30 July 2010

Admiring The Master

My husband and I currently play at gardening, but my mom is killer at it. Come spring, the flowers start to flow in, filling her yard with bright colors such as tulips and daffodils and lillies. Her bushes start to blossom and she starts buying truckloads of dirt for her little property.

My creation

Then, come summer, she hits her stride. The flowers start coming fast and furious and she is busy planting, weeding, re-arranging, and complaining about my rather hideous gardening. ("Do you ever water your plants, Jennifer? Do you weed?" No, and no.) Her vegetables and peppers start to hit in late summer, and that's when I just am shamed.

Mom's Garden

Mom's Garden

Mom's Garden

That right there is a tiny collection of her pepper plants. My mom grows enough peppers, mint, and green onions such that she never ever buys any. You might not be impressed with that, but consider this -- she eats five to six peppers with every single meal she eats at home and her patch of green onions is continuously harvested spring through autumn. For a while, she was also fulfilling her watercress needs by growing that in the creek in my backyard!

Normally she also grows all the squash and pumpkins she can eat, as well, but this year, there's been a small land war with a bunch of groundhogs living underneath her neighbor's shed. She has been extremely bitter about this, blaming them for everything including the ruining of her pea plants. However, don't worry, once autumn comes around, she will forget them when it comes time to renew her enmity with her old foes -- the squirrels.

See, years ago, my mom planted a chestnut tree, and that sucker has thrived. But, in the early years, the squirrels would kick my mom's ass when it came to that tree. They'd harvest it night and day, and she'd come out to find empty chestnut shells littering her driveway. This led my mom to leave a giant stick next to the tree which she would beat the tree with. This would both scare the squirrels away and drop the chestnuts whole onto the driveway for her to stomp and peel.

I would laugh except for the fact that I'm a die hard chestnut fan and I eagerly await the bags and bags of whole unroasted chestnuts she gives me each year. Last year, she gave me five gigantic ziplock bags and I'm hoping for more this year. Look at them!



Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, indeed!

But, in the meantime, if you're ever around Trevose, PA, and you need some hot or sweet peppers, let me know. I can hook you up.

26 July 2010


Pretty Close Up

Project: Fingering Weight Toast (ravel it!)
Pattern: Toast
Yarn: Koigu Mori
Needles: Size 2 DPNs

I'm a t-shirt person. I wear t-shirts all year long, even in the dead of winter, though I do occasionally layer them then like I'm Dr. Sheldon Cooper. In fact, I might wear as many superhero t-shirts as he does, which is a little embarrassing. Not that this will stop me from wearing them.

However, I don't always want to wear layers in the winter, especially when I'm just typing away on my computer or watching television. So, I decided to knit myself a pair of Toast to wear while I do things like type or watch television or drink coffee out of doors like I'm some sort of person who stands casually out of doors.

Various Action Shots

What a lie. I hate the outdoors. It's filled with bugs and dirt and yuckiness that might get in my coffee. The 'great' part of the 'great outdoors' is a lie. (At our next house, I'm considering a deck, which I might go out onto simply because it's outdoors, but higher up than the ground, so it's sort of removed from the part of the outdoors I hate.)

I'm partially pleased with these arm warmers. They are a nice fit, and they are super super soft and silky, but they kind of look like grape juice vomit, which is the second time that I've had this problem. They aren't as grape juice vomity, so I think I can wear them out with no problem, but I'm really tempted to kick any variegated yarn I have to the curb.

I'm pleased that I knit them as long as I did (the full eleven inches) because I used up all my yarn and they will keep my full forearm warm in the winter. I am not pleased that I knit them as long as I did because it prevents me from pretending more fully that they're Wonder Woman's golden bracers.

Various Action Shots

I do that a lot. I'm reflecting bullets, in my daydreams, left and right.

If I had a little girl toddler, I'd probably knit her a pair of legwarmers using this yarn and this pattern, but adding a little ribbing at both ends. I mean, look how adorable this is on my baby.

Leg Warmers?

Want to see a close up of the face he's making?


Haha, pout all you want, son, but you're still being made a photographic subject for my crafting blog. Sucker, that's what you get for being born to me and your Daddy who is not going to stop me from exploiting your adorable face for this blog and any others I might write on!

Will be back soon with stuff I've cast on. Hopefully!

22 July 2010

No Pictures, But...

Remember how I said that sometimes I do not rock at estimating? Apparently when I did that, irony decided to come down on my side for a change! I have no pictures of it, yet, but I finished my pair of Toast armwarmers with only two inches of yarn left and they are the same size! When I got near the end of where I needed to be, I guessed based on the "four times your row" rule how much yarn I needed to bind off and it worked.

