Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Fair time!

I love this time of year . . . time for the OC Fair!

This year my husband won a four pack of tickets. Score! Not that it costs that much to get in, but saving every little bit helps when you have the Product Parade (or as we call it, the Carnival of Crap) to go through.  However, our first stop every year is the Centennial Farm and the livestock.

 Here we get to view, what I like to call, future sweaters.  This angora goat is sure to produce some wonderful fiber to be crafted into mohair yarn.  While mohair yarn is not something I like to use for my own projects, I certainly have an appreciation for the halo it produces when knit up in an open shawl.

This was one of the only fiber producing animals we saw that still had it's full coat, which was surprising.  It was only the second weekend of the fair and all the sheep had already been shorn.   Most years, when it's this early at least some of the sheep still have their full coat.  They must have thought it was going to be scorching hot this summer and decided to shear them earlier than normal.

Can't speak for the weather the rest of the time, but the day we went was wonderfully cool.  The sun didn't even make an appearance  until  after 4pm.

After the goat, we went on to admire the Suffolk sheep. Even without the full coat, you could feel the softness that will eventually become yarn. 

After the family pulled me away from the future sweaters, we headed over to see what we would get suckered into buying this year.  We knew that we wanted to purchase our standard Garlic Festival products and a garlic grater.  What we didn't know we wanted were LED, color-changing, remote controlled candles.

In all fairness (pun intended), I had been looking at adding some flameless candles to the house.  With the cats, we have discovered that having real candles is a bit problematic.  I just hadn't expected to spend that much and get that many.

We also made our way through the arts and crafts hanger.  I was not impressed with the entries this year for knitting and crochet.  On the other hand, some of the quilts were amazing.  Having attempted my first "quilt" this past year, I have a whole new appreciation for the amount of work that goes into producing one of these. (Yes, quilt is in quotes, because what I did was more of a two sided blanket, but it was still a lot of work.)

With all the walking we worked up a good appetite, so that family split this . . .

A Texas donut covered in maple glaze and bacon.  Yes, it is the size of that plate.  Yes, that plate is a small lunch plate.  This stand also sold a donut with Pop Rocks on it, another with chocolate glaze, bananas and whipped cream, and you could make a donut into a sundae . . .oh there were so many to choose from.

There is so much food at the fair, none of it good for you.  Well, you might be able to find some semi-healthy meal options and there is always the fresh fruit stand.  But really, why go to the fair to eat healthy stuff you can eat anytime.  The fair is the time to cut loose and eat the stuff you wouldn't dare to eat on a regular basis.  In fact, there are so many choices that my hubby and I want to go back toward the end of the fair for one last bite of yummy, heart attack on a plate, goodness.

I think if we make it back to the fair we just might indulge in some of these . . .

Thursday, July 17, 2014

My Life Gone Square

I see it has been close to a year since I have posted.  Not astounding, I mean I really haven't blogged consistently in many years (if ever).  I know I've said it before, but I must get back to it.  Writing, like knitting, is something that helps keep me sane in an otherwise crazy life.

So much has gone on this year.  My mom has had two major surgeries, my dad had one minor surgery, I had an aunt diagnosed with breast cancer, and uncle have to have his knee replacement redone, I sprained my IP join (which is the top joint on your thumb and one I didn't know you could sprain), I started training for a 10K and ended up in a walking boot with Achilles tendonitis (still not completely healed), and work has cranked up to 11 on a dial that goes to 10 in recent weeks (today is day 11 of 12 in a row). Oh yeah, and the other night my car battery decided to completely die, after not giving me any indication something was wrong, while I was up in L.A. at 9pm and then miraculously be in perfect condition the next day when I had it at Pep Boys.

On the positive side, I discovered square knitting needles. . . and LOVE them.

With my mild RA, knitting was starting to become difficult and I would go weeks without touching my projects.  This past February at Stitches West, I finally gave in to my curiosity (on the advise of one of my companions) and picked up some of the odd looking needles.

It took me no time at all to see the benefit: I can knit for hours without any pain and my stitch structure is much cleaner.  It may just be that I can knit for longer periods of time, but I feel like I knit faster with them.

I've now started slowly replacing all my needles with square ones.    Right now there are only two companies (that I can find) who make square needles.  As you might suspect, one is a higher priced product and one is a lower priced product.  I have tried both and enjoy both.  What I like best (after the being able to knit longer part) is the cable on the circular needles doesn't hold any shape so I don't have to fight with it when I first take them out of their packaging.  In fact, the cable on higher priced needles comes in two levels of firmness and one is downright floppy.  The floppiness took some getting used to, but now when I have to use my "normal" needles the inflexibility of some of the cables drives me bonkers.

