29 December 2011

Holiday Stress

I had an epiphany about Holiday stress as I was walking into a Starbucks for a little knitting meetup with my family on Christmas Eve.

Somehow, the holidays always seem to be stressful. List makers make lists, shoppers flock to the shops, bakers cover their counters with cookies, decorators decorate the heck out of their spaces and crafters work their wee little knuckles to the bone. People get short tempered and intensly focused which leads to holiday tensions in parking lots, shopping centers, etc.

For the past several years I have tried to do more handcrafting for Christmas gifts, which is its own kind of stress. It's the stress of wondering "Will I finish all this in time?!?" "Will they like it?" "If they don't like it, how can I ask for it back without seeming rude?" and so on. HOWEVER (and here's my epiphany) Crafting stress is the kind of stressing out that happens while you're in your pajamas at home on your couch watching TV show marathons or listening to music of your choice. It is NOT the fighting traffic, standing in lines filled with cranky people and listening to the same piped in holiday music that every store seems to play, but with a 1-2 song delay ensuring that you hear the exact same song at least 3 times in 3 different stores kinda stress. I would far prefer the Holiday Stress of a Crafter to the Holiday Stress of a non-crafter.

Here's a picture of one of the fun things I crafted for the holidays.

He was for my dad who we like to tease about his sneaky ninja-like qualities.

08 December 2011

Dear Valerie,

Dear Valerie,

Tanya tells me that you have recently been hired by a prestigious accounting firm and are likely (someday in the future) going to be managing Hedge Funds. I thought, as I have a lot experience with all things "Hedgy", that I should move in with you to give you advice and encourage you on your path.

Your new Roomie
Herbert the Hedgehog

06 December 2011


10 is the number of knitting days that are left before Tyler's Christmas vacation. I am knitting his teacher a fabulous cowl using Jessica's pattern in the school colors of Red and Blue. I made myself one of these cowls and I LOVE it so I hope Mrs. Cha will too. As a minor side benefit, this will also be able to be turned in to meet a Nerd Wars challenge relating to all things British as it is 2 of the 3 colors of the British flag. As a question: I've just recently learned that Tyler is being deployed to a 2/3 combo classroom for reading 4 days of the week instead of the original 2. Does this increased contact with him warrant a teacher gift for that teacher too? even if I've never met/talked with her? I know teacher gifts aren't obligatory, but what's the general guideline on this sort of thing?

19 is the number of crafting days that are left before Christmas. Now, this is including Christmas day, so there's always the possibility that I'll be madly knitting/sewing/whatever ON Christmas Day, but I really hope not. That's stressful.

Lest this depress too many crafters out there, may I direct your attention to Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's blog yarnharlot.com where she is doing a daily series on what to give to knitters...AND she's talking about how she has tons of mitten knitting going on which I don't think is her Christmas knitting. I really wonder how she has the time/sanity to do non-Christmas crafting. I am in awe...

30 November 2011

Thanksgiving recap

I had a fantastic Thanksgiving and looking through the pictures deciding what to post has me drooling over the food and remembering the fabulous people all over again.

Here's what my plate looked like: Basically, the perfect (to me) Thanksgiving meal...Homemade cranberry sauce, dark turkey meat, mashed potatoes with my mom's gravy, green beans, yams with brown sugar and homemade bread rolls. Simply fabulous! Although I wasn't able to finish all this food, I still managed to make room for Apple Pie and Pumpkin Pie. I know gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins, but on Thanksgiving I really didn't care.

There was also music:This is another of my favorite things. Listening to my dad and uncles play their guitars and sing all the songs I grew up listening to. Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins, Kris Kristopherson and many campfire songs feature heavily in the playlist. Mmmmm....Perfection!

There's also been a little bit of knitting. This is the project that I've been working on for a few days as an in between project after finishing my projects for Round 2 of Nerd Wars and waiting for the start of Round 3:

I also bought a new Camera (please note the capital "C"...This is a serious.business Camera...vastly different from my poor little point and shoot.) So far I've been enjoying it and look forward to learning more about composition, aperture and all those other foreign words that photographers bandy about like it's nothin'.

22 November 2011

Naughty Blogger...

I feel like I'm constantly posting apologies for not posting....actually, not even constantly, because then I'd still be posting and wouldn't have to apologize for not posting....but you get the idea. And I was doing so good for a while there. I kinda fell off the blogging wagon. Actually, I was pushed. I was pushed by guilt.

