Thursday, July 24, 2014

HTML-oh boy

For those of you who are not bloggers, the long and short of it is that I am a wizard and I made my website go from looking like this:

to this: (the difference is on the right if you can't find it!)

For those of you who ARE bloggers, the longer of it is that I was messing around and realized that the "subscribe to feed" link on my old buttons sent you to an error page rather than to the feedburner subscription page. Bummer! It had seemed like I had set it all up correctly through, but apparently not. Now, I don't know about you all, but I read blogs almost exclusively through a feed reader. (I use Feedly, which I don't looooove as much as I loved Google Reader, which was quirky in its own ways, but I was used to the quirks.) I tend to visit the webpages themselves only when I want to leave a comment, I'm searching for something specific, or when they are brand new to me and I want to subscribe. So to have my own subscribe button not work?! For shame.

I went to Add This, but somehow I wasn't able to find the code for what I had already installed so that I could edit it. I wasn't convinced that it would work better if I re-did it through their site since I was fairly certain I'd done it correctly in the first place, so....I decided to DIY. This was terrifying. HTML and coding make my eyes glaze over, because I just do NOT understand it at all. All those carrots and colons and slashes....I mean HOW do they make pictures into buttons that do stuff? Where do the pictures come from? What sorcery is this??

Luckily, I found a surprisingly intuitive website that spelled it all out for me, at least within the confines of this little blogger sidebar widget:

You guys. It was EASY. And it made SENSE! Ok, it still took me a few hours, but I didn't get a headache, so I am calling it easy. This article broke it down into five simple steps, and I pretty much followed them to the letter.

1 Choose which social networks you want buttons for

 Obviously email subscription was my most important button, since that was the whole point of opening this can of worms. I liked adding an email me option there too, and I felt it was important to link to my Etsy shop. I've been using Instagram most lately, which is a surprise to me. I use Facebook from time to time, and while I don't fall down the Pinterest hole as often as I once did, I do still love it for collecting inspiration or for researching new projects. Because I need to take on new projects? Finally I also added my Twitter and an easy link to Bloglovin, another feed reader that seems to be gaining popularity.

2 Get image files

 This was actually kind of tricky. You can get the logos that are branded by service, sort of like my old buttons. It's easy to ID the service, but they stick out like a sore thumb because their themes don't match each other, and they all don't match my more minimalist aesthetic. There are luckily lots of free social media button packages out there that look prettier, but I had a hard time finding ones I liked that also had all of the buttons I needed based on step 1. In the end, I ended up downloading a set that had five of the icons I needed, and then I created the other three myself in Photoshop to match the same style. I'd add a "Step 2 part B" to this list in that the images need to be hosted somewhere. To answer my question to myself above, that's where the pictures come from. They need to live somewhere on the internet with their own unique web address. Then the HTML mumbo jumbo references that address, which we'll get to in step 3. I uploaded mine to a Picasa web album.

3 Customize the gadget code

This is where my eyes normally glaze over. They did at the start. But I forced myself to get through this section, and this breakdown at the end made SO. MUCH. SENSE. to me. I'm taking this next bit directly from her website, so I cannot take credit for this actually making sense. Basically, to make the little button do something, there is code behind it that looks like this:

 Then she gave the actual English interpretation for what that means:
A href statement = the address of what is being subscribed to
img src = the image address
Style = commands for the image (and no, I don't really know how to manipulate those)
alt-text = (the latter is read out to visually-impaired people)

I mean, whoa. My mind was blown. With this translation at my side, I was able to take this little image (for Bloglovin)

and put it's little address in the relevant part of the code

 and voila!

it magically showed up there on the right hand side of the screen!

Ok, it still wasn't QUITE "voila." I did some messing around with adding line breaks in a couple of different ways until I liked the look of it, which took a lot of, ok, if I change this and save and I like it? No. Change THIS and save and reload. Which was a little annoying. But I managed, and I didn't break anything.

