Monday, September 19, 2005

Busy as a bee. Bee-like.

Back from lovely and scenic Dallas, where it was hot and muggy (not that I saw much of it, other than the inside of the hotel). My flight there on Thursday was atrocious -- supposed to leave at 12:40 p.m., we sat in the plane, on the runway for an hour and a half, then they announced that those of us with connecting flights should get off the plane and on to another. I did, and after that flight and a later connecting flight, I got into Dallas at about 10 p.m., only to find that my luggage did not make it. So, armed only with my purse, knitting bag, and the Continental airlines toiletries kit, I finally made it to the hotel. My luggage did eventually get in to the hotel around 12 p.m., so I could finally take off the jeans and flip flops that made me feel a bit out of place at the conference.

While in Dallas, I started the Stitch Diva Slinky Fitted Shrug with bamboo yarn from Habu Textiles and pailette sequins. I'd never worked with sequins in crochet before, but it wasn't that difficult to master. But after about 5 rows, I looked at it, and just didn't like it. It's not the pattern, which is great, and relatively easy to follow. But I'd had this idea of the "Dolly Parton" sweater, a green, crocheted, short-sleeved, fitted cardigan with sequins that Dolly wore in the movei "9 to 5" and that I saw in person at Dollywood. And this just wasn't it. I think the biggest problem was that the sequins are too big and the yarn the wrong color of green. So I'm bummed that it didn't work out, especially because I've been thinking about this sweater ever since we went to Tennessee last year. But my sister Jenny said something true when she mentioned that it's better to discover you don't like a project after only 5 rows than after 50. Plus, now sequined shrugs are everywhere, even Forever 21, so what's the point of making something that is the current trend? I want to be ahead of the curve, not behind it. So I'll wait till the trend is over, then do it my way, so it will be retro.

I've found another web site to drool over, and make total impulse purchases from, at least for those people who, like myself, love to sew garments, but think that most pattern companies don't make patterns that are fashion-forward. Hot Patterns is a company that wants to right that wrong. Here's their company description from their website: "unique and exclusive high fashion dressmaking patterns designed for fashion obsessed sewers and dressmaking divas." And get this, their patterns are sized from 6 to 26 -- bust sizes from 32" to 53" -- every pattern! So here's what I've ordered:
1. Artful Dodger Purity Blouse
2. Pirate Queen Peacoat
3. Shanghai Tunic
4. BoHo De-Luxe Peasant Tops
5. Denim Diva Wrapture Jacket
6. Plain & Simple Classic Bootcut Pants

I wanted to buy just about everything on the site, but I struggled to keep my expenditures somewhat reasonable (<$100). These new patterns won't be shipped until 9/30, and then the site says allow 14 days for shipping (it's free, I won't bitch), so they should be waiting for me when I get back from vacation (Sata Fe & Taos! Oct. 8-15!).
Along with my skull cupcake tins!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Victory is Mine!

While I don't yet have any photos to prove it, I am officially a sweater knitter. A knitter of sweaters. I have completed the Mohair Cowl Neck sweater! I finished it last night at SnB and, if I do say so myself, it looks fabulous. The cowl looks like something straight out of a 1960s Spinnerin pattern book. Faith & Julia both took photos, so maybe one of them could send me a copy so I could post it here? (pretty please?)

Work is crazy busy right now. I'm off to Dallas tomorrow for a conference and then back on Saturday. And then I'm off next Friday for over a week on our bike tour.

I did manage to finally make our vacation hotel reservations. Richard and my sister Jenny and I are off to Santa Fe and Taos in mid-October. The hotels we're staying at look fabulous: El Rey Inn in Santa Fe and La Dona Luz Bed & Breakfast in Taos. We loved Santa Fe when we were there two years ago and we've never been to Taos, so I'm very excited. Also, Fiesta Yarns has an outlet store in Albuquerque that we will be visiting.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Weekend of writing

Well, after weeks of procrastinating, I finally finished the article that I promised to write on vintage patterns for CrochetMe. I don't know why I had been dragging my heels on it. But I had, and it is due on Thursday, so I needed to buckle down and just do it. Friday night, I stayed in and wrote and wrote. I scanned in photos from patterns and sent them in to Kim, CrochetMe's editor, along with the final article. I don't know if it's good enough, but it's done, and that's something.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

It's almost Fall -- I can feel it!

Ok, so the notice that the Fall issue of Knitty is out came today. The grocery stores are filled with Halloween candy. Woo Hoo! Fall must be here (at least, almost).