For a really long time (for me) I didn't buy new yarn. Then I went on vacation and bought two lovely skeins of yarn whilst visiting my grandma in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. I rationalized that yarn as "not stash--Souveniers!" But then I bought some yarn to make a Christmas present and rationalized it as "not stash--Prezzies!" Not too long after that, I placed an order online with Jessie because if you order $50 you get free shipping and since I was splitting an order with someone else, it was saving a ton of money so I rationalized as "not stash--Economizing!"...at that point I realized I had ruined my Stashy Sunday idea. And it's difficult to write Stashy Sunday posts and ignore the pile of newly purchased yarn sitting right next to your desk. Soooo I just didn't post. See how that works?
But now that I've made my full (ok...partial) confession, I feel like I can get back to posting with a clear conscience.

I actually have been doing a great job of knitting from the stash, even if I haven't done as great a job at not buying new stash. I've been madly knitting away for Nerd Wars, which is just about the funnest thing I've ever done. I swear, I've laughed so hard at some of the things other people have posted and am making a great dent in finally doing a lot of the projects I've wanted to do for a long time. I learned to crochet and I've learned a LOT about many different things I would never have known about without Nerd Wars.

Here's a picture of one thing that I've wanted to make for forever but didn't know how to crochet and so put it in the "Someday" list. He's tucked into a potted plant at work and makes me smile every time I see him!
I also made Kim's cat a costume. Meet Father Riley:

18 October 2011

Well oiled machine

We are on our way to visit Grandma in Coeur d'Alene, ID and I am mesmerized by the way the ground crew, flight crew and other airline/airport employees work together. It's like watching a dance to see the people guiding the planes in to the terminal and seeing these huge machines stop on a dime.

05 October 2011

It's that kind of day

Today the weather is overcast, rainy and windy. My favorite type of weather!!! It's so invigorating and makes me want to skip in the street wearing wellies and a polka dot rain coat. Since real life is intruding on my dream life, I will content myself with a big mug of hot cocoa... With chili powder and vanilla extract. Nothing by the best for me!

04 October 2011

Awwww. They're friends!

I started Nerd Wars this weekend and the first challenge I chose to tackle was the Colortastic challenge. Basically, any project with two or more colored yarns. I've been longing to learn to crochet for a while simply so I could make granny squares. I find them to be sooooo charming and fabulous! So, I decided this challenge was the perfect opportunity to give it a go. I started on Saturday and it's growing so fast! I'm loving the colors--as Jessie says, "It's a party!"

Since these are totally Jessie's colors, it makes perfect sense that she should make one too! I'm a little sad that hers is almost as big as mine and I started mine waaaay before her, but I'm learning to live with it. (It's not a race, but I'm totally losing!)

The other great thing is that this is a Stashy Sunday project since i've had this yarn just waiting for a prefect project. I think a granny square is just right!

14 September 2011

Back in the saddle...

North Fresno Church quilting started back up for the year and I got to go today! Yay!!

13 September 2011


Tyler came home from school one day with his craft project labeled by him. This is what happens when kids get clever:

12 September 2011

Stashy Sunday-The Ecstatic and delayed

I spun (and plied!!) my own yarn! I used a drop spindle and some lovely merino wool to make a wee tiny bit of yarn.

I am positively ecstatic at how it turned out. It's not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it's still awesome. Now, to decide what to make with it! The main reason this turned out so little was because my fiber had a run in with the dog on Saturday. My mom was teasing me at dinner last night that since I had gotten the fiber at a spinning class, I could call my spinning teacher (the lovely Micheline at The Knit Addiction) and say that the dog ate my homework. I'm still going to try using the rest of the molested fiber, but I wanted to have it separate from the unmolested fiber yarn.

I also finished one of my other Stashy Projects. If you haven't seen the show "Phineas and Ferb" this will mean nothing to you. If you have: "Where's Perry?!?" Mancub loves the show, and especially Perry the Platypus who has a double life as Agent P. Since he also loves hotwater bottles to sleep with over the winter, I made him this:

He is, quite possibly, the cutest little hot water bottle cover EVER! I love how his little feet splay out all over and I used fuzzy black buttons for his eyes. What 6 year old boy wouldn't want to cuddle up to Perry?

I also made some progress on my Harry Potter Cowl...I'm over half way done!

ETA Ravelry link to Perry the Platypus Hot Water Bottle Pattern that I used. If you are a knitter, crocheter, spinner or weaver and don't have Ravelry, sign up for the free account right away and you'll never look back. So, here's the pattern link.

