Friday, April 24, 2009

Outlandish Swap 2.0

For my part in the Dragonfly in Amber Outlandish Swap, I made a double pointed needle case and a nostepinne. That's a handy tool for winding center pull balls. I rounded up two skeins of soy silk in a teal color. I also found a natulis shaped needle gauge. Recently I discovered the joys of bent-tipped blunt needles for weaving in ends. I thought I'd share. My Celtic themed item included seven celtic knot stitch markers. To top it off, there was a Swiss dark chocolate.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Outlandishly spoiled

If you haven't guessed, I spend a lot of time on Ravelry. It's where the cool yarn people hang out. We all come to this magical place from around the world because of one thing: yarn. As a way to get to know each other there are different groups you can join. I'm part of a group of fans of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander book series.

This spring a group of us decided to do a yarn swap based on the Dragonfly in Amber book (the second in the series). We all divided up into clans. I am the happy chieftess of Clan Mackenzie. I lead a group of 15 others in rallying the troops keeping everyone organized and of course cheering them on in the Highland Games -- a series of trivia games and logic contests based on the books.

The exciting part is when you get a special box in the mail. At the Wannabe Domestic Goddess house it's always a special time. This time the box came from Eilis, the clan chieftess of Beauchamp.

The entire box is chock full of wonderful goodies that take me along the path the Jaime and Claire experience during the book.

First off, there were goodies for the kids: Denim aprons embellished with E-minion's E and I-minion's I -- they were quick to pick up on that. I'll explain the connection to the book in a moment. Then there were shoe ornaments representing Lousie Rohan's monkey and King Louis' dogs.

Next out of the box were the fiber goodies: Eilis outdid herself on the beautiful colorful shawl made out of bird of paradise yarns. The drape and softness of this shawl is unlike anything I have ever experienced -- especially for crochet. (I might need to rethink my stance on the hook)

The shawl was wrapped with a beautiful tiger's eye and red jasper bracelet, that happens to match about 90 percent of my wardrobe. There were also two skeins of superwash merino/tencel roving for me to spin. As an added bonus it's in the "grinch" colorway.

(Edie is also amazed with the drape, too)

Eilis also knows that I try to knit when the kids are around so she made up a batch of stitch markers with the minon's names -- that is so cool, to have that type of personalization and nice bright row markers. She also tossed in an added bonus of a Mackenzie sticker -- I think I have good spot for that to go.

The last item, but not least is the consumables. Knowing life with twins can be harrowing (Eilis is a twin) she included a pair of single malt Scottish Whisky -- Glenlivet and The Speyside. There was a tin of spiced Chai and a Scottish Spoon Bread mix -- the aprons are so the minions can help without getting themselves messy.

I think the aprons will help when we venture into the realm of pasta making this weekend, since I-minion requested "blue" pasta.

At the very bottom of box was a small envelope with the note -- open me last. Inside, was a "photo" postcard that Eilis hoped would appeal to my "muckraking" journalist side -- a side I tend to suppress now that I am officially a "grant writer." This the idea came from a conversation we had on the forums on Ravelry. It certainly made me smile. No photo though, because it is a bit on the burlesque side of things, and this is a family friendly blog.

Thanks again for the wonderful package, Eilis!

Boys and Their Cars

We are a car family, thank to my husband. He's always loved cars and during the 13 years I've known him, he's owned more cars than I am old.

We go to car shows. We watch car movies (The Fast and the Furious, anyone?) and we collect cars. We've got five licensed and insured now, plus a handful or two of other project cars on the farm – including a nice little stash of vehicles tucked behind my barn, that once things start growing, are conveniently hidden in the tall grass.

We work on cars.

And if you are 3 that means:

  • You tote around ratchets, wrenches and play in the grease.
  • You also play “going to the car show” on your trikes.
  • On ambitious days you try to put the cat in a wagon to take her to the car “scruze” (cruise).
  • Then you're confused why the cat runs away whenever she can wriggle out of your arms.
  • When it is too wet to play outside you play “car cruise” and line up all your little cars on the couch. It's a drag when you mother tells you to pick up your little cars, so you find unique ways to store them. This is my rocking chair.

