Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Trying to Work Here

I'm still home with the icky. It seems to be (almost) mostly gone, but I'm still sticking close to my kleenex box and cough drops. Not fun.

So I'm working from my laptop a bit, but it's hard to be focused when my nearest inspiration is this purring ball of fluff being so cute and cuddly!

Spooky being cute More cute Spookyness
The couch pleases spook

Spooky's been quite friendly lately, when she feels like it. It's quite nice. She still jumps at the sound of the neighbors, but that's unsurprising as they're loud and unpleasant at times. I have a feeling that's why she's been wandering away so much, but I try to make home as nice for her as possible. She likes to sit with me while I crochet, and doesn't go after the yarn at all )_p'??/.,lllll

Oh, she just pointed out that my keyboard was taking up HER lap space! I think it's time for some kitty attention, and some more tea. I took care of the immediate deadline anyway.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

uh-oh, Dreaming in Crochet...

So I had this dream last night about an unfinished project of mine. I have these little tiny squares done in a chunky yarn, light cream color, with alternating accents of pale blue, deep blue, pink, purple, yellow, and green. It was a baby blanked for no-one in particular I started ages ago.

In the dream I was making bigger blocks also and stitching them together in a jumbled sort of way that looked really cool. This morning I picked up yesterday's mail looking for a package (that didn't arrive yet) and got a baby shower invite from a friend. I dug through my stash and realized I have two baby blankets in progress. Yay!

Then I remembered I was looking at an article yesterday about blocking, and it showed a Babette Blanket (better picture here.)

Aha! The pieces are coming together (groan, bad joke.) I really like the colors in the blocking page rather than the original blanket pattern.

And now I know what I'm making my friend! I just have to decide which one to finish... I think I'll do the one I can turn into a babette of sorts. I may only do 2 or 3 sizes bigger, which I think will look pretty good.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Bad Crocheter, no cookie!

The problem with little projects are that they're distracting from the big projects I'm working on. Like these coffee sweaters. I liked the cuff pattern on those red mittletts, and wanted to try them on a cup cozy. I also finished the red mittens, so I thought I deserved a reward in the shape of instant gratification =)

I'm undecided on this yarn. It's called "meadow." I think I mostly don't like it, but it's still intriguing.

Coffee Sweater - "meadow"

Then, since I'm still in a fall/halloween mood, I decided to try pairing my variegated orange with the black semi-fuzzy.


Orange and Black Coffee Sweater

I like it! With the double yarn it's also very chunky, which is nice in any kind of sweater. The keyboard shot shows the texture a little better.

Orange Sweater - Flat

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bits Here and There

Unfortunately I got the ick that's been going around, so I came home from work this afternoon, and didn't make it to the S&B, which was very disappointing. I slept most of the afternoon, and hopefully it'll go away soon.

I wanted to post the second installment of the wedding, but my Flickr uploader isn't behaving, and I should be in bed soon anyway. So here's some fluff.

I've been working on several projects lately, but many are gifts that I can't show off yet. Two Christmas presents are in the works, and I just picked up yarn for two more.

Here are some things I can show, however. I went to my clay studio's sale last weekend, and picked up some fun stuff. The pumpkin and acorns are made by a lady who's teaching a class in a couple weeks, and I'm so there! I got inspired and started my own pumpkin. I'm really happy to be working with clay again.

Autumn clay

I'm also working on some Halloween goodies, from E-Patterns. I've made some improvements on the pattern, though, and also made up a couple more designs. I'll post those when they're finished.

Halloween candy

These fingerless mitts are for my co-worker's son. I got the pattern in an email from Lion Brand Yarn. (I'd link it, but you need to register on their site to see the pattern). I REALLY like the way the cuffs came out, and in fact I think that would work well for a coffee cozy. It would taper naturally, since it's quite stretchy.

Little fingerless mitts

Tonight I stumbled on The Snuggles Project. I think it's a great idea, and I really want to contribute. Once I finish all my Christmas presents, I think I'll start working on some snuggles. It's be a great way to use some of this acrylic that I have hanging around, since they want washable, synthetic materials. I can't take in any more rescue kitties than our two, but this is a great way to help out the kitties still in shelters.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Wedding (Part 1 of 5) Engagement and Beta Dress

When I finally organized everything for this, I realized that it's going to take 5 posts. So here we go :)

I'll start at the beginning. About two years ago I realized that I was dating the guy I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I also started thinking that I might like to be the one to propose. I was contemplating doing it on our 3 year anniversary, but I had a feeling he might beat me too it (which I later confirmed), and I really wanted to propose. Why should guys have all the fun? All the planning and scheming, and trying to keep a secret that's REALLY HARD TO KEEP! So I decided to do it on our 1,000th day anniversary. I went down on one knee, and popped the question. He said Yes, after he got over the surprise ;) Yes, that was nice... I'm glad I did it, and he didn't mind that I did.

