Sunday, August 26, 2007

More Questions and Answers

Here are the answers to the 2nd set of questions for SP11:

1. What is the one knitting accessory you could not live without?

Bags. I love bags of all sorts, and keep each project in its own bag.

2. If you're heading on vacation, do you take knitting with you? If so, how much and what type of project?

Vacation is my very favorite time to knit. We went on a wonderful vacation last fall -- following old Route 66 from its beginning in Chicago to the end at the Pacific Ocean. But because the road is not always marked well and takes lots of turns, I couldn't do much knitting. The minute-by-minute navigation was so intensive! I really missed being able to knit all along the way.

On a normal vacation, I try to take several projects with me. Especially if we're going to the cabin up-north because there's no access to decent supplies. That way if I finish one thing I have everything I need to start another piece.

3. Where have you traveled to that you'd consider your favorite spot?

I have lots of favorites: our family's cabin in northern Ontario, Chicago, Lake Michigan, London, Mackinac Island, San Francisco, Orkney Island...

4. What is your favorite knitting book at the moment? Do you own it?

I tend to be quite fickle about my favorites -- it depends on my mood. But I'm going to start a bunch of hats for my nieces for Christmas soon out of "Hip Knit Hats." I own it.

5. Do you listen to podcasts? Which is your favorite(s)?

No. I don't have an iPod. Up until very recently we just had a dial-up Internet connection. We live in a rural area with no access to cable or DSL. We recently got a Sprint wireless card and router and now have what I think of as a "medium" connection. Not yet high speed. So downloads are still somewhat troublesome.

6. If you could only knit with 1 color for the rest of your life, what color would that be?

Probably red. Could I do all sorts of reds? Burgundy, wine, bright red, red-orange...

7. If you were far into a project and then noticed a mistake near the beginning what would you do?

It depends. If it doesn't affect the durability and use, and isn't an eyesore, I'd probably ignore it. I believe in the idea of the rug weavers who deliberately include one mistake in their rugs so it's obvious that it was handmade. OTOH, if it's a problem, I would pull it out and start over.

8. Where is the most unusual spot you've ever knit?

Hmmmmm, that's difficult. While standing in line? At meetings in major museums like the Art Institute of Chicago? That's about as interesting and exciting as I can think of. Sorry.

I think a better question would be "Where is my favorite place to knit?" On the train... lovely and relaxing........ purr...

Monday, August 20, 2007

Goodies in the Mail!

My Secret Pal certainly did get to work quickly! We were assigned partners last Wednesday and I received a package in the mail today.

And, wow, what a package! She sent a note telling me that this was her first swap and she hoped she did well. Yep, SP, you're a natural.

It was as if she knew me well. She obviously read my profiles and followed them (it's amazing how few people are able to manage that). I got 2 skeins of gorgeous yarn -- Misti Alpaca (100% baby alpaca) and Malabrigo Merino from Uruguay. Both are in this luscious jewel-toned deep evergreen... sort of a deep teal. In addition to the yarn there was a wonderful note with two of her amazing photographs, a bookmark with another photo, maple (yum!) syrup and granulated sugar, candles (all in scents I love), a selection of teas, and the new issue of Interweave Knits. ....oh, and she wrapped some of the goodies in this adorable "bee" fabric...

Thanks for everything Secret Pal. I hope you're getting spoiled as well as you're spoiling me!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Shrinky Dinks

I haven't made any Shrinky Dinks in very long time, but picked up some "Shrink Film" at JoAnn Fabrics the other day. I wanted to make some mushroom charms to go with a few other mushroom-themed pieces for a swap.

Making the charms was so much fun! I just drew a mushroom, then traced it on the Shrink Film. I colored it in with Sharpies, cut it out, and then punched a hole at the top.

You need to heat them gently to get them to shrink -- either in a slow oven or with a heat gun. I used the embossing tool I had inherited in Mary's stuff (for the first time). The only tricky part about using that is its blower -- the charm kept blowing around on my worksurface...

It curls as it get heated and shrinks, so I kept flipping it from side to side to even it out. As you get it to its final size, it tends to flatten out. And if not, you can smooth it lightly while it's still hot.

It shrunk quite a bit. I made the original drawings about 3 1/2 inches tall, hoping that wouldn't be too big. They shrunk to about 1 inch tall -- just about the size I was hoping for (or maybe a little smaller). Ta da!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


I collected stamps as a kid. I loved the colors and the countries and the little bits of art they carried with them on their journeys.

Those feelings still lurk inside, even though I haven't licked any gummed papers in a long time. (Do they even still use those little folded gummed paper bits to stick the stamps in the albums?)

