Sunday, December 31, 2006


This year we got our very first Christmas tree. We've always spent a lot of time around the holiday visiting family so it never made sense to decorate at all before. It was very special to experience the excitement with Sparky and Max as we watched Mr. Flashbang wrestle the 15-foot tree out of the van and up the stairs to set it up in our sun-room.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Christmas tree photos courtesy of the Mr. (take photo at slow speed while camera is set up on a tripod, to recreate the light effects seen here.)
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
These ornaments were purchased at a Christmas market in Trier that we shopped at a few weeks ago:
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
The bells, balls and drops are handpainted and glittery, cream and burgundy. We loved them as soon as we saw them.

This set was bought around the corner, and as soon as I saw the colors I knew that they belonged on our tree:
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

See if you can spot the Mr. in this ornament.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
No? Here, look a little closer:
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

This month, I've worked a lot on making this holiday really meaningful for our little family. I discovered just how important that was when our attempt to celebrate Thanksgiving on our own in November ended feeling a bit hollow. From December 1st, I had the boys open a chocolate advent calendar, one day at a time, and told them the story that makes Christmas meaningful to our family; Jesus' birth, etc. We printed out coloring pages that I found online, and stopped often at the large nativity scene displayed in the store window across the street. I also told them about who St. Nicholas/Santa was (I related one of the many stories surrounding his life, where he anonymously gives gifts to an orphanage), since Sparky was asking "what's that guy doing?" about every Santa statue and picture we saw set up in town.

Here in Germany, they celebrate Christmas for three days, and we did the same. On Christmas Eve we ate a light breakfast and the boys opened some gifts.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
My sister and I then threw ourselves into preparation for one hell of a brunch: fried or scrambled eggs, home-fries (chunks of potatoes fried in butter and a few spices until crispy and cooked through), Schenkin Spek (might be spelling this wrong -- I probably am, but it's sort of the German answer to American bacon, which you can't find here. Very very salty, almost no fat, kind of similar to prosciutto. Pretty much just super thinly sliced cured ham), and cinnamon rolls. Very tasty. Dinner was a light, spicy shrimp stew over basmati (Gourmet recipe).

The next morning, Mr. Fiberflash went to pick up my brother Jonathan (Jom) at the airport, and they were back here towards lunchtime. Hannah and I once again cooked like mad, this time all day. Our Thanksgiving meal in November had flopped in several ways, mostly due to the fact that we didn't take into account some German ingredients, and also the size of my oven (for some reason we chose to make a whole lot of baked dishes, and my oven is tiny and has only one rack). For the big Christmas dinner, we decided that we would plan things out as carefully as was humanly possible.

We started by choosing dishes based on the ingredients available to us locally, as well as things that would remind us of home enough to feel traditional. We sourced our family cookbook as well as the Christmas issue of Gourmet for this. Our menu ended up looking like this:
Flank Steak (Grandma's recipe, which is broiled and fantastic)
Braised red onions (from Gourmet, and uses fresh Thyme sprigs and apple juice -- ends up coated in this syrupy glaze)
Smashed potatoes (the Mr.'s recipe with dried oregano, tons of sour cream and butter, plenty of salt, and some potato skin throughout)
Cracked Wheat Rolls (Moosewood Celebrates: buttery, slightly sweet, and crunchy with Bulgar -- always a huge hit, no matter who I make them for)
Sweet potato souffle (from our family cookbook -- we have no idea why this is called a souffle when it's actually a casserole of mashed up sweet potatoes with a sugar/pecan crust on top. Hannah made it better than ever by oven roasting the sweet potatoes instead of using canned, and holding back on some of the sugar, which brought out the tuber's earthy flavor.)
Caesar Salad (Our family recipe, modified slightly because we didn't have enough cheese to make it the "right" way, but it ended up tasting even better with all of the rich food we'd been eating)

For dessert I made cranberry cupcakes with Dulce DeLeche frosting (Gourmet recipe), and Hannah made an apple pie. We also had countless dozens of cookies, which we had made for neighbors and friends, but somehow still had too many of.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
(Colorful Rice Crispy Treats, Molasses Crinkles, Fig Swirls, Shortbread-Dolce DeLeche-Chocolate Bars, Chocolate-Hazlenut Crinkles)

We planned out to the minute what time each thing would hit the stove or oven, and shockingly enough, even with all of those different dishes and mostly just the two of us responsible for it all, we pulled it off without a hitch. It was the most fantastic dinner that Hannah and I have ever made, I think, and we got it on the table before 6pm. We were terribly proud of ourselves. (In our family, holiday dinners are usually served rather late, because there's always *something* that needs to be done, or the person responsible for a particular dish isn't being...well, responsible.)
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
(Max, eating the frosting and pecans off of the cupcake)

After dinner we still had time to eat dessert with the boys, sing some Christmas carols around the piano, watch Sparky and Max open the rest of their gifts, and have them call family back home to say "thank-you" and "Merry Christmas".

We put the little people to bed, ladled out mugs of Glu-Wine (spiced, sweet mulled wine, pronounced "vine") which had been warming in a crock pot, and opened the rest of the gifts. The evening was lovely, and I feel like we were all able to enjoy the true spirit of Christmas, as believed by our family.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
(Hannah opens a tiny album I made for her out of a tic-tac tin, sort of similar to Grace's -- sorry, I forgot to get close-ups.)

The next day was relaxed, full of left-overs, new toys, and tons of good conversation. (If you know my siblings and I in "real" life, you will realize that the latter is never difficult toachieve.)

Two days after Christmas, the Mr. drove Jom and Hannah back to the airport for their flight to Italy, where they will spend the next few weeks before Hannah returns to school and Jom comes back here for another week or so.

The day after they left, with my husband back at work and siblings traveling, I was more aware than ever of my roll as "house-wife", "stay-at-home mommy of toddlers", and "pregnant person". This plunged me down the steep side of an emotional roller-coaster, where I wondered if I was even a real person, and was certain that my identity as "Faith" had been lost entirely. It's rather cool how pregnant hormones can let me feel things so starkly. Oi. Thankfully my husband is amazing, and a good listener. I wrote a bunch in my journal, and was over it in about a day. Now on to New Year!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Smoker's stash

Christmas was wonderful. It really was. But yesterday I had a total "after the fact" downslide, so I don't really feel like writing about any of it just now. Maybe tomorrow. Today, I'll tell you about my favorite gift that I handmade this year.

Remember this?
<span onclick=
It started out looking like this.
<span onclick=
Back when I used to smoke, I saved one tin from each flavor. I never knew what I'd do with them, but a few months ago I was looking through a Creative Keepsakes magazine and noticed a lot of tiny album kits, some of them using small aluminum tins. It was truly a "light bulb" moment. I love repurposing things, especially when it means finding a use for really old stash! It makes me very happy.

When I saw this phrase printed on the side, I knew that the album just had to be made.
<span onclick=
First I hemmed some squares of Amy Butler fabric, and glued them down to the top and bottom sides of the tin with spray craft glue (don't have it in front of me right now, but I bought it at AC Moore a while ago and I know that it's acid free)
<span onclick=
Unfortunately I didn't realize that the "Camel" logo would show through a little. Oh well. (Next time I'll glue down some cardstock first to line it.)
<span onclick=
It was really hard to get the true colors; it was around midnight by the time that I took these picture and I was just about to giftwrap it so there wasn't time to wait until morning.

I created pages by making an accordion out of cardstock. Since all of the pictures I planned on using managed to fit on one side, I decided to glue down both ends to the inside of the tin.
<span onclick=
The layout itself needed to be quick and easy, since I was running out of time. Also, I generally make things way too complicated for myself, so I looked through my stash and found the perfect background accents. I cut out an entire set of coordinating patterned tags from a "tag book" (also from AC Moore), and used them simply for their designs, rather than confining myself to the idea that they "had" to be used as tags.
I was going to do some journaling throughout, but sometimes I feel like the pictures just say it best all on their own. Plus, the whole theme of this album was chronicling the way that Grace has helped out our little family since I started having kids, and so for most of the photos, she was there and knows the story. Ok, so maybe you'll think this is a cop-out, but remember, the idea was fast/fun/get in the mail by Christmas.
<span onclick=

<span onclick=

<span onclick=
So there you have it. Crafting on a budget, but still producing something that I'm really proud of. Grace liked it a lot, so I feel like it was a success all around.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Handspun hat

Hello my dears, the latest podcast should be up in about an hour.

Here's a hat that I worked on for two days and I'm about to rip out. Check the latest episode for the whole story...

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

What I've been doing...

If you're my sibling or parent, do not read the rest of this post.

Remember the Super Secret Crochet Project that you were all guessing at last week? MA was right, and I think that Laura (not Laura P, the other Laura) guessed correctly too. It was beanie bags.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Brief project specs
Yarn: Peaches and Cream cotton (worsted weight yarn)
Hook: aluminum size F
Pattern: my own. Sew up a little pouch out of cotton. Fill with beads. Sew closed. Crochet a circle, increase as needed until it looks like the right size, then crochet in the round until almost to the top of the bag (for the 3x3 bags I worked 18 stitches, the 4x4 were 28 stitches). Decrease about the same rate you increased until the hole is closed up in the top. Weave in ends.
From start to finish: about 2 weeks, since I put off weaving in ends until I had to wrap them up to mail. =)

Ten, to be exact. There were supposed to be 20, but I ran out of beads. The one store I know of here that sells craft supplies tends to be a little expensive, and also the boys don't usually act very well inside (too much cool stuff to grab and throw for Max, and Sparky has a melt-down when we have to leave, because he could easily live in those aisles of the store). So. I only had enough for 10. They're for my little brothers. Last year, I crocheted them one Liger, which, surprisingly I have no pictures of (was going to make two, but the first turned out so desperately ugly that I couldn't bear to make another -- they loved the idea of it, but weren't crazy about the end product either, so it was just as well), and then 3 beanie bags on a whim. I figured that whatever they liked better, I'd make more of.

The beanie bags were better received than I could have hoped. They LOVED them and played with them all the time until some how all three got lost. It was ok, because the design was bad; beads kept escaping out of the crochet holes, even though I'd worked them up rather tightly.

I kept meaning to make them more, for Easter, for their birthdays, for Thanksgiving... Finally, I decided to make them a whole bunch for Christmas. So that's the story. My mom said that they'd still think they were cool, even though it's a year later. Christopher and Joel are 11 and 13.

Next up: a project worked up in three days, my new sock record.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Project specs
Needles: size 5 DPN's
Pattern: Thuja
Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted Solid (although it's actually semi-solid -- perfectly subtle and lovely)
Modifications: 3 inch cuff, and shortened overall length of foot to fit a woman's size 8.
Cast-on to cast-off: Dec 1st - Dec 3rd
Notes: Love this pattern. It's the second time I've knit them. Also, I adore the yarn. I need to buy more to knit mittens for me. It's squishy, soft, and tough. The colorways available are also amazing. I am completely in love with semi-solids now. (Multi-colors have been bothering me for some time, but I've been knitting with them anyway to deal with stash.)

These are a shorter version of Thuja. Thuja Footies, I guess. They started out as One Skein Cabled Footies, but I ran into some issues with the pattern (will cover them in my next podcast on Saturday). These have a 3 inch cuff, but I could have easily gotten 5 or 6 inches. I've got a lot of yarn left over -- Lorna's Laces Worsted has quite good yardage. A tiny bit pricy, but completely worth it.

I highly reccomend this pattern for new sock knitters. It's fast, simple, but has nice results.

I always like to include washing instructions and fiber content, so here's the fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants "professional" looking label they got mailed in:
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
They're for my mom, who can expect handknit socks for every occasion for the rest of her life, since she has proved appropriately appreciative of the beauty and comfort of them. (She's actually expressly asked to only receive these now, so how can I refuse?)

I've also been getting quite a bit of mail...that eBay, I tell you. It's all about shopping in your underwear.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
More on the contents at a later date. I'm not completely prepared to speak about my purchases.

This little guy deserves a post of it's own, but here's a peek at something really cool I did last week:
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

And last night, while watching a supremely stupid movie (Talladaga Nights), I redeemed the time by finishing this:
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Sarah is right. Noro matches everything.

Project specs
Needles: Plastic (!) Susan Bates size 8
Yarn: Noro Silk Garden, 2 skeins
Pattern: One Row Handspun Scarf by Stephanie Pearl McPhee
Modifications: I made this a keyhole scarf by knitting 29 inches of the pattern as written, then knit back and forth on half the stitches only for 3 inches (10 garter-stitch ridges or 20 rows). I broke the yarn and joined where I'd left off on the other half of stitches, and worked those for 10 ridges. On the next row I knit all the way across, and continued the pattern as written until I ran out of yarn. It ended up being the Perfect Length -- almost the same length on both sides when I have it on, as you can see in the picture. It's the most practical scarf I have, because it can't blow off or be shifted around by a small person.

Currently ripping back 32 inches of Danica, and I've cast on for the Mr.'s Christmas gift. More details later.

I'm going to be working furiously on Christmas things and then my sister Hannah is coming on Saturday to stay until after Christmas, along with possibly some other siblings, so I'm not sure how much I'll be blogging. I really want to show you some Christmas decorating stuff, including our very first tree (!!!), so I'll try my best.

Look for my End Of The Year podcast coming out on Saturday! In the meantime, be sure to check The Knitting Cook podcast blog every day this week for yummy recipes that are perfect for Baked Goods Gifts.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Just a little something

Sorry, no real post from me today. Trying to get everything wrapped up to go in the mail (nope, haven't sent anything out yet) (!) However, I did produce a podcast on Monday, so be sure to check it out! I can't wait to show you the things we bought and stuff I have planned to make for Christmas decorations this year, but that'll have to wait a few more days. For now, if you haven't gotten the latest issue of Adorn, what are you waiting for? They're on the newstand in your local Barnes and Nobel or Borders, and probably a few other places. Lots of great crafty Christmas stuff in there!

Thursday, November 30, 2006


Since today is the last day of Norovember, I thought that probably I should post the projects related to the event.

I finished knitting the Danica/Mini Eleanor a few days ago. There are two ends left to weave in (sometimes I forget to spit-splice, and then want to go find a horse to step on my foot to help me remember next time). Also, it still needs to be blocked.

Max says he's not posing with any pile of unblocked work, and that's final.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
He also thinks it's unsafe to stand on the dining room table. Well actually he doesn't, but he should.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

This is my other Noro project. It just needs a few more movie nights and it will be completed. My keyhole version of the One Row Handspun Scarf by Stephanie Pearl McPhee.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
I love it, and can't wait to wear it...but it'll be sad to get it off the needles because it's such a comfortingly simple knit.

Dani made a good guess yesterday about my Mystery Project, but no, it has nothing to do with stringing the beads. They are being used for another purpose altogether. In fact, they will not even be seen in the finished project. Take another look at the little black bags.

Gotta run -- naptime only lasts just so long!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Baker's men, bake me cakes as fast as you can...and knit something too while you're at it

Ok, so pretty much, if you're siblings or parents, you need to stop reading this blog until after Christmas. I'm sure that I'm going to reveal a little too much about stuff at some point, and then it'll turn into a Christmas Spoiler, and I hate ruining surprises. However, in the interest of being able to blog anything at all, I need to show you at least a little, even though someone may just scroll right past this text to the pics.

So. Once again. Family (esp. siblings) DO NOT READ anymore until after Christmas. (I'm pretty sure no of them look at this blog unless there's something they're not supposed to see, which is why I'm repeating myself here.)

Here's a sneak view of what I'm working on right now. Any guesses as to what I'm doing? (Does not involve knitting.)
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

It's been a few weeks since I showed any belly progress, but that does not mean that it has not been progressing.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
This picture is clickable and will drop you in the belly gallery.

We're at 21 weeks (actually 21-1/2) now, and going strong. Fetus (which, thanks to my friend Toni is going to be his/her name now until birth) is thumping about now day and night for "real". No more "is that indigestion?" guesses. This is the real thing. This morning when I got back in bed after giving Max his bottle (he wakes up between 7:30 and 8, so in order to steal a little more sleep I give him a bottle of milk and head back to bed for about another half-hour), Fetus awoke and began doing cute little things. I'm falling in love with this little person and it can't be helped.

Speaking of cute little people, this good looking crew assisted with the bread making yesterday.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Having this much fun is pretty serious business.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Unfortunately what followed was a very bad day discipline-wise, but they were adorable and fun while it lasted. Sometimes there is something that just snaps in a toddler, and their heart turns as black as cole. Thankfully, today has been going much better (thus, the luxury of blogging).

I have some Christmas baking that I'm pretty excited about, but first I have to finish that "mystery"'ll be a miracle if I can finish anything before Monday. The Mr. says that's the day all gifts will hit the mail...

Monday, November 27, 2006


Well, I've taken a week off from blogging and all internet related responsibility, but I will be getting back on track this week (although I have to do some last minute Christmas things before mailing them out next Monday). If you're waiting on an email response from me, give me a few days -- it'll take a little while to dig myself out. =) If I don't get back to you by the end of the week, chances are that your message got lost-in-the-sauce, and you should just write me again.

Also, if you submitted a cooking tip that wasn't used in this past podcast, it will show up in the next episode. If anyone's got more, please send them to me! There will be a new question in the next show.

My Thanksgiving was early, and it was wonderful. My sister Hannah and her roommate Haley arrived on Saturday night. On Sunday Hannah cooked a chicken stew for us, which was great because not only did it taste good (she's an outstanding cook), but also gave me a much needed break, since I've been handling everything on my own for the past month while Mr. FiberFlash has had his Work Overload.

We drank lots of strong coffee, and taught Haley to enjoy the stuff as well (she's Australian, and I don't know if this is inherent to all Aussies, but she only drinks tea -- or at least she did until coming here.)

Monday morning we went out into town to purchase supplies for our Thanksgiving dinner, then spent the rest of the day cooking. We decided to have our dinner earlier in the week since the girls had to go back on Wednesday, and this would also give us a chance to work on the leftovers together in the days following.

The dinner was successful, although there were a few minor hitches. I didn't plan around the fact that my oven is unusually small (probably normal for here -- not at all the size of an average American one), so we had to do a lot of crazy shifting to get everything to work.

In the end, the oven roasted sweet potatoes were a bit crunchy, although flavorful (tossed with a light bacon vinaigrette -- check out the November issue of Gourmet for recipe), and Hannah fried up some potatoes that somehow didn't quite cook all the way through either. The ham was incredible though (normally my brother Caleb cooks it, so this was the first time I was responsible for it -- pretty much you just throw sliced onions on and around it and a handful of whole cloves, then pour a pint of beer over the whole thing. There's a few other steps, but that's the basic idea. The glaze is honey and brown sugar mixed with ham juice, and it is tasty.) Also, I baked up some crunchy/buttery/slightly sweet cracked wheat rolls, which are always a huge hit (recipe in Moosewood Celebrates cookbook, from the "Vegetarian Thanksgiving" chapter).

This was our first Thanksgiving away from home (well, I had one when I was away at school, but wasn't responsible for the dinner -- just one dish, so that was different). It was an experience, and...well, it was kind of difficult to decide what it was exactly that made it "Thanksgiving" for us. We were trying to give Haley an American Thanksgiving experience, but I have a feeling that she just got the "Dress up and eat a huge dinner" part of it. I would like to incorporate a few Thanksgiving Things next year, like possibly a time of "what are you thankful for" around the table as we eat, or some such thing. I'd like the boys to grow up understanding what the holiday is all about, and not just think it's a fancy traditional dinner. Some things to think about. Hmm.

In the end though, it was all about being together, being family. And that made it great, reguardless.

On Tuesday we went to Schloss (castle) Heidelberg. Unfortunately, after these two pics my camera battery died and I hadn't brought any new ones, but Hannah and Haley took tons of shots, so as soon as I get them I'll post 'em.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
We had quite an adventure getting back. Be sure to listen to the next podcast episode, becuase I'll have the whole story for you then. Someday I'll understand the German ways...
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
It was incredibly gorgeous though.

Since I posted last, I've worked on Sparky's Scully Wallaby, but now I have to rip out the bottom hem and try again to make it lie right. Even after a thorough blocking, the bottom edge ripples out because of differences in gauge between my plain stockinette and the fair-isle band. My sister suggested just ripping out the bottom inch and reknitting it tighter, which is what I plan to try. However, I've got more pressing Christmas projects in the works at the moment, so that'll have to wait.

This past week, though, was all about me. I had two 4oz batts of this pink/mauve/brown corridale/silk/glitz. I'd bought it very cheaply because the carder informed me that she had put these together before she really knew that much about washing wool. She warned me that it was "kind of sticky", but that it shoudn't be a problem once I'd washed thoroughly.

Before leaving Georgia, I showed the batts to my spinning mentor/friend Kirsten, and she advised that I either give it away or trade it somehow. For whatever reason, I decided to have a go at it myself, so first I spun up a tiny sample skein. As Kirsten had predicted, it was way too sticky to spin up properly, and was pretty stressful on my hands (when there's an overload of grease still in the wool, it's very difficult to draft the fiber out). She had told me that my next option was to wash it well in very hot water, but that the process would most likely felt it, making it difficult to work with in a different way. Once again, she was right.

Our water is turned up to 200 Celsius (392 F), so I put rubber gloves on, used dish soap, and tried to wash them as gently as possible. It took about 8 or 9 changes of water to get the water clear (besides all the lanolin, there was still copious amounts of unset dye in the wool -- from the same seller as the turquoise stuff. If you listened to the latest podcast you've heard the story.) Of course, the batts became...gently felted.

I let them dry overnight, then ripped them into strips and drafted them out into a pile of fluffy balls.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
I like to put my drafted little rolls next to my spinning wheel like this.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
It seems to speed things up, because once I start spinning, I don't have to stop. This also helps if I'm handling color changes in a roving. It gives more control of how the final skein will look.

In the end, the skein didn't look that bad, but it was hard going. An added trouble I hadn't counted on was that the shearer did a sucky job. There were second cuts, which means that there were shorter curls of wool throughout, making it incredibly difficult to do anything purposeful with it. (A good shearing job means that they will pass the shears over the sheep once, getting all the wool in one shot. Second cuts are absoloutely unacceptable to the handspinner. I was not pleased.)
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
It's definitely not expertly spun by any means. It's one of those "maverick" skeins, where the slubs are consistently there throughout, but certainly not in any kind of order. The "in-betweens" are mostly light worsted. All in all it turned out a bulky/polar weight, from what I can figure. 57 yards total.

I will never buy from this seller again, reguardless of how beautiful her batts may look.

The main problem is that the silk really suffered. There were huge, thick, shiny streaks of Tussah through the batts, but because of the rather thorough washing that was needed, the silk is now fuzzy and sheen-less. I mean, if you don't know what it's supposed to look like, I suppose that it's fine, but I know. Now I realize why silk labels usually read "handwash cool or dry clean". Makes sense. So. That's my story.

I finished the Mini-Eleanor. There won't be a fringe on it, I don't think, because it seems to be almost too long already by itself. I suppose that would actually just make it a straight Danica, but I'll see what I think after blocking. Will have pics later this week.

Also, I've been working on a One-Row Handspun out of my recycled Silk Garden, which is going well. I'm putting a keyhole in it so that it'll stay put while I'm out in the wind. More details to follow (yes, I'll tell you how I did it in case you want to do the same).

For now, everything is on hold for the week as I attack my Christmas projects. Hints: it doesn't involve much knitting.

If you haven't already, you've got to check out the latest Adorn. It's got to be the best crafty mag out there.

I feel a fabric obsession coming on... (Aunt Susie, you may pull me in yet.)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

New episode!

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Yesterday I posted Episode 5 of The Knitting Cook. Enjoy! My sister is here until Wednesday, so I probably won't be blogging again until after Thanksgiving. Have a great holiday!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

What's wrong here?

Ok. I've been experiencing severe project ADD. I don't know if it's the rainy days making me all restless and antsy, or just being pregnant, or...the fact that I haven't started any of my Christmas knitting (which isn't much this year, but still!), but I cannot seem to be able to just sit down and work on the Sparky sweater. Normally I'm very good at sticking with something and finishing. My intention was to bring it closer to completion yesterday, and...I think that I got about 4 rows done. Well maybe a few more than that, but not much. Instead, I did this:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

It's about 4 ounces of Peruvian Alpaca, given to me by my friend Laura (currently deployed overseas. I miss you!). She'd picked it up for me at MSW festival, and I dyed it myself a few months ago. Yesterday I suddenly had to see how it would spin up. My honest intention was to just spin up a sample skein, just to see how the colors would play. Ummm, that didn't work out so well. I was spinning from the fold, and it was fascinating how the colors barberpoled even within the same singles. Honestly. I couldn't stop. It's a 2-ply fingering/DK weight.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Well. I may finish the sweater today...(just keep me away from that wheel, will you?)

Monday, November 13, 2006

Oh the piano

ETA: Video of piano being lifted up at end of post.

** Warning: crazy German story, but no fiber goodness today. **

Please brace yourself for a picture heavy post. The first picture is clickable and will take you to the gallery where you can watch a slideshow of it instead, if you wish. This will also allow you to see the pictures in greater detail if you should so desire.

When we moved, no one told us (and I'm sure that my husband's job should have!) that we might not want to take things like our washer, dryer, and -- oh yeah -- proabably not our piano. No one suggested storage, or hinted that the apartments might actually be too small to even get anything up stairs or through doorways. So. The washer and dryer are not much of a problem. They're clutter catchers in the fron entryway, but as it's a pretty large space, it's not very noticable. We can't hook them up, and the Mr's company has supplied us with "lenders" that are hooked up in the basement (another post to follow this week about the insanity of that). However, the piano wasn't so easy.

First, they told us that there was no way they could get it up the stairs. Surely they would damage something or themselves on the trip up two flights of stairs. They told us they'd never been asked to move a piano -- does no one play piano in Germany anymore? They called in a special moving company to scope things out, and those guys tried to convince us to ship the piano back to the states for storage. I flatly refused. They said they'd talk to their boss and see what they could do. Mr. Fiberflash told me to suggest the rooftop porch that we have off the kitchen. I suppose the guys didn't want to argue with a stubburn pregnant girl, because a few days later they called back with the news that they'd be here with a crane on Monday morning (today!)

I woke up at 7am to make sure that I was properly dressed and awake before they got here. When they arrived, it was pretty unbelievable. They really did have a huge orange crane. I'll let the pictures tell the rest of the story. The last one is a little video clip. So sorry that I couldn't have gotten more -- Max woke and started yelling "Mommy!" from his room and the camera battery was running low.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

They were probably using ultimate self-control when, after all that, I told them that the piano would need to be moved all the way across the L-shaped house to the opposite side, and placed in the sunroom. But it's all done now. Thank goodness.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The long sweater

On Thursday night I stayed up late, working on Sparky's skully sweater. I got all the way to the ribbing, but then was somehow unable to pick up the correct number of stitches for the hood. Mystified after about 3 tries, I decided it was time to go to bed. No one should try to count several hours after one is usually safely tucked into bed. The next morning brought two revelations. Number 1: I had not decreased to the correct number of stitches, and had started the ribbing prematurely. This made the gross over-count of stitches suddenly make sense. Number 2: after trying it on Sparky... well, let's just take a look together, shall we?
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Although he can't help but look terribly cute in anything, it is pretty much a tunic. No good. I wanted it to be oversized, comfy, cozy, favorite-sweatshirt-sort-of-thing, but this is just plain way too long.

