Monthly Archives: June 2012

Craftsy swag

Friday night at TNNA I went to the designers’ dinner hosted by Marly Bird (who also hosts the Yarn Thing Podcast)

at dinner

If you remember it was a masquerade. That’s my table mate, show companion, and all around awesome designer friend Ruth of Rock + Purl. (photo from Ann Kingstone)

The dinner was sponsored by a number of AWESOME companies. For the next little while I’ll be thanking them as best I can – and passing on some of the goodies to you!

goody bag

There were a lot of goodies. Today I’m going to give away three Craftsy tape measures.

craftsy tape measures

Please tell me you’ve heard of Craftsy! They’re an online community for learning and sharing crafts of all kinds! They have classes on sewing, knitting, weaving, photography, and lots more. They also offer space to share the things you’ve created and another fun way to buy patterns.* I’m taking Caro’s class on photography right now and I’m wicked excited about it!

Ok, so give away details. Comment here, I’ll use the random number generator to pick three winners on Monday (noon EDT). Be sure to include a valid e-mail address when you comment (it won’t be displayed) so I can contact you if you win. Today’s in-theme spam-bot-foiling question is: tell me what kind of a class you’d be interested in taking from Craftsy!

*No, my knitting patterns aren’t on there yet. Yes, they should be. Yes, I’m trying to find time to get them uploaded…

thursday already?!

My schedule says thursday is the day for my TNNA round up day. I’m still struggling with re-entry. But let’s see what I’ve got so far…

I drove to Columbus for TNNA, the first part of the road trip was beautiful, I went over a ridge of mountains and crossed the new Champlain bridge.


The last leg of the trip was a bit more exciting than I wanted. I had a major tire blow-out while driving 75mph in the left hand lane of I-71 somewhere in Ohio. I’m lucky that it was a back tire and that the traffic was light so I could cross three lanes into the breakdown lane on the right. After 45 minutes sitting on the side of the interstate (at least I had my knitting with me) AAA found me and changed the tire. Sadly the picture of the totally ruined tire was eaten by my phone, so I have no visual evidence for you.

Columbus was SO MUCH FUN. I was just walking the floor so I got to visit with yarn companies, dyers, publishers, and other designers. We’re not allowed to take photos on the show floor, but there was a cute pavilion just outside the door (lookit all the people knitting!)


There was Jeni’s ice cream (um, I went 5 times over 4 days)


There was lunch with lots of good friends! People I’ve known online for a while and now I can count as real life friends! People like Ruth, Chris, Lee, and Stacey



But also lots of other people I didn’t get pictures of. I met so many great designers (and tried to control my gushing – only sometimes successfully) I attended Marly Bird’s designer dinner, I thanked the yarnies who wrote my letters of introduction, and I networked.

It was sometimes exhausting because I was ON all the time. A perfect example came while eating dinner at a pub near the convention center. Across the isle was a booth where several yarn store employees were eating. They commented on my cardi and all of a sudden I’m handing out business cards and talking about the Ravelry in-store pattern sales program. Don’t get me wrong, it was WONDERFUL that they wanted to talk to me. But by the end of day 4 my voice was starting to go…

Then I drove home, I took a slightly different path and ended up driving NORTH through the adirondacks.


At one point I noticed the border patrol station was south of me, and all signs pointing north read “CANADA” From there I crossed the islands and dropped back south to my home. And I’m so glad to be home again!

Next I need to settle in, unpack, find my new friends online. Soon I’ll give you specifics on my new favorite yarns, and I’m going to have some pretty awesome give aways coming up too!

finished purple dress

I finished the purple dress last week! It’s not perfect but it is perfectly wearable.

purple dress

The waist seam breaks up the lines of the princess seams and changes the silhouette from what I was picturing in my head. I don’t know how much of that could be fixed with a neater/more flat waist seam, and how much of that is just the nature of dresses with waist seams! I like princess seams so much I don’t do many dresses this way so I have very little experience with them.

skirt inset

But I think the cute pleat in the skirt is worth it. And as I’m frequently saying (in regards to making sweaters fit) you don’t need the waist of a garment to have the same ease as the bust. In fact I suspect most of us prefer to leave a little room around the waist even if the bust is well fitted.


The pesky zipper turned out pretty well! Again not perfect, but totally wearable. This fabric is so light that the zipper makes for a stiff point in the dress. Even with the lined bodice the zipper is still more stiff than the rest of it. Is there a better way to do closures? Softer zippers? I’m one of those invisible zippers so the teeth are already pretty small.


