Liebster Blog Award?! THANK YOU FOR READING!

Although I love to plan and put together posts for my blog, I watch my stats. I get pumped (doesn’t everybody?) to see little spikes in readership after the posts go up. So when I saw that morganhausen nominated me for the Liebster Blog Award I was ecstatic!

The Liebster Blog Award (as far as I understand it) is kind of a free-moving, pay-it-forward, chain-letter thing. Google says it came from Germany, but that doesn’t really matter. When you’re nominated, you post a picture of some flowers,  insert the Liebster Blog badge, and nominate two to five other blogs that have less than 200 subscribers.

Of all the blogs I read regularly, there are only two that fit that requirement:

Daybook: A keeping of days – a mellow craft blog with lots of links to interesting articles, recipes and, of course, beautiful photos.  The blogger, Jodi, finds a bit of refuge from her health issues in her crochet and weaving projects.

c  r  a  f  t  i  v  o  r  e – I was initially drawn in by her beautiful stranded wedding shawl. But then I found so much more to love (like the “mala” scarf pattern based on the auspicious number 108).  She is a very talented lady!

Thank you all for reading Gingerknitters! Your input and kind words fuel my left-brain, and keep me motivated to improve this little blog.

Yarn Crawl & Catch-up

Whew, what a weekend! While things have been silent here,  I’ve been busy blogging away over at the Culture of Crafting, in order to stir up a frenzy for Yarn Crawl L.A. County. I meant to take some pictures, but of course, I got caught up in the excitement of the weekend and have no real way of showing you how crazy I truly am. Well, except this photo:

On Thursday, after meeting with some of Robert’s buddies for pizza at Pizzeria Mozza, we managed to do some yarn crawling.  Friday was spent with lovely ladies at Knit Culture Studio including Laura Lundy of Slipped Stitch Studios whose business story is a complete inspiration to me. Next year I will definitely yarn crawl all four days!

Although we only hit three out of twenty-some-odd stores, we were awarded free goodies from Knit Culture, Wildfiber and Jennifer Knits, and got to meet some really nice knitters and small business owners like Heather Walpole of Ewe Ewe Yarn. I truly look forward to seeing their businesses grow and prosper because of this event. I picked up two skeins of Shibui  in a deep, dark green and some lofty cashmere tweed at huge discount.  As one of the only male yarn crawl attendees, Robert got lots of attention from yarny ladies. (As if he needed any more attention from yarny ladies!)

In the meantime, I’m still working on the same knitting projects:

– The Bobble Edge Shrug will probably be made sans-bobbles to save on yarn. Each bleepin’ bobble uses about eleven inches of yarn!   I know that’s not really in the spirit of hand-knitted treasures, but I don’t think I’ll be able to find another ball of this ultra-soft alpaca in the same shade of lavender.

The swatch below shows one full pattern repeat with bobbles, and one without. What do you think?

-I still need to finish the I-cord trim on my French Press cosy so I can write up a pattern.

– The back section of my green sweater is almost done. I guess. The directions were originally in Norwegian, which may account for the extreme brevity. I’m not sure if I’m doing it right, but I’m plowing ahead. (Again, not in the spirit of handknitting.) I know I’ll be so pleased to have finished it that I’ll wear it even if it looks a bit funny.

There’s no way it can be any frumpier than other things I’ve been caught wearing. . . .



Inheriting Works in Progess

A few weeks ago I was blessed with a heapin’ mess of yarn from my Aunt Kate. She is, as far as I’m concerned, the authority on pillaging estate sales for craft supplies. Although she tried knitting a couple of years ago, it didn’t stick (much like my close call with paper embossing) so she is more than happy to unload all these fiddly knitting gadgets.

Holy Cannoli!

It's all mine! Well, I suppose I can share.

Vintage DPNs, old school Boyle circulars, and some hot pink lace weight

Non-Inflammable? Today's marketing would call it "Heat Sensitive".

Usually I craft by the credo, “When in doubt, rip it out!” But I’m a big softy when it comes to works-in-progress. Like many of you, I tend to feel a little guilty undoing someone else’s work-in-progress (WIP), especially when all the notions and materials to finish it are at hand. I know it’s not very productive, but it’s a feeling that many of us crafters get when we’re bequeathed a box granny squares that “only need the ends weaved in” or other large-scale projects so close to the finish line.

Take for example, this awesome zig-zag crochet project.

very zippy!

Normally I have no problem taking this out and turning it into something different. But the yarn is already balled and ready , plus, I love how the colors blend together. The only thing I’m not hot on are the dimensions; the pictured piece is not quite a lap blanket, not quite a table runner, not quite a beach bag . . . you get the idea. I think these colors would make a lovely beach bag or table cloth. I think I’ll put this one on the back burner for summer time.

Most of the yarn pictured in the pile is actually crewel yarn from my great grandma’s craft collection. There are dozens and dozens of colors organized on paper towel rolls. When I knew her, she had moved on from embroidering swirling panels of flowers and fruit to crocheting afghans for her grandchildren. She showed us how to crochet into the back loop and the back-loop-below – stacking crocheted rows like shingles –  to create a washable, durable, dense fabric perfect for potholders and other household cozies. (One of these days, I’ll put up a little photo tutorial for Great Grandma Mooney’s crochet method. ) 

Although currently hanging out in craft limbo, great grandma’s crewel yarn just needs the right project. The only problem: the yarn is cut into sections about two feet long. Working with sections poses a bit of challenge for knitting or crochet, since you would be continually adding strands of pre-cut yarn to complete your project. Perfect length for embroidery, or maybe even weaving. (I’m sure I’ll find a use for it . . .  but I am definitely open to suggestions!)

knit, frog, knit, frog, repeat!

 Recently I came across another lovely knitwear designer’s blog, Knit and Tonic, which features a hilarious review of all the finished objects that didn’t turn out as expected. It may not get as many hits as her gallery of knitting triumphs, but I like the honesty. For a while now I’ve been pretty puffed up about all the knitting I accomplished before Christmas. But, if you could have seen me at work . . . well, I don’t make it look easy.  Ester’s hat was cursed with indecision from the very beginning. I was already up to my elbows in my Ruffled Lace Kerchief pattern when I went browsing for yarn. I spotted a couple skeins of Araucania Azapa – a tweedy, bulky weight yarn made up of merino, alpaca, silk and a touch of Donegal tweed – on sale at my local yarn store.  When I came home empty-handed, regret set in: I kept thinking about the plush, lofty quality of the fiber and the swirling soft blue (#826) flecked with black, tan and white tufts. Of course when I came back to the store the following day it was sold out.

Months later I snatched up a skein for an-arm-and-a-leg and set about looking for a pattern. Initially, I wanted hat pattern designed specifically for a bulky weight yarn. But since I couldn’t find a pattern that showcased the texture of the yarn, I settled on a pattern designed for Noro Silk Garden written by Japanese designer Omura.
 

Image found on Ravelry. I like the swirls.

 It’s a nifty design: a squishy parallelogram made by adding one stitch on the right hand side and decreasing on the left hand side, every other round. Alternating stripes of knits and purls create the wavy, vertical texture, and, since the cast-on edge equals the length of the hat, all you have to do is knit until it fits around your head. The logic of the pattern revealed itself to me only after I began the hat with the wrong number of stitches. After restarting, knitting to the desired width and binding off, it still didn’t seem quite right. It needed a little brim or perpedicular ribbing . . . something to make it look finished. BUT, I didn’t have enough yarn!

For a couple days, I put off starting over because I couldn’t believe I was about to rip it out again. I worked on other neglected projects, researched some quick-fixes, and tried to come up with a use for a hand-knitted, lumpy tube.  

Araucania Azapa - not the best yarn for this pattern.

  Even if I had enough yarn to finish the hat, I decided that it wasn’t the best use of this delicious yarn. It’s just too much. Too repetitive, too fluffy, too bland. So I undid it and changed my hat criteria. Enter Squirrelly Forest Headband by junespoon.

Image found on Ravelry. I like the squirrels.

 The pattern calls for a lighter gauge yarn, but oh no, I wasn’t about to follow a pattern as written. Why would I do that? Rather than sixteen squirrels, I figured if I cut out half the squirrels (knit the chart once instead of twice) I would get a decent hat in bulky weight yarn. After I cast on the correct number of stitches and began the color pattern chart , something was wrong. At that point, in my mind, the fact that this pattern wasn’t coming together could only be explained by some sort of hitch in the space/time continuum. Like some sort of mind-bending House of Leaves  knitting scenario. On closer inspection, I just couldn’t count.

At least I learned how to use this gadget.

I had some likely contenders for background colors (CC1 and CC2): Louisa Harding ‘Rosetti’ in a soft blue and oatmeal color. But the colors were too similar. As I knit up the pattern, there wasn’t enough contrast so I started over again.

blah.

There were several different points when I could have quit. As you’ve probably noticed, this project was almost as agonizing in the retelling as it was during the re-knitting. This particular hat was one of those situations where you’re surprised, and even a little embarassed, that you can’t get it right the first time. Like stealing the ball and driving down the lane for the lay-up only to bonk it on the rim. Or worse yet –  to shoot at your own basket and bonk it on the rim. I was sure that a bulky hat would practically knit itself, I might have even said as much out loud.   Anyhoo, I thought it might be nice to archive some of my knitting misadventures. In the end the hat was everything a hat should be: warm, soft and maybe even the right size.

DONE! Time for a toddy.

Christmas Countdown!

Hello again!

December already, I’m caught up in a Christmas Project Delirium: there’s sugary treats and projects galore, so I have the attention-span of a spastic goldfish. But, I am determined to keep my knitting deadlines this year. Hopefully those on my list don’t have to wait until March for their gifts. (Christmas 2010) Ariel is also quite busy, embarking on her own December blog-a-thon, and making all her gifts this year. With all our WIP’s and time-sensitive projects we still find time to make ornaments, snowflakes, mulled wine, homemade potstickers, and coax our beloved kitty into a variety of holiday outfits. Basically, procrastinating crafts with other crafts.

Our Thanksgiving was warm and cozy. Robert really outdid himself this year; single-handedly preparing enough turkey, stuffing, taters and gravy, yams, cranberry sauce, squash-chipotle soup and cauliflower for fourteen people, although only nine showed up. I was in charge of making rolls, the flower arrangement and counting the guests (oops). I used my mom’s delicious tater roll recipe, but I think I kneaded the dough too much the barometric pressure was off that day. My floral arrangement turned out much better than I anticipated since I used little bits and pieces from around the yard that weren’t getting much face time anyway. Bright red and yellow maple leaves, rose hips, dried flower stalks, mums, juniper sprigs and some sweet little tea roses from the wrong side of the property line. (Ariel did it!)

Perpetual Sun

Whew!
Finally settled in and employed –  I can blog without guilt, hurray! In fact, today I sorted through a box that has been accumulating  important papers, junk mail, old wedding invites, recipes, maps, etc. for over three years. I am amazed at how good it feels to have that heap organized! I feel like I have so much more control over my finances simply because I know where all my documents are. Yay!  

Ariel’s knitting has really taken off since I saw her in January. About a week ago she completed her first fair isle project – in one day! If there wasn’t another knitter in the house, my projects would be at a standstill. This sunny weather has really put a damper on my Christmas knitting. Since we moved to California, we have had one lovely rainy day. Locals swear fall will begin by the end of October, but I don’t believe them. I’m not complaining, but I did have higher expectations for the weather and my knitting progress.

Ariel and I stopped in Velona Needlecraft in Anaheim Hills, just to check out the merchandise. Holy cow! Every nook and cranny of that store is packed with wooly goodness.

Pacific City Excursion

Good morning!
Ah! A lovely grey morning! No, in all seriousness, I love the cool drab skies. I can’t wait for fall weather, puddles, pumpkins and hot toddies. I did however get a nice dose of summer at the beach with Rootie. After dropping Robert off at the airport at 7am for his vacation, we drove down through Newberg, along the Little Nestucca River to Pacific City. 

If you haven’t been to Pacific City, I’m not surprised; the town is located a couple miles off of US 101. There are plenty of touristy things, but nothing like Seaside or Lincoln City. We spent the morning people watching on the sand. Ruthie was determined to eliminate her farmer’s tan by sunburning evenly all over. I opted for shade and SPF 70.

Craft Corner

June already?! Hard to believe with all the peculiar weather patterns. However, if you suffer from seasonal allergies like me then you are rejoicing the GLORIOUS RAIN!!!! Yesterday was rough, to say the least. I don’t know what the pollen count was but I could almost feel the pollen dusting my face. Yuck! Not even a good week of sunshine, and I’m already eager for the cold, wet season. Mostly for the knitting. The cold weather and holidays are a much better incentive to finish projects. Right now, I have four WIPs (works in progress) on the brink of completion.

This week, I was inspired to rearrange and organize my craft corner. There are so many inspiring work spaces online, I felt sure that with a new desk and a little downsizing I might be able to create a great space to craft. I bought a desk on Craigslist that I thought would fit in the corner. Sure enough – once the darn thing was assembled, mind you – the desk didn’t fit. Great. Looks like I have yet another project still in the works…

On an unrelated note: Ester graduated! Yippee!