Bead crochet is all the rage in my head. It's been a couple of months, actually. During the Christmas break from work, I had a dear friend over to play with beads - she has a small stash, and felt like she wasn't getting enough out of them.  I was thrilled to have a reason to pull mine out.  She wanted to learn bead crochet, but i started her on the peyote stitch, because my bead collection had been spread out, and it took me a bit of time to find all the bead crochet stuff.

We never got that far, she fell in love with peyote; but I remembered how i like to bead crochet, and off i went.

I'll share pictures of those bracelets, and my process and materials as I have time.
In the mean time, I want to share something else... beading of course.

Over the course of years beading, I have come to rely on the bead mats that are commercially available. The first time I found them, I was at my local bead shop - I have several available, but one favorite stands head and shoulders above the rest :)

I took home a 9x12 piece of vellux like fabric, and the rest was history. I'm a convert! Someone at the same bead shop even showed me how to fold the fabric to take it with me! However, I'm a klutz, and often in a rush. Taking the time to pack it up nicely didn't always work out.

When we were at Michaels on Valentines day (because who doesn't go to Michaels on Valentines day?), Brian bought me this:

Item is nice, well made, but the hinge is very very hard to open without jostling, and I fear that my klutz will send the bead flying - the whole purpose is not to do that!

I was determined to take the concept and make it work for me!  But how? I can't really manufacture small cases.  I started googling, and found this gem on Pinterest! http://itsallaboutcreating.blogspot.com/2009/11/portable-beading.html

Well the hunt was on! But it's very cold here, and I like to traipse around to various stores on warm days - so I decided to hit the Dollar Tree on the way home.

They didn't have any of the slim baby wipes cases - and I'm wondering if they have fallen out of fashion! So instead, I bought a screwdriver set with a case, and an Eyeshadow case.

Here is the updated Eye Shadow case:

I had to fill each of the individual pockets with a layer of vellux, and then i glued a large layer over the whole thing. It's still drying in the corners, but I am excited to give it a try.  I expect I'll make cases out of leftover or cheap plastic cases whenever i can find them. 

I'm still looking for slim diaper cases, so I posted to facebook to see if any of my mom friends could point me in the right direction!

Happy crafting!


Mother's Day 2010

This year for Mother's Day, I found the perfect pattern about 6 weeks ago.  Now, understand that my mom has lost an incredible amount of weight! This makes sweater building in short time much more doable.

This is Nicole.  Her chest is clearly larger than the intended size, but she was checking fit for me while we were out to lunch one day!

This sweater is Tappan Zee from knitty.com. I modified it just a hair, and used commerical yarn I picked up at Webs several years ago. (I bought it site unseen, and the color was "scarlet". It's not any scarlet I've ever seen before!) My mods are slightly longer sleeves, so mom can lift her arms without exposing her arm pits - just a comfort thing, and extending the buttons down the front. Mom would have very little use for a cardigan that didn't have buttons all the way down.  She seems pretty happy with it - if the pictures can be trusted :)

I have a limited amount of time, and unless I plan something super far in advance, most people will see me knitting a gift that is for them.  I usually refuse to answer questions about it, or deflect questions by trying it on myself when people ask. It doesn't always work, but sometimes.  This was one of those times. As mom pulled it out of the basket I put it in, she said, "Oh, I hoped it was for me!"

Mom, wearing her new sweater outside my house. She liked the photo so much, it's her facebook photo now! 

I'm really proud of her - her weight loss in particular, but her in general. She is an awesome mom, who deserves high praise for raising 2 beautiful, intelligent and well behaved daughters and a clever, intelligent, sweet and loving son.  Go mom!

May me and my siblings children be as blessed by us, as we are by you!

Happy Mother's Day.


a little bit of sock knitting

I haven't started blocking that shawl yet. We got a rug last week, and installed it over the week, but I haven't gotten the shawl blocked yet. :(

I have, however, been studying and reading Cat Bordhi's new book, Personal Footprints: for Insouciant* Sock Knitters.  It's really fascinating.  If you are a sock knitter, or interested in a different construction style for socks, you should check out her page about the book, and the successive videos. It's incredibly simple and soooo smart. i will say this, however, if you choose to deviate from Cat's instructions (such as figuring you will mark the lifelines later... ) well, you might regret it. I did! Pictures when i get the sock done... but i think my love affair with sock knitting will continue!