There’s really no elegant way to take, or crop, pictures of one’s bust, are there? But how else am I supposed to show off the awesome neckline on this dress?! I think the princess neckline and contrasting green should be sufficiently distracting to hide the other faults of the dress. And can you see the seam line at the bottom of that green corduroy? I didn’t think so. That’s the whole point of invisible seams.

climbing rose

I wanted to take these pictures next to my cute little climbing rose. It’s COVERED in blossoms right now. But the lighting over there gave my camera fits. Too bad. Sure, the climbing rose is small, but it’s already twice as big as last year. If it keeps growing at this rate next year it’ll start picking fights with the rugosa…

clarina irene kits!

Check it out! You can now get kits for my Clarina Irene shawl from Earthfaire! Their kits contain the same pattern as the PDF I offer online (except printed and in clear protective sleeves) combined with the Lorna’s Laces colorways I used.

soft focus

I was absolutely THRILLED when Earthfaire asked if they could provide kits for my shawl pattern. I look forward to working with them more in the future!


I’m at the TNNA (that’s The National Needlearts Association) summer meeting this weekend! I’m wicked excited to meet publishers, yarn makers and dyers and sellers, and other designers in person. I’m excited to try the much-talked about Jeni’s ice cream. I’m taking a class (on how to teach classes, this’ll be useful later, hint hint) and I’m going to be taking yarn notes on who to contact in the future for some upcoming projects.

tnna mask

And I’m going to the designers’ dinner hosted by Marly Bird tonight! It’s a masquerade. I’ve never been to a masquerade before…

If you’re going to be there this weekend look for me, I’ll be wandering the floor and I’d love to say hi!

delightfully smelly

I’m spending a lot of time in my car today. No really, a LOT. Google maps tells me it’s 13hrs and 40min from my house to Columbus, OH – and that’s not counting pee breaks*. Knowing that this quality time with my car was coming up I decided to clean up a bit. I vacuumed (who decided to transport cord wood in my trunk anyway? It makes a horrible mess) I wiped, I washed.

And, inspired by my horror that people PAY MONEY to have chemical fragrances squirted into their car when they get the insides cleaned, I decided I needed an air freshener. You know, one that doesn’t reek of chemicals.

air freshener 1

So I made the best little air freshener you’ll never find in a store. I took a seashell with convenient hollows, a cotton swab, and a ribbon. I tore off just enough cotton swab to fill a convenient hollow, doused it with a natural, essential oil based perfume** and tucked it inside the seashell.

air freshener 2

Ta da!

*My car gets 45-49mpg on the highway. I need pee breaks far more often than fuel breaks.
**BPAL, or Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab for the uninitiated. I’m using The Doormouse for my car. I like it, it’s light and refreshing. But it’s too light for perfume and fades away to nothing on my skin.

sewing issues

Sometimes my sewing projects go perfectly, sometimes they don’t. This is one of those times. I have a plain white t-shirt. It’s a hand-off from Neil who won’t wear it because of the V-neck.

I won’t wear it because it has no shape. Well, cylindrical is a shape, so what I mean is it has no shaping. So I’ve seen enough t-shirt mods on the internet. I have sewing skills. I figure I ought to be able to fix this problem.

tshirt mod collar

I started by making a deeper V-neck, and then trimming that with some ribbon. I trimmed it because I don’t really like the “hey, I can cut this knit fabric and let it roll and it doesn’t unravel” mentality of t-shirt mods. It’ll unravel eventually. Do you really want to slap that kind of a short life expectancy on your project?

I knew I wanted to make this shirt fitted under the bust. I figured I could gather the fabric and create some ruching. I knew I’d want the bust fabric gathered center front, and the torso fabric gathers more spread out. You can almost see what I was aiming for here:

tshirt mod pinned

So I pinned and measured carefully. Then cut the fabric. Next I ran some thread loosely through the raw edges. I thought I wanted the gathers to fall naturally so I just kinds spread them out evenly in their designated sections, pinned everything, and sewed the edges back together with a zig-zag stitch.

And the gathers didn’t naturally spread themselves out. Nope. The “centered” ruching is awkwardly focused to one side of center and makes me look horribly lop-sided. No, I didn’t take a picture for you. I need to get my seam ripper out and try again with WAY MORE PINS. Lesson learned (again): more pins are always more-better.

quinoa salad

I made quinoa salad over the weekend. I did it just to use up leftover quinoa, and I had to make my own because I didn’t have half the ingredients for any of the recipes I could find on the internet. It was an interesting experiment, and tasty enough I figured I’d share it!

dry ingredients

This is a combination of sweet and savory flavors. I’ve been playing around with them a lot recently. I put pineapple in chili a few weeks back, and pineapple in a curry chicken and rice dish last week. Even Neil liked those two! But anyway, back to the quinoa. I didn’t write this down in advance, so you’re getting the fuzzy measurements version. The good news here is if you’re missing something or have more of something else. I think it’s fine to play around with the amounts.