Technically there are two more steps to the tutorial - 4, Add the code to your website and 5, Back it up, but I did steps 3-5 over and over again in succession, so they felt like one step at the time. But anyway, hats off to Mary Curtin, who got me through this bit of actual manual computer coding without swearing, crying, or drinking to excess. Yay!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

There simply aren't enough hours

Do you ever feel....just...overly inspired? I swear, there are just NOT enough hours in the day to do everything I'd like to do! In terms of knitting, I have three projects on the needles (I'm working on the Bleecker Street Cardigan, the Wonderful Wallaby toddler sweater, and a pair of socks) right now, which is a lot for me. In addition to my ever growing Ravelry queue, I've been toying around with some of my own designs. I've got at least two fairly concrete design ideas, and images of sweater designs are dancing just at the edges of my brain, not yet developed enough even for a sketch. But they are there, waiting.

Sewing, oh sewing. I've made a top recently that I'll be blogging about in a few weeks for a pattern release. I have one completed toddler dress that I'd like to do a review of (no one asked me to, just my opinion), but I actually have fabric to do another one from the same book, so I feel like I'd like to complete that before doing a review as that might be a little more comprehensive. I have a really good (in my opinion!) idea for some burlap baskets both for my house and my shop. Sadly I feel like most all of the sewing projects would be so much easier to do in my new space. I feel so cramped in my sewing room now, and so annoyed at having to do cutting on the dining room table. So, skipping in line ahead of all of these projects is some drywall taping, and mudding, and painting, and cutting-table-building. Just a few things...

Have I mentioned I'd love to try screen printing? Have I ever done screen printing? No. Not yet anyway....wait, that might not actually be true. I think I did it once in high school. Anyway, I'm totally enamored with the idea of it and I've been doing some internet research. Because I'm crazy.

Realistically, while I want to do everything right this second, I don't have any kind of timeline on anything, with the exception of toddler sized garments, because, you know, kids grow. I feel somewhat guilty for neglecting my shop so much this summer. I had grand plans to get ahead, and mostly...I just haven't. Personal projects have just been too tempting! I'd really love to have my new photography studio set up so that I can re-shoot everything and do a complete overhaul of the shop's look. That's so silly. I have a few things I could go ahead and list, but the perfectionist in me just wants to wait until everything is just right. And so it languishes, all sad and forlorn.

So with all of this pent up creativity just tugging at my brain, what am I to do?

I wish I was one of those people who ritually cleans when they're stressed out, but that is definitely not the case. (Or for fun. I've heard there are people who clean for fun? That would be nice!) I guess it means it was REALLY busy in my head if I felt the need to lash out at the dust bunnies below my couch.

This helped too. Multitasking my knitting and relaxing.

And then?

I decided to cast on the smallest of those design ideas to see if it's as cute in real life as it is in my head.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A few landscaping misadventures

We haven't done anything major to our yard this year other than crossing our fingers that something, anything would have survived the polar vortex last winter. Some things have fared better than others (poor sad rosebush, poor dead juniper) and we definitely added "wrap things in burlap" to our fall to-do list, after which we will definitely have record highs next winter - you're welcome! However, I do have a couple of photos from my phone that just make me sigh and laugh.

We planted our hydrangeas....gosh, maybe 5 years ago? Basically they do terrible every year, despite being in a (we're told) spot with an ideal mix of sun and shade. This year I bought some hydrangea plant food and have tried to be much more rigorous with making sure they get water at least every other day or so. It helps that it's been an extremely rainy summer. And for my efforts....I FINALLY got a flower! It's supposed to be blue so next year I'll add some acidity to the soil, but hey! A flower!!

And here's the supposed-to-be-symmetrical hydrangea on the other side of the steps!!

Whomp whomp. Man. Symmetry in landscaping was a BAD idea.

Then in the backyard, which doesn't look too bad in certain corners. We finally got down our it'll-do-for-now patio furniture, and I enjoy this lovely view while dining al fresco.

Which IS lovely. Until you pull back a little.

Reality of living with demolition. Also the reason we haven't yet hosted our neighborhood gathering. Nothing's more fun than a tetanus party favor!

And for something really cool that I've had no part in, we discovered a fairy garden on a walk the other day. Apparently it was built and is maintained by a boy who lives there, and it is SO cool! I just snapped a few quick pictures so as not to appear totally insane, so this is actually much more detailed than I've managed to capture.

I mean look at that! There is a tiny coffee cup on that end table at the beach. There's a beach! The little stream? It's actually running! There's a little pump at one end. Tiny gazing balls, a Weber grill, little tiles that make a stone path....just, wow. You can spy the fairy in the bottom picture. I'm told she moves around to a new part of the garden every day. I can't even imagine how much effort it must take to keep this looking so cute and well groomed, but I totally appreciate that someone does it. We've got an old Victorian dollhouse in our basement that needs a little it weird that this has me wanting to start on it right now??

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

I've got the blues

At least you would definitely think so by looking at my knitting lately. It didn't happen on purpose, but there is definitely a theme. (Sorry for the uninspired and poorly lit's evening, and my desk is pretty much the only clean surface...and only this half!) First off, there are the very naughty Bleecker Street sleeves from last week. (Also, they are naughty not due to the pattern, but due to me and silly mistakes.) I've made a bit of progress on them, but I'm not quite back to the point I was before the giant RIP.

Totally by accident, and out of a completely different yarn, I'm also working on a Wonderful Wallaby toddler sweater. It has a hood and a pocket, which I think are pretty much universally loved by the pre-kindergarten set. This has been less troublesome than the sweater for me, but I do wish I'd picked up the pocket differently than the pattern calls for. It's kind of cool though, because the pattern ranges in size from 2 all the way up to XXL (the WISCONSIN wallaby, of course. It was slightly less insulting when I saw the designer is from WI, but still!) so this means I can work out any changes I might want to make for future sizes while testing it on a mini version.

I've been toting around a pair of simple toe up socks for a few weeks now. Technically these are in shades of gray, but there are definitely hints of blue in there as well. I've just been picking away a few rows here and there on lunch breaks, during chatter at book club, today getting an oil change...I'm about 3/4" away from turning the heels though, and then it's straight on till I run out of yarn. (And at least two more squares for my sock yarn blanket too! No recent progress to show there though.)

And if that weren't enough blues....I snapped up this destash yarn from one of our knitting group ladies. I feel a little bad about scooping up pretty much everything she was getting rid of...I'll have to take a back seat for the next couple. But she had several full skeins and I couldn't resist!

I've had an idea swimming in my head for a couple of weeks now, but I'm low on funds with a few unexpected expenses and couldn't justify the splurge on picking up yarn for myself. I weighed out the balls of this Berroco Lustra wool/tencel blend, and only 1 oz was used! So that's just under 400 yards of aran's a little thicker than I was thinking, but it just might work anyway. It's going to take me a couple of weeks I think to get into it, as I'd like to have these other two sweaters I'm working on off the needles before I really get started. We'll see though!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

That sinking feeling

So last night, I'm knitting on the sleeves of my Bleecker Street cardigan, and it's going pretty well. I just finished the first ball of yarn, and I had also finished the fifth of ten repeats.

Then....I noticed something.

The texture stitch is supposed to make sort of a checkerboard effect with straight stockinette columns and purl bumps every other stitch of every third row. Except, well, my stockinette columns looked drunk.

Even closer, you can see why I just couldn't handle looking at this on my forearms. Nope.

So, being evening, I made the wise decision to put it down and deal with it again in the light of day. I had a very bright idea about dropping down the columns and turning the problem stitches.

While I was pulling up that first stitch, I could see that technically, yes, it would probably be possible to fix my mistake this way. However, it was taking a long time, it was making my tension pretty wonky, and I was going to have to do it on every. single. stitch.

I knew what I had to do. First, some liquid courage.

Then I ran my needle into the row of stitches just below the beginning of my drunken, wandering column.....and......RIIIIIIP.

Yes. I ripped my sleeves out AGAIN. This is starting to get ridiculous. This isn't even hard! I know exactly how I screwed it up, so I won't make that mistake again. I should have been incorporating the pattern into my "make one" row, and rather I started it up again after the make one, which was definitely not right.

Sigh. So here we go. Sleeves. Take three....