Monday, December 29, 2014

The Sun Came Out

Hello friends! Long time no blog! I've written a few posts, but it's been so dark and cloudy, I haven't been able to take any pictures to go with them. :P It's like we live in Mordor over here! I've seen the sun twice in the last three weeks! Christmas was one of those days, so that was a nice gift.

I hope you all had a fabulous holiday, whichever ones you observed. Ours was quiet and relaxed. I'm still knitting Christmas presents like a little elf, though. I have a lot left and a deadline that's creeping up fast (nope, it wasn't Christmas!).

Today and yesterday, I conquered the monumental task of moving my yarn stash around. John's been on a shelf-building kick, which wrapped up with new yarn shelves for me. Yay! I don't have as much unused yarn as I thought I did. I have a ton of partial skeins, but those are living somewhere else for now. :S

I like the idea of getting up and plucking the yarn I want from the shelf instead of having to recall my weird organizational system (and the exceptions to it) and digging through boxes and tubs of yarn. I'm hoping to continue my destashing in the coming year. This will help me keep track of it. Though I'll have to find a new use for some of the shelves when I begin to run low on yarn (HA!).

I'm sure (I hope) after the gift-knitting season you are all diving into selfish knits! What are you working on to keep you warm in this burst of cold weather?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Sweater Stacking

Hello, dear readers! I hope my American friends had a fabulous Thanksgiving last week and that my international friends had a great week!

The lack of sunlight is hindering my blogging a bit because I'm not typically home when the sun is available for photos. :P I have been knitting and working on various things, though.

My in-progress knits have been unceremoniously dumped in wretched a pile next to the futon since this summer. It was really starting to wear on me, so I thought I'd do something about it. My first thought was to neatly fold the projects and stack them so that the least finished were on the bottom and the closest to finished were on top. That way, I can glance to my left, think, "Hey, this sweater just needs a neckband," and pick it up to finish it.

Turns out it works! As I was stacking the projects (sweaters, mostly), I thought those very thoughts and I finished a couple of them. I have a large order of Christmas knits, all the same item, so I know I'm going to be glancing longingly at this carefully arranged stack and wanting to knit on anything but those items from time to time. :) I'm hoping that desperation for anything else will result in lots of finished sweaters! It's ridiculous to have so many so close to being done. It's cold, dammit! Let's wear these things already!

I've had a bit of wrist pain as of late, so I've refrained from knitting, even though I don't think it is knitting-relating. It's feeling much better, so I'm going to do some housework now and then cast on a Christmas present for one of my brothers to knit when my Wednesday tv shows come on. :)

Are you making holiday gifts this year? What do you watch while you holiday-craft? If you are interested in some good company and some good holiday movie recommendations (some are wholly unrelated to any holiday, but still fabulous), pop on by the Christmas Movie KAL thread in the Very Shannon group and join us!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Different Stitches

I've been doing some sewing!  I started with a couple bags a while ago and a pouch or two before that, so I thought I'd jump right in to designing and sewing a doll dress. Best idea...? Eh....

Actually, it might have been!

I modeled it after this Cabbages & Roses dress because I figure if I can get it right in doll size maybe I'll be able to make one for myself some day instead of having to shell out $440. :S The goofy puckers in the front there are the only part that didn't come out quite right. I should have notched a corner or something. The most amazing thing is that it fits her.

It suits her. I was afraid it would look a bit...home-ec-y or something. The length helps

The next logical step, then, is to sew something for me! I've had the Washi Dress pattern for a while, but the fabric I bought is really nice and I don't want to mess it up, so I bought a Japanese sewing book and some sale Jo-Ann's Fabric flannel shirting to make an adorable, loose-fitting "practice" dress.

Admittedly, a Japanese sewing book probably isn't the best way to practice because the instructions are rather minimal (I've failed spectacularly at Japanese sewing patterns before), but I've read through them a few times and I think I've got them figured out. I have no idea how I'm going to sew top stitches 1/16" from the edge of the fabric without the machine eating it, but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. :)

Right now I'm stuck at the washing the fabric and the tracing the pattern pieces stages. I'm not even close to cutting out the pieces yet! Sewing's hard, guys. So much prep. All you have to do to prep for knitting is wind a ball of yarn. :P Don't be looking for a finished dress soon is all I'm saying.