a handful of raisins, almonds, crystalized ginger, and coconut (about 1T of each, give or take)
1 or two of each: scallions, mini beets*
1 peach
2 cups cooked quinoa
dressing 1T each: olive oil, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup
1tsp cinnamon, salt, pepper or to taste


Chop up your scallions, beets, and peach. I cut the almonds in half too, but maybe that’s excessive?
Mix everything but the dressing ingredients together in one bowl.
Mix all the dressing ingredients together in a little bowl or cup.
Pour dressing over quinoa salad. If you have time to let it sit before eating it the flavors meld really well. I discovered that when I ate the leftovers for lunch the day after making it.

quinoa salad

*these mini beets are from our farmer’s market. I’m pretty sure they’re just thinning the beet patch and selling the thinned ones. But I like them for salads because there’s the tasty beet greens, and the teeny tiny beets that are really sweet eaten raw.

week old chicks

The little fuzz-butts are just over a week old and still doing really well! There was one that seemed sickly when the box arrived, and sadly it died shortly afterwards. But the hatchery always ships an extra chick, just in case.

one chick

So I still have 25 birds, and the rest are doing wonderfully! They’re strong, curious, run all about their box and there isn’t a single weak one in the group. This may seem totally reasonable and normal if you’re not used to meat birds. But trust me, they’re doing way better than the standard cornish x meat bird chicks.

two chick

And you can see they’re already starting to get true feathers on their wings! I think meat birds just age a lot faster than layers. They feather out more quickly, start crowing more quickly, get to harvesting weight more quickly. But if you keep them around the hens start laying younger than regular layers do. And at a year and a half old they look and move like a 6 year old layer would. Something about carrying the extra weight, or maybe being bred to grow so fast, it wears them out faster too…

red chick

But at least with the freedom rangers they run, explore, and range like a normal chicken during the time they have. They’re tastier than a normal chicken too. I’ve tried raising a double purpose breed and eating all the roosters. You really have to keep them for a year before they’ve put on enough weight, and that’s a long time to keep a bunch of roosters around.

blue chick

So I get these guys instead!

sewing a purple dress

I’ve had an on-again off-again relationship with this sewing project. It was going swimmingly when I started it back in April* Then I broke a sewing machine needle trying to install the zipper.

See, my real problem here is I lack a zipper foot for my old sewing machine. So I dread zippers because I have to balance the two pronged foot on top of the hard part of the zipper and try and control everything so it doesn’t slip off. If it slips one way it won’t be sewing the zipper to the fabric anymore. If it slips the other way the needle hits the zipper teeth and breaks. I should probably try and find a zipper foot for the machine, but it’s from the 1950’s and I’m afraid I won’t be able to find parts…

Oh, right, I was actually going to tell you about the process. This dress was inspired by the very warm spring we had. I decided I needed a new sun dress. It’s a mish-mash of two other sewing patterns. The bodice and straps are one pattern, the skirt with the inset is from another.

purple dress bodice

I decided to line the bodice. Lined bodices are easy (just cut out two of everything!) and make a more finished garment than those silly little facing that never stay in place and disrupt the smooth look of a fitted top. The outer fabric is a fake silk crepe that I’ve had in my stash just about forever. The inner lining is a cotton (ok, it’s a re-purposed bed sheet, got a problem with that?) And the straps and contrasting fabric are a green corduroy also from my deep stash.

purple dress skirt

I assembled the bodice according to the directions, I assembled the skirt according to its directions. The hard part was combining the two. I just measured the length of the waist at the bottom of the bodice and then found the point on the skirt that was the same length.

purple dress attaching

This means after sewing the skirt I ended up trimming an inch off the top before attaching it to the bodice. Encasing the raw edge of the skirt inside the lined bodice means there isn’t an exposed seam to be found anywhere in the garment. Or there won’t be when I’m finished. You can see the green trim in that photo. The top edge is stitched to the top of the bodice, then folded down over all the raw edges and the bottom edge is stitched to the outside of the dress. I’ve decided the best way to do that will be with some invisible hand sewing. I’m almost done.

After attaching the skirt and bodice I tried to install the zipper. And that’s when I broke a needle and shoved the whole project to the back corner of my craft table for a month and a half.

purple dress finishing

But I finally brought it out again. I fixed the zipper issue as best I could and finished the rolled hems on the skirt. The zipper still isn’t pretty, but it’s as invisible as I can get with the tools at hand. And it’s on the side of the dress, so it’s not really very visible.

I hope to finish the hand stitching soon, and then I’ll have finished dress photos for you!

*according to the metadata on the photos…