Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Snowman friend

I made a little snowman buddy. I used Stephanie Garcia's Frosty the Snowman pattern, with a few modifications - mostly just making the hat a little smaller, and skipping the nose. And he's currently got no arms. It would be nice if we get some wintery weather so that he could go outside for a photo shoot, and maybe get some twigs at the same time. He does have a change of scarves, so he's all set for the outdoors.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


We've had our apartment decorated for Christmas for about a week now, so I wanted to share:

It makes me happy.

Another thing that makes me happy: finishing off my Bias scarf yesterday! On the same day as I finished my last assignments for my final semester of my degree, no less.

Now I need to make a few more of these ornaments. All the ones I'd already made are hanging on our tree now, but I want to do some more to give as gifts.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Learning experiences

Does it count as improving at knitting if I'm learning more ways to make mistakes, and more ways to fix them? Actually, I think I made the same mistake on my Bias scarf as I did a few weeks ago, and I still don't know quite what I did. I also don't have any idea what search terms I used to find the page that helped me last time, so I had to come up with a different strategy for fixing it. Since I apparently can't stop messing up this scarf, I'm learning from last time and posting my links here: how to pick up a missed yarn over and correcting a missed yarn over. I unraveled back past the mistake, until I basically had a row of knit stitches missing all the yarn overs, then did the purl row and picked up the missing yarn overs as I went. Success! This way is much easier than what I did last time, so hopefully I will have learned from this and know what to do next time (I won't even pretend there won't be a next time) I make my weird mistake.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Christmas decorations!

I'm one of those people that would rather not see Christmasy stuff everywhere until December, but when it's a question of making decorations by hand I think it's fair to start a little sooner than that. This year I'm using Lucy of Attic24's bauble decoration pattern to make ornaments for our tree. I simplified the pattern a bit since I don't have any cute buttons or beads, so instead of making the hanging loop as a separate chain, I'm just chaining it as I crochet the two circles together and then joining it back into the edge. I'm happy with how quick and cute they are!

By the way, if you haven't visited Attic24 before, I recommend it - I always find Lucy's love of color and crochet very inspiring.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Here's the picture I took at 11:11 on 11/11/11 to add to Flickr's group. And here are some more I took this afternoon, walking around the neighborhood:


Yay fall colors!

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Pretty fall day...

Pretty latte....

And pretty happy with how my Bias scarf rescue operation turned out. I got all the stitches back on the needles, correctly oriented, and managed to salvage most of the yarn-overs that I had no idea what to do with. There are two, I think, where I didn't get the correct number of twists, and you can tell if you're staring at that row looking for that particular mistake, but those two places will be minuscule compared to the whole scarf when it's finished. Once I go a few rows further, I think even I will probably have a hard time finding them... but for now, I am putting that aside to work on crochet because I need some instant gratification. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011


The Renwick Gallery has the best of all museum after-hours events: Handi-hour. It combines some of the best parts of being a kid (unlimited craft supplies) and being an adult (having a couple beers after work), plus snacks, a scavenger hunt, music, and getting to hang out with a museum's collections after everyone else leaves. Tonight was my second Handi-hour and it was even more fun than the first one, since we got there early enough to get good seats and lots of supplies.

My coworker's coaster
My coworker's coasters

This time the crafts were tile coasters and felt coffee cup sleeves, although as usual you were free to make whatever you wanted, and lots of people did. I stuck to the suggested projects this time and spent the evening making a coffee sleeve. It's enormous, but it actually fits perfectly on my water glass, which is now very pretty and floral.

Then I came home and spent over an hour trying to fix a mistake in my scarf and get all my stitches back on the needles. One of my stitches is dropped and a few are twisted, but all are currently accounted for and I'm hoping that tomorrow I'll have time (and patience) to get everything going in the right direction again. And then once I do, I'm taking a crochet break.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


On Sunday I had a fit of craftiness during which I decided that not only do I want to knit all the things and that my photo album needs a lot of attention but also that it's time to resume making amigurumi. I probably would have started right away except that my stock of safety eyes was running low, plus I wanted some cat eyes so I could make some proper kitties.

I worry that someday CR's Crafts will disappear, but fortunately they still seem to be going strong, so I ordered enough eyes for twenty-five creatures (I think that will last me a while) and three days later, here they are!

