Friday, May 27, 2011

10 Things To Do With Booties When The Baby Goes And Gets To Big

I love making baby booties. It's usually pretty easy, pretty fast and fairly inexpensive. You can try out new yarns, and new color combinations. It's alot more interesting than making a swatch if you need to see what gauge your getting on the new silk/cashmere/merino blend you just paid a small fortune for. Baby booties are also small, so, like socks, you can take them anywhere to knit while waiting for a beer in your local pub. Sometimes your waiter will even ask to see a picture of the cute little darling you're knitting them for.

But babies themselves have a near fatal flaw when it comes to knitting booties. The little suckers go and grow up before you're done knitting for them. I can maybe forgive this for a sweater, you can always give it to some other baby. You could even donate it to a daycare if you don't have another baby handy, but booties are so small and precious, it's almost an insult to have them grow out of them in the week it takes me to make a pair. OK, so it only takes a couple days but it may be two weeks before I see the intended baby. So to ease my troubled heart I've come up with some things you can do with baby booties once the baby gets to big.

1. Christmas Ornaments - I've had a pair of fluffy white booties my Great Grandmother made for me when I was a wee lass on the tree every year for the last 37 years. If you want to seperate them you can even keep one for your tre and send one off with the kid once they move out of the house.

2. Egg Cozy - A 6-9 month size bootie is just about the right size to cuddle a hard boiled egg. Ask me how I know? Those eggs are really hot when they've just come off the boil.

3. Doll Clothes - If the afore mentioned child does not have a suitable sized doll you can get them a teddy bear. If you're desperate you can even knit them a doll just to go with the booties.

4. Swatch Substitute - As mentioned, it's a slightly more entertaining way to get gauge and it's small enough to keep with the yarn for future reference.

5. Cat Toys - Stuff them with a bit of fiberfill and some catnip and your cats will love you forever.

6. Dog Toys - Felt them, if you can, stuff them and then sew them on to a long stuffed tube to make a many footed caterpillar to play tug-o-war with your dog. My dog Bobbie loves tug-o-war and if he does have a special toy for it you can kiss your good socks good bye.

7. Paw Protectors - This isn't as silly an idea as you might think. Dogs feet can get really cold and in some parts of the county in winter can actually freeze to the sidewalk. Booties with drawstings are really your best bet for this, and felted booties don't work as well either because dogs need their toenails to stick out for traction.

8. Shot Glass Cozy - Ok, now that is silly but they make cozies for every other cup known to man so why not?

9. Satchets - I like mine stuffed with lavender for the linens and cinnamon sticks for my clothes. Draw string booties work best for this one too.

10. Charity - Probably the most important thing you can do is give back to your community. Childrens' Hospitals, homeless shelters, womens shelters, church rummage sales, even pet shelters are great places to give a little gift. What homeless cat wouldn't love a catnip stuffed cashmere/merino bootie?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

LYS Review: Country Yarns in Snohomish Washington

One fine Saturday I was looking for a very specific yarn. My favorite local yarn shop had just closed a few months ago and I needed some Black Sheep Lamb's Pride Worsted to start a new project. Lamb's pride is one of my favorite "work horse" yarns for felting and making stuffed animals. It's soft has lovely stitch definition when not felted and is rugged enough to take the abuse toddlers dish out to there favorite toys. It even gets a lovely fuzzy halo. And the shop I always got it at was gone!

So I went to Black Sheep's website and looked up who in Washington carries their products. I knew that the two shops closest to my home, Main Street Yarn in Mill Creek and Serial Knitters in Kirkland carry Lamb's Pride but only in Bulky. I did not want Bulky, I wanted worsted. So I called a couple of shops on the list from Black Sheep. One shop was closed and one shop only had three colors. Three colors? What's the use in that? The other shops on the list were to far away or in Seattle proper, I dislike Seattle traffic, save one precious gem of hope, Country Yarns in Snohomish. I live in Woodinville, thats just up Highway 9. Victory was within my grasp.

I called the shop at the first reasonable opening time, 10 am. Who am I kidding, waking up before noon on the weekend is challenging for my house. I spoke with Teresa, the owner and found that she did indeed have the yarn I sought, she also had the color cards and was placing an order so if she didn't have the colors I wanted she could just order them in for me. At that point I nearly teared up and did a little happy dance at my computer. Now all I needed was a conscious roommate with a car.

After a some caffeine we pulled into the parking lot a little before 1:00. (See, not fast movers on a weekend.) We were greeted by a very perky Teresa who immediately made us feel at home. She even made us tea.

