Monday, February 28, 2011

Saturday Night Fun

John and I hit up the Eagle Rock Brewery this weekend and I was tickled by this group of guys next to us.

Hot Saturday night with the guys? Can't leave home without your vest, plaid shirt, and beard, right?

Oh and the center had this on the back.

Sorry for the camera picture, but I just couldn't pass on capture this jewel. I freakin' love it.

John and I enjoyed sampling the brews, though I'm still sad John got the last Highway 78 Scotch Ale. Especially since he totally talked me out of ordering it the night before. He said I wouldn't like it, and I believed him...then the next night he went on and on about how good it was. Jerk. (John totally believe he did not talk me out of getting this beer, but I choose to interpret the event my way).

Anyways, it was a lovely weekend. Very relaxing.

I also finished this sweater finally. Turned out really nice, though I have a couple gripes.

Again, camera photo pictures. I lost the charger to my camera, so I'm making due for now.

Love: The detailing at the sleeve and neck opening. The wash-ability of the yarn. The color...Purple Mystery...Yum!
Hate: The yarn is a little thick and warm for Los Angeles. The pattern called for this to be knit in pieces, then sewn together. Good for knitting on the go (like when I was in Colorado), but bad for completing the project. It sat in my sewing room for a month while I tried to find a day when I had both time and daylight to be able to see all those stitches in such dark yarn. Also the pattern called for you to sew a little hem into the bottom. This make a nice finished edge, but also makes the sweater twice as thick right around my hips.

Pattern: Greenaway
Yarn: Malabrigo Rios in Purple Mystery
Yardage: 1092 yards
Timeline: December 23rd-February 26th

Friday, February 25, 2011

Recipe: Slow Cooker Lasagna

Last night John made dinner and it was awesome. John actually cooks a lot. When he's not working, John has the time to make more complicated things during the week, while I do the quick meals when I get home. Some times we tag team, like Wednesday night when we had stir fry. John made the rice, while I did most of the veggie portion.

Anyways...last night John made dinner and it was awesome. He made slow cooker lasagna.

(Picture from Real Simple)

It really was very easy to put together and I cannot recommend this enough. It has a ton of spinach, so you can feel confident you are getting your veggies. Its also cheesy, but not so cheesy that it upset my delicate digestive system. 

2 10-ounce packages of frozen chopped spinach (thawed and squeezed to remove excess moisture)
1 cup ricotta (we used low fat)
3/4 cups grated Parmesan
3 cups marinara (we used Prego, but will probably opt for something with less sugar next time. John noticed the sweetness, I did not)
6 lasagna noodles (not no boil)
1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella

1. In a bowl mix together spinach, ricotta, and 1/2 cup of Parmesan. In a second bowl, mix together the marinara sauce and 1/2 cup water.
2. Spread 3/4 cup of marinara mixture in the bottom of your slow cooker. Top with two noodles (break to fit if needed), 3/4 cup of the remaining marinara mixture, half of the spinach mixture, and 1/2 cup the mozzarella; repeat. Top with remaining noodles, marinara mixture, and Parmesan. 
3. Cover and cook on low until the noodles are tender, 3 1/2 to 4 hours. 

See...not too difficult, right? 

I also finished my cozy Dahlia color sweater last week. So soft I don't want to take it off (but I do so it won't stink)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sewing on Commission

I've just starting taking sewing or knitting projects on commission again. Its been more than 5 years since the last time I said yes. But for very good reason...

I think a lot of craftsman will agree with me on this one. Once people find out you are a sewer, knitter, quilter, etc they will eventually ask you to make something for them. Its not wholly negative, but there are a lot of abusers out there hoping to get a lot for a very little bit of compensation.

So I haven't taken on many of these projects in the past.

I made a few Greek god costumes for Kathryn's high school play. (for free I think)

Made her a prom dress too (though I have never seen a picture, so in my mind I still don't believe she actually wore it) (Mom bought the fabric, I think)

I made lots of ballet costumes (but in return for discounted or free classes)

But I've only done one project where someone truly hired me to sew something.

It was not a positive experience.

A parent at the ballet school I was attending wanted me to make her daughter a pirate skirt. She purchased the materials and gave me a general idea of what they wanted. Now I should mention this was actually almost ten years ago and I've learn soooooo much about business since then.

Clue: She bought the cheapest materials she could find, and balked at the amount of material I requested.

I agreed to make the skirt. It took me about 3-4 hours to make AND I didn't have a pattern to go by, so I made it all up as I went along.

The finished product was a very full and shiny black skirt with pink net layered underneath. It was exactly as her daughter described. My work was good considering the crap I had to work with.

In return for my services I asked for the same hourly rate I was making at the time. I think it was slightly above minimum wage.

The woman went crazy on me. Why did it take so long? Way too expensive! Could have bought something at a costume store!!! Crazy! Crazy! Crazy!

Which brings me back to my point. Every one's handy work is worth something. Its just that everyone has their own price point for things. Frankly, most non-crafty type people I've encountered undervalue hand made articles.

So now when people ask me to make something for them, I have a much better tool belt for handling expectations.

