Friday, June 29, 2012

30 Before 30 June '12 Update

It's that time again, a 30 before 30 Update and I must say I didn't think I had made much progress this month.  Then I looked back at June and realized I have done a good chunk of things.  Lets start with completed items.


18. Grow Veggies in the apartment.  I can successfully say that this has been completed although we will be reaping the benefits for a few more months.  We ate our first tomato and I picked some of the Chard that was ready to put into a pasta dish earlier this month.  We also have a ton of Cucumbers coming in and our green bean plants are going crazy. 

How yummy does that look?  Whole wheat pasta with roasted radishes and turnips with sausage and chard from our window boxes.  

21.  Go fruit picking.  We have done this twice now and just like our little garden giving us yummy produce through the summer we will be doing this through to the fall.  So far we have picked strawberries, blueberries and peaches.  I still want to pick raspberries, blackberries and apples in the fall. 

19. Learn to can.  After strawberry picking I made some strawberry jam and I even tried my hand at water bath canning.  

Here's my jam jars getting a nice boiling bath.  It's so exciting to here the lid pop and know that the can is sealed.  It was so easy to can using a water bath.  I know I won't be able to can low acid items this way, but I'm perfectly fine with that.  

On a somewhat related note I also made my first batch of pickles.  It's a small batch, but I am going to make a few more larger batches of dill pickles and a small batch of bread and butter pickles.  

In Progress:
2. Learn to duck dive.  The last two times we have gone surfing I have been trying my hardest to learn this skill.  I eventually want to be able to surf some slightly bigger waves, but that can't really happen until I learn to duck dive.

5. Turn my Etsy shop into a source of income.  I have officially opened and updated my new shop Alchemy Hour and my pattern sales are the highest they've been since the holiday season. 

26. Learn more about photography/my camera.  I've been having fun learning a bit more about photo editing and while I'm still a beginner it is so much fun to play around.  This is a photo I took when we went to the beach in May.  It was so hazy that you could barely see the top of the Ferris Wheel, I've been playing around with exposure and contrast and different filters.  

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Free Pattern: Sea Glass Cowl

I have had this cotton rayon blend yarn in my stash forever and it's my favorite colors, so I designed a summer infinity scarf to use up this fab ball of yarn.  You can use any cotton blend yarn you may have on hand.  The cowl is long enough to wrap it twice around or you can wear it long.

This is the second one I made with left over Hempathy.

about 150 yard sport weight cotton or cotton blend
24" US 7 Circular Needle
Stitch Marker

Not super important.

Sea Glass Cowl
CO 200 Stitches, Place stitch marker and join being careful not to twist the cast on edge.
Work 5 rows in Garter Stitch
R1: K
R3: K
R4: P
R5: K

Switch to eyelet lace
R1: *YO, K2tog*
R2-5: Knit all Stitches

Repeat these rows 5 to 6 times depending on desired width.
Work 5 rows in Garter Stitch as in the begining.
BO, Weave in ends and Block.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Me made Summer 2012

Remember my summer pledge to wear two me made outfits a week.  Well I've been on the ball about what I wear.  Here's my progress so far.

Week 1 Day 1
Green Drawstring wide leg pants
Altered surf Tee

Week 1 Day 2
We went strawberry picking
Denim Cut Offs
Altered Cowboy tank

Week 2 Day 1
Anita Jeans
Altered Polo Shirt

Week 2 Day 2
I know its a repeat, but I love this outfit!
Purple Dress Shorts
Altered Gray Tee

Week 3 Day 3
Cuffed Denim Shorts
Altered Oz Tank

 Week 3 Day 2
Cuffed Denim Shorts
Purple Dolman Top

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Alchemy Hour: It's Official

Forest Birds, small project bag
It's offical, Alchemy Hour now has new stock.  Brand spankin' new stock of lace weight and sock yarn along with some new items, small project bags!  

Inside view of Lotus Blossoms, project bag
I love me some project bags.  I feel like I should have one for every project I am working on.  It keeps the project protected in a purse or tote bag as well as keeping all of your supplies together in one place.  The plan is to start with some small project bags and then start to make them in two more sizes down the road. 

French Lavender Hand Dyed Lace Weight Yarn 
I am also excited to start selling all of the beautiful hand dyed yarn that has come from my dye pot.  There will be lots more yarn added in the next few months.  There will be at least one shop update every month.  Here's a peek at some of the things you will find at Alchemy Hour this month. 

Midnight, Hand Dyed Lace Weight Yarn 
Tangerines, Hand Dyed Lace Weight Yarn

Cherry Wood, Hand Dyed, Fingering Weight Yarn

Night Watch, Hand Dyed, Fingering Weight Yarn

There is much more colorful goodness over at Alchemy Hour.  Go check out what's in stock.

Do you want to know what's going on at Alchemy Hour and Blue Betty before anyone else? Sign up for the Alchemy Hour and Blue Betty Newsletter to get sneak peaks at new patterns, special deals, and advance notice of shop updates.  Click the link below to sign up.  The newsletter is sent out once or twice a month, and only when something exciting is happening.

Newsletter Sign Up

Monday, June 25, 2012

My First Official Summer Weekend

The city has been hot in an unbearable way.  With that in mind Simon and I first put in our new window unit to cool our bedroom, and then we hopped in our car and got out of the city. 

On Friday we went blueberry picking and took our friend Mike with us.  While it was still hot out at Linvilla there was at least some shady trees and a breeze.  

We picked a little over 8 pounds of blueberries.  I plan on making more jam and some blueberry scones ASAP.

The peaches were also ready at Linvilla and we decided to pick a few pounds to eat and bake with.  

Here I am standing among the peach trees in the orchard.  My new favorite website is PicMonkey, it's similar to Picnik (which is no longer around), but much more user friendly.  I played around with some of the filters to get this great vintage look.  It reminds me of the old pictures of my grandparents from the 70's. 

There were so many peaches that the trees were weighted down and some of the branches were touching the ground. 

Later that night we had a massive storm.  It howled down our street and pelted our windows with sheets of rain.  It was lovely.  I took a few pics from our window while the storm was at it's worse. 

Saturday was beautiful and Simon and I loaded up our surf boards and drove to the shore even though the surf report wasn't in our favor.  We were in for a surprise, because the waves were way better than the surf report let on.  Most of the surfers had left after the morning surf was starting to be blown out by the afternoon winds.  I'm use to choppy surf and I had a blast riding my little yellow board.  It was one of the best days surfing I've had since Oz.  Simon was even impressed by how I did, and if I can impress an Aussie surfer who's been riding waves for 25 years than that's a win for me. 

After many hours spent in the surf I took a nap in the sun like a fat cat until Simon came back from his walk to wake me up. 

It was a perfect day at the beach and I'm glad to see some familiar faces in the life guard station.  The 7th street surf beach may not be the biggest surf, or the least crowded beach, and it may be the Jersey Shore, but it will always be my home beach when it comes to surf.  

Thanks guys for keeping the surf beach clear of swimmers so us surfers can catch some rad rides!  

Friday, June 22, 2012

Heat Wave

There is a heat wave rolling through the city, and Simon and I are out on Summer adventures, I'll be back next week with some exciting news, photos of our adventures, and maybe even a free knitting pattern.  Stay cool and have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Stitch Guide: Fish Tail Lace

Fish tail lace is probably my favorite lace stitch of all times.  It is only a six row repeat.  Three of those six rows are all purls or all knits depending on if your working flat or in the round.  The pattern requires a multiple of eight stitches.  What is there not to love about this stitch patter.  Oh, ok it's not reversible, but other than than this is a great simple lace stitch that has a ton of impact.

Fish Tail Lace (Worked Flat)
Multi of 8 stitches plus 1

R1: K1 *YO, K2, Sl 2 Kwise, k1 p2sso, K2, YO, K1*
R2: Purl All Stitches
R3: K1 *K1, YO, K1, Sl 2 Kwise, k1 p2sso, K1, YO, K2*
R4: Purl All Stitches
R5: K1 *K2, YO, Sl 2 Kwise, k1, p2sso, YO, K3*
R6: Purl All Stitches

Fish Tail Lace (in the Round)
Multi of 8 stitches

R1: *YO, K2, Sl 2 Kwise, k1 passo, K2, YO, K1*
R2: Knit All
R3: *K1, YO, K1, Sl 2 Kwise, k1 passo, K1, YO, K2*
R4: Knit All
R5: *K2, YO, Sl 2 Kwise, k1, passo, YO, K3*
R6: Knit All

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Fall Knitting

Yesterday I told everyone about my summer plans and goals and today I am going to talk about the future.  I have started my designs for the fall.  Wait!? What? I have cast on and started knitting one of two fall patterns.  My hope is that I will be able to complete both garments by August and then find a few testers who would like to knit said garments.  The plan is to then have the patterns ready for September and October.  This is my first time looking this far ahead for my own designs and I like how it feels.  I planed this back in April and figured as soon as I was done with my spring designs I would release one or two free patterns on the blog in June and July and use the summer to focus on the fall.  My hope is to one day be about six months ahead.

This summer I am also working on a collection of patterns.  Here are all the swatches.  I am so excited about my fall projects.  Now all I have to do is find a nice air conditioned spot to knit in this summer.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Summer 2012

Yesterday, I said visiting my parents was the perfect way to start my summer.  It is, but there is more to this than one would think.  This is the first summer in six years that I will not be teaching at summer camp.  While I was a little sad about this at first I am very excited about what this summer holds in store.

Since my decision not to go back to camp I have been making summer plans like crazy.  I'm surprised Simon hasn't told me to slow down.  There are trips to go blueberry picking, visits to Boston, friends coming to Philly who haven't in a long time, lots of surf trips, a window garden that will be yielding a ton of cucumbers and green beans, plans for pickles and jams and relishes, softball games, and friends and family who I wouldn't ever see while I was at camp.

That is why this long weekend in my hometown is so special.  I haven't been able to spend Father's Day with my family since 2005.  I was always at camp training staff starting on Father's Day every summer.  

The trip up here has focused me and the plans that I laid out for my shop seem less daunting and scary.  For once I am actually going to be able to keep up with my blog and my etsy, and be able to design during the three months of summer.  My regular work schedule has backed off a bit and I will be able to focus more of my time and energy on what I truly want to accomplish.

Like I stated earlier I have lots of plans for the summer, but I have some goals that I am really excited about.
1. Surf at least once a week, if possible, there are a few weeks where this won't happen because I will be away.
2. Complete two fall designs. 
3. Find a supplier for Alchemy Hour
4. Continue blogging. (Something I haven't actually done over the summer.)

I know it's only four goals, but I also have a list of 30 things I want to accomplish in the next 28 months, and I have so many awesome things planed for this summer that I am pretty sure I am going to stay busy.
Bring on the heat and the sun, I am planing on having the best summer possible.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Home for the Weekend

My Dad is the dude on the right and Simon's dad is the dude on the left.

I hope everyone had a great weekend and Father's Day.  I surprised my Dad and Grandfather by coming home with out them knowing.  It was a great surprise and I loved seeing my family.  I am still in the Finger Lakes and will be making it back to Philly Tuesday night.  It's been great to be home for a few days.  The weather is awesome and my whole family is at home for the first time in a long time.  

Morning coffee and knitting.

I have gotten a bunch of knitting done, and started some more.  Taking the bus gives me plenty of time to knit.  I have even started a Wingspan and I understand why everyone is knitting this deceptively simple shawl.  It has been decided that I will knit a few for Christmas along with a few other items.

On the gift knitting front I have been a lot more productive than I thought possible.  I have completed two gifts and hope to be starting a third before I hop on the Mega Bus tomorrow to ride home to Philly.  This starting ahead stuff is really the way to go.  

It's a bit odd, but I have been super productive here at my parents house.  Technically I am on a mini vacation, but the work that I have finished while up here has astounded me.  First off like I said above I have finished two gifts, plus I designed a new free pattern to be posted on this blog in a few weeks, and if things go as planed today I will be starting a design that I have planed for the fall. 

The change of scenery I think has been the biggest factor, (that and the 4.5 hours on a bus).  It also helps that the weather here isn't as hot and humid as the city and knitting, even in the height of the afternoon, is still enjoyable.  The best knitting spot is out on my parents deck where you can watch the birds around the pond while you knit.  This mini trip up to see my family is just what I needed to start my summer.  

Another perk of sitting on the deck, watching the ponds eco-system in action, snapping turtles.  This lady came up from the pond to see what was going on yesterday. 

Friday, June 15, 2012


Travelling today, See you all on Monday!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Yarn Bomb/Graffiti in Philly

There have been a lot of blog posts and articles about yarns bombing or yarn grafitti and there are lots of great examples here in Philadelphia. Here are some of my favorite:

Tree yarn bomb in China Town on 12th st. 

Bus stop cozy on 7th and Bainbridge.  

Combo yarn graffiti and regular type graffiti on the corner of Mifflin and Hicks, right next to South Philly Tap Room.  

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Gift knitting

Lion Brand Yarn Studio
Gift knitting.  It's one of those topics in the knitting world that is talk about a lot, especially in the fall as everyone is frantically knitting hats and scarves for the holiday season.  The question I posed was "are there strategies that make gift knitting easier, is there a way to plan ahead?"  I asked my local knitters if they had any advice on this topic.

Nancy of Nangellini said  "In the past I have made x number of the same item and given them as gifts, like big flower pins…and then picked from all the finished ones which one I think would be best fro each recipient."  This idea is great for making sure everyone on your list gets a little something hand knit.  Another twist on this is knitted or crocheted Christmas ornaments.  I've also seen knitters and crocheters who make quick flowers and bows that they use to wrap their gifts with.

What about that special person you know would love something with love in every stitch.  How about a warm accessory to wear.  "I make tons and tons of hats, and my only thing is that I prefer to knit for people who will wash properly" Nicole from NoTwoSnowflakes comments bringing up two great points.  Hats can be easy and fast, faster than scarves.  Other quick knits, cowls, fingerless mitts, and anything that requires bulky yarn.

Bread and Butter Men's Hat Patter, NTS

Nicole's other point is to make sure you know who you're knitting for.  For example if I knit my brother a hat out of alpaca and wool it would be ruined as soon as he felt the need to wash it.  There are a few ways to remedy this.  The first is to not knit my brother the hat, but that would be cruel for both of us.  His head gets cold up in Rochester and I really wanted to try out that Crenellated Hat Pattern.  The second way is to tell him how to take care of his new hat as part of the gift.  One of my knitter friends told me "The first time I give someone something that I’ve knit, I include a bottle of Soak."  This works if your gift recipeant will remember how to care for their knit item.  The third way is to choose an easy to care for yarn.  In my brother's case I would choose a super wash wool.  This way I know he won't have to remember to hand wash his hat.

What if time is running out?  Sue Ellen had a great solution to that problem "If time is short, I’ve given the yarn and an image of the FO one year, and the FO the following year.  That also lets me spend a little more because I spread it over two years."  If you just must knit the Color Affection for you mom, but your deadline is a month away.  Buy the yarn, wrap it up in some pretty paper (with your yarn ribbon/flower/knit ornament) and give her a gift that will last two years.

Another idea that came up to solve the "I need a gift now!" dilema was the "Gift Closet".  You may not need a closet per say, but a bin or basket will do the same job.  The gift closet is when you have a few gifty items all knit up and ready to go for any last minuet gift giving.  You can stock your gift closet with a few scarves and hats, a couple of cowls, a spare baby blanket or BSJ and any thing you love to knit.  This way when the time comes to give out some hand made love you aren't frantically knitting till the wee hours of the morning.

Thanks to all the knitters and crocheters who joined in the discussion.  I truly appreciate all the input.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

June's Knitting Update

Here's a look at what is on the needles, from the dye pot and in the works this month.  
I am almost complete on my first shawl design.  The yarn is some peace silk that I dyed and I am in love with it.    Peace silk is a fair trade hand spun silk made from silk cocoons after the silk moth has emerged.

My other project is a bit of a secret and this is all I can show you.  It's another project for No Two Snowflakes.  The yarn is some of NTS hand dyed silk.  Silk is the name of the game this month.

This little booger is something I have planed for September.  That's right I'm already working on September's knits.  I am super proud of myself for starting the fall knits.

These swatches are also for September and are the above projects buddies.  I am super excited about this project, but I have to keep it a bit mysterious for a little while.  

I am starting to plan my gift knitting and hope to be casting on or a few gifts very soon.  Here are two different yarns for two different gifts.  Funny they are both Elsabeth Lavold.  

I've been finishing up my dyeing for Alchemy Hour.  I was playing around with my purple and blue dyes.  

This was an experiment with my black dye.  It is so much fun to play with all my new dyes.  I really need to get more yarn, because I could dye 10 hanks a day and still want to do it again the next day.