Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thanksgiving Visit

Replica Church

Iron Cross
Iron Cross
The images here were taken on Thanksgiving on our visit to Chad's father's gravesite. This cemetary is located next to the farm he grew up on and is the resting place of many of his family and neighbors. I am sharing them for a couple reasons. One, I just love images of rural North Dakota. I live in the heavily populated area of the state and being out there is heaven to me. Second, I also am enamored with the history of this area. I won't go too deep into it other than to mention it's the epicenter of the German-Russian immigration into America. The iron crosses are an homage to their culture and are sprinkled over the surrounding counties. I also love the German on this one. Languages get me every time.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Art Quilting Practice

These pieces were made for my summer drawing class but I consider them practice for where I want to go with my art. My instructor and classmates loved them and I see the flaws.

All were based off of photographs from the Western Minnesota Steam Threasher's Reunion that Chad and I attend over Labor Day. I have included the source image here so you can compare.

First one is of some cut logs. I used this image for my Dead Simple Quilt as well. I am just in love with the colors and textures here. I tried to recreate it but don't think I hit it just right.

Inspiration for my Dead Simple Quilt

Second is a tractor wheel. I tried both applique and thread painting to bring out the details. I think it would have worked better this way if the yellow thread color was dead on to the fabric.

Inspiration at WMSTR
Tractor Wheel

And last is a view of the sky outside of a barn loft. This one is my favorite of the three. Cotton balls were made into clouds and the black areas are paper that were stitched down.

Inspiration at WMSTR

View Outside

Much like my first scarf and first quilt, I think these are important to track where I have been and where I am going. Do you evaluate your work in this manner? We all improve with time and practice and looking back can be fun and educational.


My vacation ends today and I start my new job tomorrow. I have loved being home and able to work on whatever I want but I'm starting to lose track of what day it is. I didn't get everything done on my list but the major things are finished. My creative space is completely reorganized, with everything in its place. That was the biggie and it feels so good to have it done.

One thing I had been meaning to do for months was cut up my old Kona color card. I had won the one in a giveaway and instead of tossing the old one, I thought I should cut it up as another way to make use of it. Now I can easily see if the solids themselves go well together, which was the biggest downside to having them in card form. Best of both worlds now!

Color Card

I also have put together a few prizes for Giveaway Day that starts next week on Sew Mama Sew. Be sure to check back for it then. This week I will be taking photographs and writing up the posts.

There are a couple things going on in blogland that I'm looking forward to in the new year. The first is the return of Project Quilting. I tried to play along last time Kim ran it and only managed to complete one week. This season I am shooting to finish each week. If you are looking to expand your creativity through quilting, I highly recommend participating. Today she posted an off season challenge to warm up for the start in January. The time frame to finish it is two weeks instead of the usual one. I have been brainstorming a bit today and will share my progress as it comes along.

The other thing is a quilt-a-long that is already in progress. It's the Bee In My Bonnet Row Along and you may have heard of it. I recently did and am putting off joining until January in order to finish up some other projects. This looks like the perfect project to jump into scrappy quilting. I have long admired scrap projects but haven't been able to push myself into letting go in order to create one of my own. I'm looking forward to it and am fighting the urge to pull fabrics for it.

Hope your weekend was well spent. See you again soon!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Zombie Girl

Finally I can reveal the surpise I was knitting for a friend. I actually gave this to her last weekend but didn't get around to posting about it until now.

First some background. My friend is really into Halloween, scary movies, zombies, etc. She coordinates our local Zombie Pub Crawl, was working on hosting a Zombie Prom, and works at a haunted house, in addition to holding another job and being a loving wife and great friend.

Zombie Girl

When I saw this pattern, I knew I had to make one for her. The pattern is called Zombie the Podcaster and is free on Ravelry. I made my girl a little more elegant in that I embroidered lips and eyes on her face and left off the bloody scar. Other than that, I didn't make any modifications. I did think about adding hair but didn't like the result. I should have dropped down a needle size for the dress though, as the stuffing does peek through.

Zombie Girl

Hunting down a good yarn to use for the zombie flesh was interesting. My local yarn shop doesn't have too many crazy yarns but I did finally find a sick looking green. I went back and forth over dress colors as well before picking this one.