When my friend Christina asked me to make her daughter a ballet outfit, I tried to get as many details as possible. But it was also a safe transaction. Christina is extremely crafty herself and knows how long things take. Plus she watched Dottie for a week so we could go to Boulder, so I was happy to refuse payment for my work. Watching Dottie would be more than enough for me.

When I was approached recently to take on costuming for productions at my job, I said I would happily refer them to professionals I know.

But when a fellow adult ballet student approached me to make curtains for her daughter's room...I said yes.

She came to class with the materials in December. I looked at the raw fabric, checked to make sure there was enough yardage, pointed out the flaws in the vintage fabric ahead of time, and gave her a realistic deadline.

Why take this project on? Well, I got the back story on why she wanted me to do it, and I could sympathize. She's had the fabric for 5 years and still hadn't made the curtains. She's reached the point where paying someone to do it was easier than looking at it in the closet for another 5 years, when her daughter will out grow the pattern and want something more cool. I totally get it. Plus, it was a simple project I was sure I could finish in about 2 hours. Not a big commitment for me, and not shocking for the client either.

So here they are...ready for delivery.

Now I'm looking forward to taking on more projects in the future. I just need to remember to only take on what I know I can realistically handle.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Quiet Rainy Day

John came home last night after more than a week away. He was in Mobile, Alabama working, and while the work is good I do get a little lonesome in his absence. Dottie's good company, but she doesn't snuggle the same way John does.

The good news was that John and I got to celebrate Valentine's Day. Just slightly belated.

I got him Cupcakes

He got me port.

Not a bad combo, right?

But today was back to the reality of life. Dottie awakes with the sun. Rain pouring down and causing too much traffic. Work taking me away from Johnny so soon after his return.

But there's only a few more hours of work before I can return home to my little girl and my husband. That's a very good thing.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Yarn Love...Anne Shirley

What? There is a yarn called Anne Shirley? How amazing is that?

To know me is to know that I loved Anne Shirley. Kathryn, my sister would probably say Anne and I are a lot alike with our love of books and quick tempers (though we both matured nicely into more even tempered ladies).

To find there is a yarn named after her was too much!

But alas I'm over my yarn spending allotment for a few weeks. So I must wait until I've used a little more of the yarn I already have on hand. Hopefully the one site that sells it will still have it on hand when I have yarn money again.

Yarn Love has yarns called Diana, Elizabeth Bennet, Marianne Dashwood, Charlotte Bronte, Joan of Arc, Scarlett O'Hara, Juliet, Cleopatra, and Amy March.

Eventually I'll want to collect Diana, Elizabeth, Marianne, and Amy...but first I must collect Anne.

BTW, I don't just want the yarn for the name, its also really nice yarn too. Plus look at these colors!

(My favorite Early Crocus)


(Into the Deep)

Too bad my birthday is like 10 months away, but consider it a hint for when I turn the big 3-0. 

Dottie's Big Weekend

This morning, I left a very happy dog at home. She had one big weekend of fun.


She rewarded me with no accidents while I was at work. As reward she got to ride along with me to the bank and then got a trip to the pet store. New leash, more food, and a new bacon bone. It's her favorite.

(Photo from Nylabone)


A casual trip to the dog park in the morning and a frantically fun trip in the afternoon. So tired she was asleep by 6pm. 


Another trip to the dog park. She was begging to play with the little dogs, so I let her. However...some of the other owners freaked out that she was too big, so we left. This momma was not happy, since lots of other dogs were her size. Whatever.

So we came back just before sundown and Dottie met her match. Much play biting and running. Dottie was asleep by 6:30. 

She was just so happy to get to run and play so much this weekend. I was happy to make her wish come true. 

Dottie also got two new collars. How cute is she? Here's the first one. 

Its from Mod Dogs and I love it. Dottie likes it too. 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Blair Cardigan

I may not have my bridesmaids dress finished, but I have reached a good point in my current TV knitting project.

When finished the sweater should look like this...

(Photo from Twist Collective)

The Pattern is called Blair and features a shawl collar and little eyelets knit into the sides, sleeves, hem, etc. So cozy and warm. 

Last night I finished knitting the second sleeve, so all I have left to knit is the collar. 

In this picture you can see the eyelet detail a little better. 

I cannot wait to finish this sweater for two reasons. 

1) I want to wear it now. Its going to look so good. The yarn is Madelinetosh tosh dk in the color Dahlia. 100% washable wool so I need it done so I can wear it before the weather turns to the triple digits again. 
2) I really want to start another sweater. My fingers are itching for this one. I just can't wait. 

(Photos from Andipants')

I have that lovely Spud & Chloe Sweater yarn in Rootbeer to make it. 50% cotton and 50% wool. This should be soooooo wearable in Los Angeles with my closet full of sundresses. 
(Picture from Spud & Chloe)

Total wardrobe staple, right?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

11 days and counting

My friend Kristin's wedding is in 11 days.

I'm one of the bridesmaids and decided to make my own dress. I'm still very happy with my decision except...this is the state of the dress right now.

Yep, its still in pieces. Why? I need a zipper, but more importantly...I need thread.