What are you guys working on? Any big crafting plans for this lazy Thanksgiving week?

Constance posted her Blog Hop post and it's fantastic, so go check it out! I suggest you follow her on Instagram or tumblr if you want to watch her work unfold. It's really beautiful. Eliza said she'd try to do a Blog Hop post too, so keep your eyes peeled!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Socks for Sock Weather

I got totally mixed up in my days last week, which resulted in a total failure of my blogging schedule, haha. So, that means my posts this week are going to be a bit mixed up too! My Friday FO on a Monday:

Summer Breeze

Pattern: Earlybird Socks by Cassandra Dominik from Knitty, Winter 2012
Yarn: Hedgehog Fibre Sock in Gust
Needles: US 1
Project Page

I would imagine just about all of my American readers witnessed some snow last week. I hate snow. It does mean, however, that I am more apt to pull on some cozy hand-knitted socks when there is white stuff on the ground threatening to freeze my toes off. I finished these guys just in time.

The yarn is amazing, as always. My favorite fabric for hand-knitted socks! As last time though, it did pill quite a bit while I was knitting, this time more so because the pattern required quite a bit more manipulation and yarn abuse. No pilling in use, though. The color is unimaginably beautiful, like the scent of flowers on the wind (hence the name, though spring maybe would have been a better choice...I had Michael Buble on the mind a bit).

The pattern was also pretty amazing. It's memorable in it's simple repetitiveness, but I did find that I couldn't muster the stamina to work on it for very long. It's not exactly mindless and there was some stress in nearly dropping stitches a few times that I could have lived without (which could be avoided with a cable needle, but I am a rebel). The smocking of the pattern does make it a touch tight to pull the leg over your heel, but they fit great. OH AND THE HEEL! It's a flipping toe-up flap that is genious! It starts under your heel and continues up the back, so your heel is protected from all the important angles! I'm going to start doing this on all my toe-up socks.

All in all, great yarn, great pattern great socks. :) I redid the bind-off after these pics so they no longer cut off circulation to my feet. Forgive my marked up legs. My skin has an amazing memory for my pj pants (especially when I'd been lounging in them all day ;]).

I promised to alert you to my Blog Hop choices. Lindsay posted hers already and keep an eye out for Constance's. I still have one invite out, but I will let you know when that pans out one way or the other. I know she's pretty busy right now.

Got any socks going? Dreaming of any in particular?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Blog Hop

Sorry I sort of fell off the map last week. This fall has been a busy one, though I don't have much to show for it. :P

I was invited by Ine over at a picture book mind to take part in a blog hop. Thank you so much of thinking of me, Ine! So... here goes!

1. What am I working on?

Knitting, as ever, but I thought maybe I'd let you know a couple other things I'm doing, too. Knitting first: I just cast on this pair of socks in perhaps my favorite Hedgehog Fibres colorway I've been fortunate enough to get my hands on so far (which has been too few!). It is called Windbreaker and I'm pairing it with the dyer's own pattern Vestigial. I'm also still working on a sparkly green Grace. Just needs sleeves (like all my other wips ;))!

I'm also working on a couple of art projects. One is repainting my doll again (this is the third and final time--for a while--I pray), this time painting her whole body instead of just her hands and face. The other art project is one that's entirely in my head at the moment, but I intend to storyboard it soon. It will be a graphic rendition of The Decemberists' album The Hazards of Love. Every time I listen to it (which is often), I have vivid images of the characters and settings that I feel I should start putting on paper pretty soon. It will likely be a looooong term project since I've already been thinking about it since the album was released a couple years ago, but I think it will be fun.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I don't know if this question is answerable concerning my knitting. I tend to pick bold colors, but many other knitters do too, so I don't know if that makes it different. It's interesting to think about knitting as a genre. There are definitely designers whose designs I can pick out instantly, but I don't know how we can differentiate between those who knit others' designs besides the color palette each knitter gravitates too or her chosen alterations. I'm sure there are distinguishing markers, I just haven't sat down to think about it....

