Sunday, December 25, 2011

And to all a good night.

Someone please remind me that I absolutely stink at posting daily and should not do such things. Seriously it just leads to situations kinda like this or this awesome comic.

But anyways this December I have in fact made a number of pretty awesome things and also listened to much good music. 

And so in the spirit of making up for the lack of 19 promised posts I give you a bunch of Christmas music I highly reccomend:

Straight No Chaser - They have 2 Christmas albums out I believe. Tons and tons of fun as they interject their beautiful A'capella sound with lots of humor. I recommend the 12 days of Christmas, which does in fact get radio air play and is how I first discovered the group as well as The Christmas Can-Can.

Glee Cast - The TV show is so popular they can even have holiday albums. And I still love them. Start with let It Snow.

Take 6 - Another A'capella group, there is a pretty serious theme going on for me so far. But always fun. I especially recommend The Sugarplum Dance.

David Crowder Band - Another Christian Rock group, I think the spiritual side always helps give these groups a leg up on other Rock bands trying to rock the genre. Start with Joy to the World or O Holy Night.

She & Him's Christmas album A very She & Him Christmas was a new discovery curtsey of she has a very unique sound and its quirky but works well for a different twist on the holiday classics. The whole album is great but try The Christmas Waltz as a good introduction.

Hayley Westerna's Winter Magic is a more traditionalish type album. She is a classical cross over artist that I discovered back in college. Sometimes she can sound rather young but its the glass-like quality of her voice that gets me every time. My favorites of hers are Silent Night and Coventry Carol, they just work so well with her voice but I also quite like her Carol Of The Bells and Sleigh Ride was a strange mix that I enjoyed.

Sarah McLauchlan's Wintersong is likely an album that you already know about but I strongly reccomend checking out some of the tracks that may not get so much air time. What Child Is This? and O Little Town Of Bethlehem are wonderful arrangements that do stand out as being rather unique but my favorite is easy The First Noel/Mary Mary.

Bethan Marshall's O Come O Come Emmanual is a welcome change to so many overproduced overdone songs out there. Her simple and heart felt rendition stands out for its soul and quality.

Diana Krall's Christmas Songs are perfect for jazz lovers or well anyone at all. My favorites are Jingle Bells and The Christmas Song

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy got in on the Christmas market with their album Everything You Want For Christmas. Their swinging big band sound is perfect happy mood music and Merry Christmas Baby with its blusey feel is not to be missed.

Ultra-lounge Christmas Cocktails manage to put together weird yet awesome renditions of Christmas songs. I highly recommend Cha-Cha All The Way which manages to add a mambo beat to Jingle Bells and another favorite of mine is their The Nutcracker Suite which is swung.

The collection album titled Alternative Rock X-mas hit a few wins including Santa Baby by Everclear, Little Drummer Boy by The Dandy Warhols, and Silent Night by Sinead O'Conner.

Christmas Remixed 2 has some great stuff if you're down with adding some beats to your holiday tunes. They pretty much had me with their Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairies. Along the same lines Merry Mixmas: Christmas Classics Remixed puts fun twists on some old favorites.

David Lantz, The Christmas Album is beautiful piano arrangements of Christmas favorites. His stuff would be perfect when you're looking for unobtrusive background music.

BarlowGirl, Home For Christmas is another Christian 'rock' group. I like their Carol Of The Bells/ Sing We Now of Christmas.

This Warm December - A Brushfire Holiday Vol. 2 is a compilation holiday album (with a really long name) which seems to have a bunch of indie artists. Alot of it is original, which after some listening can be fun but I really fell in love with Zee Avi's Frosty The Snowman. Seriously Frosty done in a weird slavic sounding mode and a good touch of melancholy - I am in love. If nothing else you must take the time to listen, the song starts around 1 minute into the video.

Hey, if nothing else now you've got some good music to bookmark and check out again next December!

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: Days 4, 5 & 6...oops

Ugh, I should have known me slacking was destined to happen if I tried to post daily...ah well. Life got in the way of Sunday and Monday so I present to you 3 awesome songs today:

To celebrate Christmas I decided to highlight 25 days of awesome Christmas music!

Day 4: Stufjan Steven's: O Come O Come Emanuel

For Sunday's song we have an advent appropriate hymn! Stufjan Stevens is a pretty cool folky singer. I think I first discovered his music through a free iTunes download, but I've greatly enjoyed his music since then. He has a huge album of Christmas songs which is quirky and fun. It is also huge, 4 or 5 disks huge. If memory serves he set out to make a disk of Christmas music for friends and family and the project just grew. How fun!

Day 5: Jethro Tull: Holly Herald
At college my primary instrument was flute and as a Music Business major I had this crazy half rocker-ish adviser (he could talk knowledgeably about Classical music but you always knew his loyalties were to the Beatles) who I distinctly remember talking a good bit about flute and Jethro Tull. I had never listened to any of his stuff and I'm pretty sure I didn't until I found this Christmas album. It's rather odd, but the flute playing is different and laudable. And in the end the music is quite fun with a different flair.

Day 6: Angels We Have Heard On High: Relient K
Rock versions of classic Christmas music can be quite fun, but all too often they end up being terribly. But I should have known that Relient K, a Christian rock band, would have no problem nailing it.

Carlin's 25 Days of Christmas Music

Day 1: A Christmas Festival
Leroy Anderson
Day 10: ??????? Day 19: ???????
Day 2: How the Grinch Stole
Christmas Soundtrack
Day 11: ??????? Day 20: ???????
Day 3: Christmas Time is
Here, Bela Fleck and the
Day 12: ??????? Day 21: ???????
Day 4: O Come O Come
Stufjan Stevens
Day 13: ??????? Day 22: ???????
Day 5: Holly Herald
Jethro Tull
Day 14: ??????? Day 23: ???????
Day 6: Angels We Have
Heard On High
Relient K
Day 15: ??????? Day 24: ???????
Day 7: ??????? Day 16: ??????? Day 25: ???????
Day 8: ??????? Day 17: ???????
Day 9: ??????? Day 18: ???????