09 September 2011

Piratey Things

Tyler received an Usborne Pirate themed Kid Kit from Uncle Gary and Aunt Carole as a gift and it's taken us a bit of time to get to do it, but this week he decided that It.Was.Time. On Wednesday night I told him that as long as he could get his homework done during Afterschool Care, we would be able to do the Pirate kit Thursday after we got home. Anyone who knows kids will realize that he darn sure didn't come home with homework last night! He was so excited to get started:And even more excited when he made the "first treasure" sighting!

This kit was soooo cool! It came with a lump filled with treasure to excavate, a brush (like an archeologist uses at a dig site), a small hammer and chisel set and an amazingly written book filled with facts about Pirates. Tyler had read the book the previous night so the whole time we were "excavating", he was regaling me with the information he learned in the book. Inside the lump, he found the pieces to a treasure chest, a ring, some pirate coins (which came from a Spanish ship, apparently), and a pistol and cutlass.

He was very excited by each piece he found and had a great time talking like a pirate. He coached me on how to say "Aye Aye Cap'n" with appropriate pronunciation and had a great time telling me the ways in which Pirates and Ninjas are similar and different.

As a parent, it is so fun for me to see him excited about things like this. Activities that make learning fun and that create memories of shared activities.

So...if you have a kid, or know someone who has a kid...RUSH out right now to buy them a Kid Kit. I'm thinking a Dino Dig, an Egyptian study or a magnet adventure might be in my future!

07 September 2011

I love living in the Central Valley!

Because we have fabulous produce! I'm about to sit down to a snack of delicious sliced fresh pluots (what happens when plums and apricots fall in love). Yum!!!

06 September 2011

Stashy Sunday--delayed

Technically my Stashy Challenge has been successful this week since I haven't purchased any new yarn; however, I've also not gotten a lot done on my Stashy Projects. I did a wee bit of knitting on my sweater, no knitting at all on my Tilting TARDIS Cowl, a little bit of knitting on my Where's Perry Project. I have finished seaming three of the four adorable platypus feet:

So now all I need to do is finish the fourth foot, seam the who thing together. I also count it as a semi-Stashy thing because I helped Jessica reduce the size of her stash by using this perfect orange yarn from her bin.

The other Stashy (yarn) project I worked on was a cowl using two yarns I've had in my stash for almost a year. The pattern was written by Jessica and is really fun. Apparently, unbeknownst to me, I am not a Gryffindor (as everyone wants to be) but rather a Ravenclaw, since blue and grey are much more my style than maroon and gold (shhh...don't tell my high school alma mater). Do you see the cool "Sammy" and "Dean" stitch markers? Supernatural is going to be back on TV soon!

Finally, the thing that has been eating up most of my crafty time is a quilt. I have been inspired (goaded?) into entering a quilt into the BIG Fresno Fair and the deadline for completion is September 16th...Yeah...the September the 16th that is 10 short days away. So I have been stitching like a madwoman to get the binding put on in time. No pictures, I don't want to jinx it!

31 August 2011

We've got a Bookworm!

Yesterday after school, Tyler and I popped in to the Pinedale Library (Dangerous business that--Having a library, with great hours just a hop, skip and a jump between school pick up and home). We found three Magic Tree House books that Tyler wanted to check out and headed home. Now, keep in mind that our house is about a block away from the library. Tyler asked to read on the way home....great...no problem; it's not very long, but if you want to that's fine. Then we went in to get dinner ready and Tyler settled in here:

He read the whole time I was getting dinner ready whilst munching away on his lunch leftovers. Once he noticed I was taking a picture, he gave me this look:
But the really funny part was that when I told him that as soon as I was done making dinner, he would need to put the book down and spend time telling me about his day. His response to that was, "I would rather read!" In a very sassy, "Mom-you-are-soooo-unreasonable" voice. The book was apparently a page turner, because he read for the whole hour between getting home and getting ready for bed time in order to finish the book.

28 August 2011

Stashy Sunday--3 week mark!

This week I worked (and worked and worked....) on 2 projects. It's very strange for me to be so monogamous with my knitting projects--usually I just from one to another then another. But now this week! This week I was so enamored with the 2 I was working on that I stuck with them. This week's stashy success all started when PG&E decided they needed to change a power pole at my work. They did this last Friday and because of it, our power at the office was down pretty much all day. I could go into all the details, but suffice it to say that my computer was down, which left me with few options as to how to be productive. I decided to clean my desk and I found a started project that had been languishing(because I forgot all about it!). I fell back in love with the project and the yarn so have been knitting away on it this week. Because my gauge has changed a little bit since I last knit on this, I can see where I picked it back up this week. I've made about 5 inches of progess!! One day soon, this will be a finished sweater!