A few days later we put this up on our fridge to-do list, just for kicks:

01 Propose To-Do List

This is our unofficial engagement picture, at my Uncle's wedding.

02 Engaged

Then, on to the dress! I had made no wedding or dress plans prior to proposing. We did all the wedding planning together, and I schemed on my own for the dress. I knew I wanted to make it, and I had a basic idea of the style in my head. I did a little surfing online to get inspired, and once I saw this picture, I stopped looking entirely.

03 Inspiration

We discussed color schemes, and decided on white, green (ivy and a soft green), and purple (plum), with silver accents. I made the main body of the dress super-shiny satin, with a matte sheer. It's almost the inverse of my inspiration picture, which is an organza over a duller satin/silk. I made the accents in green, but once I finished the dress itself, I decided to leave most decoration off. I found my fabric at the Costco of fabric shops, Fabrics R Us (they used to be called the more dignified "S.J. Fabrics.")

But before that, I needed a pattern. And a beta dress, which I made in black.

For the basic construction, I drafted up a pattern based on 3 things: that picture, a simple bodice with straps from McCall's (4109 view A), and Laughing Moon's Dore corset. I had made the corset a couple of times before, once for a black canvas true corset, and once for this red shimmery thing with plastic bones and a v-neck front. I'd make that again, but I'd put straps on it, since I don't do strapless unless it's a true corset. But back to the dress, corsets are for another post!

Here's my final pattern, which is about the 3rd incarnation. The test pieces were made from this hideous pink and orange plaid. You really don't want to see it, trust me on this...

04 Finished Bodice Pattern

The arm band was a little tricky. I ended up putting a band of elastic inside the back 2 inches or so. That kept it in place, plus tacking it lightly to the sleeve itself.

05 Arm Pattern 06 Test Arm Band

One side is complete, ready for the boning. I ended up using only 14 bones total, which is REALLY light for a corset, but just fine for a bodice. Notice the arm band is a little messy. It took me a couple tries to get that right. Hence the beta dress!

07 Beta with Boning

First fitting of the real beta top! The boning isn't in yet, because as you can see it's not very smooth. (picture is small because it's blurry from my phone). I'm holding the back, because I haven't put the lacing grommets in yet. Speaking of grommets, I <3 corsetmaking.com. I don't think I'll buy grommets anywhere else. They have nice, 2-piece grommets, and I was able to get black ones for the groom shirt. I also got boning there, plus lacing. I think they have great prices, and fast shipping, too. </plug>

09 Trying On Bodice

Here's another fitting, with one sleeve on, and my criticism on the right. I extended the sleeves a bit for the real thing. Yes, it's all about the sleeves =)

10 Beta Sleeve

I was also simultaneously working on 2 bridesmaid dresses, 5 poets shirts (1 groom, 3 groomsmen, 1 bridesmaid), and a doublet-like top for my guy bridesmaid.

Next up:

The Bridesmaids and Site Decorations
Hair and Jewelry
The Dress
and then, The Wedding Day

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Quilting! and Leaves!

I picked up this pattern, and someday I will make it.

So pretty :)

Speaking of leaves, I also got this one. Crocheting, I do know! It's made on an afghan hook. I think mine is in my husband's truck, with the "traveling blanket" I work on whenever we take the truck somewhere. Which is rarely. Yeah, I've been working on that for a few years now...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Improvisational Lowfat Rice Pudding

It's *almost* getting to be that autumn crisp-in-the-air time of year. Almost, not quite. But still, I felt like making rice pudding. We had Thai for dinner Sunday night, and had a bunch of rice left over. So Monday morning I made this up, from what we had on hand. I surfed around a few recipes online, and got the basic gist of what makes Rice Pudding.

I think it came out pretty good. It was definitely more creamy that day, right out of the pot. The reheated version today is more like thick sticky oatmeal, but still tasty. Here's my attempt at the "recipe".

About 1 1/2 - 2 cups cooked white rice
Enough milk to cover the rice, plus a little more *
2 eggs
1/4 cup brown sugar, maybe a little more to taste
LOTS of cinnamon
A large pinch of nutmeg
A small pinch of allspice
2 individual-sized boxes of raisins (I didn't have any bulk ones)

* we only had about 1/2 cup of 1% in the fridge, so I made up another 1 1/2 cup or so with nonfat dried milk

Put the rice in a saucepan with the milk, and started it on a low flame. Meanwhile mix the eggs and the sugar in a small bowl. Add a little of the hot (not yet boiling) rice-milk mixture to the eggs and sugar, blend those to heat them up, and then put the egg-sugar mix into the saucepan.

Let it cook on a medium flame for about 10-15 minutes, stirring, and don't let it boil. While it's cooking, add the spices. You can add more to taste, after it's cooked. I like the cinnamon, and in hindsight I would have added more ;)

Then remove from heat and stir in the raisins. Voila! We got about 4 pretty large servings out of it.

