Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I follow quite a few blogs. One of them is Quelle Erqsome. I am fascinated by her mustachio.

Last night, I made beer bread from a recipe I saw on her blog a while back. It's unbelievably easy, and it's quite tasty! I used Fat Tire for my ale. The bread was yummeriffic with butter, while still warm, but once I tried it with raspberry jam, I nearly died.

Looking on this same blog today, I found this list. I decided to play along and the things I have done are in bold:

1. Started my own blog
2. Slept under the stars (uh...there's bugs under the stars)
3. Played in a band (I played piano when I was little. I was bad)
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than I can afford to charity (I have given to charity, though. I swear)
7. Been to Disneyland/world (Don't go in August)
8. Climbed a mountain (not a whole one, but I've been on a mountain.)
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sung a solo (Yes, and everyone at church was snickering behind their hands. Just because I was 8 doesn't mean I didn't notice.)
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris (never left the country, other than Mexico)
13. Watched lightening at sea (I'm sort of freaked out by the sea, and live far from one)
14. Taught myself an art from scratch Sewing, knitting ...
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown my own vegetables (I forgot to take care of my ex-roommates garden when she was on a trip. Does that count in some way?)
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train (I really wanted to go on a train, but it's more expensive than flying and then half your time off is wasted on travel)
21. Had a pillow fight

22. Hitchhiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill (who would do such a thing!?)
24. Built a snow fort (Hmmm. I built pillow forts with my brother. They are warmer and softer)
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a marathon (no, but I keep thinking of that shuffle-foot lady that pissed off Amy)
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset Sunset, but I hope I'm never up early enough for a sunrise.
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught myself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight (There were jellyfish lying all over and I didn't like that)
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had my portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling (Ugh. Bad experience)
52. Kissed in the rain (Oh, quit acting like this is romantic. They only like this in movies and songs)
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theatre
55. Been in a movie (I once wrote, directed, starred in and produced "The Poopy Murder." It was never released.)
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Guide Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma (I almost donated plasma when I was broke. Amy gave me $20 and forbid me from selling parts of my body. Thanks, Amy.)
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt (Funny, I am just about to attempt my first!)
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job (That old guy at Frozen Yogurt Supreme was a cranky one)
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had my picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Rode an elephant

Monday, November 24, 2008

Amy Butler Madison Bag

Continuing with my Amy Butler obsession, here is yet another bag. This one is the easiest of the three I have made, and came out the best. For one thing, it doesn't have piping, which I have found is not my strong point.

I used a Butler print that I have been drooling over since the spring for the outer bag and a light blue for the lining.

Changes I made:
I added pockets for my phone, iPod and pen. I left off the boning at the top because it seemed like way too much trouble, and for some reason spending another $1.50 seemed silly at the moment. ***UPDATE: I can now see the point of the boning. I think it would have been better if I had done it. *** Also, I left out the false bottom. It seemed to have enough support on its own, and the plastic she has you buy for these false bottoms it several dollars a sheet. I have bought several sheets for the other bags and always have a huge piece left over, yet that piece is never the right shape for the next bag.
The pattern comes with a pattern for a flower, but it's not the flower in the picture on the bag. It's a humongous flower you can put in your hair, though it would cover half your head. So I went ahead and winged a little flower using the "small petal" piece. I used 8 pairs of that with no interfacing. I sewed the darts, then placed two petals right side together and sewed around, leaving the bottom. I then turned them and pressed. I overlapped five and sewed together, then placed three more on top and sewed. The button I had in a jar. I save all extra buttons that come with clothes. This was an extra for a sweater I have, and it's the perfect color. It's covered in crochet or something. I sewed the button on to cover the ugly petal joins in the center. Then I attached the flower to a brooch back and pinned it onto the purse.

Amy Butler Madison Bag

Amy Butler Madison Bag

Amy Butler Madison Bag

Gloves without fingers: Does it make sense? Discuss

I always thought fingerless gloves or mitts were a silly idea. But then I find I get in my car when it's freezing and I want to use my iPod, but I can't because it has touch buttons and I have gloves on. What I really wish for are full gloves with only the fingertip of the index finger open, but I guess that's an invention for later.