Keep coming back each day as I celebrate the season with new songs each day!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

25 Day's of Christmas: Day 3, Christmas Time is Here

To celebrate Christmas I decided to highlight 25 days of awesome Christmas music!

Day 3: Christmas Time is Here, Bela Fleck & the Flecktones (plus A Charlie Brown Christmas!)

I was first introduced to Bela Fleck & The Flecktones by my high school band director. It was one of the 3 videos that he would show us on those school days where for whatever reason we were watching videos instead of having regular class (or rehearsal as would be the case with the band teacher). He really was an amazing teacher and can be credited for quite a bit of my musicality And the Flecktones are just one of the many many awesome things he exposed us to.

All of the musicians in that group are phenomenal and listening to them take a simple tune like Christmas Time is Here and play with it is just a treat. As a bonus I also have a video of A Charlie Brown Christmas (which I don't actually think is a Christmas song, more of their theme song but always gets playtime around the holidays so I'll take it). It's thematically appropriate and just as fun!

As always these recordings are sketchy, although acoustic does add some merit. If you like what you hear there is always Spotify, iTunes, or any other of the zillions of online music options available.

Carlin's 25 Days of Christmas Music

Day 1: A Christmas Festival
Leroy Anderson
Day 10: ??????? Day 19: ???????
Day 2: How the Grinch Stole
Christmas Soundtrack
Day 11: ??????? Day 20: ???????
Day 3: Christmas Time is
Here, Bela Fleck & the
Day 12: ??????? Day 21: ???????
Day 4: ??????? Day 13: ??????? Day 22: ???????
Day 5: ??????? Day 14: ??????? Day 23: ???????
Day 6: ??????? Day 15: ??????? Day 24: ???????
Day 7: ??????? Day 16: ??????? Day 25: ???????
Day 8: ??????? Day 17: ???????
Day 9: ??????? Day 18: ???????

Keep coming back each day as I celebrate the season with new songs each day!

Friday, December 2, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: Day 2, How the Grinch Stole Christmas

To celebrate Christmas I decided to highlight 25 days of awesome Christmas music!

Day 2:How the Grinch Stole Christmas: Original Motion Picture Sound Track

I have always loved Dr. Seuss's the Grinch. We had a whole pile of Christmas books and it was always one of my favorites. Plus there was always the old animated movie to watch on TV as well. So I was quite excited for the Jim Carey live action version when it was released. I quite enjoyed it and now have it on my must watch during the holiday season list. But something not everyone knows about is the absolutely stunning soundtrack!

Almost all of the tracks are favorites of mine so I'll try to limit myself today.

First Jim Horner's amazing symphonic compositions are absolutely stunning. Maybe it is because I love the story so much but I could listen to them all day. This album will certainly be making some encore performances, although I do also suggest acquiring the music for yourself as well (Spotify is a great way to listen to free and legal music).

First I have here "The Shape of Things to Come" featuring beautiful backgrounds, hinting and some later melodies, and introducing us to the fun world of the Who's this track is a great winner and really does give quite the overview of the whole movie in my opinion!

Along with the awesome symphonic tracks the album also features fun holiday themed pop songs. A lot of them are actually rather melancholy, to go along with the Grinch's feelings of the holiday, but I am really a fan of this alternate vibe for the holidays so I love it.

Green Christmas by Barenaked Ladies is completely catchy and fun to sing along with but when you actually listen to what you're saying it can be a bit sad.

"Green, cause of everything I miss
All this mistletoe, no kiss
And with every Christmas wish
There would be no greater gift
Than to have this envy lift."
 Still a super great song and something different to add to your holiday mix.

This is a bad recording, although acoustic does add some merits, but its the best I could slurp here on the website. An upload with the original from the soundtrack with rather unrelated anime images can be found here, or there's always Spotify, iTunes, or any other of the zillions of online music options available.

Carlin's 25 Days of Christmas Music

Day 1: A Christmas Festival
Leroy Anderson
Day 10: ??????? Day 19: ???????
Day 2: How the Grinch Stole
Christmas Soundtrack
Day 11: ??????? Day 20: ???????
Day 3: ??????? Day 12: ??????? Day 21: ???????
Day 4: ??????? Day 13: ??????? Day 22: ???????
Day 5: ??????? Day 14: ??????? Day 23: ???????
Day 6: ??????? Day 15: ??????? Day 24: ???????
Day 7: ??????? Day 16: ??????? Day 25: ???????
Day 8: ??????? Day 17: ???????
Day 9: ??????? Day 18: ???????

Keep coming back each day as I celebrate the season with new songs each day!

Fiber Arts Friday: Created by Carlin

I've been hinting at it here but this coming weekend marks the 'real' start of my own little crafting business.

The idea started in late October. I was asked to come teach Moravian Star folding at the library (more of an archive really) and museum where my dad is the executive director. They expand out their little gift shop to have a little Christmas Market of their very own. So it seemed like a good way to see if I could sell some things.

I then experianced quite the frenzy of ideas and options. And then a crazy frenzy to get a bunch of things created and ready to sell by Thanksgiving when I would be able to deliver my goods.

It was pretty crazy and nearly burnt me out (link) but here's what I put together for the opening of Created by Carlin...

First we have Carlin's Critters. These incredibly cute little guys were also surprisingly simple, although like many things the devil is very much in the details. The pattern is from and I can't reccomend it enough. Although while I love the final products, as does everyone I show them to, they did get rather tedious to make.
 Next are a bunch of little ornaments. They are all constructed just like their regular knitted object would be but with sock yarn on tiny needles and only a few stitches. Although my mittens were a bit wonky. The stockings ended up being my favorite by far. I started with a pattern to knit them flat but modified it so that I could do everything in the round. Hooray for no seams.