I'm excited to use the cat eyes because I've never gotten "fancy" safety eyes before. The plan is to make Beth Doherty's Hep Cat, maybe with some minor wardrobe variations. First, though, I think I might work on a few new Christmas ornaments, because despite how wonderfully fast CR's Crafts ship, I already added two things ahead of the cat pattern on my Ravelry queue.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Reading hiatus

Earlier this year, I watched Game of Thrones, and since I'd never read the books, I decided that this was a good time to start. And now, after treating the first four volumes of the A Song of Ice and Fire series as one gigantic, 4080-page book, I don't want to read anymore. At all. Anything. I'm taking a break from reading for fun, for the first time since I graduated from college. It wasn't that I disliked ASoIaF, overall, but it was too much slogging with the only real payoff being more misery, suffering and death for everyone. I am quite content, for a little bit, to fill my free time in other ways.

I usually read at multiple points in the day, and I've found new things to fit in most of those slots. Breakfast is a good time to check Reader. During my commute, I've been listening to podcasts, for the first time in my life. Looped Yarn Works' DC Unraveled has been fun to listen to, although it's hard to ride to work listening to someone talk about knitting projects and then have to sit at my desk for hours before I can get back to my own projects. I've also just started listening to the BBC's A History of the World in 100 Objects, which is wonderful, and makes me really want to go to the British Museum. Speaking of museums, my normal lunchtime reading is a good time to go explore the museum I actually work in. Exhibitions aren't as interesting when they're always there, but lately I've been regretting how little time I've spent in the galleries compared to how long I've had this job. So, this works out pretty well!

The only reading-time I haven't filled in yet is before bed, but I've been meaning to go through my cookbooks and mark recipes I want to try. I think the pleasure of having a book to read before going to sleep is what will end my hiatus, but for now I'm okay with lurching slightly out of my rut. But I have to say, I'm looking forward to reading Haruki Murakami's and Neal Stephenson's latest books, once the idea of starting a new book doesn't overwhelm me.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

First scarf finished! On to the second

My Old Shale Scarf is finished, just in time for mid-fall weather that's perfect for a lightweight scarf. I'm so glad it's finally done - it took me since May (to do this iteration, not counting the one I ripped out after I messed up eight or ten inches in) and while I didn't find the pattern difficult, really, it probably wasn't the most satisfying choice for my very first real knitting pattern, ever. I had a hard time keeping track of where I was, partly because the yarn I bought is so dark and fine (it's really beautiful, though), and I would get bored after two repeats of the pattern. I am very proud of it though, and I was so excited to wear it for the first time this weekend.

As soon as that scarf was finished, I cast on a new one: Bias, using this wonderful cashmere sock yarn by Tanis Fiber Arts that was made affordable by a Groupon at a local yarn store. I love this pattern, especially after Old Shale - I can go so fast! And while it's a simpler pattern, for some reason it feels less boring. I was happy to spend a three-hour car ride working on this and it's nice to be able to see my progress. Hopefully I'll have another new scarf waiting for me in time for early-spring lightweight scarf weather.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Challah French toast

I already posted my standard French toast recipe so I didn't think I'd really need to post a variation, but then I made challah French toast on Sunday morning and my live-in taste-tester said it was quite possibly the best French toast he'd had, and that seems worth recording. So:

Challah French toast
adapted from Ina Garten
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbs honey
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 challah loaf
And you know what to do from there.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Crafty Bastards 2011

On Saturday I went to Crafty Bastards, which is the annual DC craft fair. My first and only other trip to Crafty Bastards was in 2008, and I wasn't that impressed then, because it seemed like it was mostly mustaches and bicycles and octopuses and owls as far as the eye can see. Not that there's anything wrong with that, necessarily, but it's not really my thing, and I didn't feel inspired to buy or make anything after that visit.

Crafty Bastards has grown in the past three years, and this time there was a much larger variety of vendors, including a few of my favorites from the Ballston Arts & Crafts Market like Yummy & Company, Katharine Watson, and Ashley Buchanan Jewelry. A few other vendors that made me wish I had tons of talent, or cash, or both:

