Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Office love!

Decorating my office in the library has been a work in progress.  I have painted my walls a lovely green color but it just needed a personal touch.  I bought three white frames from k-mart back a few years ago but had never got around to filling them up and hanging them.  But with a little help from my sister this project only took about three hours.

Joy loves to take pictures and by that I mean we have filled up an 8g card in one weekend and had to keep deleting photos to take more.   So needless to stay the majority of my time was spent weeding through pictures and picking the best ones. 

To print the photos we used Nations Photo Lab the wonderful online site that allows you to print photos if you are a professional or not.  My favorite is the metallic finish that makes your pictures sparkle. And they have many different sizes so you can definitely get whatever you need.

(Full disclosure: Nations Photo Lab did not pay us or give us anything free to promote their services.  All we have received from them are quality prints every time we use their services.) 

Then once our pictures came in the mail it was time to pick and place the photos!

Ta-Done!  Finished project with Kip and Izzy's help.

I think they look pretty snazzy on my shoebox wall!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Coming Unraveled...

This is a sweater I knit for a my husband as a Christmas surprise, it was my first at doing cables and my gauge was completely off but he wouldn't let me unravel it. He was very grateful for such a handmade gift and walked around looking like a stuffed sausage.  I hid the sweater away and when he safely out of the country for a while I quickly re-knit this sweater using a Dutchman's cabling technique, which is more just texture knitting than cabling.
It happily fits but I noticed over the last few years the neck began to stretch out until it was a very trendy ballet neck and hindered my husbands eating, drinking and basic conversations. This time the unraveling and re-knitting was quickly done in a day while he was at work.
So there it sits, looking so peaceful while I wonder what next, but also am grateful that knitting is such a forgiving past time.

Here is a link to the Dutchman's Cabling book I used, it has fascinating pictures from the 1800's. Too bad it is out of print, but its so nice to have places like amazon.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Chrysanthemums and Pumpkins

 There is nothing that says fall more then Chrysanthemums and Pumpkins.
Does pumpkin carving count as a craft? We haven't carved in years, but this year we decided to get together with family and re-invent a family tradition. My pumpkin is above. I just took an oak leaf, traced it on paper, enlarged it in the copier and traced it on the pumpkin. I had grander ideas for this project, but it got late and started sounding to complicated.
This little owl Mandy carved. He was a template from a kit bought at the grocery store. Didn't she do a wonderful job? Since we didn't carve out the insides, do you think our pumpkins will last longer?

 This has been a fabulous mum year. In years past we have had trouble with our mums making it through the winter, but this year all of them can back beautifully!
 I didn't realize we had so many colors.
And our little Kerri, posing with our pumpkins!
Have a wonderful fall weekend Friends!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sweater Update #1

Here is a quick update on The Great Sweater Knit-A-Long! We all got off to a slow start as our gauge was not turning out right. Other then having to swatch and check gauge at lest five times, we all had a great time!!
 Even though Joy didn't join us in our sweater knit-a-long, she did join in the knitting.Her project was a simple scarf knit up with a scrumptious Misti Alpaca yarn. It is now finished! Yey!
 Mandy's sweater is coming right along. Lovely red color!
 K-Dee had a few false starts but is now on the right track!
Don't be distracted by the orange edging on Heide's cardigan! This is a provisional cast on and will be removed before finishing.

We all had a wonderful knitting weekend in front of the fireplace with the New Mexico mountains for a back drop. What could be more perfect!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Little Seedy

 These are two of my very favorite flowers, marigolds and calendula (or pot marigold...because they grow so well in pots?) They are very hardy and will grow in almost any soil or weather, they keep their color when dried and I do like the strong scent. But I think I really love them for their fascinating seeds and the fun of saving them every year.
Aren't the seeds an interesting shape and texture? I always imagined they were tiny paintbrushes.
It is very important to save seeds and preserve the varieties we have. When I was a little girl I planted Hawaiian Marigolds for a few years, one year I didn't get around to saving the seeds and I have never been able to find them since. The plants grew three feet tall and the flowers heads were quite large. If you ever see this variety please let me know!!

  When you are gathering seeds make sure the flower heads are completely brown and dry. If they are still green the seeds aren't done growing and you might not have any flowers the next year. Then very gently break the seeds off the head, or like with marigolds just pull them out of their case. They come pre-packaged!
I like to put the seeds in a bowl for a week or two and make sure they are dry before storing them in a bag or paper envelope with the date on it. Isn't it amazing how each seed can be so different?
 Check out these links: Read up more about saving seeds and get some tips. A WONDERFUL place to visit online and in person. They have articles on the importance of seed saving and GMO info.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Sweater Knitting 101

Since we are embarking on a Sweater Knit-a-long, I thought I would answer a few questions about getting started on a sweater.

How do you chose a pattern? If you are a beginner, obviously a basic pattern is a good choice. This doesn't mean you have to do plain or boring though!. There are plenty of patterns out there that have little design details that would be simple to knit and not be overwhelming. Look for a textured stitch around neckline, cuffs or hem. Small details that are sewn or knitted on after the sweater is finished and won't confuse the main construction, like bows or ties at the neckline or a picked up and knitted on ruffle. Another thing to look for is weight. For first sweaters, worsted or bulky weight sweaters will knit faster. Thus be finished faster and you will be less likely to get bored or bogged down.
How do you choose yarn? With so many many choices and variations this can be a hard one......or easy! Of course, if the sweater is for you, there will always be a yarn that will jump out at you! If you have already chosen a pattern read the yarn requirement and gauge. This will tell you how much yarn and the weight. Sometimes patterns don't clearly state what weight to use. If you check what gauge the pattern uses that helps narrow it down too. (If you are unsure what weight a certain gauge would indicate, here is a handy chart to help.)
There are a few other things to consider when choosing sweater yarn. If you are warm blooded a wool or alpaca blended with a synthetic like polyester or acrylic and cotton is a good choice. If you are going for warmth, all wool or alpaca is the best. Do you want to put your sweater in the wash or is hand washing fine? If the yarn is labeled as "super wash" it has been treated to not felt, this means it should not felt in the washer or dryer, but a gentle cycle is still recommended. Beware of fluffy or soft spun yarn, the fiber is more likely to felt and special handling is required.

What about knitting a swatch, measuring gauge? Gauge is very very important when knitting a sweater. By taking time to check, you make sure it will fit properly when finished. There are two methods. Knit a swatch, a small square about 25 stitches by 15 rows. Unless you will be knitting your sweater in the round, then you most probably need to swatch in the round. Gauge can be very different from knit-purl rows to knit-knit rounds. The other method is just to cast on and knit a few inches on your sweater and then check your gauge. This is for yarn that is crying out to be cast on with! Unfortunately, with this method if your gauge is wrong, you have to rip out. But I have found this method to give truer gauge.
How do you actually take gauge? It is really not as mysterious as it sounds. Gauge = stitches per inch. The best way is to measure over a four inch width and then divide by four. It is always a good idea to measure in a few different places, just to make sure you are getting it accurate. And always measure on a flat surface, not stretching your knitting. It doesn't sound like it would matter, but a half a stitch can throw things off. If you think about it, a half a stitch times one hundred fifty adds up to seventy-five stitches which could equal fifteen inches!! Very big differance.

Are you ready to knit a sweater now? Just remember, a sweater isn't nessasarily more complex. It is just a lot of plain knitting with a few increses and decreases thrown in!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Applesauce Time!

It is apple season!
Is there anything better then fresh, homemade, warm from the stove applesauce?! Well, maybe warm cinnamon rolls, but applesauce is certainly much healthier for you.
Have you ever made Homemade Applesauce? It is so simple. Easy as 1- 2-3!
1. Peel, core and chop your apples. It is always fun to use an old fashioned apple peeler, but these apples were too soft to use that method.
2. Put your apples in a saucepan with a little water (about 1/2 cup) and cook on medium heat.
This variety of apple made excellent apple sauce! It cooked down smooth in 20 minutes. I think they were 'Snow' apples. They were from my Grandma's very old tree and so no one is quite sure.
3. After it has cooked down to the consistency you like, add sugar and cinnamon. It all depends on how sweet you like your sauce and how much you like cinnamon. We like ours on the tart side and love cinnamon! I used about 1/3 cup sugar and 3 teaspoons cinnamon.
Enjoy your homemade fall treat!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A VERY BIG Oak Leaf!

 I found this leaf in the park!!

 Isn't  it HUGE! This is the biggest leaf I have ever seen. 