Spring is a particularly busy time of year a car family. Weekly car cruises started two weeks ago and neither of our classic cars – a 1969 Lincoln Continental, with suicide doors, and a my 1949 International Pickup – are road worthy at the moment.

The front brakes need to be replaced on the Lincoln – a fact we discovered after the first day J took the car out of the shed from the winter. Let's just say finding replacement brake pads and calipers (the thingies that hold the pads and actually “squeeze” the rotor to make the car stop) are a little hard to find.

We bought the pickup last year and my husband transplanted the engine, transmission and rear end from a 1977 Monte Carlo into it -- the "donor" just happened to be living behind the barn. He had to rebuild the front suspension to accommodate the modern engine, transmission and brakes. This spring, he discovered one of the welds holding the shock mounts in place broke free. I can't drive it until it is fixed. We've also got to replace the seats with ones taller ones so I can see out the window. Oh, and seat belts are also nice addition.

Of course, it's difficult to work on these projects when the main shop is full. My husband's beloved 1-ton pickup is ripped down to the frame and is in the process of restoring the body and installing a turbo on the engine.

Here my hubby is in happier times with his pickup. We were in college and I needed an environmental portrait for my photography class, and this was one of them. Shot with an old-school Nikon with a true fisheye lens. I had to hold for an 1/8th of a second (I was much more steady years ago). It's still a little grainy and of course he doesn't sit still, but it's a great shot of his truck and the shop.

This is the first year I'm actually looking forward to the car cruises and shows. I think it has something to do with the fact I'll have my own to drive. This was last summer right when we were test fitting the engine and front end.

I think my pickup needs a name. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Restoring the Faith

I bought a lushious skein of Conjoined Creation's Flat Feet yarn (I don't remember the colorway but it is warm, cozy and very nature-like) I decided to do my first toe-up socks, my first two at a time socks and my first short-row heel (on life-sized socks); all on magic loop. I've knit, to day 10 pairs of socks, so I thought I could handle the multiple facets of new technique.

I scurried off to Ravelry for the perfect pattern and settled on Nagini (Ravelry link). I've done cables before, so I didn't think much of it.

Cast on while convelescing for three days post knee surgery in September with grand plans to complete and wear to my check-up in late October. It went along swimingly until I royally messed up the short row heel on one and screwed the pattern up on the other. After sitting in purgatory for more than a month and still struggling how to fix it, I decided that they didn't fit well and frogged. This was my second Ugh! posted on Ravelry.

Here is an out-of-focus shot of the socks, pre frogging. I made it small so your eyes wouldn't cross.

In order to restore my faith in my sock knitting ability I went to a safe place with my beloved yarn -- 5 dpns and a ribbed sock. Charlene Schurch's Sensational Knitted Socks answered my prayer her garter rib socks. It's also an amazing sock knitting reference. Want to know how to perfect the kitchner stitch, eliminate the donkey ears on the heels and make different toes, heels, cast ons and bind offs. Her books are my go-to for sock knitting.

Yarn: Conjoined Creation's Flat Feet

Colorway: hmm I don't know

Pattern: Garter Stitch Rib from Charlene Schurch's Sensational Knitted Soocks

Cast On First Sock: 3/12

Cast on Second Sock: 3/27

Finished: 3/27 -- that my friends, is 17 days to a pair of socks. Not to shabby, huh?

Details: Cast on double the cast on and during the first round I k2tog, k2tog, P2tog, p2tog to end up with my 56 stitches to complete the pattern. I love how I actually got the pattern centered on the top of my foot. This pattern does create an elegant sock that easily could be used for a man in appropriate colors -- like black. The pattern is interesting enough you won't get bored, but not so complicated you have to think about ever stitch.

I can now war these socks with my favorite brown pants.