Here's my estimate of nutritional facts, per serving of 1/4th -
Calories: 280, Fat: 4g, Carbs: 52g, Protein: 10g

Next time I might make it with 2% milk to make it a bit creamer, but definitely not heavy cream. I added the extra egg to make it thicker.

No pictures, sorry. I ate it already =)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Thrift Store Finds

My friend V and I went out shopping at some thrift stores today. She's looking for pieces of a steampunk outfit, and I was looking at sweaters. I found an article recently about how to deconstruct, wash (and dye) wool from sweaters. So of course I want to try it. I found this one, which is a pale lilac, and 70% lambswool, 20% angora rabbit, and 10% nylon. The cabling is pretty, but it's way too small a sweater, so I want to take it apart and make something else.

Wool/angora blend

My camera battery is currently dead, and I can't find the charger, so these are from my phone. I could borrow my husband's camera, but that requires more effort, so I'll deal with poor quality to show these off right now. The color isn't nearly accurate. I'll take better pictures when I start pulling it apart. It isn't spotted or stained, the photo quality is just that bad.

Then I found these yarns at the dollar store for, yep, $1 a skein. Spook is doing a quality check.

Spook inspecting the new yarn

The ribbon yarns are Lion Brand, and I'm happy to report that I got them for 1/6th of the normal price. The autumn ribbon I'm going to try and make a top of some sort, maybe knit. I got 9 skeins. The blue ribbon I got 4 skeins of, and I'm going to try a shawl with a big hook. The eyelash yarns I got to make this dog. I guessed from memory and got 9 skeins each, but I may go back and get a bit more red, as they're only 50 yards each. Hmm, now that I look at that pattern I see it's more square than I thought. I may modify that and make the body rounder.

Oh, and I've joined my old clay studio again. I was trying to take a ceramics class at the local JC, but the class got canceled for lack of attendance, even though the attendance level was currently 1 person short of the number of working wheels. I wrote a letter to admin and told them I'm very disappointed and never coming back. The studio costs a bit more, but I know it's worth it. Plus it's on my way home. They have a workshop coming up on fall decorations, and the model pieces are gorgeous =D

Btw, the geranium I posted recently just got eaten by the deer. Maybe it'll come back if I move it out of reach. Grrr. They also ate my "Taxi" yellow tomato plant.

Sugar-Free Chocolates for Mother's Day

I'm collecting the photos for my wedding dress construction post, but in the meantime here's something I made for my Mom this past Mother's Day.


The pattern is here at Coats and Clark. I made some modifications... The chocolates ended up bigger than they looked in the pattern, so I just picked my favorites and didn't make as many. I started making the box part, and realized that I already had a fabric-covered heart box that would be perfect. So I put the large heart that I had already made inside as a doily. I like how the lace came out. I also used a deeper red, which I liked better. It was lots of fun to make :)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Gardening Things

S&B was tonight, fun and mellow as usual. I'm working on a gift, so you don't get to see pictures yet. But here are some plants.

This is from a cutting of the geranium that Dad gave us. I'm really thrilled that it's taken off. Well, it's still really tiny, but it's still alive, and it's blooming for the second time. Hurrah!


The pepper plants got their new homes today. Well, pots that is. I'm glad they're doing well.

Potted Peppers

And my in-laws sent us something really cool that I've been wanting to do. They're living wreath frames, that you plant horizontal, and once the plants are established, you can hang on a wall/door. They sent two of them! I can't wait to get them set up :) Will definitely post pictures.

This isn't just a gardening blog though, really! Here's something I want to knit, the Tudora from Knitty. I like how it looks in the blue, but I'm not sure which color I'd want to try making it. I think something like that might work well on the motorcycle in the winter. I prefer the neck warmers that wrap around rather than pull over. And it's a knitting project even I might be able to finish!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Black Fiberfill

EDIT: Apparently they're now out of business. This makes me sad :( Please see my
updated post.

I finally found a company that sells black fiberfill! Even when I crochet something really tightly, if it's dark, then inevitably some white stuffing pokes through.

I have some on it's way here right now, and I can't wait to use it. I wish my local stores carried this stuff.

Baby Pumpkin

I made this while hanging out with friends last night. I know that the leaf is not a "pumpkin leaf", but I thought it'd be cute on this tiny one.

Baby Pumpkin

See all those redwood droppings on our patio? Yeah, I swept that yesterday. Guess it was windy last night! Hello, September :)

Also you can see my straggling lavender plant. I need to move it to the front yard with my other two, so it gets what passes for sun around here. The plant on top is catnip, trying to be out of reach of the kitties. Although they don't show much interest in the fresh stuff, so I'll be drying it once it gets bigger. The planter box is the one I made from our old futon, with the mushrooms from my mother-in-law, and the newly-planted society garlic on the ends, to try and keep the deer away from my plants.

What really needs protection from the deer is my poor little jasmine plant, but I can't bring myself to plant something garlicky next to it, since I want to enjoy the scent too.