Now a few short weeks ago finding thread quickly would be no problem. There was a JoAnns right down the road. Not my favorite store for fabric, but thread and zippers were an easy find. Now the JoAnns in closed. (Tear) So I need to make a special trip to another town to get the notions I need. Sigh...guess what I'll be doing Saturday.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Yarn Sale Wrap Up

I did it. I went shopping. I did pretty well over all and did not go crazy. Yay!

Here's what I added...

1200 yards of Colinette Jitterbug in Lavender Lil

I'm planning to use this to make Emelie by Elin Berglund (Ravelry link).

600 yards of Rowan Wool Cotton in Cypress

I think I have enough to make Peggy Sue by Linda Wilgus. Hopefully with longer sleeves.

And finally 1500 yards of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Clara's Garden. This was a real steal! Originally $87.50...was marked 50% off, then I had a $30 coupon. So with tax I only paid $15. Not bad at all.

I have never ear marked yarn for the possibility of future baby clothes, but this may be my first. I don't think its quite right for an adult sweater. But should we never have a little girl, I'm sure I could use this for another purpose.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Urgh! Frustration


Friday my boss let us leave early. No waiting for the train. Both were perfectly timed. And John happened to make it home from work in perfect time to pick me up from the station. Much better!


If you stop by my office at 5pm and say 'Oh good, I caught you.' I'm going to look at you like this. Because I'm logged off, I have my coat on, and my purse in hand. Clearly I'm off the clock.

Karma, why did you have to follow up with a crappy Metro ride? Why?

Ladies with small children, why did you drag your children into the danger zone as the train pulled up? They almost got smacked in the head.

Handicapped guy, why did you block the entrance to the train so no one could quickly get on the train and thus lost their chance to get seats? Also, why did you blast music from your phone the whole ride? I'll grant you 'I'm your puppet' is a classic, but your other selections were not so good.

Metro, why do you not have a space on your Gold line trains for people to store bikes, strollers, luggage, and for the wheel chair bound to park? You have such spaces on your other trains.

Why did the train smell like fart?

Lady with the giant suitcase, why did you drag your suitcase throughout the train? Seriously, it was giant.

Lady with the giant jogging stroller, just why? I wouldn't think a giant jogging stroller would be the best choice for riding public transportation.

Wednesday you gave me such a wonderful ride. Did I have to pay for it with my pain and discomfort?

End rant.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Do I need more yarn?

Well, yes would be the answer I immediately come up with, but before I go on a spree, let's look at the data. 

First much do I already own?

I did the math and I have about 22,000 yard of yarn already. Whew! That sounds like a lot, but is it really?

I started knitting I think in 2007, but I didn't keep track of my projects yet, so I'm discounting that year. 

2008 I was still just learning, so I'm not counting that either. 

2009 was a banner year. I knit about 15,000 yards in one year. I was BUSY. 

2010, not so much. Only 10,000 yards. I'm going to give myself  a pass on that. I moved, got married, got a dog, and a new job all in one year. Sorry, I was busy last year. Plus almost 2,000 of those yard went into my super complicated veil that took 6 months to finish. 

2011, I've already knit almost 5,000 yards. 

Let see what's been done shall we?

This will be a vintage lacy blouse. Short sleeved and knit with a fuzzy, drapey, and soft yarn. I'm about 7 inches into the main body. 

This will be a shawl collared cardigan. I'm almost done with the main body, so basically the sleeves and collar are left to finish. 

I started this at Christmas. (Terzah tell the kids I'm still not done. Knitting takes patience.) All the knitting is done, but I have to block the pieces, sew them together, and add the trim. Really that will only take me about a day to complete once I have a free day. Once I have a free day. Can I have a snow day? Please?

This is actually done, but I forgot to take a picture. Its a shrug to wear over the yet-to-be made bridesmaids dress for my friend's wedding on the 20th. Yeah, you heard me...the wedding is in 2.5 weeks and I've yet to make the dress. However I have a really cute shrug. 

I've also purchased a fair amount of yarn recently. 

1500 yards of Cascade Yarns Sierra in High Rise. It was on sale. 

1700 yards of Lorna's Laces Green Line in Periwinkle. It was 50% off and way too tempting. 

1400 yards of Madelinetosh Pashmina in Well water. There was a party at my local yarn store and John told me to go make friends. 

1200 yards of
Spud & Chloe Sweater in Rootbeer. Sure to be the perfect dark brown to go with anything. 

That's 5,800 yard I've purchased already this year. All in enough to make a sweater, yay! 

So again, should I buy more yarn?

I'm still going to say yes. 

1) It doesn't go bad. I can use it tomorrow or a year from now and it doesn't matter.
2) A lot of my yarn is too heavy to wear in the spring/summer in LA, so I could use lighter weights. 
3) Lots of my 22,000 yards is odds and ends. I only have a few yarns with enough yardage to make a garment. 
4) John said "You should go buy more. They only have sales once a year and its better to get it on sale." 
5) John's beer making supplies are totally taking up more space than my crafting supplies. I better amp up my game if I'm going to win this war. 

Are you convinced?