twist and shout

Because I just never shut up

Insane brain November 13, 2014

Just a tiny sample...

Just a tiny sample of rosary bracelets and chaplets…

And that’s putting it mildly.

This is my craziest time of year, with custom orders, and trunk shows and craft fairs, forget about Thanksgiving and Christmas, both of which will likely be spent here in pjs and slippers. As my teenaged Bug says, I just don’t have the spoons for it all. Sigh.

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been focused on putting together new designs for my annual holiday trunk show and a craft boutique for my local parish church. I have been working on and off all year on sparkly new stuff for the trunk show, so it’s not like I’m only doing all this last minute. However there is definitely something in me that loves a bit of a challenge, not to mention the part that has a last minute inspiration for a design. And then there are last minute Christmas custom orders.

That said, I decided to take a little pressure off by allowing myself to do just the parish Christmas Boutique now, and do the trunk show at Valentine’s Day–oh wait, I think I mentioned that last week. See…insane brain.

My fingertips are twanging as I type this because I’ve been making chaplets and rosaries and rosary bracelets for days now. A completely wire-wrapped bronze or sterling gemstone rosary takes an entire day (give or take a quick vacuuming or a load of laundry). Thing is, I shouldn’t probably make so many pieces. Especially rosaries. I should know better than to make too many because invariably someone (or two) will come up to my display and wrinkle their noses or gasp at my prices. It makes me crazy, because my work isn’t the kind of “made in China” assembly line stuff you find in a Christian Book Store. It’s actually something made by hand of fine metals and gemstones, one-of-a-kind and meant to be an heirloom.

But I digress.

And I’d better get back to work so I might be able to squeak out some time to daydream…I have a story percolating in my head, all itching to get out and written. And a load of laundry. And dinner. Oh yes, and maybe some long neglected knitting (whaaaa). :( There’s just too much stuff in my head.

What I need is an hour spent at this amazing spa called Watercourse Way. Hmm. maybe I need to book an appointment for one the week after this boutique. I have a gift certificate, after all.

I hope I made some sense today. What gets you going this time of year? I’d love to know I’m not alone.

 

Write now…right now! November 5, 2014

Filed under: knitting,writing — kathy @ 11:56 am
Tags: , , , , ,
Ah, this would be my dream writing spot. Maybe someday...

Ah, this would be my dream writing spot. Maybe someday…

Hello dear friends!

Just the other day I had a nagging feeling I’d forgotten something…low and behold, I realized I hadn’t written a post here in nearly 2 months. For shame! I can only blame it on the fact that I’ve been busy writing other things, namely researching and writing a short story to submit for an upcoming fantasy anthology, and editing my novel, Lore. What wonderfully all-consuming projects. Whenever I write, no matter if I find myself blocked and agonizing over plot, or if I’m flying through the story with it flowing easily from my mind to my fingers, I find hours fly past. It is truly my deepest devotion, writing. To that end, I think I should focus more on writing here, as well.

 

Then there is knitting…T_MaryFrancesCover

I’ve been making good progress on my Clown Barf shoulder wrap, poncho-thingy. Just a few more “tiers” to go. And thank goodness; we’ve been waking to 40 degree temps–finally! Sweater weather at last. Though we have still had more than a typical number of over 80 degree days in the last month or so. Hmphf. I wish I could like hot weather. I just cannot take it. Even when I was a kid I wasn’t happy with heat and sweating. Ah well.

On the upside, though, it is easier to get yarn to dry when it’s warm outside, so I might just have to schedule some dyeing…;)

I’d really like to get underway with a couple of cardigans, and maybe even a last minute Christmas giftie. What’s Christmas without a frenzied race to finish a handmade gift, right?

And then there’s that Holiday Boutique I signed up to do. Many of you know I make jewelry, but I don’t know if you’ve heard I make rosaries and rosary bracelets, too. So the first weekend of December (in fact, about a month from now) I’ll be at our local church selling those items, as well as a few regular jewelry items, since I won’t be having a Christmas Trunk Show this year. I’ll be posting the address soon, in case any of you local readers might want to attend. I’d love to see you!