Shipwreck Shawl - or what I spent my summer working on

The largest project I worked on this summer was the Shipwreck Shawl from knitty.com. My dear friend at work, Nicole, saw the shawl in the Summer issue.  I hestitated because shawls are really big undertakings - especially "Pi" shawls. I haven't yet finished my first "Pi" shawl! I didn't know if I could do it.

However, I am not above bribery - and Nicole can be very persuasive and also, insistent when she needs to be, and I desperately needed a software license for a problem at work. I wasn't getting one from the contacts I had, so i figured I'd ask Nicole. I offered the shawl as a bribe, and she accepted.

(You also need to know that this is the woman who rushed me to the hospital when my husband was in a car accident - our only car -  and stayed in the ER till 3/4 in the morning to drive us home. Nicole gets bribed with shawls for a reason ;) )

She took care of my issue, and I started working on the problem. I also started trying to find yarn for the shawl; the grey in the picture was really appealing, and I was hesitant to put an order into KnitPicks. A few days later, I stopped to visit the Sunday afternoon knitting group that meets in the Chili area. Some of the lovely ladies were giving away yarn.  FOR FREE.  I like free. I can afford free. So, even though I knew I was moving in a few short weeks, I took the free yarn gratefully. I got 5 balls of a lovely heathered gray yarn that was soft and shiny and pretty. I showed Nicole the next day, and she loved it.

I started the shawl. I worked the first 2 patterns quickly... then came the Madeira Leaf pattern.  I put the shawl down. i had a brief affair with Kumihimo. I picked up the shawl again. I worked the first leaf in the Madeira pattern.  I put the shawl down and worked on something little. I picked the shawl back up and started the second Madeira leaf.  About 5 rows into 2nd leaf of the pattern, I realized i had screwed something up. I ripped back. I started again. I knit to about 5 rows from the finish, and realized I had screwed up the pattern. I ripped back.  I did a mini-swatch to show myself what the 2nd half of the Madeira Leaf looked like. I liked it.  I picked up all the stitches and knit another 5 rows. They were wrong.

I finally resorted to having my husband make me enough metal rings (with an old knitting needle and some heavy gauge wire) that I could put one every 10 stitch repeat. I finished the Madeira pattern a few days later.

Then, finally it was onto the yo, k2tog section. It's a lovely section, and it is where you can add beads if you like. Nicole didn't think beads were necessary, so i didn't add them. I thought this would be my favorite part because the needle size increased, and the pattern was a no-brainer. 
I didn't end up going up in needle size for the first round of yo, k2tog; another result of misreading the pattern. It was for the best, however.
In the picture, that is as far as i could go - I had used 3 full balls, and coudln't find the other 2. I spent a week looking for them. It was rather depressing.

I finally found them, in my bedroom, behind something, and I ran through the house shouting!
I made it to the 149th row before I ran out of yarn completely.I had to find a close shade of grey to finish the shawl, and then I found a contrasting yarn to finish the shawl. It is lovely, and I am so proud.
I'll post completed pictures when I have blocked the shawl.

When I started, i forgot that I was moving into an apartment with all wooden floors.  Good thing I need an area rug in the living room... I should be able to block onto that!


creative juices flowing

It's been a busy year. So busy, that I just didn't update my blog since January 1. That is either a) a very busy year or b) a very lazy blogger. We'll just chalk it up to very busy, right? ;) (wow, i just checked, and I had 3 posts I never actually posted...)

My job is going strong, and I am very grateful to be working; especially as people around me are worried about dropping like flies. My husband is doing well, and his shoulder injury has been completely healed. (His depression too!) We have moved to a wonderful 3.5 bedroom apartment with two full bathrooms and a full sized kitchen! I love it. Our kitties are doing well, and the knitting is going well too.

A few weeks ago, I decided to dye my own yarn for my very own Shawl That Jazz. Now, before I tell you the about the dying process, let me tell you about the yarn.

After buying the much lusted over pattern, I pondered what yarn I would use. The biggest difficulty in this decision being that the sock yarn the pattern calls for is probably between $10-$15 dollars a ball, depending, of course, on where I buy the yarn, and what colorway and so on and so forth. I figured that I couldn't afford the called for yarn, but substituting would still cost me $50+. I just don't have that kind of money for yarn investing right now. But I woke up early on a Saturday morning yearning to cast on for this lovely knit.