After that we have the tote bags. Colorful circles were crochet into white hexagons and  pieced together for these fun guys. I also added matching sewn linings (with a pocket!) for each. It's lots of fun to get to play with so many colors although as all things the repetition can get tedious. The green family bag was a ton of trouble because I just ran short of 3 of the colors when I was I believe 3 circles shy of my regular construction. So I improvised and adjusted a bit and the bag came out a bit thinner and maybe a bit taller, but hopefully it's still fun.

Somewhat randomly I decided I ought to get some 'fun' yarn and whip up a few scarves. It was then that I met my newest favorite yarn. Lion brand Wool Ease Thick N' Quick. I am so used to using lace-weight or maybe sport and the somewhat rare worsted that this stuff felt practically like it was crafting itself. Plus the resulting scarves are soft, plus, and machine washable! I also went against everything that I've heard from fellow crafters in recent memory and couldn't resist the lure of the pretty colors (and price) of the Lion brand homespun. And yes the stuff was quite splitty and not at all my favorite but it gave my 'collection' some nice variety I think.

And lastly while in the midst of all of this I had been taking items in to show or bouncing ideas off of my coworkers. One day as I was talking about the scarves one coworker had a thought, went out to her car, and came back with a knit headband/ear warmer that had a crochet flower on it. It was super cute and I found what was virtually a replica of the same thing on Ravelry. So with the rav instructions and borrowing her object I used the left over yarn from the Thick N' Quick scarves and made my own, pretty dead on, copy. It's just as cute as the original and now I need to make one for myself.

The Christmas Market opens this weekend, and I'll be home on Sunday to teach star folding (and see the family again, see/house a friend, and play my flute in church....going home is dangerous). Here's hoping that I sell some thing and that I can teach the complex folding without loosing or frustrating too many folks!

Thanks for visiting! Be sure and check out the rest of the Fiber Arts Friday blogs. And I have started a series of posts to celebrate the 25 days of Christmas in Music. Click the link to listen to day 1 or keep an eye here on the blog daily for the rest of the series!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

25 Days of Christmas: Day 1, A Christmas Festival

To celebrate Christmas I decided to highlight 25 days of awesome Christmas music. I seem to hear from alot of folks that Christmas music is overplayed and they are tired of it. But personally I can never get enough. This year I started listening a bit towards late October (while working on Christmas crafts of course), which is actually fairly late for me. 

Now if I listened just to radio stations for the entirety of the 2 or 3 months I might agree that the stuff gets old, but I happen to  have a ginormous collection of Christmas music. I think my itunes tells me that I am somewhere between 2 and 3 days worth of Christmas music if I were to listen to it all in one shot. I've also found Spotify to be a great way to discover even more new music. Check the bottom of this post for more information.

In these next 25 days I'm hoping that I'll be able to introduce you to some new seasonal listening options. Enjoy!

Day 1: A Christmas Festival by Leroy Anderson.
 Click play to listen. I choose this video for the audio quality not the images, so don't feel obliged to sit and watch this all, it's a long piece. See the bottom of this post for another listening option.

This piece is a medley of 9 Christmas carols arranged by Leroy Anderson during his time with the Boston Pops and their conductor Arthur Fiedler. The recording I've posted I think may be Fiedler conducting the Boston Pops, but it's youtube so I make no guarantees.

I picked it because I thought it was a great rousing start to Christmas music (and I love Leroy Anderson). The joyful fanfare opens with gusto and leads us across so many different soundscapes and carols it's hard not to smile the whole time. 

Personally I know the piece from playing it (last night) as a band arrangement with my community band. So if you've ever played with a middle of the road to decent group you may very well already know the piece. Or it's also performed often by professional orchestras on holiday concerts. The arrangements are tons of fun. My personal favorite moment, likely tied to being a flute player, is probably minute 7. It makes me think of all the little moving parts that you would find in a holiday toy display :-)

Carlin's 25 Day's of Christmas Music

Day 1: A Christmas Festival
Leroy Anderson
Day 10: ??????? Day 19: ???????
Day 2: ??????? Day 11: ??????? Day 20: ???????
Day 3: ??????? Day 12: ??????? Day 21: ???????
Day 4: ??????? Day 13: ??????? Day 22: ???????
Day 5: ??????? Day 14: ??????? Day 23: ???????
Day 6: ??????? Day 15: ??????? Day 24: ???????
Day 7: ??????? Day 16: ??????? Day 25: ???????
Day 8: ??????? Day 17: ???????
Day 9: ??????? Day 18: ???????

Keep coming back each day as I celebrate the season with new songs each day!

Spotify is an awesome new free way to experience music. Visit their website to sign up and download the needed software. Once you are set up you can search for songs or artists and stream them on your computer. There are a number of more advanced features available and also some "premium" options that require payment. But I enjoy sticking with the zero dollar option that still allows me to listen to tons of my favorite music plus find and discover tons more music!

This is not an ad, just my opinion about a great little music freebie that would make listening to any of my Christmas music, or any of your own a breeze.

Burned Out

It happens every year. I have all of these grandeous crafting plans but then reality hits and I realize that there is just not enough free time in the day. It's sad.

This year I thought I was being smart. Initially I wasn't going to do much of any holiday specific crafting. I was actually going to buy (or maybe cook) gifts instead. Instead I would get to work on whatever I wanted, mostly projects for myself even.

Before too long this plan morphed so that I would make small things for most people. Then I committed to the charity crafting. I got involved with a spin a bag get a bag commitment. And suddenly the awesome idea of crafting and selling things and even establishing my own little business was firmly in place. Plus a bunch of those items would be perfect for my regular giftees.