The other project I worked on is a secret one, and since I have a helper blogger today and forgot to take pictures yesterday, I will have to post pictures later. Suffice it to say that it will look a little something like this:

I also consider the fact that I gave away two skeins of this:
To be able to be counted as a Stashy Success!

26 August 2011

Dr. Who Swap--Part Two

I was so surprised to learn that my swap partner would be my sister that I burst our laughing in the middle of Starbucks knitting group and about half the buildings occupants gave a concerned look at the lady laughing maniacally in the corner. Surprised, but REALLY happy. She's so crafty and creative that I just knew I would be excited to receive whatever she cooked up. And boy was I! Here's a picture of all my "loot"! She made me Puppy Chow (one of my favorite snacky/desserts) for K-9, the robot dog companion of The Doctor. Also included are Tea, Popcorn and a banana (because the Ninth Doctor likes bananas). She knitted me up so TARDIS Coasters and bought some "Waters of Mars" Geek Chic yarn. It's such a great color and I am thinking of making another Hitchhiker scarf like the purple one I just finished.

She also made me some Doctor Who return address labels (one of the perks of having a swap partner who knows me is that she can make me things with my address!) with pictures of The Doctor and my favorite companion, Donna Noble. Sooo fun! I've already used 4 of them and each time I did a little wiggle dance of joy. The people receiving them might not have any idea of why my address labels have pictures of other people on them, but it makes me happy to think of some poor unsuspecting Letter carrier/processor getting a kick out of my Doctor Who labels.

Probably the most labor intensive thing she made me (by far) was this bag:

It is a fabulous project bag made to look just like the TARDIS (basically, The Doctor's time/space machine). Now, one of the drawbacks of having a swap partner you know (and spend a lot of time with) is that it's trickier to be sneaky. So I would hear at work about how Kim slaved away all evening, several evenings, many lunch hours, part of the weekend, etc., working on this project. I was starting to feel really bad that she was putting in all this time and effort into a present for me. But only a little bad--I was also really excited to find out what she had up her sleeve. Here's a picture of her working on the project:
I think at this point, she was a little disenchanted with the project and wanted it to just either be done, or for it to jump off a bridge and die.

She also made me some amazing stitch markers with pictures of Who related things (The Doctor, Donna Noble, the Sonic Screwdriver, Weeping Angels, etc.) paired with quotes from the show. They are currently being used in my Tilting TARDIS Cowl and they make me smile every time I come to one of them.

Overall, I think I was pretty lucky! I have some spectacular new Who related things and some tasty snacks. Thanks KIM!!! I would swap with you any day!

21 August 2011

Stashy Sunday

I spent some time this week working on my Stashy projects and I'm happy to say I've made some great progress. I finally finished these monsters that were a special request by Tyler after listening to the Never Not Knitting podcast where she talked about knitting her daughter some. I must say, I am completely charmed by them. So fat...so monstery...Love! Tyler hand selected the colors, specified which would be stripey, which solid... and he also hand selected the buttons out of my button jar. He also seems to be pretty happy with them so I count them a success. I also continued to work on my Tilting TARDIS cowl. I know it doesn't look like much, but considering how little time I've had to knit on it this week, it's really quite impressive. Are you impressed??? My last Stashy project was designed to use some fabric I had set aside and already cut for a magic pillowcase for me. I don't remember why I never actually sewed the dang thing, but I decided that it was time! Now all this little baby needs is a good wash and it's going on my pillow.

Now that I've dazzled you with my Stashy successes, I can tell you about an alteration in my Stashy plan. I am adding a caveat to the Stashy Challenge that allows for purchasing yarn that will be used to make a gift for someone else (birthday presents for myself don't count!). In pursuit of this endeavor, I decided to buy some destash yarn (where other knitters post their stash yarn that they want to sell--Usually for less than what you'd pay at a yarn shop) to make Tyler a Perry the Platypus hot water bottle cover. Now...before you call me a freak, let me assure you that Tyler does in fact LOVE hot water bottles. He loves to snuggle them, sleep with them, sit with them on a chilly winter morning, etc. He also is really loving the show, Phineas and Ferb, right now--most especially Perry the Platypus/Agent P. Stay tuned for updates on Perry as the yarn should be arriving this week sometime.

