Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Chai Cider, my fall drink of 2014

I chuckled to myself the other day when someone on facebook posted a link to the 25 Things All Basic White Girls Do During the Fall, because so many of them are hilariously true. And in years past, I've been as excited about that pumpkin spice latte as all the other basic white girls. But I have to admit that while yes, I have had one this fall....I didn't really like it this year. I'm not sure what it was, but it just wasn't doing it for me.

A few weeks ago, while on the road for work, I saw a slightly different fall offering on this little coffee shop's menu, and I gave it a try. Apple cider chai....and I'm in love. I've even asked Starbucks to make them for me, though truthfully I have no idea what that coffee shop does to make them. The Starbucks version actually wasn't quite as yummy. My home version, happily, came satisfyingly close.

And even better, it's basically not even a recipe. All I did was heat up cider...and use it to steep my chai tea. Easy, yummy. It's definitely my go-to drink this fall!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Fall traditions, and works in various stages of progress

Just like the rest of the country, or so it might seem from my facebook feed, we've done the obligatory fall rites of passage this past week.

(I had to zoom in really far in order not to capture any unsuspecting families)

Almost immediately afterwards, we went above and beyond with the fall traditions.

The knitting was essential, as I was trapped beneath a sick person and couldn't risk moving. I only wish I'd thought to turn on the lights before we sat down...or that I wasn't working on something in black at the time.

If only I'd thought to grab one of my other projects! I'm plugging along slowly on my cardigan, and have only managed to miss one buttonhole which should have been worked "at the same time." You know you're in for it whenever directions toss one of those your way!

I've also got some gorgeously smooshy Skacel SimpliWorsted which is working up quite quickly and nicely. (I got it at an adorable new to me LYS called Bungalow Quilting and Yarn. They also carry all of that pretty Cotton + Steel fabric I see all over the blogosphere....dangerous.)

Speaking of fabric and why sometimes you really SHOULD buy it in person...

The two on the right are from fabric.com and are both "navy." (sweatshirt fleece and ribbed knit) Now, I like both colors on their own, but they were meant to go into one project, so that's just not going to work for me. Even now, looking at the listings in better light, it's OBVIOUS they are different colors, but I didn't expect it to be so drastic. So, rookie mistake on my part. The gray herringbone* is from Joann Fabrics* and is likely destined to be a snap scarf. I'm going to take the sweatshirt fleece with me next time to see if I can get a decent match, or at least a passable contrasting color. And all of those projects are just waiting for me to get a little more work done on that table!

*this post contains affiliate links

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Woodworker I am not

I feel like the cutting table is the lynch pin to this whole sewing studio remodel project....and construction has begun! I've been agonizing for weeks about what sort of style I'd like to shoot for. I love the aged and whitewashed finishes I've seen lately on blogs like Yellow Brick Home and I Heart Organizing....but I've been on the fence. My sister has been advising me against it, so I'd been willing to be pushed one way or another. 

While shopping for lumber, I sent her one last photo to give me a final vote. A stack of navy swatches I'm thinking about for the base, and either a white wash stain, or straight up natural oil. The verdict? Well, I definitely brought one home...and I'll save the results for later!

Meanwhile, I'm SO getting a label maker at some stage of this renovation....I canNOT handle this!!! Do you see an extension cord somewhere in there? Please?

I sort of felt like I was channeling a toddler at many points this weekend...."I do it mySELF!" There's a fair chance that this table might be equal parts wood and wood filler....but at least all my limbs and appendages are intact, and I think I only got one splinter.

I spent a lot of time boxing myself in.

See above for some of my soon-to-be-wood-filler-filled-mistakes....and the reason I now understand why everyone in blog land is obsessed with the Kreg Jig. That's the second bit I snapped by the way. I only have, oh, approximately 16 holes that need to be drilled on an angle, and a billion that go at 90 degree angles. I snapped both bit within about an hour of one another on those angled holes. That pretty much put an end to my progress. But in better news, I've acquired two new bits and I'm hoping to make more progress as soon as I get a few free hours!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The best use of my time

It's been a totally crazy couple of weeks at work, and it doesn't look like that's going to let up anytime before the end of the year. It was one of those weeks where I really had to push beyond my comfort zone and take on tasks and responsibilities that I haven't done before. I won't say everything went perfectly, but we all survived and no one cried, so that's pretty good, right? All that to say that to make the deadline I had to shuffle up my work schedule and blogging fell off the list. Anyone miss me? :)

Also, remember how I devoted myself to finishing things?

Whoopsie...I got distracted. Apparently I thought shiny new things were more important than my finishing promise to myself.

The orange hat is to go along with last year's pumpkin costume - it still fits (I'm pretty sure...), the hat no longer does.

I basically took the idea from the split brim toddler hat but used the worsted weight yarn I had on hand. I modified the stitch count based on Tin Can Knit's Barley hat, and completely forgot to pay attention to the rate of increases, which is why the top is pointier than I'd intended. I also didn't feel like ripping it back, so I stuck a pompom on it and called it a day. Also, toddlers who hate hats love hats with pompoms. Just FYI.

And the slippers? Well...I got cold. While I love love love my tall slipper socks, I don't like wearing them with non-skinny jeans/leggings, so I've been thinking about a new short slipper pattern for a while. According to Pinterest, I learned about thrums approximately 36 weeks ago, and they popped into my head again last week thanks to Ysolda's series of posts about them. What's a thrum? Short story, it's a cloud of soft and warm that evidently sort of turns into a weatherproof felt layer as you wear it.

I love her pattern, but it wasn't quite what I was looking for. I started working on my own basically by just adding thrums to a pattern I've had in my library for about 5 months. It turned out ok, but not perfect. It fits and all, but because it was worked top down, I couldn't try it on until it was finished. I have some plans hatching to figure out a way to work them toe up....and the bonus is that the little "hearts" made by the super warm thrums will be right side up if I go toe up!

Oh, and I've got this on the horizon....

It's also possible I bought this screen printing kit: (affiliate link)

Yep. I clearly cannot decide on the best use of my time. On the bright side, I haven't totally
abandoned my goals - I've definitely worked on both my socks and my sweater (just enough to realize that I'd missed one of those dastardly "at the same time" directions, so I'll be looking into the adventure of an afterthought buttonhole in the future!) this week, so I'm not a total scatterbrained disaster!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Finally finished

Ravelry says that I finished this Nova sweater dress in June.

That's not entirely true. Yes, I finished the knitting. Yes, I wove in the ends. I even bought grosgrain ribbon and buttons at some point shortly thereafter. But I put it away. I didn't have it in me to finish it.

You see, I was going through a hard time when I knit this dress. There was a painful loss in my life, and it was all I could do to just mindlessly knit, row after row, a little shaping but mostly stockinette for miles. It was therapeutic. It was something to do other than cry. I needed something to hold on to, to rip apart if it wasn't working, to put back together again because it could, in fact, be put back together.

I pulled it out a few nights back. I on a high after finishing my wallaby sweater for the Commuter Knitter finish-a-long. I didn't put this dress on my list, because I didn't know if I'd be able to. I was happy to realize that when I got it out, I didn't see it as a sign of pain, but as a symbol of making it through.

I hadn't quite realized how much it had helped me until I was listening to another podcast this week, from Michelle of ACTually Knitting (who, by the way, I think has such a soothing voice, great for a podcast). She was talking about how the simple act of knitting has helped her get through some really hard times this past year, and wanted to start a discussion of what other people had done or achieved or accomplished #becauseofknitting. At first I thought of my awesome knitting group and the slow but steady growth of my shop, but as she kept talking and started revealing the deeper things, the real things, I realized that knitting had helped me too.

(on more technical notes, I wish I'd sewn all the buttons on so the direction of the thread was the same, but I didn't. I tried lining the back of the buttonhole side with ribbon, but it didn't work out. I did line the back of the buttonband, but I didn't use backing buttons and I'm still not sure what they are for. The ribbon at the hem will hopefully stop that edge from flipping up the way stockinette garments so often do, despite the garter stitch border. The yarn used is toddler friendly Lion Brand Baby Soft and Bernat Softee Baby acrylics in DK weight. Overall I really enjoyed the pattern, and I think the only change I made was to reverse the order of the shaping stitches in the skirt.)