Tuesday, September 26, 2017

My Favorite Yarn Subscription

I am not embarrassed to tell you that I have subscribed to five different yarn box subscriptions in the last couple years.  I won't list them all here.  They had their pros and cons.  But I have returned to my favorite of all.  It's the only subscription I have right now.  It's Ficstitches.  I love it because there's always a special little handmade item, the yarn is always small-batch handdyed gorgeousness, and there's a unique book written just for the subscription!

This sweet quarterly subscription always comes in a simple muslin project bag.  It is packaged so beautifully wrapped in turquoise tissue.

This month there is a lovely handmade copper shawl spiral. Every month there is a unique crochet pattern designed for the subscription.

And the yarn.  Oh the yarn.  It's always lovely.  It's lovely in color as well as feel.

I highly recommend a Ficstitches subscription.  They now have a recurring/ongoing subscription, which I love.  I am guaranteed to get my quarterly delivery of yarny goodness without delay.  Yay!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

I Hate Blocking

I'm sure I've said this to you before. I hate to block. I hate it so much I would consider only knitting socks and crocheting afghans so I never have to block again. And then I block a beautiful shawl. And my hatred is diminished.

I actually finished this crocheted piece in May when we were at the beach. I brought it home and shoved it in a bag, knowing it needed to be blocked one of these days. Well, the day has come. On Friday evening my neice is getting married. I have a lovely deep purple dress. I needed a shawl.

So, of course I remembered this one made of Louisa Harding Pittura. And, of course, I couldn't find it. It took a few days of searching, but I found it in a box I had packed while getting the house ready to sell. And tonight was the night. I pulled out the blocking pins and mats and spent an hour crouched over the guest bed.

It is a beautiful shawl. I love how it looks when it's  finished. But I still hate blocking.

Monday, September 18, 2017


Today my stitch markers arrived from the stitch marker swap I told you about here.  And what I have learned is that I need to step up my stitch marker game!! What I received in today's package was art!  But don't worry.  I have some ideas about the next swap.  And, oh yes, there will be a next swap!

The girl who organized the swap sent hers on a large ring.  After I took pictures and tagged the makers on Instagram, I put all my markers on the ring. 

She made a macaroon progress keeper and a little glitter filled glass ball.

Here we have a sweet little bird; a sea turtle, two beaded stitch markers, and a celtic bead and a natural stone.

The pink card has these really neat beads.  Then there's the pumpkin and candy corn.  There are two little fishes, and another unusual bead that came alongside a jingle bell!
On the black card is a windmill.  There is a 70's retro roller skate and cassette tape.  Two other beautiful beaded markers, and a Christmas ball and Christmas bulb round out the collection in this picture.
I think my favorite three are in this picture.  The white card came with a pretty beaded marker, a DINOSAUR, and a DONUT!!  Below, is one made from a sliver of cork...so cool, and another beaded marker.  All the beaded markers are unique, which is cool.
Finally, these lovely stragglers didn't come with tags.  You have an owl, a rose, a bead, a Christmas tree and a ball of yarn.

And those are the markers I received.  I probably have enough WIPs to use them all right now. I won't, but I could.  For now, I'm just going to sit and look at them on my ring full of stitch markers.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Because Cups Need to Feel Cozy Too!!

When I finished the wrap I mentioned in this post I had enough of my Caron Cotton Cake left over to make this adorable cup cozy.  If you're interested, the pattern is here.

I'll tell you a secret, I hate finishing.  I hate to sew in ends.  I sometimes skip extra little stitches and slip stitches because I am just done with a project.  But on this one, there is a row of single crochet around the edge of the entire project.  THEN there's a slip stitch row around the top of all those single crochets.  And it's the finishing that makes this cup cozy look really great.  It looks, for lack of a better word, finished.

But of course, I also had to have just the right button.  I found this button when I was rooting through the button table at the Fabric Center I told you about here.  I think it's just perfect for this project.  The button is functional.  There is a button hole on that little tab there.  So the cozy lays flat if you want that.

And there you have it.  If you are on my Christmas list, don't look too hard, you may be getting one of these.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Places You Can Knit...Jazz Fest

This weekend my family and I got to spend a little time at the Dauphin County Wine and Jazz Festival.  We had gorgeous weather.  It even got a little chilly when the sun went down.  There was great food.  One of our favorite food trucks was there and I had my favorite soulrito.

We listed to some really good music.  There was a group on the side stage called Teen Town.  It was three young men who were as good as any of the adults.  The boy on the bass for teen town was a very talented young man.  But all of the music was really great.  The large tent was full of music lovers.  It had cool lighting.  We had a little picnic.  And, yes, there was wine.  I don't drink wine because I have Rosacea and wine is a trigger.  So I avoid it and I feel better.

And, of course, I had my knitting.  I could have sat there and listened to jazz and worked on my sock all night.  It was such a pleasant atmosphere.  Everyone there was happy.  (I guess the wine didn't hurt the festive mood.)  It was a good time.

ACTually Knitting started a hashtag on Instagram: placesyoucanknit.  So, this was my #placesyoucanknit this weekend at the Jazz and Wine Festival.  Where have you taken your crafting lately?

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Custom Made Hunting Socks

So the Big Dog is going to Minnesota to hunt in November with his dad.  It's cold in Minnesota.  It's cold in Minnesota in July.  And he's going in November!  He was talking about the trip and asked if I would make him some booties out of polar fleece. He's concerned about his feet getting cold.  But I didn't think polar fleece was a good idea. When you wear a synthetic material it doesn't breathe.  You don't want something that doesn't breathe on your feet.  You perspire and then the air catches the perspiration and you get cold

What you want in the cold is a natural material like wool or alpaca.  It will hold in the heat but also allow your feet to breathe

So, after we had this conversation about feet, socks, and natural versus synthetics, he asked if I would make him a pair of socks for his trip.  I said I would do him one-better.  I will make him TWO pairs of socks for his trip.  I went downstairs to the rubbermaid tubs and found the Paton's wool that I bought years ago to knit a sock monkey toy.  This is perfect hunting sock wool.

It took a couple tries to get the toe just right and I had to re-knit the heel three times before we got a good fit, but tonight I finished sock one of four.

I still need to sew in the ends, but it's a great fit.

The plan is he will wear a pair during the day and then in the evening wash them in cold water in the sink.  Then while he's wearing the second pair, the first pair will be drying in the hotel bathroom.  Now that I know the formula I want to use to fit his feet, the next three should fly off the needles.  Working with worsted weight yarn and size six needles makes the sock go very quickly.  I picked up a 9-inch circular tonight and that will make the knitting go even faster.  

Custom made hunting socks anyone??

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Afghan in my Banner

Years ago, I was given 6 or 8 skeins of Caron Simply Soft in a beautiful blue and purple variegated colorway.  They came without wrappers so I don't even know the name of the color.  After that, whenever I got a blue-shade of Simply Soft, I stored it with the variegated.  I had a few ideas for an afghan but just wasn't inspired to make anything.  Then I found the Stained Glass Round Ripple 6 to 24 point on Craftsy.com by smoothfox.  I could envision this yarn in that afghan.

The pattern was easy to understand.  I modified the join a little, but didn't make many other changes.  I worked each color according to how much yarn I had, so in some cases the colors don't go in the exact order suggested by the pattern.  And I just kept stitching until I ran out of yarn.

I finished the afghan when we were at the beach in May.  The weathered deck was the perfect place to take the finished picture.

I love the way the colors almost make it look like it's one piece layered on top of another.  It's really striking.

Now, this afghan is draped over the back of our sofa. I would consider making this pattern again.  It was easy to memorize.  It was also one of those "potato chip" crochet projects.  You just wanted to add one more color to see the overall effect.  That's why it went so quickly.

If you want a pattern that produces impactful results, give the Stained Glass Round Ripple a try.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Round and a Round and a Round and a Round...

So, I have this niece who's a veterinarian in Maryland.  She and her husband live on a farm where they raise beef cattle.  Although she doesn't knit, she and I talk about it a lot.  She's a sewist and a painter.  We talk about sewing too.  Anyway, when she married her husband and moved to the farm I told her that one day I wanted to learn to spin when we were having one of our crafty talks.  A few months ago she said that she has a Vet Tech who used to spin and hasn't for years.  She wanted to give her materials away to someone who would get some use out of it.  She said she may have a wheel for me.  I was sure we were talking the old spinning wheels that you see in Williamsburg.  But I was grateful no matter what it was and I was going to learn to use it. Imagine my surprise when she arrived at the family Labor day picnic with this:

This a Louet S10 wheel.  I'm enamored.  I don't really know what to do with it.  But I'm in love with her.  I think her name's Betty.  I've tried out some other L-names, but I keep coming back to Betty.  I've found a few videos, but I've only watched one so far.  

There was also a huge bag of fleece.  There is some processed roving, and some unprocessed fleece.  