My art is a little easier to make out as my own. Granted, I haven't done it for nearly a decade, but I assume my style hasn't changed much. :) I prefer to work in pencils and I strive for super-realism. That doesn't necessarily differentiate me from other super-realist pencil artists, but I tend to have a very light hand, which does make me a bit different, I think. In the last couple of years before I set the art aside, I really took to working in pen. This helped a bit with my light hand so it didn't get too lost. My goal is to return to that with The Hazards of Love project, though I might sacrifice the super-realism.

3. Why do I write/create what I do?

This is an easy one. I've always been an imaginative person. I daydream and I'm easily distracted. I get hung up on images or ideas and want to explore them. I knit because it keeps me grounded. I listen better with knitting in my hands and I can focus on what I need to focus on--like lectures or puzzling through my dissertation--without tumbling into a passing thought. I used to doodle extensively as an undergrad. My notes contain more art than substance. :) Art and the doll give me the chance to exercise my imagination. I need to do it more often now that the stress of grad school (finishing it, specifically) is piling on. It's so nice to not think about all the stressful stuff 24/7 and to create something that won't be criticized or graded or otherwise evaluated. I leave school at school and think about what color my new doll's eyes should be or how the Fairy Queen will look: like a person or a tree?

4. How does my writing/illustration/creative process work?

I don't know how much of a process it is, but it's true for knitting and for drawing: I plan for ages and ages, then finally, one day, sit down and start on it. Knitting I work on endlessly, ripping back for mistakes or measuring for alterations. The art is pretty much the same, except I have to work on it in spurts. I typically focus on one area at a time until it's perfect. Super-realism takes it out of me, so I can't stare at it too long or work on it as vigorously as the knitting. I actually have a lot of unfinished or really weird-looking works because I just never found the time to finish them (see above). In the end, I either like it or I don't and I move on to the next thing, having enjoyed the process thoroughly, if not always the end product (if there is one).

Because I've been busy the last couple of weeks, I'm behind in inviting the three bloggers I have in mind, so I'll have to update this post and alert you next post when I've asked them and they've participated. This has been an interesting brain exercise, so I encourage you to take the questions to your own blog whether invited or not and let me know you've posted so I can learn about your creative process.

Please hop on over to Ine's post here to read her answers. She's an incredibly talented artist and knitter (though only a beginner! I can't believe it!).

Friday, October 31, 2014

Told You it was a Quick Hat

I promised you a hat and this time I'm delivering on my blog promise. :)


Pattern: Stovetop from Road Trip by tincanknits
Yarn: Swans Island Natural Colors Merino Worsted in Teal
Needles: US 6 & 8

I knit this hat in 2 days! It was easy and fun, something I haven't had in a knitting project for at least a month, haha. I had the amazing luck of winning the ebook during Very Shannon's Summer Sweater KAL (during which I managed to finish zero sweaters :P). There are a lot of really fantastic patterns in the book. This one looked like it would provide me with instant gratification and I was not disappointed.

I could have made it a size larger, I suppose, but I don't think I'll have to worry about it falling off my head at the size it is now. I do wish it were a touch longer because I love my hats super slouchy, but it's cute. The yarn is an odd skein that didn't match the dye lot of the three others I used to make Jules recently. It really did a number on my fingers. They were so blue from the dye that they looked bruised! For as soft as Swans Island is, I'm not sure I love it enough to put up with the blues bleeding on me that much again (this was the third go-'round). It rinses out in a snap and I haven't noticed it leaving any other traces around since the wash, so it's fine now, I hope.

Happy Halloween! John's been comping for the last couple weeks, so we haven't carved our pumpkins (yet). We're hoping for a chill night getting those pumpkins carved while watching a (not scary:P) movie. :) I dressed up because my students insisted. I don't have any costumes, so I improvised:

I'm a ghost! I guess. :) John said maybe the ghost from The Ring, but he thought I was stretching it. I was, haha. Have a great weekend! See you Monday!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


I started a hat on Monday. I feel like I haven't started anything new for ever, but I think it was just last week I started a pair of socks. Really, I haven't finished anything in forever. The hat is going quickly enough that it should be done by the end of the week. I like small projects!