These gloves were fun to make and fairly quick to knit up, but I realized after starting that they were for a men's hand or a women's large hand. I tried to make adjustments to the length, which worked OK, but the width is too big and the thumb gusset is gigantic. I used Elsebeth Lavold Angora yarn, one skein is exactly enough for a glove, but I did make mine smaller than the pattern. I added a little tea pot button for fun.

I had some trouble at the ends of the fingers -- I apparently cut off the yarn too short and it's sticking out. I hope it doesn't unravel soon.

***UPDATE: I wore these last night when I left work, and let's just say my fingers were COOOOOOLLLLLLLLLLLLDDDDDDDDDDDDD!!!!!!! So I'm really not sure the point of these. Now, I can see the reasoning behind using them indoors when it's chilly, but these are a bit too stiff for that.***

knitting projects,gloves/mitts

knitting projects,gloves/mitts

Lots of things rhyme with hat for a silly headline, but I can't think of an appropriate one

Fat hat? No. Cat hat? No. Splat hat? Oh, forget it. I'll save my headline writing skills for when I get to work later.

I wrote before that I got a great newsboy cap pattern from McHats on etsy.com and was intrigued by the idea that one could whip up one's own hat, just like that. Ooh -- there's my headline: A hat, just like that!

I made my hat out of a tan corduroy with a funky lining. It was technically quite easy and fast, but I did have some problems with the fabric not feeding smoothly and getting little tucks all over. Also, it straight-up doesn't look good on me. I can't figure out if I'm just self-conscious in hats or if I just don't look good in it. I mush it this way and that, but I feel silly. It was a fun exercise in sewing, anyway.

personal projects

personal projects

Thursday, November 20, 2008

If I don't get this monkey I'LL JUST DIE

I don't know if my mom remembers, but when I was a kid she said I could get a monkey, but I never got one. Christmas is right around the corner...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Above ground, please

It seems that when you die, you only have two options: burial or cremation. But, see, I don't care for either one of those. There's something about being underground or intentionally placed in a roaring fire that just gives me the willies. My ideal post-death situation: just leave me on a mesa somewhere in the middle of New Mexico and let me rot in peace. I don't care if the animals eat me. I just want to disappear and get it over with. I think there's some silly fear that I will wake up from death in one of two equally sucky situations: a) watching the flesh melt off my body or b) gasping for air and finding myself with a claustrophobia I never knew I had.

If I'm lying on the mesa in the middle of nowhere when I wake up from my pseudo-death, I can just hop up and be on my merry way. Of course, if this happens too long after death, I am aware I may be infested with maggots and missing my eyeballs. Maybe a coyote will have scampered off with a hand or two. I still feel that this is preferable to the other options. I also realize that other people find this strange, perhaps even revolting. Go ahead, wake up in that inferno, I don't care.

Most people also tell me that my way is illegal. I understand that it would be a health hazard to the still-living to have rotting corpses everywhere, but it's just me, right? Well, guess what else. It's not just me. You see, there's a place right here in the United States where they study decomposition of bodies. People donate their bodies to science, and then they are just placed neatly on lawns, like they are relaxing at the park on a summer afternoon. Only they are dead, and rotting. And people are looking at the stages of maggot larvae and bloating and how much goo had oozed from them as their organs liquify.

I'm sorry if you don't want to end up like this, but I do. And I'm putting it here in writing just in case something happens to me.

How do I know all this? I'm reading a fantastic and fascinating book. If you don't like reading about maggots and rotting corpses, "Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers" by Mary Roach may not be the book for you. But if you always wanted to know -- I mean really know -- what happens to the human body after it dies, you're not alone. It's a New York Times best seller.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Fancy that!

Guess what I discovered today? It's a special place where you can borrow books! That's right, I got a library card for the first time in decades. I had to pay $1 for losing my card, which was a fine mustard yellow one from the 1980s which wouldn't have worked anyway.

I had to figure out how to use a library again. For one thing, forget those microfiche things. Now you just look on the computer. You can even reserve books from the comfort of your own home using the Internet.