And next thing I knew I just spent all of November frantically crafting in every spare moment. The sell/business idea was definitely the bulk of the crazy. I'll be posting tomorrow with all that I did for that. It's pretty awesome and I do hope I succeed. But holy moly I don't know that I want to feel so rushed again in the near future.

Since delivering all of the items to sell on Friday I've been in a bit of a craft coma. I dabbled a bit in a few projects that had been on the back-burner when the business stuff took priority.

Yesterday I finally managed to start looking ahead at the next few weeks and take stock of all of the things that now must be accomplished. I'm trying to keep it lighter now, but alas I think I'm going to need to get my butt back in gear pretty quickly if I'm too accomplish all that needs to be crafted.

First up is sewing my friends wedding veil. I rather stupidly underestimated the time required to hand sew the lace edge. But I think I can still be on track to have it ready to go when we get together this weekend. Now you must excuse me while I go get to work!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Weekly Goal WrapUp, 11/20

It took some pretty serious nose to the grind stone, but I rocked the list this week.
  1. Piece multi-color hex bag
  2. Sew bag lining for blue hex bag
  3. 3 color work ornament- Everytime I successfully complete one of these stockings I fall in love again.
  4. 2 solid ornament
  5. Finish bag top and bottom
  6. Bag handle
  7. Sew bag lining for multi-color hex bag - I got way faster the 2nd time.
  8. 24 hex circles -I was so close to having enough but I ran out of 3 of the 4 colors (shades of green and yellow) at 22 circles. So I figured out a new configuration that should work.
  9. Ply 4 oz of Rosie- Although turns out it was only 3.5. But it was super amazing because my two 'bobbins' were virtually the exact same length. Like wow.
  10. Prep 3 oz of Rosie  - actually I only fully prepped 2 but I sorted through through the whole rest of the fleece and bagged up what I will be keeping and the 1.7 that remains to be spun.
  11. Spin at least 2 oz of Rosie
  12. Knit Squirrel - He has a body but nothing more.
  13. Knit Fox - More epic cuteness.
  14. Knit Mouse with beret - Well he's still in pieces, but all of the pieces are there.
  15. Knit many animal scarfs
  16. Add eyes and noses to animals -Added the finishing touches to all of them, but I'm a bit afraid my details are a bit of a weak point. May want to re-evaluate for the future.
  17. Add Fringe to Super Bulky Scarf - Super easy to do and while some mixed opinions on the addition made me a bit hesitant I think it looks great.
  18. Bulky Crochet Scarf
  19. Create a business identity - Yay clean and simple.
  20. Design business cards - Clean and simple but a touch of yarn for pop. I'm way too excited about my own design skills in this....not usually a good sign.
  21. Design item tags

Bonus Items:
  • Establish online business presence - It's a modified blogger page (free!), but I'm really digging what I'm able to do with it.
  • Super Bulky Scarf - I am totally making myself one of these once I have time again. And the shade of green I had for this is just perfect.

So 19 out of 21 things accomplished. Plus 2 bonus items which I say easily offsets the 2 missing tasks. Woohoo.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fiber Arts Friday: Charity Crafting

I am currently working on projects for two different Charity's.

2010 Colors
First is the Scarves for Special Olympics project. I may have this story wrong as I can't find it documented online and am going from memory but...The project started small with one state program asking crafters to use certain colors of yarn to make scarves for their athletes. The scarves serve "As a symbol of unity, community and support within the Special Olympics Movement". They were quite successful and scarves poured in and so each year the project grew a little bit bigger. This year the Special Olympics organizations from 40 different states are involved and thousands of scarves will be crafted and donated.
2011 Colors

This year is I believe the 3rd year that I have participated. I really love the idea and the goal of the program. Plus the guidelines leave room for quite a bit of ones own pattern interpretation. I have made scarves of varying difficulty but now have settled in with my adorable heart pattern which is also simple enough to be perfect anywhere anytime crafting.

My other charity project is a hat. A friend of mine created something on facebook that asked everyone she knew to make and donate hats to go to a children's hospital in memory of a young girl who passed away much to young. Crazily enough the friend who started the initiative has never learned enough knitting or crochet to make one of her own to donate....but kudos for starting the ball. This is certainly a worthwhile and moving endeavor.

A small, but very stretchy, infant hat.
I have a small pile of infant hats that were never donated to my local hospital that I plan on sending. Plus I cast on and managed maybe an inch or two of a Swirl Hat. The pattern is quite interesting. It really seems intellectually like it shouldn't work...but it does. Ah the magic of yarn loops.

The problem is I love these initiatives but at the end of the day sometimes it feels like they've become more burden than enjoyment. When I have a ton of Christmas gifts to make and an endless supply of ideas for projects that I just love for myself it can be hard to have the time. As you see I've already taken some steps but finding cute but simple patterns, but at the end of the day I'm either not that speedy of a crafter, or it's entirely possible that I'm just trying to do too much.

So for now the plan is to just keep plugging away prioritizing whatever project has the next deadline and trying to fit in at least the occasional bit for myself.....Am I the only one who sometimes struggles with the time for charity projects, or maybe your struggle is gift making? How do you prioritize your crafting?

Thanks for visiting! Be sure and check out the rest of the Fiber Arts Friday blogs!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sew what.

I woke up to find a message in my inbox from Bran. "How sweet" I thought "he hasn't done that in a long time." I can quite easily be described as a suckers for small gestures. So this was quite well received.

When I opened up the message I found "Good morning. Be sure to check Woot." Ok, so not quite the romantic gesture I was anticipating. In fact this is downright dangerous stuff as he is sure to have found something I'll want to buy but alas buying things costs money and I have yet to find any money trees.

Dutifully I loaded the website. And there was a shiny sewing machine. *want* Well, he may not be so great on the romantic gestures front but Bran does know me.

