Friday, June 28, 2013

{FO} Sanibel

The Sanibel Cowl was such a fun, easy knit...and I think I might be itching to cast on a second one! Knit up in the Louisa Harding Albero, the cotton/viscose blend gives this cowl amazing drape.  And it's so squishy! 

This was part of the East Coast Knitter's summer KAL, and I actually finished it on time! Woo!

Check out some other amazing finished objects on Tami's page. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

{TDF} Practice, Practice, Practice

A person I had met at the Connecticut Sheep and Wool festival in April had told me that once I started spinning, in the beginning, I should spin for 15 minutes a day.  

I tried a little while ago, and put it up.  I am taking lessons in July for the Tour De Fleece from the very talented Linda who is well known in the Rhode Island spinning community (I am going to be checking out the RI Spinning Guild in upcoming weeks as well) so I figured I would "get it" then. 

But then yesterday, at an ASPCA event, I met a lovely woman named Emilia who is a knitter and spinner as well and who really encouraged me to try some more before my lessons.  

So, I broke out the spindle and fiber last night and did 15 minutes.  And today, I did 15 minutes more.  I am having trouble drafting (could be the fiber I'm using which is 50% merino and 50% alpaca which has a short staple) and there is no notch on my cheap-y beginner spindle so I have issues getting the yarn around the hook and have some parts that untwist so I needed to "respin" those sections.'s getting there.  I have some bumps and thin areas but practice, practice, practice.

When I first attempted spindling, I was giving it a flick with my left hand.  And I wasn't getting a lot of twist.  So last night I tried the down the leg method and holy moly sooo much twist.  I think when I shattered my wrist last winter I lost a lot of OOMPH in my left hand, so this is much better!

"Designer" Yarn

Friday, June 21, 2013

Road Trip to New Jersey

Currently listening to the most recent podcast from The Fat Squirrel Speaks and wishing I had decided to join the Orange KAL -- some amazing prizes out there to be won.  But, I have two active KALs one of which will be finished in time...and the other, well, that was a pipe dream.

So, as I mentioned in this post, for Father's Day weekend I went home to New York to visit my dear old daddy and there was some definite stash enhancement.  We went down to New Jersey for the day, and of course I had to check Ravelry for yarn stores. What better way to say "I love you dad!" then "let's go to a yarn store!"

My first stop was Do Ewe Knit? in Westfield, NJ and despite the cicada horded that has settled in that area of NJ, it was such a fun shop! The owner, owner's husband (I think?) and her adorable Shih Tsu Ruby were so amazingly nice.  Karen (the owner) stocks quite a bit of smaller hand-dyers and I was resistless.  I scooped up a skein of Anzula  (the cricket base) in a stunning red colorway called "Madam" and a knitter's kit -- sock monkey stitch markers, a row counter and scissor set that clips onto a project bag.

My next stop was in Red Bank...and the name of the shop was just so much fun, I couldn't resist. I mean, could you have resisted some place called The Wooly Monmouth? (Red Bank is right in Monmouth county NJ). I had just intended to browse here, but the selection was so amazing and I found a yarn I have never used or heard of before.  Skein is an Australian company and I got their Top Draw Sock base in Static.  This yarn is AMAZING. I love the color and I love how soft it is.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

{WIP} Fiber ADD

As a reminder there is a KitchenAid Stand Mixer Giveaway in my post from Sunday about cancer that can be found here. The contest ends on Saturday!

Another one of those weeks where I feel like my Work-In-Progress pile is rather large. 

Click here for lots of other amazing WIPS
I will start with a KAL project that I actually will finish by the June 30th deadline.  The East Coast Knitters group is knitting an adorable, quick, easy cowl for their summer KAL.  Sanibel uses drapey worsted weight yarn and size 8 needles with a totally customizeable pattern.  Despite attempting to use stash only yarn for my next few projects, I had nothing that was both worsted and drapey in my alas, to the yarn store my long suffering Nathan went for me.  He picked me up a few skeins (on mega sale!) of Louisa Harding Albero, a cotton/viscose blend. Seriously guys this pattern is super easy and fast and FREE.

Looks like antique lace

I also started a non-yarn related project this week! I have jumped back on the cross stitch bandwagon thanks to my friend Siobhan sending me a pattern.  I am stitching the Springtime Sampler by The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery as a summer stitch-a-long with Tami and my friend Viki from high school. I haven't gotten too far yet but I'm really enjoying the cuteness of it.  One of the reasons I got bored with cross stitching was because it all felt too old lady.  These kawaii characters will definitely not go into the land of old anytime soon.  One thing I find amusing is how much my shoulder aches afterwards!

I am so happy all my Xs face the same way
I haven't worked too much on my shawls lately as I've been consumed with working on the Vitamin D cardigan...but as I'm nearly approaching the sleeve separation and body work I've gotten nervous. Sure, it's just knitting. But now is the part where I will begin to tell whether or not I'm going to have a wearable garment.  Additionally, the body involves A LOT of short rows. And instead of doing a normal Wrap and Turn (W&T) I wanted to use the no wrap no gap method I used for the heel in my super secret sock I test knitted (which I might have a HO on Friday for now that the pattern is out) but I haven't worked out the logistics yet...and my luck I would screw up.

My progress is much more than this but I love how this photo looks

I love the little sleeve wedge

And that's it for this Wednesday.  Now that I'm a couple of years out of the learning to knit stage I've been thinking of doing a blog re-branding with new name and possibly moving to Wordpress....but the very thought is super overwhelming. Thoughts?

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Mustache For Dad & Special Cancer Post complete with KitchenAid Stand Mixer Giveaway!! #recipesfromtheheart

"Today's event is being hosted by Kim of Cravings of a Lunatic and Jen of Juanita's Cocina. They teamed up with their blogger friends to help raise awareness and support for Cancer and Hospice today in memory of Kim's dad. We encourage everyone to read the posts and share their own experiences with cancer. We also would like to encourage everyone to donate to the Canadian Cancer Society, the American Cancer Society and also to the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association. Hospice was a key element during Kim's father's battle with cancer. They made it possible for Kim to care for him at home. So please show your support and donate if you can. You can also contact your local Hospice and donate directly to them if you wish. A little goes a long way! "

Kim has been a good friend of mine for years now.  I credit myself with her starting her blog (yes, I am *that* friend on her bio!) to which she took blogging to a whole new level of awesome.  When she mentioned she wanted to do something like this for Father's Day, I jumped in.  Am I a foodie like all of the other bloggers participating? No.  Do I like to cook? Sure, but I like to dial a number on the phone more.  So you may be asking why I am participating in a blogging phenomenon like all of these other amazing, talented bloggers and food makers...and the answer is that I too have been deeply affected by cancer.  So, for all of you foodies who might have found your way to my blog and think you might be lost I hope that you stick around :) Perhaps you will find a new hobby to entertain yourselves with when waiting for the timer to go off. 

Grandma and me
Cancer has always, unfortunately, been a part of my life.  My beloved grandmother passed away from breast cancer on Christmas Eve when I was 10. To say we were close would be putting it mildly.  Sure, when I was very little I liked to play with her jelly filled breast prosthetic (amd learned at an early age not to shout out that I want to play with her boobie in public places) but I never realized how bad cancer was until she got very sick.  There isn't a day that goes by that I don't miss her and hope that she is proud of the woman I have now become.

But, cancer has reared it's head once more in my life. This March, my father was diagnosed with Stage II Brain Cancer.  I remember the day he called me telling me this and he said not to worry that it was a "good cancer."  Good cancer? Those two words have never belonged in the same sentence.  Though to the doctors, this slow growing non-moving cancer is "good." 

Let me give you a little back story.  My father is a stubborn man whose favorite phrase is "don't worry." Eight years ago he was getting blinding headaches, walked around like he was drunk, and was just out of sorts.  But I was told "don't worry about it" so I never realized how bad it was.  I was up at college enjoying my junior year and trying not to worry about it.  During winter break, I spent New Years Eve with my boyfriend out in western Massachusetts.  We went to a New Year's Eve party at his brother's house and I got very, very, very tipsy.  That morning I woke up, hungover, to the sound of my cell phone ringing. I blearily opened one eye and saw it was my mom.  I ignored it.  The phone rang again, and I still ignored it.  Then Nate's family's house phone rang so we answered it.  My mother was in tears telling me that my father had collapsed and was at the hospital - they thought it was a stroke. 

Long story short, it wasn't a stroke.  My father had a brain tumor the size of a large man's fist.  Brain surgery was scheduled for the next day and that was 8 hours of waiting.  When the brain surgeon came out he told us that due to the size of the tumor my father only had 6 months left to live.  I was devasted to say the least and tried to be strong for my mother and father.  Now, the brain surgeon made this proclamation with no lab results.  So imagine our gratitude and surprise when a few weeks later he called, on my dad's birthday no less, to tell us he had made a mistake and the tumor wasn't malignant. My dad would be fine.