For those of you new to knitting, or just unaware of the rule in general, if you ever need to guess if you have enough yarn to do a row of knitting, you should basically make sure that you have roughly four times the length of the round/row you'd like to knit with your remaining yarn. It has always worked for me.

I am going to give them a gentle Woolite wash when I get home and then gently block them and there should be photographs at that point. I would photograph them now but I am sans camera at my mother's house for several days. Sorry, peeps. Just know I'm thinking of you all!

(This whole crafting and finishing things promptly feeling is making me want to sew, knit, and cross stitch like mad. As is the roughly eight hours of sleep I managed to get in the last twenty-four hours. Sleep, it makes me both headache-y and energetic.)

20 July 2010

How Much Sock Yarn Does It Take?

During my last WIP Wednesday, I made some noises about not having enough yarn to finish my pair of Toast. This is looking to be true, though the difference might be half an inch, which I can easily pull out of the first finished arm warmer.

A daily blogger I've been following quite a while, because she's a heck of a seamstress (and now a knitter too), Mermaids, asked:

"i am in the same boat in terms of hoping i have enough a yarn to finish a pair of socks. with fabric, it is so easy to tell if you have enough. how do you do that with yarn?!?!"

Peeps, this is the first time ever that someone has asked me a knitting related question on this blog. How can I refuse to answer? What type of person would I be? Would anyone ever ask me a question again about knitting? Let's go through how you can know.

Now, as the wise Ms. Knitpicky mentioned in her own comment, the ideal way to handle this is pre knitting anything. And considering she knits roughly a mile of yarn a month, she should know! You can, if you are worried, split your yarn into two equal yardage balls prior to ever knitting a darned stitch. Just wind those center pull balls and weigh them. Do they weigh the same? If so, get knitting!

I, normally, never run into this problem because I usually knit the same pattern for the same size feet (my own) all the time. Thus, I know exactly how much yardage I need to do that standard pattern. I guesstimate based on that yardage for other people's feet and other patterns. Sometimes, I guesstimate wrong. For instance, when I knit Helen's socks, I was only partially sure that I'd need two skeins of Lorna's Laces because when I knit myself anklets, I use less than one full skein. It turns out that when the person you're knitting a pair of knee high socks for size ten feet, you need to go the extra distance with your yarn purchase. Alternatively, I was absolutely sure that my purchase of yarn (roughly 430 yards or so) for Paul's normal height socks would leave me wanting more since he wears extra wide socks. I had enough left over yarn to make my baby a pair of tiny booties that matched! So, guesstimating only works well if you're knitting for yourself and for a pattern that's roughly the same height as you usually wear.

But, wait, you're saying! I knit a darned sock already! I need to know if I have enough yarn to match this first sock. Well, remember that scale that Ms. Knitpicky would have pulled out prior to even knitting? Yeah, go get it. Weigh your first sock. How much does it weigh? Note that! (I use my husband's kitchen scale for this task since it can tare out weights and it's really accurate.) Now, weigh your remaining yarn. If you have the same number or a heavier weight, you're good. If not, you might want to shorten your first sock now.

Hmm, I didn't include any pictures in this post. Nathan finds himself displeased with this post for that reason.

After Swim Starbucks Run

19 July 2010

More Mood

Bumble Peacocks

I've come to the conclusion that if I have nothing to blog about, then I should just buy more stash, because at least that looks good in photography here. Okay, not really. If you know me, you know I have a very small box of yarn and very little 'real' fabric. However, this month has been brutal. It's been bad news after bad news, hit after hit. It's been hot, and miserable, and down right unpleasant. People I love have been made unhappy by the news July continues to bring.

I try to keep the bad news and downer complaining from this blog, because I'm generally not a very down person. At least, I'd like to think I'm not. I might be filled with spite and anger and evil plans, but I'm generally kind of cheerful about it all. Heck, I weathered five years at a full time customer service/technical support job with barely a dent in my permanent happiness levels. (We won't talk about my view of humanity, however.)

Some of the bad news has not been mine, as you can see from Helen's blog post about her friend Amy. I've had my share, though. And this last week has been the worst yet. On top of some devastating news regarding my husband's family, my baby had yet another asthma attack. In the middle of summer. Due to bronchitis. What started out as a mild cough and runny nose quickly became full out coughing, hard breathing, and a lot of medicine and throw up. What is worse is that when he's that sick, he sleeps next to me (or not at all) and hits me and kicks me and generally fights sleep, so I have had to basically stay up at nights trying to lull him back into fitful sleep. Then, to top it off, when my fears get up about his asthma, my own body starts to rebel and I get nauseated. Then, to top that off, my husband was away for the full week again.

Paul has been pretty apologetic about not being around during this time, but, as he rightfully points out, when I decided to be a stay at home mom, I kind of signed up for dealing with vomit and sick babies. I think a good counterpoint to that is that I did not sign up to be a single mom to sick babies who keep throwing up on me, which is what being alone all week kind of feels like. In fact, if you're a single parent and you're reading this blog, my hat is off to you. You're probably the hardest working person on Earth and I can only admire you. If I had to go full time to a job and deal with this, I think that my plans to be a super villain would be much further along.

So, all this complaining aside, Paul wandered home last week from another work trip to NYC with another bag from Mood Fabrics. Nathan, finally somewhat better, decided to help me with the photo shoot this time, instead of sabotaging it.

Helping Me

It's another sheer woven cotton fabric with tons of drape and softness. As you can see from the picture at the top of this post, the pattern is reminiscent of what would occur if you crossed a bumblebee with a peacock.  I adore it even more than the previous fabric Paul brought home, but I still don't have a pattern for either of these fabrics.  Seriously, folks, any recs for a dress or skirt I could make from these super sheer fabrics?

14 July 2010

WIP Wednesday #4 -- More Toast

More Toastiness

I'd like to say a big "in your face" to WIP Wednesday which has soundly defeated me for the last several months. While it has kicked my butt several months in a row, and while it sent out a virus to my son to try and take me out of the game, I still managed to beat it about the head by putting up this picture of my Toast.

You will note several things about this picture of a pair of armwarmers in progress which I'll more fully discuss in my finished project post (which will hopefully come soon), but I'd like to point out two of those things here.

One, you'll notice that I'm using a mish-mash of number 2 DPNs for this project. Three of them are Lantern Moon rosewood needles which I love with a passion. The other two are Brittany bamboos which I like but do not love. Both sets have been devastated by my cat Inigo, broken into pieces and splinters. While I love her, she's an evil kitty who's hell on my yarn and knitting implements.

Inigo in the Shade

Secondly, that leftover yarn I have to knit the remaining inches of the second armwarmer is pretty lean. Let's hope I can make it to the end, because if I have one and a half of a pair of armwarmers, I might scream in frustration.

12 July 2010


As some of you might or might not know, my husband occasionally works out of town for longer periods of time. When he recently went to New York City, I got pretty excited and told him to eat dessert at ChikaLicious and to buy me fabric since he was working directly next to the fabric district. He ignored me on the dessert front, but like a great husband, he wanted to get me something for my crafting.

As with everyone on Earth, we have both watched Project Runway so he decided to hit up Mood. Or, at least, he tried to! The first night, he spent roughly an hour and a half wandering NYC in a heat wave, only to fail to find it. When he told me that, I told him that any fabric store would do and that he should not worry about it if it was too hot.

He never mentioned another word about it during the week, so I assumed he had not had time and did not ask. When he got home, he told me he had a surprise for me, but I had totally forgotten about asking him to get fabric, so I think I thought I was getting something from the hotel he stayed at. (No lie, we once got a pillow case embroidered with his name from one of the hotels he stayed at.) He told me to give him a kiss and hug, but I wimped out in the heat and gave him a sort of half kiss and then a sort of half hug. I know, I know, what kind of welcoming wife was I? The extremely overheated and exhausted kind.

Luckily, he gave me the bag from Mood anyway, and told me what had gone into getting the fabric. He had asked employees there what type of fabric to get me based on the fact that I am a beginner fashion sewer, and they told him to get me a cotton knit and they referred him to a certain section. (What?!) He asked me if he had gotten a cotton knit.


I told him that he had not, but that was okay since I had never worked with a knit before and would be afraid to. I was happy to have gotten a woven instead, and it was cotton, but very sheer and very soft and very drapey unlike the quilting cottons I was used to. He said they suggested two and a half yards, which I agreed was a good amount since I could probably make a dress with that.

We immediately ran for a photo shoot in the dying light, but my baby decided he wanted to 'help'.

Involving Nathan With Photoshoots

We quickly derailed from there, so today while he napped, I snapped a quick photo of the non-washed, non-ironed fabric.

Close Up

I kind of love the fabric, but I've never worked with such a sheer fabric before and I've never lined anything. Anyone have recs for a dress pattern that has a lining but is also instructional on sewing? Should I just sew something simple and use a slip?

09 July 2010

Such a cheaky monkey.

Four weeks ago today, a dear friend and exceptionally talented knitter lost her fight with lung cancer. How talented? She was a professional knitter. She knit the sample projects at Loop. She knit a hat for a movie. She made this!


It's deeply sad to think that Amy will never come to another knitting, that she's really gone. Amy was the heart and soul of our group, the person who roped in strangers at concerts, parks and just walking down the street to come be part of our group. For every death, there is a sense that it is too soon, too unfair, but she was just so incredibly lively and wonderful and memorable that it seems particularly keen.

Amy had a giant yarn stash, a million books and magazines, and quite a few unfinished projects. Her family proposed that the projects be divvied up amongst her knitters for completion. Knitting was a great source of joy for her, and going through her yarn, taking on her projects, dreaming up new destinies for the yarn in her stash -- it just feels like a wonderful way to honor her life.

My mission, which I chose to accept:

cheaky monkey

Complete Amy's Monkey socks (ravelry). Note: I have never knit a sock before. I am counting entirely on Jenn to be my sock guru on this project. She suggested a knitalong. This might be possible, if only because I am already 50% ahead. :) These had been designated for Amy herself, so on completion, I am free to keep them myself (if they are mangled and horrible), or gift them to another knitter (if Amy's good example and Jenn's direction guide me to a pleasing outcome.)

Her stash was a mix between huge loads of yarn, and single skeins. (I laughed to see that Amy also did not dispose of her skein ends!) I took these two skeins:

something for the nub

I figured on making something for the nub with the yellow cotton. The purple (maybe it's more merlot, actually) Koigu was too pretty to just leave, but I don't have a project in mind yet. And then, for myself:

a memory bag

Three skeins of Blue Sky Suri Merino in lovely, lovely crimson. It's nearly 500 yards, for which a suitable project must be found. Perhaps a wrap? I also took her bird project bag, which is very nearly the official bag of the group, and something I considered picking up many times. I feel very lucky to be carrying Amy's now.

07 July 2010

WIP Wednesday: Toast

It's been about eighteen billion years, but it's time for another WIP Wednesday. As I'm sure we all agree, the best time to knit a pair of wool/silk armwarmers is in the exact middle of summer when it is sweltering out. Wait. No, that's dumb. Yep, I'm doing it anyway.

Some Toast In Progress

It might be the hottest time I can ever remember in my life, but I'm knitting a pair of Toast in Koigu Mori. That's a fancy way of saying, "I'm knitting a tube I plan to put on my arms." Seriously? The fact that this is a pattern is almost sad, but there it is. Knit an eleven inch long tube. I switched out the weight of the yarn, so I could use my fancy sock weight blend of silk and wool. The yarn is beautiful to work with (soft, pretty, and shiny), but I'm not as thrilled with the flecks of colors like I thought I would be. I think I'm a solid or semi-solid kind of girl at heart.

I'd write more about my WIP and how absolutely dumb it is to knit a tube right after I finished knitting a tube scarf, but I'm literally melting in my seat right now. (Normally, I'd beat a person up for using literally in such a non-literal fashion, but I believe my skin has bonded with the leather chair I'm sitting in, so I might have really literally melted. Argh, stupid heat wave!)

As you can see from the East Coast weather reports, this is why I'm writing so much about gardening. What are you all doing? A lot of my favorite bloggers who are also friends seem to have disappeared off the face of the Earth!

Gardening Again

Do you like how Helen is totally delusional? She thinks I'm doing things like gardening or crafting, when all I really do is play Farmville and other Facebook games every night. Of course, now that Paul is not working nearby for a month or so, I'm considering graduating to a much bigger time suck such as World of Warcraft. (Back in the day, before my son was born, I would have been playing this obsessively while Paul was away. Luckily, my baby helps prevent me from being too much of a gigantic nerd.)

However, this does not mean that my blog is dead. While I might not be gardening, I certainly send my child and husband out there to garden. I might or might not shove them outside and tell them to produce me tasty snacks. They failed me on raspberries this year, simply by not telling me that we all need to experience a year where my raspberry plant does nothing besides grow. Apparently, next year the darned thing will produce berries. It had better, or it'll be sorry.

My strawberries are also not producing much this year, but flourishing. They are rapidly outgrowing their large pot and we've placed several smaller pots for the seedlings to land on.


Our watermelon plants are doing much better at producing edible fruit. We have two rather nice watermelons, both slightly less than the size of a cantaloupe but growing rapidly. We have seven or so others ranging from the size of a gumball to the size of a lemon.

Watermelon-y Goodness

And our bell pepper plants (all three) have managed to produce one nice pepper between them.

Bell Pepper

That's all on the gardening front for now, but I'll keep you guys updated. Also, keep an eye open on this blog. I might have been sneaking some knitting time recently, so there might be something some Wednesday soon! No promises, though. With Paul out of state and the heat wave murdering my energy levels, I can't promise to do anything more than garden virtually (Farmville) as mentioned above.