My roommate Shelley has some mobility issues. The shop was perfect for her. Nice open floor plan. Everything was in easy reach. No stairs. The shop has a really big table in the middle of the main room so we could sit down with our tea and look through the color cards and books at our own pace. The back room is full of roving and Shelley had to limit the time she spent in there, not because she couldn't move around but because she spins and the wool fumes were making her want to buy everything in site. She did pick up a beautiful 4oz of wool/silk hand dyed roving and an alpaca fleece. The alpacas name was Geraldine, I think. She lives on Sauk Island.

That was one of the things that I most liked about Country Yarns, they make a serious effort to support the local community. They had yarn from spinners in Snohomish and Monroe, dyers in Snohomish, and fleeces from Montana. One of the spinners even uses wool from her own sheep. While we were there knitters kept coming in to the shop and sitting at the big table. They would get out projects and share stories. When I ask Teresa if we were interrupting a knitting circle or class or something she said "no, this is just what happens." It was fantastic. I got to talk with the other knitters and shop the sock yarn and drink tea and ask questions of the class on spinning that actually was a class in the back room. We had a great time.

So, on to the nuts and bolts. Country Yarns is located at 119 Avenue B, Snohomish, WA 98290. It's a one story brick building with on street parking and a parking lot just to the south. The shop is in the front. Their phone number is 360.568.7611. She is getting her new website back up and running but I don't know what it is yet. She's open M-W,F&Sat 10-6, Th 12-8, Closed Sunday. She carries a variety of yarns with an emphasis on local fiber artists and different textures. You may not find a huge selection of novelty yarns or big name yarn companies but you will find a good mix of yarns for every purpose. She carries cotton, kids yarn, sock yarn, natural fibers, wool blended with silk, cashmere, or alpaca. The floor plan is very open so on first blush you might not think she has a lot of variety, or stock for that matter, but take a second look, and then a third, there's a lot of yarn in that shop.

Shelley and I did end up ordering some Lamb's Pride. Shelley's making a large I-cord table cover and matching rug and I wanted to order some of the colors I hadn't seen before just to have them in my palate. I also got three balls of sock yarn and sense my bin and my giant basket of sock yarn are already overflowing I had to get a new basket to keep it in. I wouldn't want my Zauberball or Schoppel Wolle to get lonely while waiting for me to knit them.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Totoro Invades Family Gathering

The Totoro I made for Ryan was extremely popular on Sunday when my Mom came over for her birthday. She brought my sisters, Quinn and Keelin.

Quinn is five and fairly large for her age. She loved carrying Totoro around and using him as a pillow on the couch while she watched Pokeman.

Keelin is only three months old and didn't know what to make of Totoro. He's bigger than her and her car seat combined.
Jarret, my son, kept trying to steal the big guy from either Ryan or Quinn, who ever had him last. And, no, Jarret is not trying to eat Totoro's ear. He's kissing him. Twelve year olds automatically look goofy when kissing stuffies.

The kids had a good time playing with him and running around. It's always so cool to make something for the kids that they actually like!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Time Managements Leeds to Managing Time

So I was reading Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's blog yesterday after five hours of killing plants in my yard and it got me thinking. OK, mostly I was thinking, gosh my back hurts, and when did the bypass lopper get to be so heavy, but she was talking about how she juggles her crazy life and how family and knitting is more important than housework. And I thought, "Wow, I would much rather be spending time with my family and a good sock pattern than pruning the damn bushes." And then I thought, "How do I really spend my time?" I'd never really thought about it from that direction before. How are my days and hours divided up? Do I really spend that much time doing laundry? So I sat down and really thought about it. It was like Poo Bear in Winnie the Poo going "think, think, think."

Here's how my life stacks up. I work from home, or rather am unemployed and spend most of my time at home as my car died and I have no money to get a new one but that is beside the point, it takes work to make my house function. I live with three other adults, who all work outside the home, a dog, three cats, and one or two children who come for weekends, school breaks and holidays. I live in the downstairs of a 3300 square foot house on one and a half half of the house, the bit I have to clean and maintain, is about 1600 square feet. The property is mostly lawn and flower beds that have been deeply neglected. We, as a group, rent the house but it's my job to try and bring the yarn back from the dead. I'm also the person in the house most likely to shriek in outrage if the house gets to messy, or dirty, or cluttered, and I don't work so guess who does the bulk of the housework. Go on, guess. I also do all the laundry for me, the two boys and the kids and all the linens. The kids aren't here all the time so at least I don't have to wash six sets of sheets every week.
Oh, and sometimes I cook, and when I'm really stressed I bake. A bad stress day could see five dozen cupcakes, four batches of cookies, banana bread and two dozen ham and cheese rolls. I don't make small food.