Fine is a relative term...
Dad & me
I don't want to bore you with a very long, lengthy diatribe of the following eight years but let's just say due to circumstances I got into the habit of calling my father every day when I got out of work at 5 pm. One Monday night in February I was running late so I called my dad on his cell and he didn't answer.  I then tried the house phone, no answer. I didn't think anything of it really - he was probably walking the dog.  So I waited until I got to the next train station and tried again. And again.  Still nothing. Now I started to panic - my dad usually jumped on the phone when I rang and called me out for being late.  And mom had mentioned over the weekend that she wanted to make an appointment with the neurologist.  And my dad wasn't answering the phone.  My parents live on Long Island, and I work in Boston (live in Rhode Island) -- that's 4 hours away.  I didn't know what to do.  Should I call the police? Ask a friend to stop by? I called my mom and told her the situation, she said the same thing I thought that he was probably walking the dog.  I couldn't shake the feeling that something was wrong though.  Mom left work early and rushed home, and my entire commute home I kept calling. and calling. and calling. 

Around 9:00 am that Monday morning my dad went down to the basement to get clean clothes from the dryer.  Two steps down, his left leg gave out and he fell.  He wound up fracturing his back and couldn't move, though he tried.  When mom got home she called the ambulance and they brought him to the hospital.  Like deja vu the EMTs said they thought he had a stroke.  Like deja vu, it wasn't.

My dad had another fist sized tumor in his brain. Almost exactly where it was 8 years ago.  I won't rehash the hours of tears (there were many) or the fear of the week (it was mind numbing) but the tumor was was benign once more and we thought my dad just had to recover again.  With the back fracture he was in considerable pain but was hobbling along with a walker.  Then some pathology results came back in saying that although the tumor was benign, surrounding brain tissue was malignant.

After Brain Surgery

Before round 3 of chemo
It's now Father's Day, and I'm home visiting my father.  He is about to start round 4 of chemo this Monday but he's doing OK.  He is still in a lot of pain due to his back, but he says his head doesn't hurt at all.  He doesn't remember the week in the hospital, only the part after he woke up from the brain surgery.  He is back to telling me "don't worry" and constantly hounding me to see if I've eaten that day.  Since he started chemo, I've been turning that question back on him since he has no appetite and food doesn't taste the same. I still live 4 hours away and don't get to see him nearly enough, but I talk with him every day on the phone -- at 5 pm and other times of the day.  My dad is stubborn - he says he isn't going anywhere until he walks me down the aisle and bounces a grandbaby on his knee.  I keep waiting for the news that he is in remission or the cancer is gone.  But I remain hopeful that if anyone can beat cancer, it's my dad.

In honor of my father and all other people affected by brain cancer I have crocheted a grey mustache pin to wear.  For some reason the grey ribbon for brain cancer doesn't appeal to me -- grey is such a hopeless color! But, as you can tell by photos in this post. My dad has a mustache . And it is now mostly grey.  As I mentioned earlier, this is not a foodie blog and while I could have posted a recipe I chose (with Kim's permission) to knit or crochet something.

The pattern is a freebie that can be found here and is a very easy basic crochet pattern.  I am always amazed at how much quicker crocheting is from knitting...but I'm still not about to turn my needles in and become a hooker full time (Foodies still reading, a hooker is not only a lady of the night but a term for someone who crochets.) To turn it into a pin, I just threaded a normal safety pin on the back. And Voila! I wear my Brain Cancer Mustache Pin with pride.

Now this is the part of the post that would make sense if I was a foodie blog...but I'm not, so this is going to seem random and out there. But hey, even crafters cook and who wouldn't love to win a KitchenAid stand Mixer? (Contest open to only US and Canada residents only and is open to contestants from ALL blogs participating in this event, not one winner per blog)

Winner gets to choose their color!
Enter for your chance to Win an Artisan® Series KitchenAid® Stand Mixer in the color of your choice (there are 26 to choose from) as well as an Ice Cream Maker Attachment. A sweet choice for all, this creative attachment features the largest ice cream bowl capacity in the industry. Prepare 2 quarts of ice cream, sorbet, gelato or other frozen desserts. We're pleased to announce the giveaway is open to Canadian residents, as well as U.S. Residents. Winner will be chosen and announced during the pinchatlive event, described below. Winner will also be notified via email and has 48 hours to respond. If winner does not respond another winner will be chosen. 1 Stand Mixer and 1 Ice Cream Attachment are being given away as a group, not 1 per blog just to be clear for our readers.

There are bonus prizes for the pinchatlive event. We are giving away 1 Vanilla Infused Gift Box Set, 1 Lemon Infused Gift Box Set and a $30 Amazon Gift Card. In order to participate in this event follow the Pinterest Board #recipesfromtheheart. Hop on the Pinterest board on June 22 at 2 pm Est to follow along. We'll ask questions and those who comment are entered to win the bonus prizes. There will be a G+ Hangout on Air during the event as well. Winners of the pinchatlive event must be Canadian or U.S. residents.
Visit and click on theMore than a Mixertab to explore all 12 attachments available for the KitchenAid® Stand Mixer.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
I know that for me this has been a very long post but I do hope that you will check the blogs of the other participants in this event.  They are all amazing, talented cooks and bakers and I have tried several of their recipes in the past and they are delicious!!