16 August 2011

Dr. Who Swap--Part One

One day whilst roaming around Ravelry, I stumbled across a Doctor Who Swap that had just opened up for sign ups and couldn't resist signing up to participate. One of the requirements was that you had to give your recipient yarn, something handmade and any other assorted goodies you wanted to include. Of course, I was hooked! I managed to talk Kim into signing up with me (but really, I didn't have to talk to hard...she was game!) and in a small twist of fate, we were assigned as each others swap partner. It was such a fun process! Just thinking about what I was going to make...what other goodies she would like...how she was going to love love love this gift, etc.

Here's the package of Doctor Who lovelies I put together for her:
I learned how to make a box bag using this great tutorial but I also added a handle on the end. Let me tell ya! Finding a zipper to match this odd color of fabric was tricky! I also did a cross stitch with a very Who saying.

We are lucky enough to have a local indie dyer called Geek Chic who stocks her yarn with The Knit Addiction in Clovis who is very fond of The Doctor.
I also learned how to make stitch markers so that I could make Kim these cool "disappearing TARDIS " baubles to mark her place. I really feel like I need some too!

But probably the best unveiling was when Kim opened the Jammie Dodgers just because they were sooo unexpected. The Eleventh Doctor (played by Matt Smith) is very fond of his Jammie Dodgers, but thus far, I haven't ever seen them before. One day last week I went into Cost Plus World Market because Valerie told me they had great jewelry...and THERE they were!!!

Stay tuned for an upcoming post on all the goodies I received!

A very special houseguest...

is making her way to my house!!!

14 August 2011

Stashy Sunday

This week was a Stashy Success!! I finished my stash project and I'm sooo happy with it--The color, the shape, the feel...Everything about it! (Please excuse the wild and crazed look in my eyes--I am clearly NOT photogenic.)

I am moving on from there to a project that I've been working on for a while. (Well...mostly I started it a while ago and then it got pushed aside for something new.) I have been on a Dr. Who kick lately and in that spirit, I started a "Tilting Tardis Cowl". It's a project that I decided would be perfect to use another yarn I've had in my stash for about 2 years.

It doesn't look like much yet, but I'm planning to work on it a fair bit this week so I hope to have more to show next Stashy Sunday.

And speaking of Dr. Who....stay tuned for a post documenting a FABULOUS Dr. Who Swap that I participated in on Ravelry. Spoiler: Kim (my sister) was my swap partner! She's very clever AND crafty so I was completely spoiled by her package. (Disclaimer: I'm not a total nerd. I just have fandom tendencies.)

12 August 2011

Xue Xiao 2011

Tyler had an amazing opportunity this summer to attend a one week Chinese School. I think of it like a Chinese Culture VBS. This year the theme was Chinese Games so the kids learned Chinese Jump Rope, Chinese YoYo, martial arts, jacks and shuttlecock. They also learned about various cultural aspects of Chinese--a bit of the language, stories, history, songs, etc.

At first, I was a little hesitant to sign him up because the kids would be there from 6pm-830pm. Tyler's normal bedtime is 7pm. However, he was quite insistent that he really wanted to participate so we signed him up and I'm so glad we did. He had a fabulous time! He was so enthusiastic about all of the activities that he got to try and would chatter the whole way home about the new things he had learned.

One night I decided to stay a little late (rather than simply dropping him off) to see what they were doing. I was approached by several people who told me (without Tyler there with me--apparently my blond hair blue eyed kid stood out in the group) how well behaved Tyler was and one lady mentioned that she was impressed with the "intense focus" that Tyler had for all the lessons. Turns out, if he's really interested in something, Tyler can give things his full attention without acting like a squirrely boy for a long stretch of time.

He asked me one night if he would be able to go to the Xue Xiao again next year. When I said yes, his reply was, "Oh good, because I already told them I'd be there!"

09 August 2011

One Last Huzzah...

So, remember when I mentioned that as soon as I started contemplating my Stashy Challenge, I purchased two skeins of yarn? Well, one was in person, but the other was an Etsy order that just arrived today! I really LOVE LOVE LOVE this yarn! I really feel that if I had to have one last yarn buying huzzah, I am happy that this was the one I bought. It sends me out with a bang!
Joelle at Wandering Wool was very friendly and fast at shipping my yarn out. Its colorway is Cranberry Bog. Did I mention I'm in love?