After much consideration and presenting the matter to Mr. Fiberflash, I have decided on two courses of action that must be taken. Action #1: rip back down to the bottom of the placket -- I hate the light blue, because it reminds me too much of a hippy-tunic-deal. I just has to be all black. Which means the hood is going to have to be black, I think, and that's unfortunate, because light blue looks way better against Sparky's face. Action #2: Rip up from the provisional cast-on and get rid of the skull-and-crossbones motif, because it just makes the thing too damn long. I could just rip the sweater down below the armholes and take out a few inches there, but the trouble is, the pouch pocket currently occupies exactly the right spot, so there's nothing else I can do.

So now I have two questions for you, my reader. Should the hood be in light blue or black? The placket head opening is in garter stitch, and might look best if it continues in the same color around the entire hood. (The edges of the hood are garter stitch as well.) The other thing is the skull-and-crossbones thing. I've knit this entire sweater in black for the only purpose of making it "cheesy rock-and-roll" like that. So now I can either duplicate stitch a larger skull motif on the pocket, or else I can do one on the back. If on the back, it'd have to be low enough to not get covered by the hood when the hood is not in use. What to do?

After all of this drama, I didn't have the heart to even touch the project for the past few days. So I spun instead.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
(Look! Proof that I've actually used my studio!)

There is nothing like spinning and listening to podcasts. I can't find my earbuds at the moment, so the only thing to use are the studio headphones. The plus side is that I get excellent sound quality. The obvious minus is that I look like a dork. But then, who cares?

On Friday I finally finished up the Berry Pickin' colorway I'd gotten a few months ago from the Spunky Fiber Club, and that felt really good. I had started it when we were visiting our families just before moving here, then spun some at the hotel, so it's interesting how many memories this yarn already contains. I don't know what I'll knit with it; a lacy mini-shawl or scarf, probably, but it will be even more special to me because it was spun during such a transitional period of my life.

Something very cool happened during the plying. Usually, I have a yard or so of singles left on one bobbin that I navajo or andean-ply on itself, depending on the final product desired. Before I began this project, I divided up the roving into 2 as evenly as possible. In this picture though you will see that it doesn't really look like things are going to end all that well.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
To my absolute shock and amazement, I ended with only a half-inch difference!
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
The leaders are white on top, and brown on bottom. Not sure how well you can tell from this pic, but I assure you, it. was. that. close.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
(The color is true in this pic.)

I haven't measured wraps per inch (WPI) yet, but it's somewhere between a lace-weight and fingering-weight two ply. I love it. It will self stripe a little bit, because of the way that I divided up the roving (see all the little fluffy balls of drafted wool on the bench next to me?), and it will be interesting to see how it reacts with different stitches. If I didn't have too many thing on the needles, I would have cast on for something already, out of curiosity.

Then yesterday I pulled out some turquoise batts I had bought a while back, and spun up all 8 ounces (approx 226 grams) into this thick and thin bulky two-ply. It was on and off the wheel in one afternoon, just like that.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
This is my first "on purpose" slubby, chunky yarn, and it makes me quite happy. I would like to try something highly textured. It's kind of a coarser wool, so it'll have to be some sort of outerwear. Maybe a short keyhole scarf that will be worn on the outside of a coat? Or maybe a hat with a soft, cashmere or pure alpaca lining? Not sure yet.

Oh how lovely. Today, I finally was able to kick myself into gear and start ripping and reknitting the sweater. I plan to finish it before Saturday. My sister is going to be coming here for the week of Thanksgiving, and I'd like to be able to show it off. Yup, that's the long and the short of it. I'm motivated by the bragging rights. This sweater is going to be done, and it will be adorable, no matter what it takes. And then....I have the second sweater... (will I be the first person with Second Sweater Syndrome? Why do I feel like I have to get the boys all Matchy-Matchy all the time? Why didn't I knit the arms for Max's sweater in blue with black stripes? So many questions. This baby had better not be a boy too, if only for that reason. Then again, they'll be able to wear all the hand-me-downs...)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...