Zombie Girl

This knit up very quickly. I set it down for a few days, otherwise it would have been done in just two or three evenings. This was the first toy pattern I have knit up and the first time using Judy's Magic Cast On. That went pretty well considering I've heard others having difficulities getting it down. Working on something this small was fiddly at times but it won't deter me from knitting another toy in the future.

And as a bonus, the cast on is a common one used in socks. I have yet to knit a sock and have it on my list of things to try next year.

Yay for another tick off of my Hustle list!

Friday, November 23, 2012

What I Brought to Thanksgiving

This year I had to get a little creative in what I made to bring for our dinner. Because of our travel plans, I wasn't going to make anything too elaborate, and really, I didn't have to bring anything at all if I didn't want to.

However, I had made garlic mashed potatoes for Chad a few weeks ago. I've made them before for us (and the recipe is borrowed from my years working in the kitchen at Bennigan's) but he raved about them to his mom and asked me to make them for his family.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

My recipe is pretty simple. I dice both red and white potatoes, skins intact, and boil them until fork tender. Once they are drained and returned to the cooking pot, I add roasted garlic, melted butter, salt, and pepper. The amounts vary depending on how many potatoes I cook and the tastes of whomever I am feeding. I love garlic, to the point of eating the roasted mash straight up, but Chad doesn't like it too strong. For his benefit, I don't add as much as I would for myself.  A good ratio for me is 5 lbs white potatoes, 3 lbs red, 3 bulbs garlic, 2 sticks of butter, and then lots of fresh ground pepper and a little salt. I mash by hand, leaving it just a little chunky, but not too much. My least favorite kind of mashed potatoes are made with lots of milk and mixed with a hand mixer. I guess those really are creamed potatoes, but that's a whole different tangent.

My photograph of them isn't the best. But let's face it, mashed potatoes are not the most photographic food out there.

I also decided to make a pie. I have made all sorts of pies for family gatherings in the past but wanted something different. I decided on a peanut butter mousse with Oreo crust. The crust is simple as it is crushed Oreos and melted butter pressed into a pie pan. The peanut butter mousse I got from this recipe. In lieu of the fudge layer, I melted some semi-sweet chocolate chips with the remaining whipping cream and attempted to drizzle on top. It wasn't thin enough for that so I ended up with thicker stripes. Good thing pies are meant to be eaten.

Peanut Butter Mousse Pie

I'm linking up with Debbie's Tuesday at the Table and am going to do my best to brave the Black Friday crowds as I go out to do my weekly errands.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

WIP Wednesday

I'm halfway through my 10 day vacation and feel so relaxed. Now, don't think I haven't been working around the house. I have been tackling some deep cleaning each day so far and have also been reorganizing my creative spaces. I think my new set up will make it easier for me to work on projects once I start my new job. And it's good for me to get a start on the new year coming up.

Yes, I am already thinking about next year. I start doing that as my birthday approaches (it's in December) and use this time to come up with my personal goals. I will go into that more later as 2012 comes to an end but I will say now that I already have a basket full of knitting projects lined up for 2013.

Aside from cleaning and organizing, I have also been making progress on some projects so let's get on with that. I'm linking up with Freshly Pieced for her WIP Wednesday link up.

One of my goals this week is to finish my Drunkard's Path quilt top. I made progress on the blocks but still have a ways to go.

DP Block Progress

Three of my knit projects got some love. These are the Loverly Shawl, Sundry Shawl, and Five by Five Cowl. The cowl is coming with me tomorrow because it will make excellent traveling and conversation knitting.

Loverly Shawl WIP
Sundry Shawl WIP
Five by Five Cowl WIP

I also started a crochet project. This is the base for a basket. The colors are not what I would have paired if I bought these new but they work. I found these in my stash and instead of donating them, like some of the other acrylic yarn I have, I wanted to use them up. This will be a quick project and useful to boot.

Crochet Basket WIP

We are expecting a mix of snow and rain tomorrow, which will be interesting as we travel. Chad and I are leaving very early in the morning to drive to the farm he grew up on to visit his father's grave before heading back east to spend time with his family. To my fellow Americans, I hope your Thanksgiving is spent with those you love.

Friday, November 16, 2012

When Risks Pay Off and What Would You Do With Ten Days of No Obligations

A couple weeks ago, I took a huge risk. I put notice in at my job without having another lined up. My co-workers were shocked and in this economy, I don't blame them. Even living in an area with the lowest unemployment rate in the country, it isn't the best idea. However, that's the point I hit and this had been discussed to death with Chad over whether it could be done. I wasn't worried at all and really wouldn't have been worried until deep into December when my safety dwindled.

It turns out that by taking this risk is what lead me to getting a new job. Through a contact in the industry I work in, I was brought in to meet his boss and this week an offer was made and accepted. And as a bonus, I don't start until after Thanksgiving so I get a ten day vacation. I'm excited to start my new position and that taking a chance paid off in a good way. Of course, I am sad to have left my old employer and saying goodbye isn't my favorite thing to do. This is pretty much how I felt yesterday:

On to my ten day break. What would you do with all that free time? Traveling is out so I plan on spending my time catching up with everything: housework, friendships, and creative pursuits. Aside from Thanksgiving Day, I don't have any obligations.

My plans include finishing the reorganization of my creative spaces, finishing a quilt top and maybe two, finishing one or two knit projects, taking photographs of any lingering FOs, many walks with my dogs, and giving our house a deep clean. There is also an afternoon spent with a friend to look forward to and lots of time with Chad.

Once I start my new job, I will be gaining 20 hours a week compared to my previous job. That's a lot of time to be doing the things I love, which means I will be around here more often than I have been. Boy have I missed sharing what I'm doing and seeing what you are up to.

So my question to you today is, what would you do with all this free time?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

My Evolution as a Knitter, or, Garter Stitch Scarf Finished

Believe it or not, this scarf is the first project I even cast on. I would make a joke about it being the last one I cast off (and very well could have been) but that isn't true unless something happens to me or my hands after I type this.

It was a few years ago, four maybe, that I wanted to try to teach myself to knit. It so happened that my local Joann's was changing locations so I went in and bought some yarn, based solely on color, and needles to give it a shot.

Garter Stitch Scarf

After practicing casting on I tried knitting. It took some time before the movement felt right and I could go on with this scarf. To make it easy on myself I decided to only use the knit stitch on this one. Purling seemed too advanced for me at the time. I naively thought I could finish this scarf within a couple weeks max. Try four years, Katie.

Garter Stitch Scarf

I did eventually get bored with this one and set it aside repeatedly. I also chose to start buying natural, more expensive, fibers since I enjoy doing it. This yarn is a cheap acrylic and I wouldn't be caught dead even looking at it in the store right now. But at the time I didn't want to invest a lot of money in something I wasn't sure I would enjoy, or really understand. The needles I bought for this project are also not my preferred. They are the inexpensive aluminum ones and I know knit almost exclusively on bamboo.

Garter Stitch Scarf

So you may ask why I wanted to finish this scarf. Well mostly because I don't want to have any lingering projects around. It would have been a waste to throw it away and since it wasn't in a skein anymore, I didn't feel I could donate the yarn.

Garter Stitch Scarf

I am glad I did finish it though because it shows how my knitting has changed over the years. New knitters are notorious for being tight. The stitches are small and compact. For some, this doesn't change and others loosen up over time. It all comes down to speed, in my opinion. I knit more loosely when I knit faster, though I wouldn't consider myself to be a loose knitter.

Garter Stitch Scarf

I took quite a few photos of this simple scarf to show the changes in gauge over time. The compact stitches are from when I started the scarf. I knit slowly and pulled the yarn tightly around the needles. On the flip side, now I knit more loosely and with more speed.

Garter Stitch Scarf

Asthetically, I prefer the stitches from the beginning of the scarf when compared with the other end. Although, I do admit I didn't notice how different it was until I started photographing it and I noticed one end was wider than the other. The stitch count is the same throughout so the change in width is solely to do with gauge.

Will I even wear this scarf? Probably not. I do not like the feel of acrylic yarn and my love of the color is not enough to change that. I may not even keep it forever but I will hold on to it for now as a reminder where I started on my journey as a knitter.

WIP Wednesday

I'm going to make this a quickie and will catch you up to date with the goings-on in my life Friday. Lots of good things for me and this space as well. Most of my posts this week were scheduled (sssh, my little secret from time to time) so I will also get caught up with emails and your posts this weekend.

This week's update has more knitting. I started two new projects, one on my 100 Day Hustle list and the other not. First is the Five by Five Cowl. It's an easy, and somewhat dull, project. Each row is the same so I have a goal of getting so many inches knit each day instead of trying to knit the whole thing in a short period of time.

Five by Five Cowl WIP

The other project is another mystery pattern. It's called Loverly and is a shawl. I am behind knitting with the clues but am confident I can catch up to have this finished by the end of the month.

Loverly Shawl WIP

And finally, I did something other than knit. The New Embroidery with Vintage Patterns group on Flickr hosts a stitch-a-long most months. This month the themes are books/reading/writing, absurdities, and buttons. It took me a few days to stitch, but the embroidery is done for one of the two projects I have planned for this. I will be sewing this up into a notebook cover to finish it off.

Embroidery WIP

So that's all for today. Hope everything is going well in your lives. Catch up with you soon!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Adobe Shawl Finished

I've been following a few mystery knit-a-longs on Ravelry and finally decided to join in with everyone instead of waiting until it is over. The pattern that changed my mind is Adobe. I saw the photos of the first clue and wanted to dive in.

A couple skeins of madelinetosh Tosh Sport came my way and I was off. This knit up so quickly and was interesting enough not to get boring. The designer described it as an architectural knit, which you can see in the sharp angles of the edges.

Adobe Shawl

I was very pleased with the length when it came off the needles and then when blocking it grew some more. It came out to 80" from tip to tip. Perfect for wrapping it the way I have it in these photos. I like scoop and v-neck shirts and in the fall, this is a great way to keep me warm and still allow me to wear my favorite tops.

Adobe Shawl

Chad even made positive comments on it and he usually doesn't have much to say about what I am knitting.

I wanted to take photos in a different place than normal in town so I headed over to the old power plant. I grew up in the neighborhood where it is located and it has been a part of my mind's landscape my entire life. This location was shut down years ago and there was talk of tearing it down. Nothing has been done to the main structure, but a tall tower was demolished. I wish I could get inside the fence to explore it some more but that is unlikely to happen (legally anyway). I have it in mind to head back there to try to take other images while it is still standing.

Adobe Shawl

When taking these photos it started to snow so the images are not the best. My camera kept changing focus on the flakes in many of the images and I eventually had to head home because it was coming down pretty good. So yes, the image of me with my eyes closed (and glasses on because I didn't slip them off) isn't ideal but will do.

The same designer of this one has another mystery pattern for this month that I have started on. Hopefully I keep up and have another great knit to share in early December.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Fabrics on My Wish List

Lest you think my blog is going to be solely about yarn, I am here today to share some fabrics coming soon that are at the top of my list to acquire. Just because I haven't been sewing doesn't mean I'm not thinking about it.

All images are taken from Hawthorne Threads, which is one of the online stores I prefer over others. Always great customer service and speedy shipping. Plus the prices are fair in comparison and the selection is great. They also offer tiered pricing that is based on that specific order and your order history. (And no, they do not sponsor me nor are they aware I am writing this post. I just love shopping with them.)

The one most anticipated by myself is Type by Julia Rothman. Vintage typewriters, text, and spectacles? Oh yes.

Coming before the end of the year are two collections from Lizzy House. I seriously love everything she puts out and these are no exception. The first is a collection of Pearl Bracelet prints in various colors. These are popular in each of her collections and now they have their own feature.

The second collection from her is called Constellations. One of my dream majors in college was astro-physics. I have a telescope, which doesn't get as much love as I would like, but all the same I love looking at the stars. Living in a sparsely populated area will do that to you.

Timber & Leaf by Sarah Watts is one that I will probably have to buy yardage in every print. Words cannot express the love I have for this line.

When I returned to college my initial major was interior design. Of course I changed to art for various reasons, but my love for design and architecture pumps through my veins. So it's no surprise that Architextures by Carolyn Friedlander ranks high on my wish list.

Alexander Henry has a couple of collections designed by house designers that have caught my eye. The first is Mecca for Moderns and the second is Africa.

Cookin Outdoors from Michael Miller also has a couple prints I like. Chad is enthralled with Texas so these could be good ones to throw into a quilt for him. Not sure how they would mix with the other cowboy/western prints I have, but they could work. They are also perfect for kitchen items. We are in need of some new hot pads.

And finally, Kaffe Fassett is bringing back his shot cottons. Need I say more?

I think that's enough enabling for today. Any collections coming that you are excited for?