A couple of pictures of the hat and socks (that aren't much larger than they were last week :S):

And that's all I've got for you today. I scheduled too much for class tomorrow and didn't get started on prepping it soon enough, so I've got a lot of lesson planning to do tonight! Hat for you Friday? Deal. Or, if time magically slows down (I know it will, but not before Friday ;)), maybe I'll finally get John in his smashing new cabled sweater. :)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Waxing Philosophical About Scary Movies

This is a type of post I've never ventured, but I'd love to know what you think about the subject. My aunt and I love scary movies, so we saw two this weekend while I was visiting family. We thought that neither of them was scary (we are very difficult to scare), but they weren't bad. We disagreed about which was the better movie, but couldn't quite put our finger on what we thought was good and bad about each of them.

The REAL Annabelle-Google Image
After the second movie, I turned on the tv and happened to catch the tail end of a special on Turner Classic Movies with Stephen King, in which he discussed his own experiences of movies based on his books and general trends and feelings towards scary movies these days. He touched on what I think bothers my aunt and I most about modern scary movies. He talked about how gore changed horror. We became too reliant on it--and now on jump scares--to terrify us.

The special effects of horror (and other genres of) movies take over and the stories themselves take a less important role. The really good horror movies are the ones that have a great story and some Paranormal Activity and The Blair Witch Project. Great movies! Paranormal Activity does rely heavily on jump scares, but the effects really support the story instead of the other way around.
element of the unknown. Those movies where you never see the monster or ghost or you have no idea how to stop whatever is terrorizing the people on the screen are the really great movies. Think about the low-fi movies like

The Blair Witch Project-Google Image
The original Evil Dead still frightens me, despite its awful, awful effects. The story is just phenomenal. I can't bring myself to watch the new one (though I did catch the last terrible few minutes of it last week) because I know the story just doesn't exist in it anymore.

Bruce Campbell from Evil Dead-Google Image
Horror movies are too quick to resolve themselves these days and they're usually terribly predictable. I can't understand why people don't like them. My aunt is the only person who will watch a horror movie with me. They aren't scary! They aren't even substantial in the plot department! I want to be scared. It's a healthy emotion that I need to draw out every once in a while but I can't usually find anything to do that for me, so I'm on a constant search. So I'm curious: if you don't watch horror movies, why not? If you do, why do you watch them?

P.S. If you are like me and seek the thrill of a good scare but can't find it in movies, read some books! Stephen King's older works are delightfully frightening (though long) and there are many other scary books out there like House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, which I could only read in broad daylight. Any other scary book suggestions?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Sock Start

Last week kinda got away from me. I have the finished knits, though! Have knits, will share. :) I've sort of lost my knitting mojo recently. It makes me sad. I don't know if it's just because I've got a lot to do around this (midterm) time, if it's because I have a mind full of things I want and need to do, or if after 7 years my maniacal knitting speed has just finally caught up with me and I need a break. The overwhelming number of works-in-progress certainly hasn't helped. :S I'm working on it very slowly. :)

I started these socks over the weekend, hoping that my love of the yarn would jump-start my mojo again. It didn't work as well as I had hoped, but I am knitting and mostly on them, so that's a start.

And for a promised FO: a little black bunny. Nothing terribly special, just a fun little yarn-eater that we had way too much fun photographing!

Ophelia doesn't like him. Who can blame her? He's eating her food!

I hope you guys have a fabulous week and I'll try to get pictures of John's fabulous new sweater before Friday so you can see it then. See you soon!

