Allison, has been here visiting and she has inspired me to start knitting again!  I know, you wonder; she hasn't been knitting?  Well, no, I haven't.  I haven't knit, I haven't blogged, I haven't cleaned (much).  I've been otherwise engaged growing the lungs, heart, kidneys, and bones of our new baby!  Yup, I'm pregnant again!  We are overjoyed and Oliver is very excited about the baby in Mommy's belly.

But, as the morning sickness (or afternoon sickness in my case) slowly begins to recede, the knitting needles have found their way out again and I've started knitting baby things.  Baby legwarmers which got me started.  These are all knit super quick with a simple rib at the bottom and top and your basic stockinette all the way up.  Easy and fast!

Then I found a pattern for legwarmers and little fingerless mitts that I just had to have.  You can find that here.  I'm loving making my first ever pair of mitts and enjoying the fact that they are teeny tiny (e.g., they knit up fast!).  Sorry, when it came time to take the pics, the mitt was nowhere to be found.  Hmmm, methinks that pregnancy head strikes again.

And last, but not least, during this unbelievably rainy week of inspiration, I've started knitting wool diaper covers for the new babe.  For those that don't know, when you cloth diaper, one of the ways to keep the stuff from leaking out and getting on you is to use wool covers.  And one of the nicest ways to do that, is to make (or buy) wool pants.  Then you have adorable pants that are doubly functional!  Here's Oliver in some longies I made for him out of upcycled sweaters.

I scoured the internet for longie patterns and finally settled on this one that I found on Ravelry.  I LOVE this pattern!  Short rows and strategic increases make for a nice puffy butt that will fit perfectly over a little cloth diapered hiney!  She also gives lots of options and directions for different cuff styles and a cotton version for those that want the look but don't cloth diaper, or for babies that can't wear wool.  I'm going to raid my stash this morning for some more wool to start a second pair once Miss Allison wakes up.

Happy Fridaying folkses!  Have a great weekend, and if you have a moment, go check out the other artistes at Wisdom Begins in Wonder's Fiber Arts Friday!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Women, Mamas, You Rock!!

Saturday marked an auspicious occasion here in our little corner of the world.  My friends Tracy Beaky and Laura Scappatici hosted the first ever Mamas Make it Happen Day of Inspiration at Twin Ponds Healing Center.  Let me say, it was fabulous!  These two happenin' mamas created a wonderful, inspirational day which we all got to share in and enjoy.  It was amazing!

I got to host my first knitting workshop and had eight lovely women join me to learn to knit, or work on a work in progress.  What fun!  We only had an hour so it was fast!  Can you believe that ALL the newbies were casting on, knitting, purling, and binding off that fast?  They were incredible!  And one of those lovely ladies was knitting for the rest of the day and made a teeny little scarf.  Then she promptly cast on to start a little completely gratifying for the teacher!  Another participant brought her work that she was stumped on and I helped her fix it...What an honor to be asked for help!  And yet another got so excited when she learned to yarn over that she was almost in tears feeling like she had made an enormous jump in her skill level...Well she did, and it was fabulous to watch it happen!  And to hear them say things like 'wow, this is easy!' and "I did it!"  was just joyous to extremes!  I thank each and every one of those ladies for a wonderful experience.

Speaking of teaching, this was a nice way to remind myself how much I like teaching.  I forget that even though I had difficulty fitting into the school system, that teaching itself was rewarding and fun most of the time.  It was so nice to spend a little time with a whole other piece of myself!

Check out the fabulous mamas of Mamas Make It Happen at their website!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

With all my good intentions

Good intentions are just that, good intentions.  And in the world of blogging, selling, business running, good intentions mean squat.  Ok, now that I have properly chastised myself, or at least indicated that chastising might be in order, we can move on to other things.

Well, kinda.

I've been invisible for days, a week, how long has it been?  And I do feel a little bad about it.  Not so much because I think that anyone is out there waiting with bated breath to read my blog (yet.  It will happen dagnabit), but more because I started this with good intentions to write at least once a week, post patterns monthly etc.  So I've decided that I need to revisit my new year's intentions which you can read about in their original form here and after they were edited the first time, here.