  • Fernworks: resin jewelry and paintings. I especially love her amazing, ethereal hand-painted resin jewelry: beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.
  • Seeing in Fabric: "paintings" made from fabric scraps and machine and hand embroidery.
  • Inedible Jewelry: teeny tiny food! I remember them from the first Crafty Bastards I went to as one of the more unique and fun vendors.
  • The Oak Leaves: incredibly teeny clay buildings. Something about these was really fascinating - they're just unpainted little houses, but they seem like tiny homes.
  • My Paper Crane: cute plush food. As with real donuts, the only donuts left by the time I got to their stall were the cream-filled and crullers.
  • Zooguu: plush toys. I love the squids!
  • Tasha McKelvey: pottery and ceramic jewelry. Her little bird bowls are wonderful.
  • Cotton Monster: plush monsters may be a staple of craft shows, but these are really unique. There's something definitely creepy as well as cute about these guys.
  • NeedleNoodles: I was so excited to see NeedleNoodles and her little guys in the flesh (or in the yarn)! I hadn't seen her squids before but I loved them - might have to buy the pattern.
So, yes, definitely worth the trip, despite the drizzle and the cold weather. The only thing I bought was a falafel sandwich from Amsterdam Falafel (yum) but I saw lots of things that inspired me, and lots of vendors whose sites I'm bookmarking for Christmas shopping ideas.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Favorites from the Ballston Arts & Crafts Market

I finally made it to the Ballston Arts & Crafts Market today. It seems like every year, I become aware of it just in time for the season to end (even though it runs from April to October), which, as I realized today, was my loss. It's a small market but I was impressed with the quality and variety of things people were selling.

I especially loved this ceramic kitty from Red & Main because it looks like my real-life kitty. I was tempted to buy it, but unfortunately before I acquire more cute things I need to acquire more flat surfaces to put them on.

I also really liked Katharine Watson's block-printed cards and textiles, Yummy & Company's clay jewelry, Motherbored's recycled computer part pendants, and Ashley Buchanan's hand-cut metal necklaces and earrings.

While I'm on the subject of cool handmade things I've seen recently, I should mention Uncanny Jewelry, whose earrings and necklaces I saw at NOFO last weekend during a trip to Raleigh. I've seen recycled can jewelry before but nothing as pretty as what she makes.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Belated donut post

This is it... the ultimate in adorable donuts: donut kitties!

Via Epicute.

Edit: the rest of the internet has discovered these donuts as well, so now I can note that they are from Floresta in (of course) Japan.

Friday, July 22, 2011

What I've been knitting

I have not been doing nothing, but since I chose a lacy feather-and-fan pattern for my first serious knitting project, it's slow going. I'm working on the Old Shale Scarf pattern and it's going well, now that I'm past the early episode where I messed up a row, tried to pick out my stitches, totally lost my place and decided that the only thing to do was frog it all, crying the whole time. So really, I guess this is Old Shale 2.0. I'm about halfway done, judging by the yarn I have left, so no frogging now.

Next time I do something like this, I'm picking a light-colored yarn. The pattern doesn't really show up with this yarn, plus it makes me feel like I'm old and going blind when I try to work on it in the evening.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Second sewing machine adventure of the year

Here is my greatest recent accomplishment:

A hem. It's not much to brag about, except that it's the only thing I've gotten finished in what feels like a very long time.

I ended up making this dress shorter by over three inches, so it was definitely necessary - obviously I bought it knowing it would be unwearable if I didn't hem it. After dithering for many weeks after buying it, I decided that yes, I wanted to try to do it myself rather than taking it to a dry cleaner. A little bit of research led me to believe that the best approach, with my very simple sewing machine, was to use the reinforced straight stitch and a jersey needle. And, it worked! It's still got enough stretch that I don't think the hem is going to break, and it's exactly the length I wanted, and it's even. What a surprise!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Donut tower

I seem to have forgotten that I have this blog. I have a few projects I've been working on, but my main project has been trying to relocate my brain after summer slowness and two weeks of grad school seminar have caused me to pretty much lose track of where I am in space and time. I'm usually mildly surprised by how quickly months pass, but today I was sure I was somehow mistaken in my suspicion that this is the beginning of July.

Anyway, to get back to what matters (donuts), I will resume the tradition I never really got underway of posting about donuts on Fridays. Here is a collection of photos of a tower of donuts for a baby shower, via Craft. To be honest, I'm slightly torn on this. I prefer my donuts without naked babies, but it's a tower of donuts. I would not turn that down.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Another Creepy Cute pattern that languished for years before finally being finished! My roommate had a birthday coming up and I decided that she and this monkey would make a good pair.

I'm very pleased with his curly tail.