And instead of the Christmas Show, I’m planning on having a Valentine’s Day Trunk Show. Kind of a “buy something for your sweetie to give you Show”, or “give yourself some love this Valentine’s Day Show.”

Well, better skeedaddle…got lots going on!

What sorts of things are keeping you busy right now? Tell me–I’d love to know!

 

Clown Barf September 10, 2014

IMG_2105Yep. You read that right.

I myself read that description on Ravelry a few months ago while researching Noro Kureyon colorways for the new shoulder shrug/poncho/cowl thing I wanted to make for myself; it was a fellow Raveler’s perfect description, and it stuck. You see, as an alternative to t-shirts and jeans or sweats, I’ve found that the marvelous J.Jill Kimono Sleeve sweaters are the perfect thing for pulling on first thing in the morning to take the Bug to school, and then do a quick grocery shop or “meet the girls for coffee” mornings. I always feel pulled together when I wear one.

Problem is, with those big wide sleeves, it’s impossible to fit them comfortably in any jacket I own, or be able to bend my arms if I do manage to find a jacket to accommodate them. And dang—it’s cold in the mornings here in late fall and winter.

Solution? A poncho/cape/giant cowl thingy. I love entrelac—the Lady Eleanor Shawl is one of my most all-time favorite things I ever knit—so that would be the basis for the pattern. And because my kimono tops are pretty colorful, well, I needed a bold colorway. Enter Noro Kureyon #272. The plan is to knit enough “tiers” of entrelac to wrap fairly loosely around my shoulders without falling off, then connect it by adding a few bold buttons that secure with a shell crochet edge. Very simple (famous last words, right?).

I am having fun knitting it. It’s pretty brainless, once I get into the groove, and that has the added benefit of helping me meditate on the new short story I’m working on.

Wearing this puppy, however, may require a bit of bravery. What do you think?

p.s. Thanks to “A Little Fluff,” for posting this video earlier and reminding me how much I like it!

 

Drama Queen September 5, 2014

This colorway is "Artichoke" and is a lovely mossy leaf green. Photos just don't do it justice.

This colorway is “Artichoke” and is a lovely mossy leaf green. Photos just don’t do it justice.

Meet my latest finished object: the Haruni Shawl, a lovely top down triangle shawl by Emily Ross. Evidently “haruni” is the word for “grandmother” in Quenya, Tolkien’s elven language.

Hence, I named the project “Sweet Caroline” on my Ravelry projects page because my darling maternal grandmother’s name was “Caroline.” Now that the project is finished, however, I’m seriously considering renaming it “Drama Queen.”

Don’t get me wrong—this is a lovely pattern—free, no less! I’m thrilled with the finished piece. But I (re?)learned some valuable lessons about shawl/lace knitting and free patterns, heck, any knitting patterns. Let’s examine the harrowing evidence…

 

IMG_2005

Exhibit A:

Use Ravelry for the wonderful tool it is: check and double check the “helpful” project listings, as well as sample yarn yardage requirements and needle size used. And take a good sampling–not just one or two project listings. In my case, I used the required yardage estimate from the free pattern, as well as checked the listings for the yarn I used, the wonderful Handmaiden Sea Sock, and even though there were 6 or 7 projects that needed less than one skein, I still didn’t have enough yarn. This lead to a bit of a harrowing moment when I realized at row 17 of the second set of charts that there was no way on God’s green earth I was going to have yarn enough to finish. Luckily the Yarn Angels were smiling upon me as the LYS where I purchased the first skein months ago, still had another on the shelf. Whoosh.

I’m not certain what happened—I don’t believe the skein was short. I’m guessing it had something to do with the needle size I used. I love the soft, fluid fabric I got with the size 4 needles, however, that must’ve been the reason the shawl gobbled up so much yarn. Ah well.

Yes, I unravelled this on purpose.

Yes, I unravelled this on purpose.

Exhibit B1:

Don’t get cocky! So, at row 21 of the second set of charts, I noticed I shifted the eyelet patterns several rows below where I was working and even though the stitch count matched up, the pattern repeats didn’t. I should know by now that when there are lots of yarnovers in a row in a pattern, I should use stitch markers between the repeats or I am toast. Period.

Exhibit B2:

I repeat, don’t get cocky! And what do I do when I find this screw up? Well, since I don’t like “lifelines” in my lace (I know, I know, but they actually screw me up every time I try to use them), and there was no way I was going to tink back some 1200 stitches, I decided I’d just drop down the 7 stitches to the mistake and fix it the way I did here. Now technically, this should’ve been no problem, however I was in a not-so-ideal light situation, and had finished a glass of wine just minutes earlier. Well…needless to say, trouble was a stitch or two away.

I finally realized I had to stick all the live dropped stitches on stitch holders, take two Tylenol, and wait until morning.

And when I finally got to work on it, I spent a good 3 or 4 hours knitting and unknitting that sucker until I finally decided to be happy with a wee bit of imperfection. You know, I’m told that Persian rug makers always put an imperfection in the rug because it helps keep the Devil out. Well, that old Mr. Devil isn’t going anywhere near this shawl.

Cats and straight pins do not mix well.

Cats and straight pins do not mix well.

Exhibit C:

Always close the guest room door to keep the cats out when you are blocking anything. Especially when the thing you are blocking requires the use of around 130 straight pins. Enough said.

Anyway, lessons learned for this project. On to my next challenge.

What are you guys working on? I’d love to hear about it!

 

Silver September 3, 2014

Filed under: life — kathy @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , ,
25 years ago...where did the time go?

25 years ago…where did the time go?

Captain Romance–

The first time I saw you, I thought you were hot.

The first time we talked, I still thought you were hot, but I also knew in a flash of understanding that only shows up in romance novels and old movies, that I would marry you.

Twenty-five years ago I did.DSCN0009

So, 2 years of dating, a year and a half of temporary insanity, plus 25 years later—years filled with adventure, joy, sorrow, more joy, laughter, far too much house painting, more laughter, driver’s licenses from multiple states, hugs, fishing trips, crazy song lyrics, learning together how to embarrass our child in public, and much, much more love—I still know I was meant to marry you.

And I would again.

Love you, my darling.

 

 

 

 

“If anyone should ask, say we’re mated;

for as long as this life lasts, we are mated.

Why else would you be here, right now,

And you know we’ll still be here tomorrow.”

Todd Rundgren, Mated

Captain Romance made this and sent it back to me just before the ceremony.  Clever Boy!

Captain Romance made this and sent it back to me just before the ceremony.
Clever Boy!

I will always be happy we didn't smash the cake all over each other.

I will always be happy we didn’t smash the cake all over each other.

DSCN0013

We always love a good laugh! The photographer actually didn’t want to take this picture and in the end we had to insist. Imagine. ;)

 

Check out my Stash! August 28, 2014

Pssst–c’mere! I got somethin’ to show ya…

IMG_1845So last time, I posted, I got a wonderful suggestion from one of my BFFITW to share what I snagged at The Fold. Unfortunately it was just days before the Bug went back to school (lordy, she’s a sophomore!), and with all the back to school shopping extras and parents’s back to school night to meet the teachers, giving the house a really good cleaning, and finishing my novel “Lore” (insert insane, happy dance here), I haven’t had a chance. So here it is: my wooly goodness from The Fold!

IMG_1936First up–2 heart-stoppingly soft skeins of an indie brand: Rovings, fingering weight in Polwarth and silk. This is slated for a shawl I’ve been craving for ages: Quill, which is a lovely square shawl by Jared Flood with feather and fan edges.IMG_1937

I’m not absolutely certain, however, that I will actually ever make this shawl, as my past experiences with Mr. Flood’s patterns have left me feeling dazed and confused, as well as incapable. I might instead create my own circular shawl pattern using skills I learned last spring at Stitches West and Myra Wood’s way cool class “Crazy as Pi.”

Whatever I do must do it justice, though, as Toni Neil tells me the lady who makes this yarn is not going to be doing so for much longer…sigh.

 

Second–So, I’ve jumped on the “gradient” bandwagon with this purchase, I suppose. IMG_1940Wonderland Yarns “Mad Hatter” (quite apropos colorway name for moi, I must say…)

But I truly couldn’t resist this package of my favorite shades…gorgeous lipstick and bloody magenta to bordeaux and rich cocoa. I think these There and back again socks might be interesting, or perhaps these lovely mitts. I love them except for the ribbed bottom. I generally despise ribbing. I think changing the ribs to seed stitch or a picot edge would have to be done. Anyone have any other suggestions?IMG_1941

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1932Next bit of yarn love is this fuzzy, softy, heavenly blue Blue Moon Fiber Arts BFL Fingering in an amazing color blue–“The Winter Blues.” It told me it wanted to be Henslowe, and so it shall be.

The final two skeins of my stash pig out are quite simply Malabrigo Finito, which is the most fabulous, buttered kittens superfine merino I’ve ever touched. If you’ve ever rubbed this against your face, you understand. This color is “Mostaza,” and frankly I’ve been searching for it so I can shamelessly copy this: Heart of the Lotus–the “delicate” version. I know the color is unusual, however like the designer, this acid green is a neutral for me.IMG_1934

I think my knitting needles of mine will be busy this winter…;)

If anyone has any other ideas, or would like to share what they’re working on, please share…I’d love to know!

 

Gone Fishing… August 11, 2014

That's the biggest walleye I ever caught! Okay, it's also the only walleye I ever caught! ;)

That’s the biggest walleye I ever caught! Okay, it’s also the only walleye I’ve ever caught! ;)

Appalling, isnt’ it? Someone just up and leaves without even a “howdy-do?” I just hate that.

Guilty, sir.

I’ve been gone without a trace all because Bug and I have been off on our annual summer trip to Chicagoland, which this year included a wonderful trip to the Minnesota Boundary Waters for a relaxing fishing trip with Captain Romance.

Aww...I hate when they go to visit Momma and Poppa!

Aww…I hate when they go to visit Momma and Poppa!

Common sense would dictate that I break this post into several smaller ones. We’ll see about that.

Common sense would also suggest that I recount our trip in chronological order, and for the sake of my sanity, I will do that.

**warning** photo heavy blog follows. Just wanted to let you know.

As I said, we began our summer adventure with a trip back to the Chicago burbs for lots of family visiting, r&r, sleepovers aplenty, and even some knitting and writing time, a ladies luncheon, and the magnificent annual yarn crawl with my Darling Cuz!

Starting with a marvelous Ladies Only Luncheon hosted by my delightful Aunt Wheezy, mother of Darling Cuz. We met up at her beautiful new home where we all feasted, gabbed, laughed, and reminisced the day away. So much fun!

 

Left to right: Momma, Grandma Caroline, Aunt Wheezy

Left to right: Momma, Grandma Caroline, Aunt Wheezy

And because cameras are kryptonite to this bunch, I submit this great vintage shot of my Momma (age 20?), Grandma Caroline, and Aunt Wheezy (age 17?) brought to the luncheon by their younger sis, my lovely Aunt Nancy. Aren’t they cute?

After a couple of days recuperation, it was time for a day I wait for all year long: The 5th (6th?) Annual Yarn Crawl with my original BFF, Darling Cuz! We’ve been besties since we were wee nippers in diapers, and this trip is always a great way for the two of us have some uninterrupted “cousin time.”

 

 

 

 

 

We made it!

We made it!

This year, due to various time constraints, previous obligations, and a sick Bug, we only made one stop: The Fold in Marengo, IL. But this was no problem, for to me, The Fold is the Holy Grail of yarn stores. Yes, it is nearly a one hour drive through corn fields on single lane highways (which doesn’t bother me a bit ’cause I love the Illinois countryside beyond words…besides, DC was doing the driving), but it so totally worth going. Between the absolutely charming and friendly owner, Toni Neil, and her fabulous selection of yarns–walls of Blue Moon Fiber Arts and Mountain Colors to Madelinetosh and Malabrigo as well as indie dyers and spinners–we always leave, happy, laughing, and arms full of wool. I actually save up for this trip. No kidding, because I always find unique yarns. And if you’re a spinner…oh my stars. The selection of spinning fibers are to dye for–Toni has stocked some of the most unique spinning fiber I’ve ever seen. Go to The Fold. Go. It is a knitter’s (and fiber-lover’s) paradise.IMG_1848

A few days later CR joined us at my parent’s and after a couple of days of visiting and touring (hello Geneva with brother Davy), he whisked us away to the wilderness boundary waters of northern Minnesota.We landed in Duluth (what a pretty place on the shores of Lake Superior), rented a car, and drove for a few hours to Gunflint Lodge, just about an hour north of Grand Marais, MN. Captain Romance took a canoe trip with his own besties a couple of years ago and used these folks as his outfitter and loved them.

 

The Lodge

The Lodge

I, as you all know, am not a camper or backpacker, so Gunflint’s pretty Lodge and cabins right on the lake were perfect for me (a Super 8 motel is my idea of roughing it, as they say); the grounds were beautiful, and our cabin was even haunted. Yes, I said haunted. More on that another time, perhaps. (winkwink)

The entire place was so relaxing! With hardly any wifi to speak of (you could only get the wifi I you perched on a certain couch in the lodge, and then you were only allowed to read emails. period. No posting of any kind), and absolutely no cell service, you had no other choice but to relax.

A great spot just down a hill from the cottage for enjoying a cold one or a gin and tonic!

A great spot just down a hill from the cottage for enjoying a cold one or a gin and tonic!

 

I was able to get a whole bunch of writing and knitting time in, which just thrilled me to no end. Plus, CR spoiled me with their meal plan (and the food was fab), since he knows that cooking and dishwashing on any trip make it “not a vacation” to me. Wise man. Yet another reason we’ve been married 25 years. ;) We even tossed around the idea of buying a little place up there for our golden years.

 

A decent northern!

A decent northern!

We spent one morning on horseback, riding a trail with breathtaking view of Gunflint Lake. But probably the best part of our MN trip was the fishing! Yes, we really were “gone fishing.” CR treated us to a day’s fishing with a fantastic guide–Rodger–who not only had fish practically leaping into the boat for us, but was so much fun, that we laughed the entire time. I myself was lucky enough to catch one of each kind of sport fish in the huge lake we were on (Rodger said it was “21 miles long, with an island for every day of the year”): a big lake trout, a few big smallmouth bass, a decent size northern pike, and my trophy fish, a 26″ (?) walleye! And don’t worry; we only do catch and release. We never have reason to keep them, no matter how great they are.

Bug and CR got in on the great fishing action, too–Bug even got what I like to call “smallie thumb” which is when your thumb gets all scraped up and feels like velcro from holding your bass up for their pictures.

A smallmouth (one of many) for Bug

A smallmouth (one of many) for Bug

 

 

 

 

I wasn't kidding about that walleye!

I wasn’t kidding about that walleye!

At the end of the week on our way back to the airport, we stopped in the charming town of Grand Marais, a place just “packed to the gills” (okay, I couldn’t help myself) with cute little gift shops and the like. And frankly, where else could you find a shop that has a godzilla-size walleye sticking out of it? Well, okay…maybe in Wisconsin. Anyway, look what I found in one of the shops:IMG_1894

 

It’s a CD by a dear friend of ours, Andrea Carlson! So we bought it, of course! :) And it’s wonderful!

 

 

 

 

IMG_1895Oh yes, and I also found a yarn store there. Like a fishing guide finds fish, I find yarn. Too bad for them they were closed, though I certainly didn’t want or need yarn after my trip to The Fold. ;)

Believe me, they chose the wrong day for the late opening...

Believe me, they chose the wrong day for the late opening…

And then, even though there were 2 flights and lots of running to catch flights, we were home.

I miss it already.

(A few more fishing and lodge shots below)

A great smallie for CR!

A great smallie for CR!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pole's bending again!

The pole’s bending again!

Romantical

Romantical

 

View from our cabin

View from our cabin

DSCN0523

 

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 246 other followers

%d bloggers like this: