Saturday, December 30, 2006

Happy Birthday to me!!

I'm old!

I am now officially IN my 30s.... Last year I was just 30 - now I'm 31... I'm IN my 30's... yikes!!

I had a great birthday though! My parents are in town and I got to give them all the hand knits I made for them. (My mom got a purse, and a lace scarf and my dad got a hat and sock.)

I took my doggies to the dog park - went out for dinner at one of my favorite restaurants - La Palapa - and got all kinds of yarn and knitting goodies from my hubby! He went into a yarn shop people! This is unheard of!! He got me some gorgeous yarn, a circular needle holder from Lantern Moon and some other knitting odds and ends. Yeah!! I guess you can train a man after all!

Happy Birthday to me!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Marbling Day!

I had the best day yesterday! Since I was home from work and had nothing better to do (besides knitting the sweater I started! - more on that later)

I went over to my friends Tara and Tien’s. They invited me over for a day of marbling! Tien (Seng)’s sister Tien (Yi) and their mom were also there (and yes both siblings answer to Tien!)

When I got home last night - I did a bit of research on the history of paper marbling. I seem to have found some conflicting data. Some say the art originated in China... some say Turkey or Persia. Either way - it has been around a long time.

Here is one of the sites I found that details the history of how the technique may have started in China and then re-emerged in Japan...

History of marbling

Here is an excerpt...
"The art originated in China over 2000 years ago. It became popular in Japan in the 12th century under the name of suminagashi ("ink-floating"), first as a divination tool of Shinto priests, later as a decorative art. In the 15th century a similar art, called ebru (Turkish for "two-toned marbling") and now known as "Turkish marbling", developed in Turkey and Persia, but using a rather different technique. In Europe, marbled paper became popular in the 17th century, especially for book endpapers. At first a secret art exploited by few professional makers, it became a popular handicraft in the 19th century after the English maker Charles Woolnough published his The Art of Marbling."

We did marbling on both paper and fabric. I was amazed at how intricate the designs can be and how easily the results are acheived. The basic steps we used to marble the paper and fabric are:

1. We dissolved alum in water. This is sponged onto each paper to be marbled, and the paper is allowed to dry. The alum is what will bond the color to the paper.

2. A thick liquid, referred to as the size, is made by blending a type of gelatin (carrageenan) with water.

3. The size is poured into a shallow tray. (Tien built one just for our use)

4. Several colors of ink or paint are sprinkled onto the surface of the size. They float on the surface because they are lighter than the thickened water. (We used pieces of a broom tied together with zip ties as our sprinkling tools)

5. A stick is used to stir the floating colors if desired. Various combs and rakes may also be run through the colors to make more intricate patterns. (Tien made us some "combs" out of nails and spare pieces of wood)

6. A sheet of the alum-treated paper is gently laid onto the surface of the size, and it absorbs the floating colors. Only one print can be made.

7. The paper is lifted off, rinsed, and hung up to dry. Fabric marbling is done the same way, except for step #1: Instead of sponging the alum onto the cloth, it is soaked in the alum water, then hung up to dry, then ironed flat. After that, it can be marbled just like a sheet of paper. (*** Make sure every wrinkle is ironed out - we had one mishap where not all of the wrinkles were gone... the paint stuck to the wrinkle and ruined the pattern)

Here are some shots of the fun part – making the whirls of color appear…

Oh! ... before you view these pics - I must warn you not to be alarmed.

There is no nuclear attack pending...

We are wearing these fashionable white jumpsuits by choice!

They are not yet available in most boutiques - but if you must have one - you can probably find one at Home Depot or elsewhere online.

(In other words - no jokes about the jumpsuits!!)

Here are our marbling attempts:

First - we added the paint

Then raked the paint to form the sworls

Then the fabric is laid on the finished paint pattern

The fabric soaks up the paint almost immediately.

Then - when you pick up the fabric – the paint pattern stays intact.

Here’s my first attempt

Tien’s mom’s first attempt

Tien perfected the spiral technique

My second attempt

Next we did large sheets of fabric

Here's my large sheet

Tien even built (that morning!) a drying rack for our designs

Here’s a closeup of one of mine drying

Next it was on to paper marbling.

Here is Tien adding an alum mixture to the paper - to prepare it to hold the paint

I am adding paper cards, frames and a large sheet of watercolor paper to my mixture.

Here is the large sheet I did...

I have no idea what I will make with these yet - but I know it will be fabulous!

Oh - I almost forgot – we stopped at a yarn shop... Downtown Easton MD is so cute. Almost all the shops have dogs. The dog here was named Cinnamon and guarded the yarn quite well!

Tara bought both Tien Yi and I some gorgeous Fiesta yarn for out Christmas gift. I will post a pic soon!

Also - more on my first sweater next time!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Santa definitely came!

We had a grand Christmas Eve. We feasted!

Here's the spread before:

And After:

Of all the gifts my dear hubby received - believe it or not - it was .99 cent HotWheel car that turned out to be THE gift of the night:

He loved it.

Christmas morning - we exchanged more gifts.... hubby got his magic rainbow socks...

Even the pups got their Christmas!

Later - we had lunch at my sister in law's inlaws' house.... and then went to an open house at our friends Tara and Tien's place.

It was a great day! I hope yours was good too.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A Year of Knitting

Year's End Knit-analysis

I am coming up on my one year knitting anniversary (I learned how to knit last year around Christmas) and I thought this was an appropriate questionnaire to reivew my year. Feel free to post this on your blog and answer the questions too! (I stole it from Lolly)

1. What is your absolute favorite project you've ever knit (one that fulfilled both process and product)?
I have to say it was the Clapotis.

I really enjoyed knitting this. I tried (and ripped) several different yarns before I finally found the one I liked. I enjoyed seeing the process of the dropped stitches – every time I dropped one – I still feared for the life of my scarf and was amazed each time that it stopped unraveling right where it should.

2. Which of your handknits do you wear the most often?
Clapotis (I wear it as my scarf almost every day) and this Buttonhole bag (which I use almost every day). I also wear my hand knits quite often.

3. Which of your handknits are you most proud of?
My first pair of socks. I guess I should say they were my first pair of socks that actually resembled socks...

4. What was your favorite gift to knit?
I love knitting bags and socks for my family. They are both fairly quick knits – but they can be customized for the person. Even my conservative father is getting knit socks this year – yes they are plain grey stockinette – but even with his reserved (read that as boring) clothing tastes – he too can enjoy hand knits.

5. Which of your handknits are gathering dust your closet?
The log cabin squares I started a while back. I need to finish the blanket!

6. Which of your handknits have you gotten rid of?
None… unless you count the multiple frogged Clapotis attempts...

and lace shawls I’ve started and then ripped when I made a mistake!

7. If you've knit socks, what is your favorite pattern?
My favorite pattern for a good basic sock is Perfectly Simple Socks. This pattern is easy to follow and a good jumping off point for adding customizations. I’ve memorized this pattern and can now whip out a plain sock without ever looking at a pattern.

8. What would you like to make in 2007?
hehehe – the list is long! I was bored in a meeting last week and actually started making a list. My first priority is to make a sweater for me! I’m thinking of this Sky Tweed pullover:

Or Ariann:

or maybe the Central Park Hoodie

I also want to make the Lady Eleanor, Eunny's Print 'O the Waves Shawl, and finish the Lace Leaf Shawl I started.

I’ve been a good little doobie and have been knitting holiday gifts for the past month – so I’m excited to start something for me!

9. What have you learned about your craft in 2006?
Don’t be afraid to try something new. I was totally intimidated by Fair Isle and any color/stranded knitting. When I finally tried it – it was so easy! I love the hats I made and can’t wait to try some more color knitting – maybe soon – I will try this…

10. What events/sites have you particularly enjoyed in the blogosphere in 2006?
I enjoyed Lolly's Project Spectrum. I also had fun with Secret pal where I was a hostess this round. I also enjoyed several knit alongs and swaps including Coffee Swap, Mason Dixon KAL, Fall Cable KAL, and the Noniknitalong.

Over this year - I've knit socks, purses, scarfs, hats, washcloths, baby items and even a hedgehog. I've tried Kool Aid dying and a little drop spindling.

I have met countless knitters and bloggers (both online and in person) and have made some absolutely wonderful friends (you know who you are!). I have taken my knitting with me on trips to Scotland, New Mexico, Arizona, New Orleans and many other mini road trips. I went to the MD Sheep and Wool, Stitches East, and the Taos Wool Festival. I have joined several knitting groups both here in Maryland and on business travel in Albuqueque.

I have to say that knitting has definitely become an important part of my life! Last year at this time - if you had told me I would be knitting every night I would not have believed you! now I can't imagine my life without it!

Happy holiday everyone! And happy knitting!!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Yo - check it

Want to read my blog as translated into Gansta? You know you do. Courtousy of Gizoogle.

You can do it to your blog too. Go to Gizoogle, and search for your blog, click on it, and it will instantly translate it for you. You can do it with any site.

Tranzliate this Shiznit to Jive!

Click the Spinn'n Rim Beotch! -- Created by 2 high school students to kick myspace's ass

Add the Tranzizzle-ata' to Your Site!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Purses purses everywhere

I wanted to take a picture of these before I wrapped them up and never saw them again! Here are the purses I knit for the women in my family. I hope they like them!

These are all based on the Buttonhole bag from Mason Dixon. I changed the pattern up a little for each one. I love how you can make the bag big or small - wide or thin. It's such a versitle pattern.

I used a combination of Cascade 220, Lopi, Noro, and some random wool I lost the band for from my stash :)

I added a brooch to each bag that suited the colors I used...

Oh and at my house - this is what happens when I decide to take pictures on the floor. I get a lap full of toys.... Hurley has decided that if at first you don't succeed - try try again. He will bring me one toy after another until I decide I play with one. I'm serious! This dog is nuts. I can't tell you how many toys end up piled up at my feet while I'm knitting. Sitting on the floor - may not have been the best idea!! hehehehe

In addition to the toys - I got some strange looks...

"Mama - what are you doing on the floor?"

"While you're down there - could you throw me a toy!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Sewing 101?

I had my second night of "Intro to Sewing" at Joann's yesterday. I went back - even though I didn't want to. I went back for the sake of actually learning to sew. The last time I was there - I was insulted, yelled at, and laughed at - all by the instructor!! So I really wasn't too keen on returning - but I figured how bad could it be - and I really want to learn how to read a pattern and make clothes. So I go back.

Well - it was not "sew" great this time either (sorry - bad pun). The instructor was again her same militant self. "Is this sewing camp of basic training?" I whispered to my table mate.

I tell ya - for an intro to sewing class teacher - she was not very understanding when you asked a question. She laughed and/or yelled when you made a mistake and she then held up said mistake for the entire class to see. Wonderful!

We all got our fair share of greif from her - but it didn't help that I was the only person there making a pair of XL pajama pants while everyone else was working on a S or M size and the pattern only went to L - so I had to "fudge" mine to get it to be the right size. She couldn't walk by me without yelling out my hip size or saying - you better give yourself an extra inch in the waist. I mean come on! She was no petite flower herself!

OK - deep breaths.... I am still debating if I want to return for the third and final class - I really don't want to - but I want to finish those damn pants!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Almost done...

I'm almost done with my Christmas knitting! I know - I keep saying that - but really I am very close now. I only have to finish my mom's scarf. The only problem is it's a lace pattern and I actually have to pay attention when I work on it! That means no tv knitting - and that means I rarely work on it!

I did finish another fair isle hat this weekend - it will be for my Dad...

I based the pattern on the snowflake that was charted in this article from knitty. –

and then I changed it up a bit...

My hubby liked it so much - he asked if I could make him one - but he doesn't want a snowflake.... he wants this on one side...

and this on the other...

We came up with these charts..

It will be a black hat, with white logos and he wants a single line of red around the bottom. Yes - he's very particular! He's a big VW nut. As long as I've known him - he's had a VW of some kind. When he met me - I had a VW Jetta and he says it was one of the reasons he went out with me!! Ha! If anyone else is in the same VW lov'n family - feel free to steal these charts. There's no reason to reinvent the wheel! (Sorry - bad car joke)

I'm not sure how they will come out - but I'll keep you posted!

Oh and I have been meaning to post about my new Knit Picks Needles…

These beauties are sharp!

So far I really like them. I agree with everyone else that they really should have the needle size written on them. But - I think I'll just keep them in the original holder - it has the sizes written on that. I love how sharp they are. I love the smooth joins and the flexible wire. They are a bit heavy - but so far they are working out great!

Oh and here’s a bonus photo of Rebecca in her groovy new shirt! This woman is so cool - she wore this shirt to work on Friday! Rock on!