Monday, October 13, 2014

A Deer

All right! Enough! I'm going to make up for my ridiculous, repeated failures to post FOs by giving you one today, one Wednesday, and one Friday. Then, I promise not to drop the ball again! First up, a fella I finished in June and mounted in July:

A Deer

Pattern: My Dear - A Deer Trophy by Claire Garland
Yarn: Berroco Vintage in (Natural) and Knit Picks Simply Cotton Organic Sport in Toffee
Needles: US 4 and 6
Project Page

Isn't he just the cutest! One of my aunts got married over the summer to an avid hunter. He has at least four deer heads hanging in his basement and I thought my aunt might appreciate having a prettier deer of her own hanging in the house when she moved into the man cave. :)

The pattern is great! The yarns I used were probably not the best choices, but they turned out just fine. I was more concerned with the colors and what I had in my leftovers bin than fiber content. I washed the head on hot in hopes of a tiny bit of felting and I think I achieved enough to give its head a slightly firmer shape.

The antlers were awfully fiddly and probably needed wire to make them more stable, but they'll do! I stained the mount and bought the flowers to glue on. I think he looks very chic. ;)

Monday, October 6, 2014

Long Weekend

John and I took a three-day weekend trip to Minneapolis this weekend (hence the lack of an FO Friday post AGAIN :P). It was a tad chilly for my tastes, but beautiful, nonetheless.

We aren't terribly cultured, so we ate fast food and our big outing was to the Mall of America, but we enjoyed the sites we saw along the way. I did stop (on the way to the Mall) at StephenBe's Yarn Studio. It is really a great shop, especially if you like bright yarns. :) I picked up some yarn for a hat for my little brother.

We were there for the Twin Cities Marathon. I've never spectated so hard in my life! Most marathons are a large circle, but this one winds its way around Minneapolis and ends in St. Paul, so driving, parking, and walking/running to the course to see him was real a bear compared to other races. John did extremely well, though. I couldn't be prouder of him. :)

We had a great time, but we missed our bunnies! It's good to be home.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A Fall Shawl

I did what I said I was determined not to do last week: fell off the face of the earth. Friday ate me all up. I had a conference proposal that needed submitting and with a bunch of extraneous noise from the window and just outside my office door (everyone thought it would be a great place to chat Friday!), it took me about three times as long to do it. :P THERE WILL BE AN FO THIS FRIDAY! I swear it! I'll write it up tonight, in fact! It's been way too long.

In other news, this sucker is damn near finished. I got to where I thought I'd finish and decided it needed 28 more rows. Then there will be fringe and it will be the greatest shawl I have ever knitted! I'm so excited!

Check out the incredible autumn light, too. So pretty....I jumped the gun rejoicing fall's arrival a couple weeks ago. We had an 80-degree weekend last weekend. Today has the nice, crisp autumn feel in the air. I drove through some falling leaves last night that made my heart pitter-pat. :) I've been riding my bike all over town, too. The weather has been absolutely perfect for such a ride. It's just too miserable in the summer.

What have you been up to? Any fall outings planned? Are the colors changing where you live?

Monday, September 29, 2014


She's finally presentable (just ignore her poorly hand-sewn dress). This is Amelia.

It took a while, but she finally transitioned from creepy to cute. I didn't think she was ever creepy, of course, and John thinks she is super creepy even now, lol. :) I haven't yet found the perfect spot to keep her where he doesn't have to see her all the time.

I had so much fun painting her face! I don't think I did too badly, either. Granted, she looked like this the first time I tried (on the left) and I had to redo it (on the right):

I got a little heavy-handed and her head ended up much darker than the rest of her body, so I had to lighten her up a bit second time around. That gave me the opportunity to try to paint her freckles in a different way. I like them much better now.

There are things I would (and will) do differently next time, but I'm very happy with the more permanent aspects of her. 

The fun comes in the temporary stuff, anyway! For instance, I think this wig washes her out a bit too much, so I'm waiting for a couple of new ones: one brownish red, with the same gorgeous mohair fluff and curl, and the other darker red, longer, and straighter. I also want to get her lighter green eyes. These I bought because they were on a spectacular sale (and I felt a little silly buying just eyelashes for a couple bucks) and I wanted to see if the size and color would work. They aren't too bad, but I can do better.

