Decisions, Decisions

I have been holed up in my house, wracked with indecision for the past few days. And of course, while I’m trying to figure out this relatively minor detail for the major project I’ve been working on, I haven’t really made progress on anything else, uh, except maybe napping. About two weeks ago, I decided that I had quite enough of the “storage room” we had on our third floor after trying to find some baby gear that we were going to loan to some friends and having almost every “pile” fall over on each other at some point. The mess was unbearable and I snapped. We weren’t planning on doing anything with the room for a while, since we thought we’d make it the play room for the kids once they were a bit older as they’re just a little too young at the moment. But I just couldn’t take it anymore, and began frantically cleaning the clutter and putting together the left-over Ikea office furniture that we were planning on freecycling. It is now going to be the “making” room, otherwise known as my craft room. All of my yarn, fiber, and small fabric stashes, the sketchbooks and art materials, and all the other various craft items I’ve collected through the years are finally going to be in one location. I’m going to share the room with the kids, and move a good deal of their “making” materials there as well, and just tonight I picked up a free table and chair set that I’m going to cut down to kid size and throw up there as well. I haven’t bought one thing yet, other than paint, and I’m really excited to get it finished up… but it’s the paint that’s been holding me up for the past few days me.

Normally I’m incredibly decisive about my paint colors, and have no problems with my choice after it’s on the walls. But occasionally, I’m thrown, and right now, I’m stuck. I chose a rather brilliant turquoise color from Sherwin Williams that I absolutely loved on the first wall, but as I painted each additional wall, I started feeling like it was all a little too much. And by the time I got to the last wall, I was a little frantic about it all. Now some people might be able to live with a color for a while to decided whether or not it’s going to work, but it bothered me so much I wasn’t able to sleep. So I went to Home Depot and bought two gallons of a much lighter, but still vibrant, shade of blue. So here’s what the room looks like right now, with both shades of blue and the green blackboard paint:

I can’t decide if I like the new blue or not. Sigh. I don’t know… I do like it in the picture! And it’s definitely not as overwhelming as the turquoise.

Oh, and if you think that using the Rustoleum Magnatic paint is a good idea, just fuggedaboutet. Save yourself twenty bucks and the time it takes to paint three coats; it’s a great idea, but doesn’t work one lick. Sigh, take two. And although I love the idea of blackboard paint, you really need to sand it in order to get a smooth enough surface to allow the chalk to show up nicely. If I could’ve found a good resource to buy an actual green chalk board to size, I would’ve gone that way. Still might.

Anyway, hopefully I’ll be able to get this room up and running in the next few days, although we are taking some time to get away this weekend and visit some family. Wish me luck.

Is That More Spinning Fiber?

No, in fact it’s four months worth of dryer lint. Pretty, no?

Mom has a new house, with a new fireplace… and every fire needs some method of ignition. Back when we lived in California, most of our friends lit their fires with fancy red buttons beside their fire screens, or a few by remote. But out in God’s country, where Mom will soon be living once the house is complete and her travels wind down, those methods are frowned upon as a tad too frou frou. So we are using leftover cardboard egg cartons, leftover lint, and leftover candle wax melted in a leftover pot to create little firestarters. It’s been fun collecting all the things we need while trying not to buy anything new, although old candles are hard to come by, and the ones we’ve found are quite, uh, fragrant. I thought that maybe we might be able to reuse the glass jars and lids that contained the candles, but I haven’t quite figured out how to remove all the wax residue, and MAN! That wax has some stinky scent to it!! Os into the recycling bin the glass went! And after the wax was melted and poured over the lint, I had to place the egg cartons outside while they cooled and make some pasta with tons of garlic and butter to push the cloying synthetic strawberry scent out of the first floor.

Yes, I know this has nothing to do with knitting… or spinning, or cooking, or sewing, but I’ve been putting together a craft room for the majority of the weekend while the husband was home and able to watch the kids, so I’m afraid that not much else creative has happened. A progress report on the new room will soon be posted as I’m rather excited to have all my “making” materials finally living in one location and the room is coming along nicely.

What a Day!

Geez Louise! I managed to get a lot done today! It definitely helped that I had someone here to help me with the kids while I cleaned up… I never heard of a Mother’s Helper before I moved to this neighborhood, but I have to say, it is an amazing concept!!

Last night I ripped into the dress. After the carnage was complete, I was absolutely covered in little bits and pieces of thread, as was the couch, the floor and the coffee table. It was a bit like unraveling a puzzle, and it wasn’t as monotonous as I expected it to be although it definitely was time consuming.

Today I manged to lay it all out to get a sense of how much fabric there really was.

Think there is enough fabric for a dress for a newborn and a three year old, and one little one year old boy? There are two layers !! of lining, all piled up in the front corner, and since it’s all polyester, maybe I can put some of that to use as well!

The only piece I left was the bodice… can’t really decide if there’s enough fabric to do anything with those little bits, so I’m going to leave it as is for a minute.

I also have these lovely bits of fabric just waiting to be made into some hot weather maternity tops and maybe an outfit or two for the kids.

Not really sure what to do with that striped silk… it’s rather too stiff for clothing, but I love it so much and I’ve wanted to do something with it for quite some time.

And finally, I have two gorgeous thrift finds–never worn with original tags!!–to show. Hoping to tailor them for maternity wear… but, uh, I haven’t really ever tailored anything before. We’ll see how I manage that. Any suggestions would be appreciated, as my searches for modifying for maternity haven’t really come up with anything other than instructions for changing up your favorite jeans!

I’m starting to think that I might have a bit more projects than I have time. Help!!

Huh!

Today, after finally locating my seam ripper, I began cutting into the wedding dress which has been languishing in the corner waiting for some attention. I started by removing the beads.

When I bought the dress, I thought it had a minimal amount of beading. When I sat down to remove all of them, I noticed two things: one, there were a good deal more beads than I first believed and two, the dress was rather filthy. By the time I managed to rip off all the beads, I realized that maybe my original assumption was correct, there wasn’t really that many.

I was hoping to send these beads off to a local artist, Memphis George, whose jewelery I both own and adore, to have her create a necklace using what I have as a starting point. Now I’m wondering if there’s enough. Of course, I do have a little headpiece full of crystals to add, so maybe she’ll still be able to make something interesting. Plus, I was hoping that she could add some color as well, so maybe I shouldn’t worry.

Once it was time to start ripping out seams, I was really considering taking the whole thing to the cleaners to get the fabric ready for sewing. Maybe it would be easier to clean it if the dress was still whole, although I thought if it was silk, then I should be able to soak it and get some of the spots in the more obvious areas taken care of myself. Then I happened upon the tag.

Huh! Whoddathunk? I never once considered what the make of the fabric was, and although I still love the dress, it certainly made me feel a bit of remorse over how much I paid.

Into the wash it goes! We’ll see how it comes out in another few minutes.

Hold on to Your Hats

I have actually accomplished some knitting this week!

A wee pair of Saartje’s booteesfree pattern!–to match the Koigu BSJ! They are teeny teeny teeny… I’m actually wondering if I might have to make a slightly larger pair just in case these are too small. I’m also thinking that it might be nice to have the Koigu as the main color, with the Charcoal yarn as the top contrast strip. It was a really fun little knit, and took me less than two hours to whip out, perfect for a break from other projects and for sitting and watching TiVo’s back log of History Detectives. Now I have to knit up the trim pieces for the sweater, knit up a little hat, find some cute buttons for all of the set and THEN I’ll call it done!

I also managed to finally finish up weaving in the ends for an lapghan that a knitting group I am in had finished up. It is now with the last set of hands getting a nice crocheted border before we hand it off to its intended to recipient. Hopefully I’ll get a shot or two of that to post. The majority of the women in this group are novice knitters, so this first project was a group of garter stitch squares knit up in garter, whip-stitched together with a contrasting yarn. It is quite warm!!

Woo-hoo!! Progress made!

Late Evening Summer Repast

One of the things I like most about my blog title is that I’ve kept it open to all endeavors in which I occasionally dabble in obsessively, not only knitting. Of course, the subject of the majority of the entries will remain firmly in the realm of knits and purls; after all I do have an ever increasing stash that needs working through. But I hope to more frequently write up a little about what goes on in my kitchen as I manage to spend quite a bit of my day there. Often I find myself wishing there was even more time and energy available to cook up another dreamy recipe or two… and an instant-extend-a-nap button.

This summer I’m spending some time learning how bake bread, something I’ve always had a fascination with that has only deepened the longer we spend time here in this city with it dearth of good and/or readily available bread. I have now almost conquered ciabatta–still have a few issues every now and then–and I’ve found a grilled flatbread recipe which brings me great joy, as well as yummy dinners. So far we’ve used it to dip into a lovely herbed oil, topped it with sauteed zuchinni with lots of garlic and plenty of lemon peel, or covered it with red ripe heirloom tomatoes my dad brought up from the South.

But my favorite so far was last night’s dinner when I took some very bland, cardboard-y tomatoes, de-seeded the chopped them up and threw it all in a pan with some beautiful olive oil, a clove or two of local garlic, salt, pepper, and a whole mess of saffron letting it cook nice and slow until the tomatoes found the sweetness they had buried deep inside. After I took the bread of the grill, I slathered some labne–a drained yogurt–stirred in a few drops of sherry vinegar into the tomatoes then dropped it by the spoonful onto the bread.

It was a rather yummy way to put the day to rest. The herbal sun tea was a perfect little drink to go along with it.

I cooked the tomatoes a little too unkindly in the first few minutes, so they fell apart into a mess, but if you have more patience and take your time with low temperatures, the tomatoes will keep their shape rather well.

But as soon as those local ripe tomatoes start rolling in, I’ll kiss my pan, put it back in the cabinet, and never give it a second thought until September.

Unless, of course, there’s bacon.

One Hot Mess

For my third post in as many days, I bring you not a lovely project in progress, but on sloppy bit of brilliant string waiting for something some clever idea to happen upon it.

