My Etsy Shop

I’ve thought about opening an Etsy shop for several months now, but I just recently received the push that I needed. A fellow blogger, Lisa at Polka Dot Cottage, had knit some hats inspired by Mike Nesmith of The Monkees. She had several requests for hats but wasn’t interested in making many of them, so she asked if anyone else might be interested in making some commissions. I accepted and decided to finally open my Etsy Shop. Right now the only thing in my shop are the hats, but I’m anticipating adding some tote bags in the near future.

And here is the finished product! Believe it or not, I’m using a rather large eight ball zucchini as support under the hat! Its all about using what is in season, right?!

I’m making these as custom orders – if you are interested, they are available at my Etsy shop.

Baby Dress for Amari

Some good friends of ours announced several months ago that they would be adding to their family by adopting a baby girl from Ethiopia.  You may remember that I mentioned their blog in Friday’s Linky Love post. We feel very strongly about supporting any of our friends who are adopting because we plan on trying to adopt at some point ourselves. Adoption can be a long process, full of many ups and downs, and it is important to have a support network to rely on.

So, as soon as they got the referral for their little girl and knew her age, I was ready to make this sweet little welcome home dress. She was to come home in early June, so I figured a wool dress would be airy enough for the summertime but add enough warmth for the cool mountain nights.

I used Nicole Montgomery’s pattern and knit it in Quince and Co.’s Chickadee yarn in the pomegranate color. The pattern was a little confusing at first, and after knitting it I had a few suggestions that I passed along to the author. She was kind enough to modify the pattern to reflect the suggestions, which made it a bit easier to follow.

Aren’t these buttons just perfect for the dress? They actually came as a free gift with some custom buttons that I ordered from this Etsy seller. Unfortunately, they are tight because the pattern called for smaller buttons, but I was set and determined to use these. I stretched the button holes as much as I could, and I think they are going to work just fine.

I was so nervous that the dress was going to be so small for Amari, but I think it will fit for at least a few weeks this summer!

Check back later this week for the semi-matching sweater made for Amari’s big sister! Ravelry notes on the dress are here.

Sugar Grove Music Festival

This weekend we continued our tradition and attended our 3rd annual Sugar Grove Music Festival. I have come to realize that I love going so much because of what the festival symbolizes for me – the beginning of summer. I definitely love the music, but I mostly love the act of sitting outside, on a blanket or a chair, eating festival food, and relaxing in the warmth of the day. Everything about it is pretty much perfect.

This year we only went to the last three shows on Saturday. We heard The Kruger Brothers, The Carolina Chocolate Drops, and Doc Watson. It has been such a privilege to have heard Doc Watson on several occasions. It is amazing to me how people overcome adversity and accomplish greatness with their lives. He was blinded by an eye infection before his first birthday, yet he overcame he challenges and is now recognized as one of the best bluegrass players and guitar pickers in the world.

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Since we didn't get there until late in the afternoon, it was already pretty crowded and we didn't get seats very close. I love that so many people come out to support bluegrass music and local vendors. One interesting observation – I don't think you'll ever see more people wearing chacos in one place except for MerleFest!

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I have to tell you that we LOVE our camping couch that Uncle Marc and Aunt Bonnie got us for our wedding. It is so much easier to carry one chair than two!

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One of my favorite things about the festival is the relaxing atmosphere – plenty of time to sit and knit! I made good progress on my Autumn Leaves Stole – it has been a side project since Thanksgiving, and I am ready to get it off my needles!

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There is always a lot of dancing going on at the festival, but this is the first time I've seen hula hoop dancing. It was quite entertaining.

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I'm so thankful that we had the opportunity to see one of our favorite bands – The Carolina Chocolate Drops!

10 Things

1. I think I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. At 4:15 am. I've felt like I'm walking in a daze all morning. 

2. Last night we had a frost because temperatures got down to the low 30s. On May 5th. 

3. I've wanted to put my plants in the garden for weeks, but now I'm glad I've been patient. 

4. I'm not a very patient person. One time I started carrots indoors 6 weeks before our last frost. You can't do that. 

5. Last night I dreamed that I had been shot in the back of both my knees but the hospital wouldn't treat me. I woke up very confused. Somehow I was still able to walk in my dream. 

6. My strawberry plants already have a fungus. I want to cry. 

7. I just made a to-do list. It has 19 items on it – none of which I can cross off today. I just threw away said to do list in honor of my sanity. 