Of course I already have a sewing machine, but it has a few less than satisfactory qualities. The thing is a beast. I can still lift it so it's not the most epic but it takes some considerable effort on my part so I would guess somewhere in the 35-45 lb range (I'm probably underestimating my weakness and its like 30lb, but for now the numbers stand). This makes it pretty darn inconvenient to get set up and sewing. It is old. Certainly older than me, it's a bit possible at doubles me in age. Which leads me to the most important quality issue. The thing sucks at sewing.

I'm now at a point where if I'm going to sew something I know it has to be of a heavier fabric. I can almost get away with 2 or more layers of quilters cotton but silk or taffeta or anything beautifully light and airy is out of the question. Sadly I have lost some good fabric to this problem on more than one occasion. The tension on it doesn't quite work properly anymore. It takes quite a bit of fiddling to get a relatively decent stitch. And even then quite often things are pulled to one side or another or the fabric buckles. Lastly it skips random stitches. This particular quirk is absolutely infuriating and makes the machine useless for any sewn objects that I want to actually look well made.

But on the other hand...hey it works and I can (mostly) sew things. Plus how often am I sewing stuff these days.

The idea was now in my head however, and it wasn't going to let go anytime soon. I spent a good bit of the morning researching. Woot had a Singer electronic machine with 70ish different stitches and a few extras for $150. It seemed like I ought to be able to to better than that.

So after a good bit of looking I found this machine at Costco. It always seems like these machines have way more than I need. But hey decorative stitches can be fun. And in reading the owners manuals online I fell in love with lots of the spiffy things it could do like an invisible hem. How awesome is that. Never mind that it would likely take me as long to get it set up as it would to sew by hand. It had lots of good reviews on the Costco site and elsewhere. Plus it was more on sale than the link shows now and shipping is free.

After sitting on the idea for a few days I went ahead and ordered and a few days after that my new toy arrived.

I've only used it a bit so far but am absolutely loving it. And rather amusingly one of the little bits of use that I got from it was quite spontaneously sewing a test veil for a friend who is getting married. Crazily it was like the easiest sewing project ever.

Rock on.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Knit Picks Wishlist

A few weeks back I ordered from Knitpicks for the first time. I figured since it was a place of fibery goodness I would enjoy window shopping and allowed them to add me to their email list. Scanning it quickly while in the midst of something I noticed it said I could win something! But having no time I just left it in my inbox.

Yesterday I finally managed to revisit the email and discovered the following contest:

As posted on their website you add stuff to your wishlist, which requires signing up for a username, then email the list to someone. Once you do this they must somehow know about it and will select 3 winners on Friday who will each receive $50 to spend on things from their list.

Now being all about window shopping this was no problem at all.

My first introducing to knitpicks was a catalog that my parents had somehow received. But they passed it along to me and I absolutely fell in love with the most amazing penguin socks. Seriously how cute are these guys? I knew the pattern was in a book so I tried looking for it, which of course involved pulling up Ravelry to find exact sock pattern and book. And then utter disappointment when it seems that knitpicks no longer carries this book. Luckily there were more categories to explore.

I started with the needles and accessories as yarn is harder to select online I think, its much nicer to feel it. I already have the knitpicks interchangeables which I use all the time. They're great. But it would be nice to have a longer cord for magic looping larger items. Plus I actually may have broken one of my cables. I was pulling it out of a swatch and the metal bit that has the screw part pulled most of the way off of the plastic cable. It was very sad. Then of course they didn't have much of those things but lots of other good stuff. How awesome would it be to have a real swift in place of my foam core arms with paperclip hooks kinda taped to a lazy-susan. Or lace blocking wires to actually block things with decent straight edges. Or whoa, a pretty needle case.

The $$$ amount of the wishlist went up pretty darn quick.

Then I figured I'd at least take a look at the yarns even though I couldn't vouch for their softness. The first thing to catch my eye was the absolutely beautiful line of Chroma yarn. I have a somewhat random love for all things gradient so these were right up my alley. The choices range from beautiful fall colors to a bold sunset to a bright rainbow. Love it. A bunch of those went on the list even though I have no idea what I would ever make with the yarn. And well I may or may not have accidentally purchased an awesome bright rainbow graduated yarn from A C Moore on Saturday....buuut moving on.

The next, and final, thing(s) I fell for were the bulky yarns and the soft sounding yarns. Having just had such fast sucess with the super bulk yarn used for the crochet scarf it seemed like it would be lots of fun to make many more such quick gratification projects. And then I am always a sucker for soft, particularly Alpaca and Angora so Alpaca Cloud Lace, Capra Cashmere, and Sugarbunny Yarns all found themselves on the list.

Here's my list. I just need to win the lottery so I can buy it all with or without any contest winning. Now go and make your own list so maybe we'll both be lucky winners!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Weekly Goals, 11/14

Last week I had a very good moment of inspiration when I decided to take my weekly list, break the items down into smaller chunks, and make myself daily lists of what I wanted to accomplish. And while I may not have accomplished everything from last weeks list I still kicked some pretty good butt so my plan of attack is to do the same this week. Blue items are carry overs from last week. And I'm also going to take a slightly different approach. There shall be a primary objective list and then a list for the bonus stuff that I'd like to do but know time is short so they may not happen. My hope is that I can actually get through all of the old stuff plus all of the this weeks stuff and and even knock out a few bonus items and then be able to start Thanksgiving week from a very good position.