What does that mean, besides sweater weather? (well, not really here in Southern California -- not for about two months) Well, it means it's time to visit Dragonfly Design Studio's Old Fashion Halloween store, one of my favorite web destinations. I should start out by saying the Halloween is my favorite holiday. I love the decorations, the candy, but most of all the costumes. I
think it all originates with the fact that my birthday is exactly one week before Halloween (Oct. 24th, for those people who are really curious), so growing up, I had a lot of costume/Halloween theme birthday parties.

Since I live in an apartment, I don't get trick or treaters, so I can't go whole hog with a haunted house. And I live in LA, where carved pumpkins rot before your very eyes (I still do carve them -- I just have to do them like 2 days before Halloween, and put them in the refrigerator at night. Maybe I'll try using a Blue Ice pack this year). But I still make an effort to decorate. That's where Old Fashion Halloween comes in. I don't go in for the Scream mask variety of Halloween decor. I'm more a swinging witch or scary cat kind of girl.

This site has great cards, decorations, crafts and more. One thing I'm excited about is the skull shaped cupcake tins.

Think of the fabulous Dia de los Muertos goodies I could make with that!

I'm still on the fence about a costume, though. September and October are incredibly busy for me this year, so I don't think I'll have much time for costume creation. Richard and I always talk about doing coordinating costumes, although we haven't managed it since 1994, when we went as Wayne Newton and Charo. He likes pop culture referential costumes (he wants us to go as Jack and Meg White -- what would that even look like?), while I prefer my own take on the traditional icons. Over the years, I've been a wind-up doll, a devil (more specifically, the Beauty Queen fron Hell, complete with horns, tiara, scepter and sash) and my personal favorite, a mermaid. This year, I'm contemplating a witch or maybe a pirate. Or even a gothic-Lolita fairy (but I'm not really goth, so I'm not sure). I need to make a decision soon because this weekend is my last free one until Halloween (3 weekends of work, 2 weekends of vacation, 1 weekend in the Bay Area for a a baby shower, and then it's Halloween). I'm leaning towards the witch because I want a long, beautiful green wig. Decisions, decisions.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

weekend craftiness

A long, lazy weekend for me, filled with a lot of knitting and crocheting. Maybe too much.
Left hand Right hand
My index finger on my right hand has now swollen to about 150% of the size of my left index finger. The second joint of the finger is really sore. I think it's from knitting, because I use that finger to push the needle in my left hand back and bring the stitches forward. I've been making a lot of progress on the Interweave Mohair Cowl Neck sweater -- again, maybe too much. I always preach switching crafts and methods to avoid repetitive stress injury, but apparently, I don't listen to my own advice.

But the sweater is coming along nicely, despite my injuries.

I just have to do 5 rows of garter stitch to finish the left sleeve and then do the cowl neck. The colors of the yarn pooled in a really beautiful way on the sleeves:
Right Sleeve

Left sleeve

I hope it pools that way for the cowl neck, but I guess we'll see.

On the Baby Crafting front, I've added another project: stuffed animals. I'll be the first to say that normally I cannot support cheesy stuffed animals for babies. But there are a few cute patterns out there. Here's one (it's actually called the "Richard Rabbit," which I thought made it appropriate for the baby of Richard's best friend).

Thursday, September 01, 2005

back in the saddle again

ok, so technically I've been back from camp for a week now, and I'm just getting around to posting here, but catching up is hard to do. Work and personal lives get busy and complicated, blah, blah, blah.

I didn't get as much time to knit at camp as I would have liked, but I've made good progress on the mohair sweater since I've been back. I've completed the body, and am now working on the sleeves. And I've been good about not starting any new projects, except for a baby blanket for the brand new Reng baby, Hope. But I made it on the knitting machine, so was able to finish the body in an afternoon. But I'm backing the blanket with the cutest fabric I found online at Repro Depot Fabrics. They have the cutest baby/kid related fabrics -- most of which aren't cheesy at all. And I need to complete 9 pompoms for the blanket. To date, I've only made two.

It's weird to write about the mundane aspects of my crafty life when a whole section of our country has been wiped out. Rich & I were supposed to go to New Orleans in two weeks. I was going for a work conference and Rich was going because, hey, free hotel and a cool city he'd never been to. And now the city, the region, are in chaos -- at least the parts not under water. Looters are breaking in to beauty supply stores, crazy people are shooting at Coast Guard rescue boats, people are stranded on roof tops in 105 degree heat with nothing but the shirt on their back. The devastation is on such a huge scale, it's hard to fathom. I guess Mother Nature is teaching everyone just who's the boss. And it's not Tony Danza.

So, if you can, consider opening your checkbooks and making a donation to an organization making a difference in the Gulf Coast area. Organizations like the American Red Cross, ASPCA, and Salvation Army all have disaster relief funds to support their work in the region.