My fate was sealed, it seemed, a yarn store must be visited, and my husband would have to be convinced that this yarn was a *need*... Then it occurred to me that we have a lovely, amazing, and inexpensive craft store in the area I live in.

If you click on the link, you can read all about the store.

While this store has never disappointed, finding a sock weight wool would be iffy, at best. They depend solely on donations to stock the store, and when the product is sold, it is gone for good. This is good and bad. It's easy to walk away if they don't have exactly what you want, but it's hard to walk away if you don't know what you want.

I found 10 skeins of a nice light weight yarn that is probably an icelandic wool... 100% wool, but I paid a mere $16!!!
I was dumbfounded.

I had to protect it, as some other dyers spotted it in my arms, while i was in line and tried to wrestle it away from me.They were of course, rather unsuccessful, but turned out to be very nice, crazy knitters and dyers, like myself. (Kindred spirits, perhaps?)  I, of course, would never try to wrestle someone else's good find out of their arms in a store.

My husband made me a simple warping board, and I warped this yarn to a full 8 feet. After warping all 10 skeins (several nights of internet tv later...), I gathered all the skiens and tied them together in the same places. I then put 3 pots of dye on my stove, and dipped the yarns in several places.  I am absolutely floored by the results.

My wonderful and caring husband helped me deal with separating the skeins after dying. My techinique was designed to make all 10 skeins close to identical, so I dyed ALL of them at once. While it worked fabulously, the skeins became tangled with each other. We had to take them outside, hang them on the fence, and untangle each 8 ft skein one at a time. Fortunately, the skeins were individually tied, so it wasn't too bad.
We hung each skein separately to dry, and waited.

I finally got to de-skein a few, and I was so happy with the results. I started knitting on my shawl, and it is the prettiest shawl I ever did see. I am very pleased with it. :) 


knitting with new needles

It's a new year and I thought I would share about my beautiful Christmas presents! My new hubby was a good boy, and got me stuff on my list.
What was under my tree this year?
- Knit Picks Interchangeable Knitting Needles
- Knit Picks Interchangeable Wooden Knitting Needles
- Jan Messent's Knit a Fantasy Story by Jan Messent
- a vacuum cleaner (it was on the list, and it totally rocks)

My knit picks needles are super impressive. They are comfortable, the super flexible cables allow me to make anything without the extra strain on my wrists, and they are sooo pretty!

Hubby also took me to the Cultured Purl in Erie, PA. This was a great visit, and I got some lovely sock weight yarns to make Maja. I am not sure it will work, but I am going to give it a try.

I also made hubby a pair of warm gloves for removing snow from the car, and am working on a crochet scarf for my sister. My mom's February Lady Sweater is moving along at a snail's pace. This is, of course my fault, for giving in to the Siren song of much quicker projects - like gloves, scarves, mittens, and hats. So much for the Christmas Deadline I gave myself.

Hopefully I will move ahead with that project, now that life should quiet down a bit. The holidays definitely had me moving in 4 different directions all the time.

Pictures are of the hat I knit for the Hat Attack 2! competition and my sister's birthday gift. The brown and mint is the competition hat, and the blue is Kari's requested present. Pretty awesome :) Oh, yea, I dyed the blue yarn myself. The brown and mint is Therapi from SWTC. I don't recommend it.

That's all for now! Happy New Year to us all!


Socks are Done!

I am being relatively productive lately! It's rather a relief to have them done, completely. But I will say that this method of sock making is wonderful! I really hope I get the Cat Bordhi book for my birthday, so i can make socks like a mad woman. I am severely tempted to start a new pair... but before I go on about that... here are some awful pictures of the finished products. Do me a favor and just enjoy that the socks are done.... cus the pictures really suck.

red and yellow mom socks2

red and yellow mom socks

I am also contemplating making myself another cardigan. I love the blue one, but it is such a particular color that it doesn't match many of the clothes I wear. I am considering this cardigan from Knitty. I have some lovely plum colored yarn from China, my friend Arpad brought back for me. The only problem is that there is only 500 yards... and the pattern is calling for about 565. My assumption is that it won't really end up mattering all that much... but who knows. I have to get gauge (and then maintain it) first.