  1. Piece multi-color hex bag
  2. Sew bag lining for blue hex bag
  3. 3 color work ornament
  4. 2 solid ornament
  5. Finish bag top and bottom
  6. Bag handle
  7. Sew bag lining for multi-color hex bag
  8. 24 hex circles - Although I don't know what color palate to use :-/
  9. Ply 4 oz of Rosie
  10. Prep 3 oz of Rosie
  11. Spin at least 2 oz of Rosie - But all 3 would certainly rock.
  12. Knit Squirrel
  13. Knit Fox
  14. Knit Mouse with beret
  15. Knit many animal scarfs - they are cold
  16. Add eyes and noses to animals - Confession: many of my animals are still lacking eyes and some are even missing noses. There may also be one bunny without a tail, but I think he also has weirdly placed ears so he just really did not luck out.
  17. Add Fringe to Super Bulky Scarf
  18. Bulky Crochet Scarf
  19. Create a business identity
  20. Design business cards
  21. Design item tags

Bonus Items:
  • Knit Hedgehog
  • Knit Otter
  • Super Bulky Scarf
  • More Ornaments - I didn't put these on the regular list because I still have all of last weeks to complete but I would like more if possible.
  • Establish an online presence for my 'business'.
  • Prep & Spin Dyed Alpaca for my scarf

Ok....I definitely am feeling way over ambitious again. There is pretty much no way all of this can happen.....but I'm not very inclined to pare down the list either :-)

Weekly Goal Wrap Up, 11/13

I feel very much like I kicked some butt this past week. But it was a big list, I started late, and I know i didn't get everything so lets see what the list says:
    1. 16 multi colored crochet circles - So many colors, so much fun.
    2. Spin double ply alpacas of york - It was fun and the yarn was surprisingly squishy.
    3. Test yardage for alpacas of york scarf - Although I was mostly experimenting so the knitting was pretty rough and maybe not the most exact test.
    4. 1 color work ornament - I think I made at least one of these in stripes which is almost cheating but works. Although this list vs. the one prior is kind of all blurring together so who knows.
    5. Finish mitten -After failing at the next item I went and rocked my mitten thumb to make myself happy again.
    6. Sew bag lining -Utter fail. I was spending lots of time and being extra awesome to sew the most beautiful bag lining. But I cut the bag to my intended width instead of the width with seam allowances. For a while I thought it would still be ok, but it was not. Gah. And of course I was good and bought a small amount so I didn't have enough fabric for a second try. Very annoyed with self.
    7. Piece multi color bag - I've made it almost half way but there's still the rest to go and I decided to sleep instead of keep hooking.
    8. 3 color work ornaments - Thought about these guys and am totally loving them but ran out of time.
    9. 2 solid ornaments - Thought about these guys and am totally loving them but ran out of time.
    10. 1 knit squirrel - He is so stinking cute.
    11. 2 knit bunnies - Seriously these little knits need a post of their own to describe/depict the awesome.
    12. Prep 2 oz of Rosie - My carding technique is improving methinks.
    13. Spin 2 oz of Rosie - And, despite some initial questionable spinning, I am getting to be super fast and much more even at spinning Rosie.
    14. Prep 2 oz of Alpacas of York - This project has more or less officially been moved to the back-burner as it doesn't have such a hard, or soon, deadline.
    15. Spin 2 oz of Alpacas of York - This project has more or less officially been moved to the back-burner as it doesn't have such a hard, or soon, deadline.
    16. Crochet fast scarf from bulky yarn - Bulky yarn may be my new favorite thing ever. So fast and pretty darn awesome.

    Hmm...not quite so much bolding as there could be but I'm quite happy with my accomplishments. Plus it's actually less than a weeks worth of stuffs so extra awesome. And I'm feeling good so I fully plan to keep this ball rolling into next week.

    Friday, November 11, 2011

    Fiber Arts Friday: Nice and Squishy

    So I've had a pretty serious lack of online presence lately that is mainly owing to all of the ridiculous amounts of work but also contributing to that is the fact that pretty much all of the time not spent at work or work events has been going into crafting.

    I have managed to complete quite a few little goodies at this point that I'll take home to (hopefully) be sold at the Christmas Market. But with the deadline of Thanksgiving its rather inevitably that I feel quite rushed to get things done. Good things do always seem to take time.

    The other day however I was  putting on an old scarf that was a gift from my Aunt a number of years back. It was a simple crochet pattern but the bright fluffy yarn has made it a favorite for a number of years now. "I must make some of these" I thought.

    A few days later I found myself at Jo-Ann's and wandered the yarn aisle considering the myriad of options. Choices are one of the many banes of my existence. How am I supposed to choose! But I had a friend along which always helps and a sale price plus a coupon made the $ less of an issue. I grabbed two skeins of Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick in a gorgeous deep orange rust color. The yarn has the advantage of being super soft and squishy plus being machine washable.

    Back home it sat for a few days as I worked on other things. Then Wednesday night I decided I wanted to start on it. I checked the band and it called for a "N" hook. I checked my hooks and my biggest regular hook was "H". D'oh. I knew I had some bigger hooks somewhere from way back when I crocheted the rug for my kitchen. But I had no idea where I'd stored them. After much thinking and some searching, I was scouring the craft room when it dawned on me and I found the hooks stashed in a box of miscellaneous craftiness.

    The smallest hook of the bunch was "P". Well at least I was getting closer. I tried out the P hook but the loops looked insanely large. So I reverted to the H and started a few rows of double crochet. It was ok but the fabric was just too dense. I ripped it out, was at a bit of a loss, and considered buying another hook. However before doing that I decided to give P another try.

    Of course the loops were still huge but I was more comfortable and just went with it. After a bit of testing I settled on 10 stitches which gives me 5 or 6 inches. It is insanely easy going and after 2 nights of sporatic work I've used up all of one skein and have somewhere in the neighborhood of 4 feet. I still want to add more length but it'll be an easy project to finish.

    I think I need to work with bulky yarn more often (and buy more yarn to whip up one or two more to sell).

    PS: Help me out! To fringe or not to fringe? that is my question. Let me know what you think in the comments!

    Thanks for visiting! Be sure and check out the rest of the Fiber Arts Friday blogs!