When I said I didn't have any more safety eyes, I was doubly wrong. First of all, I misspoke, because I do have plenty of eyes, just not the 6 mm size that I use most often for amigurumi (not pictured here!). And I did have two 6 mm eyes left, but only one washer. But then! Miraculously, while digging around in my sewing box for a needle and embroidery thread to make the monkey's face, I discovered the missing washer! Because few things satisfy me as much as using something up (craft supplies, food in the refrigerator, stationery, etc.), I'm very happy to not have one unusable pair of eyes.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

So beautiful...

DOUGH Donuts: A Far Cry From The Old Fashioned from SkeeterNYC on Vimeo.

My first and so far only New York donut-hunting expedition was a bust (nobody told me Doughnut Plant is closed on Mondays), but this place is going on the list for next time. Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, gigantic but fluffy... I think I'm in love.

Via The Mary Sue, originally from Food Curated.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Finishing off

The reason that I decided it was finally time to learn to knit was that I hadn't had much interest lately in crocheting amigurumi or anything else. But of course, something about spending that time with yarn in my hands learning to knit reminded me how much fun it was to make little creatures. So, after not starting an amigurumi since October, I worked on three in March.

Baby bunny was a good project to use up some of the yarn left over after I finished my gigantic ripple afghan (which may be partly responsible for my lack of interest in crocheting in the months after finally finishing it). This is the second time I've made this pattern, and I was happier with my first attempt. This bunny seems a little... off.

Then I finished a ninja from the Creepy Cute book, also my second time doing this pattern, and I think he came out pretty nicely. I started this one in March 2009 and finished almost exactly two years later. I'm not sure whether to be proud of that.

And then I decided I needed a cute tiny elephant. He was going to have a friend, but I ran out of safety eyes and haven't gotten around to ordering more yet (I have one, but that's not going to do anyone much good). So, I guess I'm taking another break from amigurumi, and I started a new knitting project that I actually hope will turn into something nice this time, so that will keep me busy for a while.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Spring (please)!

We're supposed to get an inch of snow tomorrow. I'm not going to think about that. I'm going to look at these photos I took today of the cherry blossoms, and pretend that it was forecast to be 60 degrees and sunny all weekend.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rainy evening

I am so pleased to be eating this scone right now. With creme fraiche on it! And some tea to go with it! I made them from smitten kitchen's Meyer lemon and cranberry scone recipe. She suggests freezing the dough and baking the scones as needed, which sounded like a great idea. And it is.

I was concerned about spending the first day of spring making very wintery-flavored scones, but it turns out spring isn't really ready to commit yet. Also, there is no correct season for delicious scones. Also also, I decided to make these because of a spring-cleaning impulse to get rid of the cranberries languishing in my freezer, but I only used up about half of them for this batch of scones. So... more scones!

Other excitement of the night:

I graduated from "learning stitches" and "making swatches" to trying to make an actual thing, from a real pattern. This is the yarn I used when I was learning to crochet, so I thought it was appropriate to use it again for my first real knitting attempt. I'm wondering if that was a bad idea, because this yarn is hideous and the scarf is going better than expected so far. It will annoy me to finish this and end up with a decent scarf that I will never wear. On the other hand, it would annoy me more to pick new yarn and then mess it up or lose interest, and it would also annoy me more to have this yarn sitting around in my stash forever (I love using things up, if you can't tell).

Monday, March 21, 2011

(Mostly) finished product!

This is how I spent my Saturday afternoon. Now my bag is finished! I'm very happy with how it turned out, over all. I decided to lengthen the straps by a few inches, because I knew I wouldn't use a bag that I couldn't carry on my shoulder. I also added an inch to the height of the bag... but failed to account for that when I was sewing the straps down, so I had to do a little hand-work to make it looked like I wanted it to. I was really disappointed when I realized what I did, because my moment of "oh my god, I sewed something perfectly!" turned out to be so short-lived (and incorrect). But I'm okay with it now. I'm still considering taking it back to the height the pattern meant it to be (hence mostly finished product), but for now I'm letting it sit and I'll see what I think about that in a few more days.

Here it is!

This is the height that it will be if I correct my mistake/failed alteration. I feel like maybe the proportion of different fabrics looks better this way, but I'm not positive.

I just love the way these three look together.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick's day cupcakes

I've had smitten kitchen's "car bomb" cupcakes bookmarked for two years now. I was intimidated by the chocolate-whiskey ganache, and by the fact that I don't really like Guinness and rarely drink Bailey's, but at the same time... car bomb cupcakes. What better for me to bring to the St. Patrick's Day potluck at work?