8. To combat my general sluggishness, I sat in my car during lunch with the sunroof open. This was my view. Everything is so green. 

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9. While car-sitting, I did some knitting on a sweater I haven't touched in a month. It was therapeutic. 

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10. I'm back inside. At my desk. The air is stale. My eyes are sleepy. At least I can be inspired by my chive flowers. 

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Conway Cloche and Fingerless Mittens

I thought I would catch you up with a few knitting projects I've been working on. I first made the Conway Cloche in early 2010, and I must say that it is my favorite hat I've ever knit. I wear it all the time. Inevitably, my little sister Kathryn saw it and wanted on for herself. It took me a while to make hers, but I finally had it ready for her Christmas present this past year. She also asked for a pair of matching fingerless mittens. Both the hat and mittens were knit in Cascade 220, in a magenta color. The pattern for the mittens can be found in Joelle Hoverson's More Last Minute Knitted Gifts

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Feather Dress

As soon as I saw Modern Top Down Knitting at Barnes and Noble, I was in love. This book by Kristina McGowan is nothing short of incredible. There are so many projects that I want to make, but I chose the Feather Dress pattern to attempt first. Of course, due to my stubborn nature, I didn't use the same weight yarn as was recommended for the pattern, so it took a bit of time to do make some calculations and adjustments. 

I knit this with Berocco's Ultra Alpaca on size 8 needles. You can see the adjustments I made for yarn weight on my ravelry page. My absolute favorite thing about this sweater is the slight billow on the sleeve cuffs. I learned two new techniques knitting this sweater – how to crochet on a border (sleeve cuffs, hem, neckline) and how to crochet around elastic to make the high waist. 

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You Knit Your Way and I’ll Knit My Way

I've been traveling quite a bit lately, and I've had a hard time finding the motivation to pop over here and get caught up on blogging. Its not that I don't have tons of things to blog about – its actually the opposite. When I don't blog for a few days (or 27 to be exact!) I have so much that I want to tell you about that I have no idea where to start. I've been knitting, traveling, celebrating, cooking, gardening, working … definitely not a lack of things to post about! 

Well, I've finally become motivated to write something. I have something to say. Something that I think is important, and until I get it out here, I don't think I'll be able to stop thinking about it. 

You see, I'm a knitter. For better or for worse, I love it. I know its sort of the "granny" thing to do, but I just can't help it. I love knitting. I love yarn. I love how slick the knitting needles feel in my hands. I love the way I can create things to wear or things to give as gifts. I'd probably knit in my sleep if I could.

I'm pretty much a self taught knitter. I did have someone show me how to do a scarf in knit stitch in college, but then about 5 years passed until I actually decided to start knitting. I thought I would start with a sweater, the Shalom. While this was a fairly uncomplicated sweater to make, it did involve some techniques I didn't know – knitting and purling in the back of a stitch. I didn't even know such a thing existed at the time. But I googled it, and I watched a you tube video, and I figured it out. I put a lot of time and effort into that sweater – and I had to take it out several times before I got it right – and because I did that, I learned so much more about knitting than I would have if someone walked me through it step by step. 

So, let me bring you up to speed on why I bring all of this up. I decided to start knitting the most adorable little pink dress for some friends of mine who are bringing home their 6 month old daughter from Ethiopia next month. I'm absolutely in love with the pattern and the yarn, but I don't want to give away too much because I'm pretty sure they read my blog. Anyway, I went with a friend to a local yarn shop last night to spend some time working on the dress. I was a few rows into it when I thought I dropped a stitch, but I was confused because I didn't see where it went, so I asked one of the staff if she saw it. After briefly looking she confirmed that I had all the stitches on my needles, and I was turning around to go back to my comfy chair and continue working when this conversation happened:

Experienced Knitter: "Let me see you knit." So she walked around the counter to observe my knitting. and immediately exclaimed in a very authoritative voice that I was "doing it so wrong."

Me: "Oh yea, I know. I've always wrapped my stitches clockwise instead of counterclockwise when knitting and purling."

Experienced Knitter: "Well, any experienced knitter would immediately see that is wrong."

Me: "I know, but I've always done it this way, and I'm going to keep doing it."

Experienced Knitter: "Well you're twisting your stitches. Any experienced knitter would see that. You should just take it out and start over. You're only a few rows into it."

Me: "No, I think I'll keep going. It doesn't really bother me"

At this point, I just turn around and walk away, but I hear her muttering, not very quietly to another shop keeper, "I always take out my work with any mistake I see. Always."