I still can't believe that someone GAVE this to me!  I am blessed-er than blessed.  Stay tuned for progress pictures!  I know it won't be great at first, but I'm determined to make it a daily habit and learn the craft of spinning.  And I've got lots of wool to practice on!

Monday, September 4, 2017


This past weekend we were at Aldi for groceries and The Big Dog mentioned that there was a fabric store nearby that we had never visited.  So we stopped.  I shopped while he sat in the parking lot with his pipe.  From the outside it doesn't look like much:

It's a long low cinder block building.  But then you walk inside and little baby angels start singing. There is fabric for miles.  You name it.  They've got it.  They have what I would call regular fabric. They have a large assortment of upholstery fabric.  They have outdoor fabric for awnings and umbrellas.  They have vinyl.  It was amazing.  I don't sew a lot, but whatever project I have in the future, I can fulfill here!

I turned a corner and there's a wall of fringe.  That's right.  A wall.  Of fringe.  I almost bought some beaded fringe just because it was so cool.  Beside it was a huge display of tassels of all shapes and sizes.  

And then, I went to the back of the store and found a huge table of buttons.  I spent most of my time at  the button table.  I bought a small baggie of buttons  I have plans for a vest and I found three choices for it.  I found four cute little elephant buttons for a baby sweater one day.  And I got a few buttons just because I thought they were cool.  

This was a really fun store.  I enjoyed the half an hour I got to spend there.  I will definitely be back.

3314 N. Old Trail Ste 10
Shamokin Dam, PA

Friday, September 1, 2017

Stitch Markers Continued

It took me a few days to figure it out.  But tonight I've got a stack of stitch markers ready to send to new homes for the stitch marker swap.  We are using hashtag stitchmarkerswap2017 on instagram. Go check out what everyone is making.  I'll post here when I get my stack back.

/We were supposed to attach our markers to a business card but I packed all my business cards away recently because we are hoping to move soon.  So I used some stiff felt and attached my markers to that.  I wrote on the felt with a Sharpie marker listing my name, instagram handle, Ravelry user name and website.

To recap, everyone is making 34 stitch markers, 2 kinds.  There are 18 people in the swap.  We are sending all 34 markers to one person.  She is going to sort them out and send each of us a fat envelope full of new stitch markers created by our new friends!  They were supposed to be mailed today, but I'm sending them a day late because I didn't like my end product the first time I made them.

But now, they are packaged and ready to go and I'm so excited!  I will show you everything that comes in a few weeks.  Stay tuned.  Maybe you would like to participate in a stitch marker swap the next time we do one?  If so, leave a comment!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

(n) To Mark Your Stitches

I joined a stitch marker swap.  I really love stitch markers and progress keepers.  I have a little container of them in each of my knitting projects.  I love using progress keepers to see how far I've come when I'm knitting or crocheting.  I got this one from Mothy and the Squid late last fall.  It's a little teacup with a teaspoon attached.  I have a set of tea kettles from them that I love, too.

So when I connected with a group on the Yarnhoarder podcast ravelry group who were doing a homemade stitch marker swap I said, "Yes! Yes! Yes!"  

Then I started making them.  They really looked homemade.  A lot.  So, I spent some time on Pinterest.  And that's where I learned about wire and crimping beads.  I picked up a spool of beading wire and a package of crimping beads.  And a star was born!!! I love this look.  It's clean.  It doesn't look super homemade.  They work up a lot quicker. Here are some of the results:

I will be making lots more.  I will be participating in more swaps too.  They are fun to make and I think they're really beautiful.  I'll show you a picture of the stitch markers and progress keepers I receive in the swap in a couple weeks. The markers I made can only be used for knitting.  I have some materials to make progress markers that are also useful for crochet, but I've got to work up to those.  This jewelry making is not for the faint of heart.

So that's my stitch marker story. What is your favorite style of stitch marker?

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

I Needed That Hook

I get to ride to work with my husband every morning.  We drive together for about 45 minutes before we go our separate ways. I spend that time knitting or crocheting while we talk. We don't even turn on the radio!  We just talk and I knit or crochet.  So this morning, I packed up one of my favorite Sew Flo bags to work on a crochet wrap that has been lounging in WIP-land for too long.  I stuck the crochet hook in the bag and off we went.

There it is.  See it sticking out of the top of the bag?  Oh, and what a cute bag right!?!  That's one of my two Harry Potter bags from Sew Flo.  I love her bags. Check out her Etsy shop here. They're so well-made.  And this fabric is so super-cute.  Anyway, I digress.  

When we get in the car, I don't start knitting or crocheting for the first 10 to 15 minutes until we get to the highway.  I get a little carsick and we live out in the middle of nowhere. So I have to wait until all the twisty back roads are behind us.

We were chatting away, when I reached down into my bag and pulled out my project.  I rooted around in the bag and couldn't find my hook.  I searched and searched.  No hook.  Not only could I not crochet on the way to and from work, but I also would have nothing to do on my lunch hour.  Well, we couldn't have that!  Lucky for me, I work within 5 minutes of two craft stores!  So, a quick trip to JoAnn's at noon and I was back in business.  I splurged on these Susan Bates hooks:

They are super-light!  And I really like the one I'm using on the wrap.  It's amazing how much different it is to have a lighter hook.  If you find these in your craft store, give them a try.  You'll be surprised at the difference a lighter hook can make.

P.S.  I'm hoping to have this wrap I'm crocheting on the blocking boards by the weekend.  So stay tuned.  Pictures coming!!

P.S.S. When we got home I found my hook laying in the driveway.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Chalk Paint is Life

So we were yard saling the other day.  I know I posted about a thrift store find yesterday and today I start off talking about yard sales.  It may seem like all I do is buy used stuff, but, well maybe that's true.  Anyway, we hit a yard sale and I picked up a little baggie filled with small items.  As I started looking at the items inside I knew I had found treasure.  $.50 later we spread the bag's contents onto our old pine kitchen table and laid claim to it's items.

Among the many interesting items were a few findings that immediately gave me a picture in my mind of a shelf.  I knew exactly what I wanted this shelf to look like.  It was so clear in my head.  The next day I headed to the craft store to find the perfect shelf and the paint I was imagining.  The shelf had to be very simple.  And the paint had to be chalk paint.

I knew I wanted the shelf to look worn and sort of rough.  So using this turquoise-colored Folkart Home Decor chalk paint called "patina" I spread it very thinly over the shelf.  I covered the entire shelf, but you could still see some of the pine showing through so that it looked more worn.  Then it was time to apply the items from the baggie.  Now, I know this isn't a super-functional shelf.  But it is just how I imagined it to be.  These were all the items from the yard-sale baggie.

I loved working with this paint.  I will definitely be finding other things to paint with it.  It turned out exactly the way I wanted it to.  It's very matte.  Goes on smoothly.  And is easy to thin out to get the effect I wanted.

We hung the shelf in our bedroom near the door.  I may hang my jewelry on it sometimes. But mostly, I just like the way it looks hanging on our wall. There are a couple small hooks on it, three different drawer pulls, three clock hands, and two other ornate findings.  I love it.

photo by firstnamemclane on Instagram

When the light is a little better during the day I'll try to get a better picture.  But my little yard sale findings shelf makes me happy.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Mama's Gotta Brand New Bag

Do you know that song?  Nevermind. This post isn't even about that song.

Last week I was thrift shopping, a favorite pastime of mine.  I stumbled on a $4.97 bag of yarn.  This was not your ordinary bag of yarn. This was what I would call boutique yarn.  Not the yarn you find in a big box store, but special yarn.  One skein had a $29.00 price tag on it!  Here's a glimpse:

Eventually I will use all of it.  I have some ideas already.  But this weekend I used two skeins.  In that lovely pile are two skeins of Kollage Riveting Worsted.  This is 100% cotton made from recycled demin.  I knew exactly which pattern I wanted to make.  I've made the Pineapple Crochet Market Bag by Ambrosia's Creations in the past.  It's a great string shopping bag with just a little pineapple pattern.  I love a pineapple pattern.  My favorite doilee is a pineapple doilee.  The pineapple pattern of this bag is just enough detail to make it especially cute.

I started the bag on Friday with an I hook and both skeins of worsted-weight cotton.  I finished the bag Saturday.  It was a quick project with a great result.  Today, I gave it to a friend at church.  When I started working on it, she came to mind.  I spent the rest of the time working on it and thinking about her.  So today, it was hers.  I think when things like that happen, where a person comes to your mind, you need to act on that.  If you think, I should make *so-and-so* a pie.  Then make them a pie.  If you walk by the phone and think, "I should give that person a call."  Call that person.  These thoughts come to mind for a reason.

And if you're thinking, "I should make that pineapple market bag."  You're right!  You should!  The bag would be cute in any worsted cotton.  I even made one once with leftover acrylic.  It holds a ton.  It's cute AND functional!  So get your I hook and get working!