If you have been looking at them or hearing about them and thinking you just don't get it, pick up just one set and try them.

You might just agree that square is the new round.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Year Long Scarf

A co-worker, who is also a knitter, and I were in the kitchen at work heating up our lunches yesterday.  I noticed she had a project with her and we got to talking about what we are working on, what we bring to work and so forth while waiting for our food.  She mentioned that she had seen a project on Pintrest where a knitter had knit one row of a scarf a day to match the color of the sky.  We both thought this was an interesting idea for a project and then she said "or you could do a color to match your mood that day."

I think this is a brilliant idea.

Her birthday was yesterday and mine is in a couple of weeks so we both decided that we would start the scarf on our birthday and it would document this year in each of our lives.

Luckily, I have a little time to plan the color scheme (she was going home last night to see if it was even going to be possible).  I will predetermine what color corresponds to each emotion/mood and at the end of the day I will grab the appropriate color and knit.  However, unlike the project that inspired this idea, I think I will knit more than one row.  I haven't yet determined how many, it will probably depend on the weight of yarn and needle size I choose to use.  Maybe the number of rows will correspond to the intensity of the mood.  Well, I don't want to make it overly complicated.

Should be an interesting year.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Because One Crafty Obession is Never Enough

I blame the website Craftsy.

I was first introduced to the website with an e-mail about the online knitting classes.  It looked interesting so I signed up.  I "brought" a couple of free classes to see what it was like and loved the format. I've watched as the site offered more and more classes.  Then this past July they had a really good sale and some very interesting free classes available.

Its like the drug dealer that says the first one's free. . . I was hooked.  I grabbed a free class on sewing tote bags, and a drastically discounted class on how to design and make A-line skirts.

You see, my mom and aunt are quilters and have been sewers most of my life.  In fact, in my childhood my mother made most of the clothes. Both have tried a number of times to introduce this skill to me.  I've had an interest, but never enough to actually take the time to sit at a sewing machine and learn. 

It took Craftsy and Doctor Who to push me over the edge.

I have wanted to make something Doctor Who related and decided that a tote bag would be ideal.  I found great fabrics available at Spoonflower, but they are high quality and therefore fairly expensive.  Not ideal for a first project.

Enter Joann's Labor Day sale: 50% off most of the items I would need (my husband already had a sewing machine) and additional coupon for 15% off the entire order including the sale items.  I packed the husband and the daughter into the car and off we went.  I found very quickly that if not monitored I could spend hours looking through fabrics just the way I can with yarn. All the colors, patterns and textures were delicious even with the cheapest of fabrics.  After about an hour in the store I had everything I needed (and some extra) to make my first attempt at sewing.

The project was a reversible tote with boxed corners and a pocket.  Mostly just a lot of straight line sewing, which sounds easier than it it when you are just starting out. The results were far from perfect and that is fine with me, because I had fun. 

With my tablet and Craftsy class queued up, I took over the kitchen table (the only space in my house large enough to tackle even the smallest of sewing projects).  I cut the fabric and with a bit of trepidation, began sewing the pieces together.  The outside went together quickly and easily.  It was the reversible lining where I ran into issues.

Before sewing the two panels together, you have to sew the pocket together and then attach it to one of the panels.   The pocket gave me no issues other than not getting an even seam around all sides.  However, my first attempt at attaching it was a failure.  How could it be a failure?  Did it fall off?  Did I sew it closed? Nope . . .I sewed it to the wrong side of the fabric.

Out came the seam ripper.  This is where I discovered that I did an excellent job of back stitching and securing the pocket.  It took my husband's help to get the pocket off.  My next learning curve problem hit when I went to sew the two panels of the lining together.  I didn't have enough pins securing them together and the fabric slipped while I sewing the bottom causing about an inch different in how they lined up.  This was the second seam ripping, and much easier than the pocket.

The final moment of understanding came when I realized that the seam allowance on the outside was more than the seam allowance on the inside, which meant that the reversible tote was bigger on the inside.  As a Doctor Who fan this made me smile, as a someone trying to sew the lining in it made me frustrated.

I managed to make it work and completed the project in only 8 hours (which includes shopping and stopping to have dinner).  Not bad for a first attempt and good enough to get me hooked on the creative process of sewing.

Just to make sure my two crafting obsession get along . . .this tote is now housing the yarn and needles for an upcoming knitting project.