I skipped the ganache filling, which made my life a lot easier. As it was, I was still frosting these at midnight on Wednesday, while also making a heroic effort to drink as much of the bottle of leftover Guinness as I could. I disliked it less than I remembered, but I still only got through about 8 oz. of it (I opted to get one 22 oz. bottle instead of a six-pack for the recipe). Still, I knew I was probably doing something very wrong when I poured the rest of it down the drain, and even though I didn't mind the loss of the Guinness, it hurt my waste-not-want-not heart.

The cupcakes, though, are very good, and slightly but not too beer-y. I ran out of space in the boxes I brought them to work in, so a few had to stay behind at my apartment (alas), and I think one will go well tonight with a little bit of Bailey's... which I do like to drink.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sad rug

When I was about 11, I got to pick out my own comforter, pillow and sheet set for the first time, which was a really exciting event - I even got curtains that matched. After about 13 years, not surprisingly, the flannel sheets I used every winter were worn out to the point that calling them "sheets" was a joke. There was a worn-through area on the fitted sheet that was almost as big as me, so finally I decided to stop calling them "sheets" and call them what they were: rags.

And what else does a crafty crocheting person do with rags, besides make a rag rug? So 15 years after first getting these sheets, and at least 5 years after they reached the end of their lifespan, and about a year after I acknowledged that fact and decided to cut what was left of them into strips and sew them together, and about one hour of work, I have this silly rug.

It is small and stupid. It's also pretty comfortable to stand on, so if I actually needed a small, slightly misshapen rug, this would be fairly useful. As it is, it was basically an exercise in being "thrifty" for no reason, but even though I might not use this rug - might even throw it away the next time I move - I still feel better having made it than I would have if I had just thrown out the sheets.

So that concludes my rag rug experiment. Except... I also have the cotton sheets from that bedroom set. Which are also worn out beyond reason. And sitting in my rag bag waiting to see if I want to make another rug.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

French toast

Whenever I decide to make French toast, I always think I need a recipe, so I go online and consult my Betty Crocker cookbook and find myself dithering between the same five or so variations. Of course, there really isn't one way to make French toast, as long as you've got eggs, milk, and various sweet stuff, but since I always want "a recipe," I'm posting this here for my own future reference.

This is the way I made French toast on Sunday, and I think it's pretty close to my usual formula that I come up with after deciding that none of the recipes I see are exactly what I want.

  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • sprinkle of nutmeg
This was enough for about 10-12 thin slices of bread.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

So, knitting

Yes, knitting. I am doing it. Sort of. As you can probably tell by the picture, until one week ago I had never knit a stitch in my life. That was my first attempt to practice "what I had learned," not just figuring out the actual steps. I knit until I decided I was bored of that, then I purled until I decided I was bored of this ugly scrap altogether.

This is what I produced when I decided I was done practicing randomly, and would now "make a swatch of garter stitch." Obviously it's still far from perfect, but it's a little less appalling than the one in blue. I've also been working on a little square of seed stitch, which has gone better.

Along with the Teach Yourself Visually Knitting book, I have intently studied the How to Knit and Purl Continental Style For Dummies video on YouTube. Even back before I caved and and started learning, I had decided that if I ever learned to knit, I would do it continental style. A friend of mine knits that way, and I think it just looks nicer in her hands. Also, as a crocheter of three and a half years, I liked the idea of continuing to hold the yarn in my normal yarn-hand. But more than anything, I am stubborn. If I'm going to do something that everybody else does, I'm at least going to do it in a slightly less common way.

I feel a little sheepish that I have to give up my identity, among my small circle of people who do crafty things, as "the crocheter that has no idea how to knit." It seems like everyone either can knit but not crochet, or learned to crochet but forgot how. I, meanwhile, perversely enjoyed telling people who saw me crocheting and assumed I was knitting that I had NO IDEA how to knit, since knitting and crocheting are clearly NOT the same thing. Kind of like how I was really pleased by the fact that I only knew how to play bass, not guitar, because they are NOT the same (bass is better) (so is crochet). But anyway, now that I have finally admitted to myself that there are plenty of knitted things that I would like to make, damned if I am not going to at least learn continental style exclusively.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Chocolate overload

Mmmm... dessert porn. This is the Chocolate Overload cake that we had at Ikea yesterday. Our trip was otherwise pretty much fruitless, but since neither of us have space for more furniture or any particular need for miscellaneous household goods, we were mostly just going to play house and eat the cafeteria food. So, success.