This library thing is so awesome.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A little (dull) catching up

What have I been doing? Nothing particularly exciting. Knitting a lot. I've taken to starting multiple projects so that I don't get tired of working on things. I finished one of my fingerless mitts, only to find that although I adjusted the length well, it is too big around and has a doofy, loose thumb. So I am now less motivated to make the matching glove. I will do it, though. I'm going out of town for Thanksgiving, so I think it will make a nice, compact travel project.

I'm also working on some socks from a bright pink and purple yarn I dyed -- another good travel project.

hand dyed yarn

I finished the front pieces of my Soldier's Sweater and started the back, but I just realized a few minutes ago that I used the wrong needles for the few rows I've done on the back and must start again.

Friday night, I went to the Sock Hop at Village Wools. I was surprised that they didn't have the store open for purchases, but I had a good time because I got to see the magic loop 2-at-a-time socks method in action. It's something that I've tried to follow instructions for online, only to feel like my brain is exploding. It's really not bad at all when you can have it shown to you.

Last night, I went to the grocery store and bought some food, finding lots of good deals and buying mostly healthy stuff. I then went home and prepared several meals for the next few days, which I'm quite proud of.

I also worked on making a hat -- a sewn, not knitted, hat -- which is a first for me. It's working well, so far, but I can't tell the finished result yet.

I found a fun swap on Ravelry in the Selfish Knitters group where you could let go of some of your unwanted yarn and receive a box of goodies in exchange. I got rid of some stuff I didn't want and I also got this cute cotton yarn:


Finally, for our trip, I decided to make little travel blankets. I have heard that with the cutbacks airlines are making, more of them are charging for blankets and then just letting you keep them -- in other words, you are to supply your own. So I thought it would be cheaper to buy some fleece at the store and make my own. Fleece is pretty much always on sale.

All you need is one yard. When you unfold it, it's the perfect length. you really don't want it too unwieldy and big in an airplane seat.

Fleece is great because it doesn't unravel, so technically, you don't have to finish the edges. That means that even someone who doesn't sew can do this. I chose to serge my edges because I thought it would look nicer.


Now, if you've read my previous posts about fleece, I'm usually not a fan of silly prints. But I thought for this situation, it was acceptable. So I selected a cat fabric for me and a Bengals football fabric for Mark. He is really embarrassed by it, and not just because his favorite team bites. He went out of town today, and I asked if he wanted his blanket for the plane ride. He responded, "I'm not going to walk around the airport lookin' like damn Linus."


Now, for Mark's print, because it's directional, I bought a little extra. Otherwise, the print would face sideways. Not that it would matter, really, but I just didn't want that. So keep in mind that the one yard is the width and that the length is the "width" of the bolt, when you unfold it. If you're going to have to turn your fabric because of the print, you need to buy a bit more than a yard. I have a bad feeling that this made no sense.

Always have a bag

If you're one of those nerds like me who like to use reusable bags at stores yet always seem to forget yours, here's a great little solution. It's called Envirosax. This one is a waterproof, lightweight polyester in a very cute print that rolls up into a tiny little thing that takes up no room in your purse. And when you get to the checkout at Target with three items and think, "Oh crap! I forgot my bag in the trunk," you'll let out a sigh of relief when you remember you've got a bag right there -- and a cute one, to boot!



Best of all, it's just under $10!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Nicholas' Fingerless Gloves

Guess what I'm making? Gloves! It seems so scary, but I'm taking it one round at a time, like always. And it's not scary at all! It's fun. They are so pretty, with tiny cables running all the way up. These are fingerless gloves, and the pattern is for a man's hand or a large woman's hand, which I didn't notice at first. So I'm looking for modifications to make it smaller.
When I finish them, I'll post a new post with pics and those modifications for anyone else who wants to try them.

Here is the right glove, about to mid-hand:

knitting projects,gloves

Because it's black, it's hard to see the detail. The yarn is wonderful -- Elsebeth Lavold Angora. It's so soft, and I got it on the sale shelf at Village Wools for $8 a skein. I think I'll get away with just one skein per glove, but I have an extra on hold just in case.

This yarn is so wonderful that when I found more at Tuesday Morning (what are the chances!?), I had to buy it. I got this brown for only $5 a skein, which is at least half price. So, in other words, gloves that could have cost me $30 to make will only cost $15, and that ain't half bad!