As I went to sit back down, I tried not to let my feelings be hurt, but they were. I know I'm not the most experienced knitter, but I have made quite a few things, some large and intricate. I've learned a lot trying to figure out how to knit. And, this is key, I'm choosing to knit the way I want to. I know that I knit "backwards" or the "wrong way". But I have decided that is how I will knit. When I can knit in the dark using a technique familiar to me, I don't want to up and change it in the middle of a time sensitive project. It wouldn't have been a problem if she had delivered the constructive criticism in a nicer manner. It would even have been fine if she had dropped it after the first time she let me know any experienced knitter wouldn't do that. But she just kept going. And it just became more and more abrasive to me.

I have been mulling this over since last night, and here is what I am deciding to take away from the conversation:

  • If you are serious about wanting to learn something like knitting, I believe you have to try things that are way above your level of comfort. You have to dive in and figure it out. Otherwise, you'll never stretch yourself and you'll never grow as a knitter (or whatever else you might want to grow in). You'll never become better. Sure, you could continue knitting garter stitch scarves the rest of your life, but you can only wear so many scarves. And knitting scarves gets boring after a while. So learn something. Make the skill your own. Mess up. Own your work. Be proud of it. 
  • Don't listen to everything people have to say. Not all criticism is constructive. 
  • Do your own thing. If you decide to do something differently than most people, its ok. Pursue your own way. 
  • Learn to be a better listener. People just might have a reason for doing something differently than you. 

So there you have it. In honor of my obvious inexperienced knitting, tomorrow I'll put up pictures of one of my favorite sweaters that I just finished. 

March: In Like a Lion

I'd just like to point out that it was only a year ago today that I was making St. Patty's Day Cake Balls. That seems like eons ago. Now I wish I had made them again this year – they were so tasty and such a good hit at the office!

I'd also like to tell you that I've been quite busy the past few weeks. March has certainly roared in like a lion. I know that saying pertains to weather, but it seems like it also pertains to my life right now! Even though the daylight is now longer, I actually feel like my days are getting shorter! There is just not enough time to accomplish all that I want to.

Since I last checked in:

In an ideal world, I'd like to do a separate post on each of those things, but just in case I don't get around to it, at least they're on the record!

I'm leaving tomorrow for a two week trip to Asia. Part of it will be for work, but then I get to visit my sister Liz in Thailand! {Oh yea, I've also been packing the new freezer with good food for Matt to eat while I'm gone. Thats taken a bit of time lately!} So, next time you hear from me I'll be on the other side of the world. Literally. Where it was recently 104 degrees.

Enjoy the sunshine this weekend!

 

Weekending

Oh my. After being so busy last week, this weekend was the perfect time for rejeuvenation. We spent the weekend outside in the warm sun and at home straightening up and gathering our lives together. I feel so refreshed and ready to start the week. 

DSCN9849_editI love making homemade bagels. Nothing quite compares to a warm bagel, right out of the oven, graced with cream cheese. Something about bread rising seems complete to me. I am always amazed how dough can rise, doubling and tripling in size. I love to see the little bits that will become bagels fill themselves out and become round. 

DSCN9853_editI first learned how to make them last April, and I had no idea how easy they would be. Since then, we've made quite a few batches. The only downside is that they never seem to last very long. Bagels for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Yes please. 

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DSCN9861_editI also made baked oatmeal. I was traveling in China one time and was given this recipe by a lady whose husband worked with the state department. I've since modified it and will share the recipe soon. 

DSCN9856_editThis is Matt's favorite breakfast – baked oatmeal, yogurt, and blueberries we picked last summer. Speaking of blueberries, we picked 30 quarts and are down to only a few quarts left in the freezer. I'm not sure they'll last until we can go picking again in July. 

Sweater_editI spent quite a bit of time with some new yarn this weekend. I'm making the Annabel Cardigan from Quince and Co. in this light brown color. I'm already scheming another one in a spring color. 

DSCN9892_editAnd last but not least, organic Meyer lemons were on sale 10/$2 at my local grocery store this weekend! Clearly I took advantage of that since they were 4/$3 last time I was there! I bought 20, but upon arriving home, I quickly wished I had more! I used all of these to make preserved lemons. I've never eaten a preserved lemon, much less made them, but now seemed like the perfect time to try something new! I'll let you know how they turn out.