    Wednesday, November 9, 2011

    Late Weekly Goals, 11/9

    I feel like I've made some really good progress so far this week. But it's pretty much all progress that I wanted to have done last week (in blue) so that's a bit of an issue...

    1. 16 multi colored crochet circles - to finish last weeks batch of 24. I determined last night that I can crochet 6 in an hour.
    2. Spin double ply alpacas of york - I have about half of the spinning done of solid color stuff. I do still want to try playing with some blends. I love this yarn so it should be easy if I can find the time.
    3. Test yardage for alpacas of york scarf - I still have no idea how much yarn I'll need for my amazing linen stitch scarf.
    4. 1 color work ornament
    5. Finish mitten - only the thumb to go!
    6. Sew bag lining - Randomly tacked this one on for myself, but I have the fabric and everything else is done so I'm anxious to have a 100% finished product.
    7. Piece multi color bag
    8. 3 color work ornaments
    9. 2 solid ornaments
    10. 1 knit squirrel
    11. 2 knit bunnies
    12. Prep 2 oz of Rosie
    13. Spin 2 oz of Rosie
    14. Prep 2 oz of Alpacas of York
    15. Spin 2 oz of Alpacas of York
    16. Crochet fast scarf from bulky yarn

    Given the rockstar crafting I accomplished on Monday and Tuesday I actually have some hope for this weeks success rate.

    Oh and last week Marni commented on the fact that all my list is fun craft stuff. This is way true. It would just be lame (and depressing) to add the real work that I inevitably must take care of as well. As much as I love my cat and having my own house being but one person who has to work a lot and likes to make many crafts does not make for the tidiest of house and yard. My mother happened to be up and we visited briefly and I inquired about their leaf raking habits. Apparently father doesn't like to leave them lay for fear of the grass. I freely confess that I took this into consideration and decided that I need even more leaves so that the fact that I kinda slacked on mowing the lawn as we got towards fall would be hidden.

    3 out of 38

    I've been rather absent from my newly renewed online presence here but my schedule has been somewhat ridiculous lately. And it’s not that I’m doing anything that I want to do. It’s all work.

    I took some time to count today and determined that in a stretch of 38 days I have only 3 days that do not have work or work related events on them. The goal line is Thanksgiving. 24 days in I'm starting now to see the light at the end of the tunnel...maybe

    The stretch started on Monday October 17th with a regular work week. I had that Saturday off, woohoo. And I was able to drive out for a friends party. Also woohoo, except it added to the lack of time at home. That Sunday it was only a few hours of work. But when the few hours are right in the middle of the day it's pretty darn lame.

    After that it was another regular work week. Except this one was fairly busy owing to the concerts that weekend. Then the weekend hit. A normal work weekend is about 10:30-11ish on Saturday with a brief respite of an hour or two at home. And then 12-6ish on Sunday. However to add to the mess we were blasted with the crazy snow storm. Snow + Central PA residents = chaos to begin with. Add in the fact that it's only October and we have a couple thousand unhappy people. Of course it's my responsibility to deal with those people.

    That weekend hurt. Literally I was all kinds of sore and worn down but so started the next week. Having survived (more or less) the weekend we realized we needed to look at the next event. And of course it was a doozy. My coworker and I had agreed to take on one project. However we didn't realize all of the extra bits that had been added to its responsibility (rightly or wrongly) plus some of the support that was supposed to be included fell through. That was fun. Tuesday through Friday were probably the most filled days that I've had in some time. Ouch.

    Somewhere in that mess I agreed to a quasi-work related side gig that was pretty cool but also quite stressful and left me once again sore for a few days. But hey at least I got paid for that extra effort.

    This past weekend was the big event. But first I had a day off on Saturday. That was pretty exciting, although worrying about Sunday's event unfortunately did leave some less than ideal thoughts lingering in my head. Sunday went quite well for the guests but was quite the mess administratively.

    I cheated the system and took Monday off, allowing for a grand total of 4 days off in the stretch. It was a much needed day. I mostly crafted :-)

    Yet to survive is the current work week. Saturday off. What should be an easy concert on Sunday but still a lost day for me. Then a full week stretch plus concert weekend. Tack on the few days before Turkey Day as the home stretch.

    At least "my domain" is pretty.
    It is fully my plan to take off the day before Thanksgiving, but I may have to battle with my coworkers for the day. You see we're, mostly, all salaried so we work all of these extra days and don't get paid anything. Technically we get to take time off but no one does your work when you're not there so it's a pretty ineffective system, although I've gotten better at taking off anyway. I've actually tried to start an uprising in the office to push for the whole office to close on that Wednesday. But more importantly for the whole office to close between Christmas and New Years.

    Ah the glamorous live of a non-profit arts administrative worker.

    Sunday, November 6, 2011

    Weekly Goal Wrap Up, 11/6

    I ended up being absolutely demolished by work this week. The insanity is quite deserving of a post itself but I've not even managed any posts at all this week so we'll see if anything really happens... *sigh*
    1. Organize Craft Box- Nope never got around to it. Still a giant mess.
    2. 24 Multi-color Crochet Circles - Thought about this but never even retrieved all the yarns from the yarn closet.
    3. Test Alpacas of York Double Ply, Blending, and Yardage - This was to be the fun project. I'm not even sure where the fiber is stored quite precisely and never bothered to go searching.
    4. 2 Mice - I knit up one mouce body a few hours ago and could realistically maybe knock off some more but probably fail.
    5. 2 New Animals - Purchased and printed off the patterns at least.
    6. 3 Plain Ornaments - 1 sock and 1 sweater completed. So 2/3 isn't awful except its about the success rate of this list.
    7. 2 Ornaments with colorwork - Nothing.
    8. Plan New Mitten Top - The modification doesn't look quite as good I think but it's still good.
    9. Finish Mitten #1 - Yea this didn't happen either.
    10. Ply Ellie - Easy, probably only 30 yards or so.
    11. Wash and Finish Ellie - This requires being in the house while actually being up and moving for a bit of time. Tricky.
    12. Card 2 oz of Rosie Rollags - I may have been slightly underweight and cheated by counting/using stuff I had been testing with but still calling it good.
    13. Spin 2 oz or Rosie - Hooray for spinning a thicker single. So much faster.
    14. Crochet Blue Tote Bag Handles - Well I think I'll start these right now at least.
    15. Start hat for Ren donation - I'm awesome at starting new things... finishing on the other hand...