My life divides itself into days pretty nicely. One day a week is spent on the yard, usually a Thursday. Thursday is the only day we've had good whether the last few weeks. Yesterday I pruned the trees and bushes back so they would stop hitting me in the face when I mow. I got about half the pruning done. I took down two trees that had died over the winter. The big Weeping Willow that came down is going to have to wait until I can get a chain saw. My landlord finally got the greenhouse fixed but I had to clean up the tools the workman had pulled out of it to work. And I mowed the lawn, that takes about an hour and a half on a riding mower, two hours if I'm being thorough and mow around the barn. I love John Deer.

One day a week is just housework. This may get spread over a couple days if it's a holiday or something but my house is never so messy it can't all be done in one day. I'm really screamingly organized so mostly all you have to do is clean the floors and dust and put things away. Laundry always takes the longest. Sometimes I get twitchy and reorganize my roommates things/rooms because it's to messy for me to tolerate, er, I mean... clean up around. This process usually involves moving furniture and several garbage bags.

One day a week is family. My housemates are family too, so even if the kids are elsewhere we still do stuff together. This usually involves food. Some one has to eat my stress baking.

One day is errand day. Leonard is nearly blind and is getting ready to have cataracts removed, so I drive. John and Shelley sometimes need a nudge out the door for doctors appointments, so I drive.

One day a week is knitting. If I'm not just knitting I'm writing patterns or drawing up designs or doing research. I don't count playing on Ravelry as part of my knitting time. And I knit every single day, so my knitting time is spread out a bit, but I try to set aside a "Knitting Day" once a week. This doesn't always work, but I try.

What do I do with my other two days? I read a bit. I run more errands with my roommates. I do special projects around the house. Now I'm going to clean out the garage so I can get back to all my painting stuff. And one day a week I hope to spend volunteering at my local animal shelter. Wish me luck.
Maybe I'll add another knitting day...

Saturday, May 7, 2011

I Should Listen To My Mother

Over the years my Mom has given me some very valuable advise, which I have promptly forgotten or ignored, and taught me some fabulous life lessons, sometimes on accident. I love my Mom, and in honor of Mother's Day, and as an apology for having to raise me, I dedicate this post to her. Gods help us all.

Things my Mom taught me:

1. Be kind to your younger cousins, because they are bigger than you and there are a lot more of them than you and some day hiding behind the barn won't work.

2. When your Mom says "Are you sure you want to marry that guy?" for the tenth time you should start listening.

3. Cleaning relieves stress. A spotless house is not always a sign of domestic tranquility.

4. No art on the walls is just wrong. It means they haven't unpacked yet or are mentally disturbed.

5. Hand made quilts are better than any other kind of bedding. Even when they're ugly they are made with love, and we love the ladies that made them, every single one.

6. Finish what you start. Even knitting projects that went terribly terribly wrong some where.

7. Home cooking is fulfilling and cost effective. Making tons of food makes you happy and even if you don't eat it you can fill your freezer with leftovers and never buy a TV dinner again.

8. You don't always have to organize all your books and music and movies alphabetically but if you're that OCD and it makes you feel better then go on ahead and do it.... (It does make me feel better so thank you.)

So here's to Mom and my sisters, and my daughter,and the Grandmas who aren't with us any more. I wish they could all be here to share a cuppa and some coffee cake.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Great Sock Finishing Begins Now

So, I'm working on some Felted Fuzzy Feet for John, and a pair of ankle socks for my self and thinking really deep thoughts when the most amazing thing occurred to me. I've just finishedthe first sock on both of them. How cool is that?

Yes, that is what my coffee table usually looks like. I like to take pictures of the big sock before felting with a regular size sock just for the "wow, that thing is Huge" factor. Off to the right is Leonard's new technicolor bunny. He knits up the pieces at work and then brings me the bits home to sew together. His co-workers are darling and always asking what he's making now.

I also love reading articles about how other artists work, how knit designers arrange their studios and where people get their inspirations from. Once long ago I posted pictures of my stash. It's a little peek at how I think and how I like to organize my yarn. My stash is now 4 times as big and lives in it's own room. Here's a look at my current work station.
I love to surround myself with bright colors. Kaffe Fasset is my hero when it comes to studio workspace. Man never met a color he didn't like. When I grow up I want to have a studio just like his.

I wish I has something more profound to share but now I need to go and rearrange Leonard's room and get furniture ready for Goodwill to come pick it up, and let the cat in, and get a Half-Price Book run ready and..... Knit.