Artistamps (artist-made postage stamps) tap into all those feelings. You can make them as simple or as complicated as you wish. They can simply be a piece of art in stamp form, with or without a denomination. Or you can create a whole postal issuing authority. Of course, that's what I've done...

My postal issuing authority is an imaginary island nation called Craneland. It's located in southern Lake Erie, near the other islands owned by the US and Canada (Pelee, Middle Bass, etc). It's similar to the other Lake Erie islands: there's a winery located there, a bird sanctuary, farmland, several marinas, etc. It's named after the rare Blushing Crane which makes its home on the island.

Along with tourism and fishing, one of the main sources of income for the island is the postage stamps they issue. The most recent one (above) celebrates one of the pleasures of late summer, the homegrown tomato, specifically an heirloom variety. I might just make fresh tomato sandwiches (thick slices of homegrown tomato and mayonnaise on good bread) an official national dish... yum.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Over 13,000 knitters ahead of me...

Ravelry update:

Found you!
  • You signed up on August 1, 2007
  • You are #22335 on the list.
  • 13352 people are ahead of you in line.
  • 2975 people are behind you in line.
  • 34% of the list has been invited so far

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Two of My Favorite Things

Forget about Raindrops on Roses.... I think Sharpies and Chocolate are much more fun.

I sat down earlier this week to come up with a few ATCs to send to the Sharpie Scouts' Sweet Thangs swap. I was already running late because I had gotten myself overbooked in terms of projects AND Saturday was Spa Day at the winery (I won't go into it... suffice to say it was fun but extremely high maintenance).

I figured I'd sketch a few chocolates (kisses, maybe?), make them super colorful, and send them on their way. However, my hands had different ideas. I have this happen to me quite a lot. I sit down intending to do one thing and my hands make something completely different. I figure it's a collaborative project between my head and my hands. Intellectually, I gather the materials. Sometimes I end up with a finished piece that looks pretty similar to how I originally intended it. Sometimes it's completely different.

This project ended up so different, really the only thing in common was the ATCs and the Sharpies. I sat down to sketch and didn't feel like sketching. Then I remembered all the chocolate wrappers I'd been saving to do a piece for Kate's charity auction project (it benefits Patient Services at the U of M Hospital where she works). She has an antique chocolate box that she's filling with pages of art. They can be autumn- or chocolate-related. I love autumn, but there's really no contest... Anyway, I'd been saving them to use on the chocolate page -- a patchwork border perhaps?

This is getting to be quite a long story... sorry!

So I grabbed the chocolate wrappers, chose a few and cut them into strips. Then I took all the Sharpies I have that remind me of chocolate and colored in a block of the colors. This I also cut into strips. I then wove them together, sewed them on the sewing machine, and cut into bite-sized ATC pieces.

It ended up taking me quite a bit longer than drawing a few Hershey's kisses, but I had the best time! When my hands take over a project, I've learned to shut off my brain and go with the flow....

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Summer in My Hometown swap

I'm negligent in acknowledging this wonderful swap package I received several weeks ago.

I took part in the "Summer in My Hometown" swap on Create A Connection. I was slow to send mine, but my partner was right on time. She sent the most wonderful package of goodies from Germany, where she and her family are stationed with the US Air Force. There's a wealth of goodies including a great recipe and a whole bunch of gorgeous handmade cards. How will I ever be able to bring myself to use them?

Thank you so much, Stephanie. It's fabulous!

Monday, August 6, 2007

More About Me

Dear Secret Pal,

My questionnaire is below. You can also find out more about me on my Flickr pages and my Swap-bot profile.


Secret Pal 11 - Questionnaire

I'm taking part in "Secret Pal 11" -- an exchange for folks who knit and crochet. One of the requirements is to post the questionnaire to our blogs -- that way our partner can read it and learn more about us. Here we go.....

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? Soft natural fibers.

What fibers do you absolutely *not* like? Acrylics. Eyelash yarn and other similar novelty yarns.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in? I have several vintage needle holders and I store my needles in them grouped by their material (all bamboo together, all tortoise-shell/casein together, etc). These are then bundled together into a big Rubbermaid storage container.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? I taught myself as a child. I picked it up again as an adult. I've been knitting off and on since then -- a little more rabidly for the past 5 years or so.

Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced? Intermediate.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list? Yes, but it's for the whole family. You'll have to wade through the listings for Bob and Tommy -- sorry! I promise to get it updated....

5. What's your favorite scent? Green tea, lemon.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Yes. Favorite candy? Dark chocolate, maple.

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Lots of other things: paper crafts (ATCs, artistamps, mail art, papier mache), hand-carved rubber stamps, sewing. I especially like working with recycled materials such as felted wool and recycled paper.

Do you spin? Not at this time.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD) Almost anything. My least favorite styles of music are hip hop and heavy metal. Yes, I can play MP3 files on my computer.