My tendency towards procrastination has reared  it's ugly head.  I don't hate procrastination necessarily, I just understand that it has a time and a place when it is appropriate to use.  Unfortunately, it doesn't EVER follow the rules.  So, things fall by the wayside, laziness takes over, sleep becomes paramount, oh right, that was how it happened before Oliver.  Now I can say that I've decided to spend more time with my son and that all those other things I'm involved with have to take a second seat to him.  Umm.  Right.  Lies.  All lies.

That whole new year's intention about balance?  Not happening right now.  Problem?  Heck no!  Half the battle is understanding one's weaknesses and revisiting them to do little checkups and revisions.  Balance is certainly one of my weaknesses.  I get so enthusiastic about things that I get involved in too much and then can't manage it all.  Then I throw my hands up and say, "Forget it! I'm not doing anything!".  That's where I've landed right now.  I can't say that I'm clear on how the balance that I had created will be restored, but it will, now that I'm aware that it's not happening right now!

Part of the unbalanced procrastination phase has been a halt in the production of things.  Any things.  The pattern I was to have posted for March?  Not done.  Problem? Heck no!  The front of the Oliver vest is almost done as I did finally pick it up again this weekend.  Fabulous!  One project almost complete and that pattern will be posted soooooon!  I think I'll take this check in as one that is on its way to being resolved!  Whew.

Ok, last check in.  Body care.  Weight Watchers?  Half a check.  Exercise?  Half a check.  Daily vitamins, thyroid medicine?  FULL AWESOME CHECK!!  Boy.  I think I gets some props on this one!  Not bad.  I think that I've maintained this one better than the others.  Good.  Ending on an up note:)

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Knitting and Crochet Week Day Four - Where are they now?

Day Four: 31st March. Where are they now?
Whatever happened to your __________?
Write about the fate of a past knitting project. Whether it be something that you crocheted or knitted for yourself or to give to another person. An item that lives with you or something which you sent off to charity.

Ok, before I even begin telling my little project story, you should all go check out Wisdom Begins in Wonder's story for today.  It's a moving tribute to her dad and the power that an item we've made can still have.

Alrighty.  Well, this topic is going to force me to admit that most of the things I've made have gone somewhere into the ether.  Well, not exactly.  Mostly, until I started my etsy shop and subsequently, this blog, I never really took pictures and can barely remember all the things I've made, much less know where they are now!  Plus, I have this weird thing where I forget stuff.  Yup, whole events are just gone...weird.  So, this feeds into some difficulty with today's topic.  So I think I will take a slightly different approach and tell you about making my first project after re-learning to knit.

I bought some basic yellow yarn.  Bright, happy, sunshiny.  Just what I needed for my purposes.  I was going to quit smoking.  Successfully.  This time.  Mmmhmmm.  Yup.

I started a rib knit scarf with my happy yarn and got down to business.  I took that project everywhere!  To class, to the bar, to the coffee shop.  Everywhere.  I knit when I wanted a cigarette, I knit when I could have cared less about a cigarette.  I finished that scarf (two or three skeins later) in a matter of 2 or 3 days.   I then immediately proceeded to make a hat (well I hadn't gotten through my cravings yet!).  I knit that flat because I hadn't learned about knitting in the round yet and sewed it together.  It was enormous!  Way too big for my head.  I think I hadn't learned about gauge yet either!

The funny thing is, that after all that work and angst, I never really wore either one of them.  I think (key word think)  that my friend Kara adopted one or both of them.  Now Kara moved alot after that so where they are now is anyone's guess.  I hope that wherever they are, they are keeping someone warm and giving them the courage to do something as difficult for them as quitting smoking was for me.  Maybe one of my silent blog stalkers will have some insight into where these little guys ended up?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tidy mind, tidy stitches - Day 3 of the Knit Crochet Blog week

Day Three: 30th March. Tidy mind, tidy stitches.
How do you keep your yarn wrangling organised? It seems like an easy to answer question at first, but in fact organisation exists on many levels. Maybe you are truly not organised at all, in which case I am personally daring you to try and photograph your stash in whatever locations you can find the individual skeins. However, if you are organised, blog about an aspect of that organisation process, whether that be a particularly neat and tidy knitting bag, a decorative display of your crochet hooks, your organised stash or your project and stash pages on Ravelry.

Yeah, anyone who knows me, knows that organization is not my strong suit.  Case in point, my mother, who is visiting, just took my african violets to water as I had completely forgotten to take care of them this week.  Now, I did just post a little post the other day about organizing my craft space.  You can see my before and after photos there.

I love to think of my disorganization as being organized in its own way, but after I cleaned up my work space, I was kind of shocked to realize that I really had no idea what yarns I had anymore.  I had the wools in with the cottons, silks with bulky blends.  Unfinished projects with bags of roving.  Ridiculous!

So I now have a loose organizational system at work.  We'll see how well it works in action as time goes on, but for now, I at least have an idea of what I have and where it is.  So I basically have organized my yarn by type at this point, or use for that matter.   All the boxes are stored under the eaves in my little attic work room like this (Can you tell I need more boxes for the fabric?).

Here's yarn box 1:

These are my designated yarns.  Yarns I have purchased for particular projects or that are really special but I haven't decided what to use them for.  The beige yarn is for a circular cardigan that was featured in Vogue Knits one months over a year ago.  The lavendar and chocolate is a Debby Bliss silk that I had to have and have yet to use.  Oh, my homespuns are kept here too, cause they're super special too!

Yarn Box 2:

My plant based fibers!  Organic cottons (and not so organic), bamboos, hemps.  Try combining the hemp and cotton for an awesome exfoliating yet soft washcloth!

Yarn Box 3:

My wools.  My merinos, sock yarns, blends, ohhh so silky wonderful wools.  These are the ones I use for wool. Not for felting, these are the specialty ones or just plain blends like the Lion Brand Quick and Easy on top.  My Malabrigos are in here for quick access (love them).  I love this box.  The mix of fibers and textures are great to bury your arms in!

And box number 4:

This is the workhorse box.  The Cascade 220's and other basic wools great for felting or color work.  Easy to access and I love the colors in this one!

There are other boxes, but these are my favorites.  I love pulling them out and just luxuriating in the wealth of having all this yarn to choose from!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Day Two of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week: Skill + 1UP

Day Two: 29th March. Skill + 1UP
Look back over your last year of projects and compare where you are in terms of skill and knowledge of your craft to this time last year. Have you learned any new skills or forms of knitting/crochet (can you crochet cable stitches now where you didn’t even know such things existed last year? Have you recently put a foot in the tiled world of entrelac? Had you even picked up a pair of needles or crochet hook this time last year?

I've always thought of myself as an adventurous knitter.  After I re-taught myself to knit a number of years ago (in a then unsuccessful bid to quit smoking, since successful), I began to go through interesting patterns that required me to use a new skill.  I learned how to twist knit, lace knit, knit in the round, knit in 3D, felt, cable, the list could go on.  Since then, I've used these techniques in my own designs as well as in new patterns that I've had a go at.

Now, with that said, when I look back at the last year, I am amazed at how lacking in new skills it is.  Not that it is completely bereft.  I did learn to shape a triangle shawl with increases on this lovely number:

This is the Multnomah Shawl by Kate Flagg, so beautiful and easy to knit up.  It was also my first journey into the world of sock yarn knitting.  There's a new skill for ya.  Learning to use a new yarn is almost a new skill I suppose.  Feeling it run through your fingers, watching the drape develop as you knit it up.  Yup, that's a 1UP fer sure!

I also had a lovely time playing with color knitting this year.  While I loved using the sock yarn, I also wanted to experiment with chunky yarns and so bought 5 skeins of Lamb's Pride Bulky to play with while I was visiting with my mom in Maine.  I created 5 different hats with various combinations and using stranding techniques.  Here's a couple of them:

A super fun project and really fun to play with one yarn over a few similar but different projects.  And certainly a 1UP in terms of color usage skill level.

It's fun actually to look back over these and to see that yes, I did learn some new things this year.  But did these grow my craft?  And if not, then how has my craft grown this year if not necessarily in technique?

Crafting has transformed from a hobby that I did here and there to keep my hands busy, make me smile, and just have the joy of creating things, to something that is part of my daily thoughts and planning as well as a small business.  That's a pretty large growth curve.  On a small level, there's things that have changed as a direct result of this transition.  Things like my attention to detail and finishing have improved as I can't stand to send something out that has shoddy craftsmanship.  And I've delved into new colors and textures as well and that has expanded my experience and creative thoughts.

But with all that, the growth that most interests me is the internal growth that I've experienced.  I've discovered that I can stick with something for longer than a moment.  I can create beautiful things.  I have good ideas.  I am a good knitter!  These little things add up to one big 1UP!!   And it's one that fills me up with joy and pride and wonder at the power of ME!

Not a bad 1UP for the year huh?  I'll take it.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week - Day 1 - A Tale of Two Yarns

Lucky Lucky me!  I follow some really great blogs out there and what to my wandering eye did appear??  No not 8 tiny reindeer, but rather lots of ladies talking about the fiber they use from those reindeer (or their relatives)!  All this week is the 2nd Annual Knit and Crochet Blog Week and I am jumping into the fray to play!!
Apparently, we get a lovely little prompt for each day to play with and here is day one's:
Day One: 28th March. A Tale of Two Yarns.
Part of any fibre enthusiast’s hobby is an appreciation of yarn. Choose two yarns that you have either used, are in your stash or which you yearn after and capture what it is you love or loathe about them.
Well as you know, if you've read many of my posts, I love fibers!  Give me your wool, your cotton, your silky blends!  I will find a home for just about any yarn in some project somewhere along the line.  My favorites tend to be yarns that are soft and malleable after being knitted up, but still hold a shape.  Yup, sometimes the two work beautifully and sometimes, not so much.

My true favorite, go-to yarn has got to be Blue Sky Alpaca's Organic Dyed Cotton (or undyed if I want a natural).  It has a lovely hand, is easy to work with, comes in fabulous colors and really works well for a wide variety of projects.  

From basic hats,

To functional washcloths...

To sweet little lambys, this yarn has been a staple of mine for years now.

Now, another yarn that I have had less luck with, (at least for my most typical knit projects) has been Noro's worsted.  Now, these guys make a gorgeously colored yarn!  It is also AWESOME for felting!  I, unfortunately, have found that felting is just not really my love.  So, I decided to play with some Noro with a pattern idea I had for little wool pants for Oliver based on a vintage pattern I had found in some old magazine.  The Noro knit up beautifully, and the pants looked cute, but they were a little rough and I had to felt them a little before they were soft enough to wear. 

This is a terrible picture, but you can see the two colorways I used (reversible hahaha).  Super cute, but not quite what I wanted.  I think more than anything, I learned about where I like and dislike to use this yarn.  Yes for decorative, No for wearing close to the skin.  More evidence for taking the time to really find a yarn that suits my purposes!

What are your favorite yarns??

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spring is time for renew and refresh

With my renewed sense of energy last week I tackled one the most satisfying projects for me.  It's not necessarily my favorite, in fact it is so far from that, that it is almost ironic that I find it satisfying and pleasurable at the same time.  What, you may ask, could possibly be both overwhelming, yucky, and not liked, and at the same time be kinda fun, and totally satisfying?  Yup, you guessed it, cleaning!

Now, I'm not talking about cleaning the bathroom and mopping floors.  I don't think I have ever thought those tasks were fun (although loud Sheryl Crow really helps).  I'm referring to the cleaning of my studio/sewing room.  

I have been unable to find my inspiration and I would get knocked out by the mess up there.  So on Friday, when I was looking for my Fiber Arts Friday project, I found it.  Cleaning up the space in which I create!

Here's what it looked like before I started:

Massage table up from Thursday night session, poncho project strewn over the available seating...

A sewing table you can barely see (which is a shame 'cause it's pretty)

And a generally ridiculous amount of detritus strewn about where it should not be.


Project first involved taking my growing fabric stash and getting it under control.  I made cardboard holders and wrapped the fabric on pretty!

Then I sort of cleaned up the little shelves and found a home for the fabric to live...

It's hard to tell, because it's still chock full, but these are actually very organized now.  I need some more little boxes to store supplies in now.

So after that was done, I tackled the sewing table:

And then the dormer:

The poncho project even found a little home until next week when it's finished (I hope).

Ahhhhh, sweet relief!  Work well worth the effort.  I'm already feeling the fruits of my labors as I quickly get working on the finishing of these ponchos.  Can't wait to see them on the little ladies!