Here it is with a ruler next to it. 13 inches long! We found some big acorns in the park too!  hmm I wonder if that means something.....a long winter or cold winter..... maybe?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Great Sweater Knit-a-Long

Since K-Dee has never knit a sweater before, we have decided to all do a knit-a-long with her!! We are all so excited to help K-Dee on her adventure.
 So what is a knit-a-long? A group of knitters get together and knit either the same pattern or the same type of project. There are meetings every so often to encourage the knitters and discuss problems or questions. It is a great way to tackle something new that you might not feel you need a class for, just a bit of encouragement.
Since this is a long distance Knit-a-long, we are all going to post updates here and on our Ravelry group page. The exciting  part is, Mandy and I will be in Texas to help get K-Dee started!! We are so looking forward to that! After much, much, much debate and discussion, we all came to the conclusion that we would never all agree on knitting the same pattern. Mandy wanted cables...Heide wanted a cardigan....Becky wanted something cute.....K-Dee just wanted something easy! We have now all chosen different sweater patterns.
K-Dee decided on Breakwater by Cecily Glowik MacDonald. She loved the neckline detail and the fact the pattern is knit from the top down. So hopefully she will have all the tricky bits done while we are in Texas!
Yarn:  Berroco Vintage DK a acrylic/wool/nylon blend in Denim Blue.
Mandy chose the Bayside Pullover from Coastal Knits by Alana Dakos and Hannah Fettig. She was looking for a basic sweater with a bit of cables and this fit the bill!
Yarn: Araucania Ranco Solid, wool/nylon blend fingering weight in a rich red.
Becky's sweater is going to be the Striped Pullover #13 from Knit Simple Magazine. She chose this pattern because is a basic sweater that fit her yarn.
Yarn: Cascade Magnum, super soft bulky wool in buttery yellow.
Heide's pattern is Manu by Kate Davies. She has had her eye on this pattern for awhile. When individual patterns were decided on and this yarn was found at a discount store the Manu seemed the right project!
Yarn: Araucania Ulmo 100% cotton in a rich berry color.
We will keep you posted in our progress! If anyone would like to join us, feel free! We will posting on our Ravelry Group too.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Green, green, green Tomatoes

With grand plans for canning jars and jars of tomato sauce this year, I was quite disappointed when my tomatoes remained green. With a frost coming, I rushed out and picked ALL the tomatoes I had and started arranging them in bowls and trying to turn them into decorative objects of art in the house. I do look forward to Fried Green Tomatoes every year and it looks like I will be eating a lot of them!

The Recipe: Slice the tomatoes and sprinkle a little salt on each side, let them sit on a plate for about a half hour. The salt draws out some of the water and they aren't so soggy.
On another plate mix 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup cornmeal, garlic powder, onion powder, basil, Italian seasoning, and salt and black pepper.
On a third plate beat an egg and dip the tomato slice into the egg, then breading mixture, then in a hot skillet with about 1 inch of oil. Fry them for about 3 min. on each side or until golden brown.


They are pretty quick and easy to whip up while you have something roasting in the oven.

Yum, yum!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Reviving a Pair of Favorite Shoes

 My poor brown flats. Aren't they sad? The lining was coming out, the innersole was coming out, my feet stuck to them and I had to shove everything back in when I took my shoes off. But I was not ready to give up on them!! The outsides are still in great shape and they are my favorites! There had to be something I could do.....
 So I set out to put new lining in them!
First I took out the sad old linings, cutting the stitching around the labels to get them out. They look even sadder out of the shoes......
 From my fabric stash I found a pretty calico that went with the brown. I pinned the old lining to the fabric and cut new ones.
  Before gluing, I test fit the lining to make sure it was the right size. Just a little off the top, then it will be perfect!
I thought very hard about what glue to use, but in the end I was too lazy to go to the store and just ended up using Elmer's Craft Glue.
I used a generous amount of glue and spread it out evenly with my finger.
Starting at the heel edge, I smoothed the fabric onto the sole with my fingers, working my way up to the toes. Since the toe portion of the inner soles were already coming out, I popped it out to be able to work better. Once I had the lining smooth, I pushed the sole back in and made sure there wasn't any new wrinkles.
 Isn't the new fabric much more fun!  Now I just need to do the left shoe and let them dry for a few hours.
All ready to go stepping!!
I can't believe how good they look! Almost like getting a new pair.
Wasn't that easy? Start to finish it took me only 20 minutes. Do you have favorite pair of shoes that need to be revived?