The weather has most certainly taken a turn from the unusually balmy October we had. It's pretty cold, and I hate the cold. But the plus side is that I can make use of all this wool stuff I'm knitting. Yesterday I wore my long ivory wool coat with the waist tie (no, I didn't knit that. It's just a regular coat). I wore it with my bright purple crocheted scarf and felted flower brooch, and I must say that I felt well-accessorized. It put a wee bounce in my step.


(By the way, Mark thinks this is the most hideous color combo in existence, but I don't care. I like it anyway. He also says that pink and gray should not come in contact (like another scarf/flower brooch combo I made). But wait -- as I just typed that, I remembered that he recently bought gray and pink madras shorts. Ha! Proof, on my side!)

Now, I'm trying to convince myself to go for a walk, all bundled up, of course. But I hear wind howling through my window right now, and I don't think I can do it.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

What!? Is it possible?

I was scrolling through Twitter updates and came across this Web site called Spoonflower where you can, excuse me, I must yell this: DESIGN YOUR OWN FABRIC!!!!!!!!!

I can't think of any actual reason I need to do this, since it's not like I have an idea for a fabric that I just must have and can't find anywhere, but the very idea that a lowlife, home sewer like me could DESIGN MY OWN FABRIC!!!!!!!!!! is just too much. You know what else is too much? The price per yard. That's just me and my budget; I understand where they are coming from and why it can't be $8 a yard.

I just paused in my writing to do more exploring, and it does say there is no minimum. I can't see how they could print just one yard, though. It might be fun to create a design and make some really cool bag that nobody else on Earth could have.

Here's an example of one I love. It's by Laurie Wisbrun. I mean, I can't imagine what I'd make with chair fabric, but it's so cool. What if you had a really funky house and you upholstered your chair with this? Or what if you upholstered your couch with chair fabric and your chair with couch fabric and confuse the heck out of visitors when you say, "please, have a seat on the couch"?


More hats

I loved my button hat so much that I decided to make one that was more neutral in color. I used Cascade 220 in a tan color. OK, so I messed this project up, too. I seem to be on a roll. First, the yarn was too small for these needles. I didn't go down a needle size because I didn't want to buy more DPNs, and I only had them in the size the pattern called for, but not the next size down.

I should have doubled the yarn, but I was too lazy after winding from skein to ball to then divide that into two.

Finally, I accidentally dropped some stitches off the needle in the front, and I somehow didn't notice till I skipped a round. Again, laziness prevailed and I just put them back on and continued. So right in the front there are about a half-dozen stitches that are extra long slipped stitches instead of regular knit stitches. I don't think it's TOOOO noticeable.

I got the really cool button at Village Wools, the local yarn shop. I didn't notice before that there is a section of really cool buttons.

hat,hats,knitting projects

My next project I like a bit more. I had hand-spun and hand-dyed this yarn a while back, but I only had 59 yards and that was not enough to make anything I came across. But then I found this pattern called Lyra's Knitted Hood. It made a cute little baby hat, which I'm giving to my friend. The yarn is a chunky, thick-thin wool in browns and blues. I didn't have enough for the braided ties, so I bought some grosgrain ribbon in blue and brown stripes. I think it's pretty darn cute.

hats, knitted projects

I'm also continuing slowly on my Soldier's Sweater from "Runway Knits," but again, I keep screwing up. Last night I tried to do the right front, after having completed the left front. But after 31 rows, I realized I did something wrong the entire way, and therefore was short about 16 stitches. This was after starting the piece about six times last night because I was messing up. So I'm at square one with that one.

knitting projects

Sometimes things you make suck

I sewed and sewed and all I have to show for it is this lousy bag. It was one of the hardest things I ever sewed, and it's ugly.

What my end goal was, but in black:
Amy Butler Sophia

What I ended up with:
Amy Butler Sophia Bag,handbags, totesAmy Butler Sophia Bag,handbags, totesAmy Butler Sophia Bag,handbags, totes

There were part of this bag where the layers are so thick that I couldn't get it under my presser foot. It was an incredible battle to sew, what with the thick cotton duck fabric, interfacing and fusible fleece. Add in another layer of all those plus some piping, and you've got yourself one thick seam. I steamed and steamed, but I couldn't get it too look smooth.