    At least the second half of the list has some bold stuff......

    Here's to a day off tomorrow!

    Monday, October 31, 2011

    Weekly Goals, 10/31

    Simple list this week. But still long. Yay stuffs!

    1. Organize Craft Box
    2. 24 Multi-color Crochet Circles
    3. Test Alpacas of York Double Ply, Blending, and Yardage
    4. 2 Mice
    5. 2 New Animals
    6. 3 Plain Ornaments
    7. 2 Ornaments with colorwork
    8. Plan New Mitten Top
    9. Finish Mitten #1
    10. Ply Ellie
    11. Wash and Finish Ellie
    12. Card 2 oz of Rosie Rollags
    13. Spin 2 oz or Rosie
    14. Crochet Blue Tote Bag Handles
    15. Start hat for Ren donation

    Weekly Goal Wrap Up, 10/30

    When I look at this list it seems like I didn't accomplish any of my objectives. But at the same time I'm rather certain that I did get some stuff done this week. And I'm really posting a day late as well. Ah well....
    1. Ply Ellie - Did this early in the week and it was amazing.
    2. Spin and Ply last batch of Ellie -After having lots and lots of problems with the 2nd fleece I was frustrated and contemplated keeping this last bit for myself. I've mostly changed heart on the matter but still only got it spun into a single so far.
    3. Finish and Wash Ellie - Same issue as the above comment.
    4. 9 more circles for tote bag 1 -Finished these guys without a problem.
    5. Piece together tote bag 1 - Did some piecing at the concert/work. My coworkers absolutely loved it so I was extra inspired and finished quickly.
    6. Start Tote bag 2 -Nope, didn't get there yet.
    7. Proto-type any other animals -Thought about it but never while at home.
    8. Make 2 holiday mice -Only got one new guy made, he has a beret it is the best. But I did pay attention to the time that went into him and I'm thinking 2.5hrs. So a decent starting place I think.
    9. Sort Rosie into locks - I started doing this and got absolutely entirely frustrated because the fleece was really in awful shape. It's full of second cuts and pieces that are just crazy small. There is barely any of the lock structure that I love to start from. For a while I seriously contemplated giving up and mailing it all back. But I think I'll try again this week.
    10. Wash at least 2 batch of Rosie locks - Continuing from above, the only success I did have was pretty much just to try and pick out the really bad stuff then just slap the stuff on the carders and then make one of my little rolags. I'll either need to just spin it dirty or try my hand at washing the rolag.
    11. Test knit hat, and try sock and sweater mods -So I made the hat and think it looks pretty darn bad. Good to know. Then I actually worked out a mitten modification which worked rather well. And I'm mostly but not quite finished the new sock. but I think it'll work. The sweater has actually grown on me a good bit so maybe it doesn't need any changes.
    12. Level WoW mage to 80 -Utter failure as I'm still at like 73. Bran just wasn't interested in playing. I did however have my own interest rekindled. And now that the 90 day bonus has passed I'm free to just play as I will so this is actually good.
    13. Two repeats on mittens -My mitten was my beginning of the week fun. However I've realized that I need to rethink my top decreases before continuing as the next repeat will actually take me into the top. Woohoo.

    Friday, October 28, 2011

    Fiber Arts Friday: Happy Pictures

    So this week I feel like I've really not gotten much crafting done. There's not really any good reason for it aside from mental blocks. But then I looked at the things I have accomplished in the last week or two and felt better about things.

    And so I present to you a bunch of pictures (of rather poor quality as I was taken them at like midnight, oops):
    My Awesome Amazing Alpaca Mitten. It's actually coming out a bit bigger than I had hoped but we'll see what it's like off the needles. I need to sit down and figure out how I want to handle the decreases in hopes of lining up with the pattern more or less. I really ought to get moving as we've had a ridiculous cold snap. They are actually predicting snow for tomorrow which is insane. Plus its a frakking concert weekend so I have to work and now deal with all of the patrons who will be panicking about the snow.
    Christmas Ornaments! The mitten is quite possibly my favorite thing ever. Although I do think the final ones ought to be a bit bigger and I think I'll aim for a slightly smaller sweater.
    These little guys are absolutely the best thing ever. So freaking cute. And it's a free pattern available from Fuzzy Mitten. Highly recommend. The blue guy took me about 2.5 hours start to finish so I figure I'll only get faster.
    First scarf for Special Olympics of the season complete. Still love this pattern. Best moment ever occurred at knitting group. I'd finished the blue repeats and was going to start the red as I want all the hearts pointing down. Someone asked if I joined them at the top then, yes. Another chimed in that why didn't I just reverse the pattern and keep going. It blew my mind.
    And 24 circles ready to be pieced together as hexagons (top left) and made into an awesome tote bag.  The colors on this photo are absolutely and totally wrong but it still looks cool I think.

    Thanks for visiting! For all of you fiber people visiting I encourage you to check out the Spinning Trindles Group on Ravelry where they are currently hosting a giveaway. I purchased my first Trindle in the spring and it was immediate love. Just about everything that I spin these days is done using my Trindle. They are the most awesomest and I wrote this whole post all about them.

    And after signing up for that be sure and check out the rest of the Fiber Arts Friday blogs!