Monday, October 22, 2012

Blogger Hiatus

Sadly I have to announce that I need to take a blog hiatus.  My life has taken some wonderful twist and turns these last few months.  Because of all the exciting new opportunities my schedule has become jammed packed with a crazy amount of work and I am finding it hard to keep up with the blog.  I want to make sure that the blog is up to my high standards and am having trouble with keeping up with my self imposed deadlines and quality.  Therefore I will be taking sometime off from the blog till my life becomes a little less hectic.  That means I should be back to the blogging world no later than Thanksgiving.  I want to thank all my readers for their commitment to this blog and I hope that upon my return to the blog I will be able to give it the time and attention it deserves.  Until then, keep knitting, sewing, surfing and just plain being awesome.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Alchemy Hour Sale

I honor of my birthday week I have made a coupon code to be used at Alchemy Hour.  From today till Sunday you can get 20% off your purchase at Alchemy Hour by using the code Bday20.

Don"t forget to enter the pattern giveaway!

Friday, October 12, 2012

October Link Love

Link Love is back!  I've missed doing this type of post, I love sharing my favorite DIY and recipes that I find around the internets.  So with out further ado, here are some great posts from the past few weeks from some of my favorite blogs and websites. 

Burda Style
1. Want to try out the peplum trend?  Learn how to refashion and old top or dress into a flouncy peplum over on Burda Style's blog. 

Good Knits
2. Need that certain something for your Halloween costume, or just want to have fun pretending to be a masked crusader?  Then get your crochet hooks read because over on Good Knits there is a free pattern for  simple mask

Cup of Jo
3. Brussel sprouts are one of my favorite fall and winter veggies and I keep seeing them at the farmers markets and whole foods.  I usually make mine with garlic and balsamic vinegar, but I am excited to try Jo's Best Brussel Sprouts You'll Ever Have.

A Pair and a Spare
4. I love elbow patches and what could make them any better? Sequins patches!  

Delightfully Tacky
5. And what fall day isn't complete without a good hardy soup?  Delightfully tacky has a yummy recipe for Thick Tomato Soup.  I will be making this very soon. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Recipe: Pumpkin Butter

Last fall I made apple butter, a project I intend to do again, but I decided to try making pumpkin butter this year.  It's stupidly easy and if you have a slow cooker even more so.  Some things you will need: 

1 Pie Pumpkin, now the size of your pie pumpkin will determine how much butter you can make.  Since this was my first try I purchased a small two pound pie pumpkin.  (Reminder! Some of that weight is seeds.)
Brown Sugar
Apple Pie Spice or Pumpkin Pie Spice.  The ingredients are very similar and if you don't have either of these some cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves will do the job. 
One clean jar to store your pumpkin butter.  

I started by cutting my pumpkin down the middle.  Not a small feat as this guy had a tough skin.  I hollowed out the seeds then placed them flat side down in a pan with about 3/4 cup of water in it and baked these puppies at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. 

After backing the insides are soft and easy to scoop out. 

I placed the pumpkin in my slow cooker with 1 cup water, 1/4 cup brown sugar and 2 teaspoons apple pie spice.  I placed the slow cooker on low and covered with the lid.  The pumpkin will get even softer in the slow cooker and once the pumpkin turns from bright orange to a more burnt orange color it is time to take the lid off.  

This is where the magic happens.  Take the lid off the slow cooker, but leave the pumpkin mixture in the slow cooker for a few more hours.  I left mine in for about four hours.  This lets the liquid evaporate from the mixture making it into a think paste.  

Stir your pumpkin butter occasionally and when you think it is think enough transfer your pumpkin butter to a blender and blend till it is smooth.  That's it. Done.  I placed mine in a mason jar and put it in the fridge.  It should last about a month maybe two if i keep it cool and the lid on tight.  

P.S. I've been having too much fun with picmonkey's Halloween affects

Monday, October 8, 2012

October Knitting Update

I've been in completion mode these last few weeks and have been finishing projects left and right.  The only problem now is I'm not sure what to knit next.  It's time I start swatching and designing again.  This means a strict ravelry diet till I get my sketches and swatches done.  The above project is a simple cowl I've been knitting in my down time.  I'm almost done with it and can't wait as this yarn has tried to be two other things before I got it right on the third try.  
I also blocked the lace Abalone and am very pleased at how it turned out.  Now I just need to style it and get some use out of it.  The weather finally broke this weekend and it's back to feeling like fall again so I'm sure this will get worn.  
Here's the other sweater project I've been dragging ass on.  I started this back in June and then took a break to work on some Christmas gifts.  Now I'm in the home stretch.  
I was finishing the sleeve up the day I took this picture.  Two episodes of the daily show and back to the body of the sweater.  I stopped working on the body because I wanted to make sure I had enough yarn to make full length sleeves with thumb holes.  The plan was for a long sleeve hoodie with a pocket in the front, but I think I only have enough yarn for a long sleeve hoodie and no pocket. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Stitch Guide: Old Shale II

Just like with feather and fan you can add a purl ridge into old shale.  This can add texture to your knit piece and can make the knitted fabric look very different.  This segment is short, but if you want more info on how purl ridges change the look of a knitted fabric check out my posts on Feather and Fan II and III.  A lot of the same principals apply to Old Shale; the stitch pattern is exactly the same as feather and fan you are only changing the method of increasing. 

Remember all our feather and fan and old shale stitch patterns are written for a multiple of 18 stitches.  

Old Shale With a Purl Ridge
Worked Flat
R1: *(K2tog) 3x, (M1, K1) 6x, (K2tog) 3x*
R2: Purl All Stitches
R3: Purl All Stitches
R4: Purl All Stitches

Worked in the Round
R1: *(K2tog) 3x, (M1, K1) 6x, (K2tog) 3x*
R2: Knit All Stitches
R3: Purl All Stitches
R4: Knit All Stitches

Old Shale, Old Shale II

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

BSJ's for the Potter Twins

My best friend from back home just because a dad.  A dad to two tiny twin girls.  How awesome is that, two babies all in one shot.  I haven't heard much from him since the little ladies have been born, but I'm sure him and his wife have their hands full with two newborns.  To show him my love and support I knit him two of my favorite baby items for the girls.

Twin Baby Surprise Jackets for the little Potter ladies!

Sweater A

I knit them using two balls of different striping yarn and stripped them in alternating colors makeing two sister jackets.  My thought was these two bitty babies would be put in identical outfits for most of their early lives and I wanted to make them something that was the same, but different from each other.  The end result was two BSJs in the same colors, but with different alternating stripes.

Sweater B

These also came out a bit big for the girls, but I figured they would be able to wear them once the weather turned really bitter in Upstate New York.  The will keep cozy in these super soft, super warm, super wash wool BSJ's.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Dinner Date and a New Dress

Here it is!  The completed dinner date dress.  I love making the Anda because there are unlimited possibilities with this dress pattern.  The only down side is that you have to come up with a way to cinch your waist in or you can get lost in this dress.  I bought some pretty velvet ribbon and fastened it with one of my many vintage pins for an unexpected belted look.  Necxt time I wear this though I'm going to go for a contrasting color at the waist. 

Simon and went out for our second wedding anniversary this Friday and had the best meal we have both ever eaten.  We went to a restaurant in Queen Village call Cochon.  Let me say that this tiny eatery packs a punch.  It's built on a corner and is an odd shape and the kitchen is tiny.  The interior is decorated beautifully and all of these wonderful quirks really add to the places atmosphere.  

Cochon specializes in well pork and you would hope that they make a mean piece a pork with a name like Cochon (French for pig).  They have other items on their menu such as beef and sea scallops, but if a place is advertising what their good at through the name of the restaurant order something that has the token ingredient.   

The highlight of the dinner was the butternut squash soup that Simon and I both had.  It was absolutely amazing and had roasted gizzards sprinkled on top.  Another item that totally wowed us was the poor man's pudding.  It was a short bread pudding with a warm caramel sauce served with a scoop of bacon, yes bacon ice cream melting on top.

All in all it was a great place to celebrate our wedding anniversary.  Now I'm trying to figure out how to justify going again.  My birthday is coming up in less than a month.

Friday, September 28, 2012

30 Before 30: September '12

I love candy corn.  I have to be careful because I can eat a whole bag of it by myself .   I saw these guys at the grocery store, bring on October!
Another month has flown by and I'm here wondering what I've accomplished on my 30 before 30 list.  This month I've decided to list all of the things I've accomplished first and then list all of the things I am currently working on and finally the things I haven't started.  Here we go!

*12. Start dying yarn to sell
*15. Crochet a doily throw
*17. Sew a pair of jeans
*18. Grow Veggies in the Apartment
*19. Learn to can
*21. Go fruit picking
*23. See Eve 6 again

In Progress:
-2. Learn to duck dive (This will be put on hold till our trip to Oz in December.)
-3. Get Apartment in Order (I'm thinking about inviting some friends over for dinner to light a fire under my bum to get this goal moving.)
-5. Turn my Etsy into a source of Income
-8. Pay down student loan by 6,000
-26. Learn more about photography/my camera
-27. Make a me made wardrobe/ stop buying clothes

 To Do:
1. Go on Honeymoon
4. Compete in a Surf Comp at the Shore
6. Open a Roth IRA ( I should just do this.  It will take all of one hour to complete.)
7. Get Health Insurance
9. Sew a “Chanel” inspired jacket
10. Go to London again
11. Publish a book of knitting patterns
13. Learn to cook tofu well
14. Design Cable Heart Cardi
16. Sew a quilt
20. Knit a circular yoke sweater
22. Go on a road trip with a good friend
24. Brew beer
25. Start Vlogging
28. Go to Vogue Knitting
29. Go to Maryland sheep and wool
30. Get a new tattoo

Looking at these lists I have to remember that I am only 6 months into my 30 before 30 and I've accomplished 7 of my 30 goals.  That's about a goal a month and that works out pretty well in the grand scheme of things.  The goals that are in progress are all goals that will take me a while to accomplish, but It's nice to see that they are getting done.  What's interesting about those goals is that they all will take some time. A great example of that is my student loan.  I wish I had $6,000 to drop on one payment, but that's not going to happen unless I some how come into a lot of money at once.  I must be content paying my loan the old fashioned way, one payment at a time.  Although I am paying extra every month and am ahead of my payments by 3 months I'm hoping that this will all add up to me being debt free sooner than later.  

My to accomplish list is long, but a lot of those goals are just a matter of time and energy, like the sweater and the cable design.  I just have to plan ahead, hunker down and get it done.  I'm sure in 30 months I'll be able to check all the boxes on my goals.  

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wedding Anniversary Dress

Mine and Simon's second wedding anniversary was yesterday and we both had to work so we've made plans to go out to a fancy pants dinner on Friday.  Of course this gives me a great excuse to sew something fab for our night out.  Here are my thoughts.

My gold Anda dress fit so well and looked so awesome on that I want to make another version of this dress.    I have just the fabric for it too. 

I bought this amazing floaty smoky blue crepe from a fabric store that was going out of buissness.  I was planning on using it for a fancy Sorbetto, but have changed my mind.  There are tiny vertical stripes of shiny threads running though the fabric that I am going to sew another Anda out of this material.  

There was one problem, what to wear under this shell.  The fabric is so transparent that I will need to wear a slip or an under dress.  That's exactly what I plan on doing, making a slip to wear under the Anda shell.  

I found the shiny silver rayon fabric at my local fabric store and thought it would look perfect under the smoky blue fabric.  

I was right they are the perfect combination.  The silver of the slip dress really accents the shimmery threads running through the crepe fabric.  

I'm planing on using the top piece from the Jane nighty set from Burda Style to make a customized slip dress.  Something simple that will really set off the great fabric and shape of the Anda.  I will have pics up as soon as we go out to our fancy pants dinner.  I better get sewing!   

Monday, September 24, 2012

Officially Fall

Rittenhouse Square Park on the first day of fall. 
It is now officially fall according to the calendar and I am very excited about it.  I love the fall, the weather is cool and crisp and you can where jeans and boots and of course sweaters.  I know I've been raving about fall for what seems like all month, but it actually feels like fall is here in Philly!  This may be one of the first Septembers where the city still doesn't feel like its stuck in August.  Our apartment isn't sweltering and we even took the AC unit out of our bedroom window, we even have a blanket on our bed.  I know this may all seem very silly but I can now knit with wool without a fan on me and sweat pouring off my hands.

What does all of this mean?  It means a few things.  Apple season is on its way, so the apartment will be filled with the smell of apple pie, apple sauce and apple butter.  Three of my favorite apple items.  It will also mean the return of the slow cooker, so there will be many meals of chilli, beef stew, mac and cheese, and bread pudding.  On top of that it will be ideal bread making weather.  I will be able to wear some of my favorite sweaters as well as knit a few new lovelies.  It will be cold enough for scarves and fingerless mitts soon, and I can pull my leather jacket out of the closet and hang it by the door.  Ok, I said a few, but maybe it means a lot of things to me.

Grapes at the farmer market. 
Another reason I love the fall is my birthday is in the fall.  October to be exact and while I am creeping closer and closer to 30 I am excited about turning a year older.  I think 28 is going to be a good year for me I can just feel it.  There are a lot of things going on this year in my life and they are all exciting and all really starting in the fall.  For example my new job at TD at Plays and Players really takes off come October and I'm still at Theatre Exile for their second show The English Bride (I love being in Exile).  My parents are also coming to visit me around my birthday.  They haven't been to the city since 2008 when I first moved here.  So I say bring on fall, bring on crisp nights and hardy meals, bring on the colors of the leaves and the smell of cinnamon.  I'm ready. Lets do this.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Stitch Guide: Old Shale

We've been knitting a lot of feather and fan lately and it's time to change it up.  This stitch is called Old Shale and it is the more masculine version of feather and fan.  To achieve this stitch pattern you are essential knitting feather and fan, but you are swapping yarn overs (YO) for make ones (M1).  

What's a make one?  A make one is an increase that allows you to maintain a solid fabric.  With old shale you still get the ripple effect with out the lacy look of feather and fan.  This is what makes it a great stitch for someone who isn't into eyelets. 

How does one execute a make one (M1).  It's really simple here's what you do:

Using your left hand needle pick up the bar that runs between the stitches in the row below from the back .
Knit into the bar on the left hand needle making sure that the bar twists into a new stitch. 
Ta Da! You just increased one stitch with a M1 increase.  Easy Peasy.   Now on to the stitch pattern!

Just a quick reminder all feather and fan stitch patterns are written for a multiple of 18 stitches.  The same goes for old shale.  

Old Shale (a more masculine lace)
Worked Flat
R1: *(K2tog) 3x, (M1, K1) 6x, (K2tog) 3x*
R2: Purl All Stitches
R3: Knit All Stitches
R4: Purl All Stitches

Worked in the Round
R1: *(K2tog) 3x, (M1, K1) 6x, (K2tog) 3x*
R2: Knit All Stitches
R3: Knit All Stitches
R4: Knit All Stitches

Don't forget our other F&F stitch Patterns

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

First Custom Order Part II

My custom order is complete and is being sent off today.  I'm excited to send these lovely hanks off to their new home and hope that the client loves them as much as I enjoyed dying them.  These pictures don't do the colors in the yarn justice, but I figured you could at least get an idea of how awesome this yarn is. 

Here's a close up of the original hank of yarn .  The color is called Night Watch.

This is a shot of one of the custom hanks. 


Monday, September 17, 2012

First Custom Order Part I

I just recently landed my first custom dye order from a client.  It's been so much fun to dye a sweaters quantity of yarn and I've been taking photos to keep the client updated so I figured I'd share them here and let you see what's in the dye pot.  
Here are the five hanks of DK merino bare naked.  How scandalous!

The yarn took a nice relaxing soak in my bath tube before being tossed in the dye pot. 

My tools of the trade.  I will only be using three colors of dye for this order. 

Steeping in the dye.  This is the first of three rounds of color for this dye lot.  

As soon as the hanks are dry and ready to go I will post the final product.  My client also said that they would send me a photo of the finished sweater.  I can't wait to see it and will hopefully be able to share it here on the blog. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Fall Surfing

That's right I'm off surfing today.  Simon and I both have today off so we took advantage of the warm weather and the fact that the beaches will be less crowded to go catch a few waves.

I have mixed feelings about fall surfing.  Right now I'm totally fine with surfing the water is still warm and the air temp hasn't dropped too much.  But in a few brief weeks the water temp will cool and so will the air temp.  The water will be warm than the air and getting out of the surf will be difficult.  The waves however will be getting better and better.  The winter is peak season, but we don't own winter wet suits (which I've read have a lining of merino wool in the).  So as soon as the water temp gets down below 54 F, and I can't get warm when I get out of the water I hang my surf board up on the wall till Spring.  Does this mean I'm less core than other surfers? Probably.  Does it concern me? Not really.  I surf because I enjoy it and I have a sneaking suspicion that I would not enjoy winter surfing up here on the Jersey Shore.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Dress for an Opening

There will be a lot of dresses for openings this year and by this year I really mean this theatre season.  This season I will be going to at least 4 openings and maybe more who knows so I get to really hone my dress making skills.  I used my Anda pattern to make this dress with many many tweeks.

First off the Anda directions are silly.  Ok not all the directions, but the one where you finish the neckline and sleeves before attatching the front and the back of the dress together.  Now that is silly.  I also used french seams.  I figured why not there are only 4 seams on this entire dress I might as well make them nice and pretty.
Finished the sequence, and started the embroidery. 
The piece de resistance is the waist detail.  I dilagently sequenced and embroided myself.  Lets be honest the Anda can be a great dress, but it's just a sack for a dress till you give it a little something to add intrest.  It is also highly recomended that you wear this style with a belt or add the drawstring waist or a tie.  You need something to show you've got a waist in this thing.  Over all I find that the Anda is a great canvas for a wonderful fabric, a fun detail, or even to try a new technique.
Finished waist detail. 
One thing I do LOVE about this dress pattern is that I only need a yard of 50" fabric to make one.  I am wearing mine to the opening of Theatre Exiles Edge of Our Bodies.  I'm only working the front of the house, but I'm going to look good doing it.

Monday, September 10, 2012

September's Knitting Update

I have been knitting away this month and have lots of projects on the needles and off the needles.  Up first is my Carnaby Skirt.  I am almost done and am truly loving the construction of this knitted skirt.  Short rows are my new favorite thing to use for shaping. 

Oh my a BSJ!  What does that mean?  It means that a lot of my friends and family are having little ones.  My bestie from back home is going to be a dad to twin girls.  That's the prefect excuse to knit one of my favorite Elizabeth Zimmerman patterns in some fun stripping sock yarn I've been wanting to try.  The girls are due very soon so I better get knitting

This is my lace weight Abalone.  I started this a about two weeks ago and I'm about 2/3 of the way done.  The yarn is a merino lace weight in a heather taupe color.  There are flecks of red and blue, yellow and pink. It gives the finished project a lot of interest and depth of color with out being garish. 

Now on to some FOs! Finished objects are always exciting.  This is the Prim scarf all blocked and buttoned.  This pattern was great to knit and it's simple with out being boring.  The button that is sewn on is from my friend Antea's shop the Ceramery.  She has some really lovely items, but I'm a sucker for buttons.

And finally my Boneyard is blocked.  I tried a picot bind off to give my edge some interest, to learn something new, and to make my scarf a bit more feminine