I think of all bags to make in a solid, this might have been a bad pattern choice. It just looks like a little piece of bland luggage instead of a purse.

I also decided to add an outer zipper pocket where I could keep my keys. (You can see how to do this here.) In hindsight, I would have done this before sewing the straps on, because they just got in the way and made everything way too thick. I also was sloppy with my zipper opening, since I was just guessing at how big a centimeter is. Turns out, it needs to be pretty specific or you could end up with a hole that's as wide as your zipper tape, and you need the zipper tape to sew the two together. Also, I used lining fabric to make my pocket, and when I flipped it inwards, I couldn't completely hide the colored fabric, so it shows a bit. I should have used the black fabric to avoid this.

When it came time to sew the front panels to the part that goes in between (with the zipper), it said to ease it together, but it doesn't have you do any basting stitches to even distribute any extra. But there is a little extra, and I ended up with unwanted tucks along my seam. I would recommend just making it smooth and trimming from the bottom.

As for the internal pockets, it says to sew a line in the center, thereby creating two equal pockets on each side. On one side, I put a pen slot in the center by sewing two lines about an inch apart. On the other side, I opted to not do any divider so I'd have a big place to stick papers and such.

You're supposed to hand stitch the lining in along the zipper. I just sewed along the previous seamline on the outside where I sewed the zipper in to the main fabric. I was unable to get all the way around the ends of the zipper, so that left a gap that should be finished by hand, but I don't care enough to do that. While I normally don't mind semi-short handles, these are a bit too short. I have a hard time carrying this on my shoulder, though I have small arms. With the bulk of a coat, there's no way.

In the end, I'd say that as much as I love Amy Butler designs, this one was not worth the difficulty.

Pretty Kitty

I love how they always locate a sun beam for optimal cozy napping.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

A little late

In honor of Halloween, I wanted to share this Halloween 2000 photo of me and Chickenbone Jones. In case you can't guess, we're two blind mice, duh. And I remember feeling especially attractive with a big pillow stuffed in my shirt to make a nice mouse belly.

I also remember hot-gluing Amy's hair to her mouse ears. Sorry, Amy.

Two Blind Mice

Monday, November 3, 2008

And nice, too!

Lately, I've been raving about Amy Butler.

Well, I was a wee bit frustrated because I had used the supply list on her Web site to get my supplies before I received my pattern in the mail. Turns out the supply lists are different, and I spent a little more than I needed to. I e-mailed the company just to let them know. I wasn't mad and didn't want anything from them, but they were so unbelievably gracious and nice. They sent me a free pattern, which turned out to be two free patterns.

Amy Butler Birdie Sling

Amy Butler Sophia

Just wanted to give a shout out to a company that still values great customer service. Go Amy Butler!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Amy Butler Madison Bag

Sooooo. Or should I say seeeewwwwww? I'm just a little ga-ga over the Amy Butler thing. So when local shop Hip Stitch started its Amy Butler trunk sale, I was definitely there the first day. I was able to see and touch and love real-life samples of her bags and clothes.

I decided my next project will be the Madison bag in the Gold/Morning Glory fabric. I chose a solid light blue for my lining. I have been wanting this fabric for months and months.

Amy Butler Madison BagAmy Butler Madison Bag

I also got so excited over my button hat, shown below, that I bought a tan colored wool and a pretty button for a more neutral version.

Guess what -- I never noticed that Village Wools has billions, or at least hundreds, of buttons. Beautiful unique buttons. Remember when I was making my "Runway Knits" A-Line Jacket and had a hard time finding humongous buttons? Well, they have them there, and I never even noticed that corner of the store.

I also would like to make a hat from this yarn I spun and dyed myself. I'm thinking of the Urchin pattern, a free pattern download available on Ravelry.com, if I have enough of it. This hat pattern was suggested since it looks nice with a thick-thin yarn.
hand dyed yarn
knitting projects,hats
Although I'm sure I won't look nearly as good as that lady does.