I can't wait to start knitting and sewing for her. :)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Shiny New Project

Hey guys! I'm knitting a million projects shiny green cardigan!!! It's so cool!

"But don't you have, like, five sweaters on the needles?"

Nine-ish, actually, but LOOK! SHINY AND GREEN!!!

Preeeeeeeeetty sweet, eh? ;) It's Grace, by the ever-so-talented Jane Richmond. My gauge is a bit iffy, but a violent blocking should fix it if my first measurement was more correct than my second (which was right on).

I've been in destash-mode rather than finish-everything mode. That'll change as December looms. That's when finish-all-the-things-itis hits me. Right now, I'm enjoying knitting lots of cute little things (this is the biggest project I've started for a while) and watching them fly off the needles as quickly as I had the urge to cast them on. I'll try to share some on Friday. I have a serious backlog of FOs piling up.

Working on anything fun? You should always have something fun on the needles!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Crafting Crafts

I'm determined not to fall off the face of the blogging world this week, so late or not, short or long, I'm posting!

Check out what I did this weekend!

I sewed a couple of bags! And it was fun! And I did it all on my new (to me) sewing machine! Woohoo! I hate cutting things out. That's the worst. Does someone want to do that bit for me? I bought a kit for these bags. There are four left. As much as I want to sew them all up at once, I'm pacing myself. I don't want to get too good at sewing bags too fast. ;) I'm a master at zippers now, though.

What did you do this weekend?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


Thank you so much for your comments on all my posts. I sometimes get busy/distracted/forgetful and don't reply to them very quickly, but I'm caught up now and I hope you'll keep commenting. :)

I have loads of knitting planned for the evening, lots of Grey's Anatomy to catch up on in the next 12 days (when it will magically disappear from Hulu), and some soup to make (it's soup weather?! Crazy!), so I have to keep this short, but I'll give you a shot the pile of stuff I'm making and a list of what's in the pile and you can see if you can discern what's what, haha.

A shawl, a sock, my Ginny's Cardigan, a little stuffed bunny (that hasn't been stuffed yet), and a baby sweater I am going to try to finish before tomorrow evening. I'm focusing on smaller projects this fall to give myself room to finish up a huge pile of unfinished sweaters and to use up a stash I'd like to get a bit more under control. I kind of like it, really. It's refreshing to need only a few days or a week to knit up something cute or useful or gift-worthy.

What do you prefer to knit? Does a sweater or blanket or other large project give you greater satisfaction in the finishing than a smaller one or is it the other way around for you?

Monday, September 8, 2014

A Big Face Post

As promised, a post about the new hobby. I had some doll fun this weekend! I started to paint her face and hands. Here is what she looked like when I got her:

I bought gouache watercolors, pastels, and a few more watercolor pencils to supplement the very small collection I already have and went to work giving her a face. I think this was my third take on the freckles:

They finally looked the way I wanted, but I was aiming for something a bit more subtle.

So I left them just as they were, just lightened the darker ones with a touch of water and a small dab of a Q-tip. Ah, the joys of watercolor. :) The freckles took all day, so I was happy to spend Sunday on less difficult stuff and make progress in greater leaps.

This was only my first layer of "pinking" so it's fairly subtle, but maybe you can tell how she's already coming to life a bit with color on her cheeks and lips. All of my photos in inconsistent lighting and different areas of the house at different times of the day certainly don't help, do they? She looks a little sweeter and a little less creepy, eh? :)

And this is as much work as I finished on her yesterday. I probably should have left her alone after the last layer. She looks a little overworked now, but that's okay. It's a learning experience. :) If I hate it, I'll just redo it! All that's left is her eyebrows, another layer of drawn eyelashes, then some gloss and real eyelashes. I've been working on her hands at the same time. I really like how they are turning out.

The best part about the whole thing is that I was productive with school stuff in between steps! I have to wait an hour between layers for the sealant to dry, which means I absolutely cannot work on it for an hour. An hour for school work is pretty much the limit of my attention span for intellectual work, so everything is working precisely as I planned, muahaha! School is hard, guys. That's why I knit so much. ;)