This book has set off a chain of inspiration for me...
I've been feeling the urge to try some embroidery for a while now, and this was the thing that tipped the scales.
I bought some linen from work, and have a nice stockpile of Paternayan yarn to use.
At first I wanted to do either of the these pieces...
Searches on Google revealed more inspiration in the form of stitch samplers, like these, and the more I looked around online, the more I realized I wanted to do something along the lines of this...from Dropcloth on etsy
...or this from Julie on Flickr.
...that made me decide to go ahead and start my own sampler.
I had the linen and I had the yarn,but I still felt the tug to buy something. Like I couldn't make up my own thing and have it turn out the way I wanted it, or like I didn't know enough about how to do it. But in the interest of frugality and not amassing more stuff (!)... (I just recently did a huge overhaul of my yarn stash and gave away two big bins of yarn I no longer wanted!)...I decided to work with what I had on hand.
And if I'm ever feeling that I don't have enough Paternayan yarn, I know that my Mom, a few years ago, acquired two bins of this same kind of yarn for free, and I'm sure she'd be happy to share.
So over the last few days, I've watched videos on how to do some basic stitches, picked out colors that I love, and started stitching.
I started with the lime green in the center and a simple running stitch. Then the orange-red and stem stitch, and a curve no less. Then I filled in the space between the two by practicing backstitch. Last night I did the two lines to the left. The line to the right is a whipped running stitch, and the left is a laced backstitch. None of them is very hard, but really satisfying.
This morning, you can see I added a line of coral stitch or coral knot stitch in blue; a little trickier for me, but I love the challenge of figuring it out - and from teaching others to knit, I know it just takes practice and patience.
I love the colors!
I'm keeping in mind that it's a practice piece...
enjoying the process of learning new things...
and knowing that a blind man on a galloping horse wouldn't see any mistakes!
This allows me to really enjoy it, relax and havefun!
I saw my first newt on my walk this morning. I always get so excited to see the newts. For me, these bright orange creatures are one of the sure signs that spring is truly here. It rained in the wee hours of the morning...I woke to hear a gentle shower...and thought to myself, "I didn't know it was going to rain..." I listened, wondering if I'd hear thunder, but no.
That was 4:50am. Next thing I heard was my daughter's alarm going off at 6 o'clock. Time to get the kids up for school. Getting my kids going early in the morning is like waking the dead! But finally, off they went. I always send a little prayer of sorts out to the universe as they head out on the bus...thanks for our beautiful kids, thanks for taking them safely to school and back again and for watching over them throughout their day.
Throw on my sneakers, grab the dog leash and head out for a walk. I like to walk about a mile and a half most mornings. I have my regular route and I know my turning around point. Today as we turned around to head back, Zach stopped for a drink, that's when I spotted Mr. Newt.
I think one of the things I love most about newts is they're such a bright surprise. In all the brown and green, they're an unexpected spot of bright orange.
Once we got back, I decided to put in the Boston lettuce plants I got the other day. I am trying to reclaim some of the veggie patch I let go the last two years. When I got out there I noticed a tiny hole in the middle of the freshly turned dirt, but barely took notice. As I planted my fourth head of lettuce though, I let out a little laugh as I realized that tucked into that little hole was a little brown toad! I don't know if you can tell from the pictures, but the toad is tucked in just above where the grey rock is, near the bottom of the photo. My cat came over to see what I was doing and nearly stepped on the toad in the process!
Last summer, our young mama cat, who had just had kittens, got very sick.
Our vet, who has to be the kindest, most caring animal person I know, took such good care of her. It took several visits over the course of a couple weeks to figure out what was the matter with our poor mama, but Dr P did. She took such good care of Muffin, even staying up one night till one o'clock, and didn't charge near enough for all her help. It was then that I decided I wanted to knit something for her. I knew right away that I wanted to knit her a pair of sock. Socks are special. They take more time. I knew socks would say "thank you" even better than a hat or a scarf for me.
I know it's April now, but here they come off the needles...all three of them! I finished up the last one the other day...just in time for the kittens' booster shot visit on Tuesday.
Why three socks? Well, after I knit the first one, I weighed it. (I know, but I work at a yarn store, and we have a handy scale there.) Turned out there was enough yarn left in the ball to knit two more socks. When I mentioned this to a friend, she said, "Give her three socks! That's what I do when I'm making mittens for someone and I have enough yarn." So, three it is. I mean what else would I do with the yarn, anyway? Better put to use as sock number three. That way if one has a blowout, or gets sucked into the black hole of the dryer, there will be a handy replacement ready to go.
The yarn is KFI Indulgence, a sportweight, self-patterning sock yarn, 75% superwash merino and 25% nylon blend. I used a 32"size 3US circular needle and Magic Loop technique. Did the first sock alone, and the second two I did together on Magic Loop until I got done with the heel decreases, then felt like doing one at a time to the toes. Very soft. I loved knitting with this. After I finished the first sock, I was able to find the repeat and wind the remainder into two balls to match the first sock. Normally I don't, but this is for someone else, so I figured I'd make them match.
Check out the toes...
I used the Knitted Kitchener Stitch to graft the toes. Yes - Knitted. Kitchener. Stitch. I love it! I found it quite by accident in this video tutorial by wipinsanity here. Like the sewn Kitchener Stitch, it's quite easy once you get the hang of it. I wonder if it's easier to keep an even tension by doing the knitted one? Don't know for sure yet, although I've had really good results so far. And honestly, I really like the sewn Kitchener Stitch as well. For me, once I got the hang of it, it's quite satisfying. I think the greatest thing about Kitchener Stitch no matter which way you do it, is that it looks like one solid piece of knitting...no seam. There's still that fascination for me of "How'd you do that?! That's so cool!"
The kittens are all much bigger than this now and thriving, as is their mama, but it's hard to get a good picture of them that's not blurry! They're always on the move. And now that the weather is warmed up and they're all spayed, they love to spend a lot of their time outside - and who can blame them?!
They had a great visit to the vet...all are healthy and growing... and Dr P loved her socks.
I think I've shared before that I taught myself to crochet a few years ago, just reading from an old needlecraft book my grandmother gave me years ago.
I don't crochet very often. In the past I've found that I don't often like the look of crocheted things. However...I'm finding lately that I've been bitten by a bit of a crochet bug! I don't know what it is. Maybe it's this blog, Cozy Things I started reading early this spring. She's got a little bit of everything there in the way of needlecrafting (Man, she can crank out a lot of things in a short amount of time!) I find it really inspiring. I love all the color, and the mix of projects she's working on. She's a crafter after my own heart. (And I wish I had all the colors in my stash that she does!)
Beach Stripe Surf Blanket from Cozy Things
Anyway, I think it was Kristen that inspired me to delve more into crochet. At my most basic, I just love learning new techniques. And the result this weekend was that I picked up this book, Kids Crochet, at work, with the thought of seeing if I taught myself how to do things right as far as crochet goes, because there are things I've figured out on my own, but still wonder about.
So I was flipping through and reading about the basics...and I read a little closer about how to hold the crochet hook. Yup, got that. I'm a lefty, so I hold it in the opposite hand, but that's ok, I just transpose. Then, I read about how to work a stitch and the SMALLEST piece of information has just TOTALLY transformed my crocheting life! Really!
Step 1: Wrap the working yarn around the hook from back to front (make sure you don't wrap the yarn from front to back - this will make your stitches too tight).
I was just sitting on my bed the other evening, thinking about the crocheted pillow I've been working on and thinking," I like crocheting, but I wish it weren't so hard to pull the stitches through sometimes. Knitting is much smoother. I'm always catching the yarn and splitting it or something when I crochet."
I took up a hook and some yarn and tried it. And again. I started laughing out loud! Oh my God! It's so easy! That one little thing totally transforms crochet for me! Well, I still don't like the way a lot of things look crocheted, but the things I want to do have just become a hundred times more enjoyable to make!
Can't wait to learn how to do this! Isn't he adorable?!
Tomato the Frog Prince by Heidi Bears
I love granola...but not just any granola. I don't like it too crunchy. I don't like it when the raisins are cooked so that they are hard as rocks. I love granola with coconut in it, and nuts...pecans, almonds. Yum! I've been buying either Bear Naked granola, or even more recently, Hannaford's Fruit and Nut Granola. (It's actually not called Hannaford's, but I believe it's a Hannaford brand - just don't have a package of it here to look at!).
I recently I got it in my head that I wanted to make my own...maybe it would be cheaper, maybe not, but it just seems so expensive to buy in the store and I go through it so fast! so I Googled "homemade granola" and did a lot of looking around. Didn't find exactly what I was looking for, but found enough out to fangle my own together (I know, that's not a word, but it worked for me).
The first batch was delicious, and disappeared really fast. I was eating it every morning for breakfast. Then of course, there was the incident where my husband was chowing down on it for a midnight snack and I heard a sound much like a lot of granola falling on the carpet beside the bed(how do you describe that sound?) followed by cursing. That diminished the supply a little quicker.
So tonight I made a second batch and took a few pictures to share along with the recipe if you want to make your own:
4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups shredded, unsweetened coconut
1/4-1/2 c. Flaxseed Meal
1/4 to 1/2 c. sesame seeds
1/2 c. oil (I used Canola oil)
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. maple syrup
1/3 c. brown rice syrup
1 c. almonds, slivered or chopped
1 c. each raisins, dried cranberries, dried apricots or other dried fruit
Mix together the oats, coconut, flaxseed meal and sesame seeds in a large bowl. In another small bowl or measuring cup, mix together the oil, brown sugar, maple and brown rice syrups and add to the oats. mix together well till the oats are all coated. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper if you have it, and spread mixture on the pan. I press the mixture down, because I like to make the granola into into chunks after cooking. (If you want it looser, you can just pour it on the cookie sheet, spread it out, and be sure to stir it around a couple times during cooking).
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes until barely beginning to get golden colored. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan. When cool, break into chunks, put in a big bowl and mix in the nuts and dried fruits. Store in airtight container and enjoy!
And it is good.
“I hadn’t counted on the fact that it would end up being beautiful,” Patterson said. “Or that it would be so exhilarating. And so long.”
Patterson, 63, might seem like an unlikely scribe for the King James version of the Bible. Tall and bald with a hearty laugh, the retired interior designer is neither monkish nor zealous. He goes to church but has never been particularly religious. Health issues — including AIDS and anemia — have sent him to the hospital and slowed the work. He relies on two canes and will lean on walls and furniture to get around his apartment near the Massachusetts border.
This is a really neat story about a local gentleman! Inspiring!
Today is the beginning of the Leaf Evolution Mystery Knitalong by designer Tetiana Otruta on Ravelry! And even though I can't believe I'm taking on a new project (!), I couldn't resist signing up. I've never done a mystery knitalong...or any knitalong for that matter.
I've picked a laceweight green yarn from knitpicks that I've had in my stash for a few years now. I originally bought it to do another shawl. It's called KnitPicks Shadow. The color is "Cattail".
In the meantime, I've been plugging along on my Cables and Plaits sweater from the cover of the winter issue of Interweave Knits. I've got the back and two sleeves done, and started the left front on Saturday. At this rate I'll be sure to be wearing it by this fall (hehe!)
Happy Spring, everyone!
It's finally arrived here on our mountain!