This little pile is six skeins of a summery blend of unknown fiber. I actually have another skein lying around here somewhere, but who can be bothered to look for yarn when the summer sunshine beckons you to the front porch? Oh, we were also hosting a three family yard sale, so that probably had more to do with my lack of time than any romantic gesture.

I purchased these skeins back at the beginning of June at School Products in NYC–thank you Kirstin for the wonderful recommendations–and of course, I was convinced I would never forget the fiber blend, so now I’m left wondering what the heck it is that I picked up. I believe it’s linen/silk but it could be cotton/silk. It’s soft, shiny and has absolutely no give, so at least I know that no sheep ever blew kisses in its general direction.

I have been sifting through my patterns, waiting for something to jump out and smack me, and I’ve spent way more time than is healthy on ravelry. I have a few ideas, but I think the major problem is that I’m not really excited to knit up anything I can’t wear this summer, and since my belly is swelling at an alarming rate it’ not as if a slinky cami is realistic right now. At the same time, this is likely the last kid we’ll have, so knitting up a maternity tank is also not so exciting. Hmmm…. unless, perhaps, I seam in two gussets on either side… that would be easy to remove next summer, right?

Sun Tea

It has been sunny for the past two days, quite a nice break from the seemingly never-ending rain we’ve had so far. Don’t get me wrong, I love summer thunderstorms, and now that I have the back porch properly set-up for the kiddies with a gate to keep them nicely corralled and porch swing for me, we’ve been able to get outside even when the rain has kept us out of the yard. Yet having rainy days back to back to back makes it a little difficult to experiment with one of my favorite summertime drinks, sun tea. This year, I’ve been concentrating on making my own herbal blends as I seem to be getting more and more sensitive to caffeine the older, er-hem, I get. After a few internet searches, some rummaging through my personal recipes, and a few gallons of trial and error, I think I might have finally hit on the just the right combination for a nice mid-afternoon refresher; not too sour, not too sweet, and such a brilliant ruby red.

So, for those of you with maybe a little more sunshine than we’re getting, here’s a little herbal sun tea recipe for you to enjoy! A note of warning, I will only give you approximate ratios, since I’m horrible at exact measurements. I’ve been using a large, shallow, Asian style soup spoon to portion it all, and I think it holds a little over a tablespoon. But hey… it’s tea! No need to worry!

For a half gallon of water add:
2 full spoons of Hibiscus flower
1 full spoon of Rosehips
1 full spoon of Chamomile
1 full spoon of Orange Peel

I put it in a glass pitcher–don’t want your plastic getting hot in the sun and leaching those nasty chemicals–cover it with plastic wrap–since I don’t have a lid and I need to keep the bugs out–and set it out in the sun for four hours or so. Then I bring it inside, pour it over some ice, add a few splashes of apple juice if you’d like a bit more sweetness, then sit back, relax, and enjoy the summer.

A piece or two of cinnamon bark might be lovely. Also I would imagine a bit of gin, vodka, or cointreau would make a nice addition, but alas, no alcohol for me until the new year.

Battery Life

Hopefully I’ll be able to bang this post out before my battery dies. Actually, these days, my personal battery is running rather low and is becoming more difficult; not such good news as I’m only half way through the second trimester and this is when I’m supposed to be feeling my best. Yug.

I’ve gotten the yarn I needed to finish up the newest little gal’s BSJ. I’ve been waiting to finish up the jacket hoping that I could find a nice contrasting/coordinating yarn to get a little trim work done.

A lovely skein of Lorna’s Lace, colorway Charcoal. Yes you read that right, Charcoal. I actually took it outside to look at the color just to make sure it wasn’t grey. I’m so excited to not have to buy more Koigu! After I get the trim work done, the last thing I have to do is find some great buttons. We don’t really have any great button shops here in town, so I have to rely on visits to NYC or, of course, the internet. Currently, I’m really excited about distinctive buttons; great selection of modern style buttons. What’s really awesome is their “best match” service where you can send in a swatch and they send you buttons. Not sure how I feel about someone else picking out my trimmings, but I like their products so much, that I might just give it a try sometime.

Unfortunately, I have a few other things that need to be finished up before I can get to all of that. You see, two weeks ago, we heard of a local family who just recently gave birth to quadruplets. I don’t know many details, but they are all healthy, all around 2lbs, and there are three girls and one boy. I think it’s time to knit up a few preemie sweaters.

I plan on using Crystal Palace Maizy for these four little sweaters.. and I’m finding a whole lot of advice online about what is useful for these teeny little folk. What I’m not so excited about are the free patterns I’m finding, few of which, if any, contain any schematics for measurements, or even worse, any mention of gauge. Yug. The majority of the patterns only specify which needle size to use, and few here an’ there might even mention yarn weight. Since I’ve never had a preemie, nor known any preemies before they were older, I really need the required measurements so I can make sure that I’m knitting something that has any hope of fitting. I did receive a pattern for a preemie version of the BSJ from a great lady on Ravelry, no1grandma; that might be the sweater I make this round.

Well, at least I managed another post… although I’m starting to realize that I might have a few more projects lined up than I have time for.