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Red, especially dark reds; greens (sage, deep greens, chartreuse), interesting blues (cobalt, periwinkle, Swedish blue). I also like black, brown. I especially like colors put together in interesting combinations.

Any colors you just can't stand? I think all colors have their place. My least favorite are kelly green and harsh yellows. I often end up with way too much pink and purple and would really only like them in moderation.

10. What is your family situation? My household includes me, my husband, and our teenaged son. We may also have one of my son's friends staying with us soon.

Do you have any pets? Yes, a 3-year-old Golden Retriever named Winston and 5 cats: Little Bit, Violet, Charli, Alex & Henry.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos? Yes -- I'm in Michigan and need all the help I can get!

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit? Bags. Felted items.

13. What are you knitting right now? An adult version of the Harry Potter baby hat (from "Weekend Knitting") for my son. A tote bag for a "brown + another color" swap.

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts? Yes! They're my favorite.

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Circular, but I will knit with straights under some circumstances.

Bamboo, aluminum, plastic? 1. Casein (fake tortoiseshell - vintage plastic), 2. Bamboo, 3. Wood

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift? I have a swift that I purchased at a church sale for $2. It doesn't lock well, but works ok. I don't have a yarn winder.

17. How old is your oldest UFO? Do I have to say this out loud? Ok, about 3 years, I think.

18. What is your favorite holiday? I'm not a huge holiday person but my favorites are Christmas, Halloween, and my birthday (used to be anyway, see below).

19. Is there anything that you collect? Kitchen stuff from the Depression era: bakelite, vintage linens, Fiestaware, other Depression-era china such as Hall. Cook books.

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? Hmmmm, I'll think about this and update it as I come up with ideas.

What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have? At this time I don't subscribe to any knitting magazines. I occasionally buy Interweave Knits and Vogue Knitting @ a yarn shop.

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn? Aran/cable. Nothing else I can think of right at the moment.

22. Are you a sock knitter? Not really. I made one pair of socks and didn't love it.

What are your foot measurements? I wear size 9 shoes and have chunky ankles (ok, that was harder to admit than the UFOs!).

23. When is your birthday? September 11. Hence the lack of celebration lately.

24. Are you on Ravelry? If so, what's your ID? Not yet -- I'm currently on the list. I'll update as this changes.

Sunday, August 5, 2007


I recently discovered that the tags I'd been using on my Flickr photos were not "public." It had something to do with their policies at the time I joined. So my photos weren't searchable, they didn't show up on the Swap-Bot home page (even if I used "swapbot" as one of my tags), and nothing showed up in Explore.

Now that we've cleared it up, it's fun to find out that Explore is finding me. The poster above is a collection of my photos that have shown up in Explore.

Swap packages

I really enjoy making up packages of goodies to swap with others. I like to look at someone's profile or blog or collection of Flickr photos, get to know them, and come up with a package of goodies they'd like.

Of course, it's never quite so simple as that. I'm owed a lot of packages at this point. And sometimes it's tough finding things someone will like from what's available locally. So I often end up ordering it off the Internet. And that can be expensive -- you're then paying two sets of postage charges....

I've been trying to cut down on the swap I'm doing lately. To me, it doesn't make sense to participate in those "you send a package of little stuff and get another package of similar stuff in the mail." You end up with a bunch of little do-dads that aren't particularly useful in real life. I tend to concentrate on swaps that have a strong element of handmade in them. That way you get something unique -- something made by another's hands.

(Above, Coloriffic swap sent out Friday. Theme was neutral plus one of my favorite colors and one of my partner's favorite colors. The handmade items are not in the photo because they're so specific to my partner, she would know it was for her immediately...)

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Yarn Lust

I haven't been knitting much lately -- too obsessed by other things right now I guess. But I continue to covet new yarn.

I've been participating in the Yarn Junkies swaps on Swap-Bot. Each month a different color is featured. The color for July was pink.

I haven't received my package yet, but here's the one I sent out. My partner is a vegan so she requested vegan yarn. One of the shades of pink she likes is a dark pink. So I set off on a mission to find some cool dark pink vegan yarn. The result was this wonderful funky 100% corn yarn. It's Kollage Cornucopia from It's a ribbon yarn with a great feel. I added a skein of brown because she loves the combination of pink and brown (who doesn't?).

I also made her some pink and brown stitch markers -- the first I've ever made. If you can do earrings or charms, it's absolutely easy. You just have to find (or make) rings large enough to fit on your needles. I love the pink polka-dot beads in these....

I'm not a huge fan of pink, but I do believe every color has its place. I'm sure someone I knit for loves pink! I wonder what my partner will send to me?