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream with Home-made Strawberry Topping by Cravings of a Lunatic Chili Verde by Juanita's Cocina S'Mores Brownies in Jars by That Skinny Chick Can Bake Dark Chocolate and Orange Muffins by The Dutch Baker's Daughter Boston Cream Pie by Pass The Sushi My Fathers Day Recipe Round Up by Curry and Comfort Tropical Smoothie by Dinners, Dishes and Desserts Mini Gugelhupf by Masala Herb Sauteed Strawberry and Sugarsnap Salad by Cook The Story Cranberry Cashew Breakfast Muffins by In Fine Balance Arugula Salad with Sundried Tomatoes and Mushrooms by Crazy Foodie Stunts Spicy Beef Sliders by Katie's Cucina Thai Red Curry Soup by Damn Delicious Suman (Sweet Rice and Banana Leaves) by Culinary Adventures with Camilla Fresh Vegetable Salad by White Lights on Wednesday Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream Sundae by The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen Cinnamon Chip Cookie Butter Bars by The Messy Baker Berry/Cherry Fro-Yo Ice Cream by Cookistry Honey Beer Bread by Hungry Couple Cinnamon-Chocolate Chip Pancakes by The Spiffy Cookie Chocolate Cherry Granola Bars by Sweet Remedy Cookies and Cream Brownies by Cooking in Stilettos Blueberry Lemon Cake by Roxana's Home Baking Angel Cake by Ninja Baking


Friday, June 7, 2013

{TDF} Spin Baby Spin

I'm doing it this summer guys. I'm participating in the Tour de Fleece as part of the Must Stash Podcast's team.  I'm blogger accountable now :)

I will be starting spinning lessons in July...and my goal? Other than learn to spin? I'm aiming for 100 yards.  Of recognizable yarn.

So keep an eye out for {TDF} posts and encourage me on!


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

{WIP} Yarn Juggling

Knitting monogamy - I miss you.  Currently, I have four active WIPs.  FOUR.  Well. I guess we can say three that are on the needles and the fourth is half of a sock pair that has yet to be cast on.  With the exception of the non-cast on sock, none of these projects are easy to carry with me projects and all involve three skeins of yarn to be juggled. Oy. Vey. 

Looks a Twix Bar
I've made some progress with my Color Affection shawl by getting to the point where I can add the second color. I really like how the creamy Butter Pecan looks against the darker Fudge Brownie. I am knitting this with Candy Skein's Sweet Fingering base and I love how this yarn just glows in sunlight.  It will be awhile, but I can't wait to join in the third color!

Hello. I'm Amy's first ever gauge swatch
I've swatched and started my first sweater! I'm only a few rows into the actual sweater, so I'm going to share my swatch.  I am going to attempt to knit Vitamin D  by Heidi Kirrmaier.  The parts of the pattern I've completed so far haven't been too hard.  Rather, the difficulty for me is alternating three separate skeins of Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light (in the lovely Well Water colorway) and keeping them from tangling.  But I'd rather have a nicely blended sweater than one where you can see the changes in alternate I shall.  I'm alternating every other row - so purl w. skein A, knit w. skein A, purl w. skein V, knit w. skein B, purl w. skein C, knit w. skein C - then repeat.  I haven't knit anything in stockinette stitch that wasn't in the round I've kind of forgotten how painful it can sometimes be. But, those rows are good TV watching rows.  And the pattern itself isn't too difficult yet - just a lot of knits, purls, YOs, and make 1s.  I have my fingers crossed that my first sweater looks amazing and fits me perfectly. 

Art Deco
And thirdly, I have a project that has been long languishing since last August (!!!).  Memorial Day weekend I decided to randomly pick up and work on my Rockefeller by Stephen West.  Last summer, I had finished Clue A of this mystery knit along behind schedule of the clues being released and was intimidated by the final object. So I placed it in a project bag along with the lovely yarns and kind of pretended it didn't exist for awhile.  But having finished my socks for the Stockinette Zombie's Finish-That-KAL KAL I decided to work on it a bit.  I worked on Clue B for the first section, and added my first horizontal stripes.  This pattern has a lot of color work and yarn breaking in it which is why I've shied away from it for so long - but I really love the yarns I'm using in it and it's a shame to leave it moldering in the UFO pile.  The green main color is Knit Pick's stroll tonal base in the canopy color way and the darker contrasting color is Cephalopod Yarn's Skinny Bugga! base in the Montauk Monster colorway.  Being a Long Islander, I loved the name of that yarn and named my project after it (please if you have no idea what the Montauk monster is don't google it...and if you do google it, I tried to warn you). 

To see some other amazing works in progress, check out: