Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Miles and Miles of Squares

Pattern: Sheep and Wool Hat
Needles: size 7 and 8
Yarns: GGH Campano (multi) and Plymouth Yarn Suri Merino (cream)

For the crown, I used the decrease style from Brooklyn Tweed’s Turn a Square Hat. I did double the decreases to make it more shallow. The only thing I wish I had done differently was pick 2 yarns closer in weight. Alas.

I really enjoyed knitting this. I've never done stranded knitting before, and I was surprised how easy it was. I don't think I'm ready to tackle some crazy 6 color sweater of a Nativity scene or anything, but I would like to make the Ode to Eames socks one day.

I've also never done a knitted hem before, but that went well also. It makes the hat very warm.

*mmm...hat guts*

I made this for my sister at her request and she says she likes it and that it matches her snowboarding jacket, hooray! I made two different sizes of optional pompoms to accommodate her level of whimsy at the moment.

*ignore the bizarre look of my shoulders. it's hard taking a picture of the top of your own head*

I have one more project I finished this 2008, but it's going to have to wait until '09 to be posted. Oh well, so it goes.

Happy New Year! My your 2009 be full of good cheer and fun projects!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

1,000 Shades of Gray

We awoke to a dense fog this morning. Heavier than any fog I've ever seen. These pictures were taken about and hour after I got up and it had lightened up a little.

I took Mr. W to work this morning and we went over an overpass where the visibility was so reduced that it looked like the road would end any second and we could see nothing but fog on either side. From a safety standpoint, it was pretty scary. From a cool standpoint, it was awesome in a sci-fi way. I really wish I had had my camera with me.

The weather was dreary yesterday too, but not nearly as interesting as the fog. It was more stir-crazy weather. Can you tell I've been a little bored? I'm loving the free time I have to craft right now, but you can only do so much.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Knitting Bag

* how can I not make at least one gift?*

My 9 year old nice has started knitting. I taught her how to purl when I visited over Thanksgiving and she learned it easily. I'm really impressed with how quickly she can knit, especially since she uses really long straight needles. They reach from her fingertips to just past her elbows - forearm length needles.
Her yarn was all in a tangle too. It's hard to keep a yarn ball in neat order when you drag it around with you everywhere.

So I couldn't resist making her a knitting bag. Well, knitting backpack. I bought the bag pre-made at Joann's and stenciled it. I bought the star stencils, but I printed and cut out the stencils for the knitting skull and her name. (The weird snaky blur thing is her name I scribbled out in Photoshop for privacy.)

Her last birthday party theme was pink and black pirate skulls so hopefully she's still into it.

Growing up, I had a family member that I rarely saw and persisted in giving me ceramic carousel horses years after the very brief period in which I collected them was over. It's not the gift, of course, and as an adult I see that clearly. But I would like to give gifts that are thoughtful and relevant, even if I only get to see some members of my family once a year or so.

Also, I worry about being the crazy aunt giving homemade presents, but I think a homemade gift from one knitter to another is always welcome.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

cout out and

There's a new craft website in town - It's another online craft community, but it's entirely devoted to free step-by-step tutorials. Ravelry and I have quite the love affair, and Craftster is great when you just want to aimlessly browse so I'm not quite sure how this new site will fit into my online craft community thing. (OMG I am such a nerd.) It seems like it will be a good resource and eaiser to navigate than Craftster. My sn on there is wagon full of stars.

Monday, December 8, 2008


Mr. W and I have wanted to buy a house since last year. We occasionally break down and look at houses on Austin Home Search or Zillow even though we really won't be able to start looking for another 6 months or so. We got into a debate about what we would want in our perfect house. He wants a good kitchen and a comfortable living room. I want a sleeping porch and a tower, etc.

I had a bit of free time at school last Friday so I decided to design my perfect house. When you walk in, the room to the right is the living room. To the left is the dining room and from there you can walk into the kitchen, which is in the smaller brick tower. On top of it is the kitchen garden, where perfect tomatoes grow year-round. There's nothing like a really good tomato.

The next tower, the yellow one, has the library / studio and master suite. And, of course, the master bathroom has two sinks. The long, low part of the house is for the other four bedrooms. The roof is tin, so it sounds extra nice when it rains.

The taller brick tower has the lap pool on top and the garage on the bottom, with a little room below the pool with a changing area and dry sauna.

And you can't tell this from the drawing, but there is a courtyard in the middle and the sleeping porch in the back.

If anyone knows someone who works in daydream real estate, let me know :)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Colorless Green Mitts Breed Furiously

I made these immediately after Fetching, but it's taken me a good long while to write this up. I made up this pattern sitting bored at school one day and I'm very happy with the results. I thought I would share it. It takes very little yarn, is quick, and could be a good gift knit. so, here ya go:

Wiggle Fingerless Mitts

: Worsted weight and soft. I used Berroco Ultra Alpaca. It took much less than one skein.
Needles: Size 6 dpns.

CO 44 sts an join rnd, careful not to twist
R1: (p1, k4) 4 times. p1. work in 1x1 rib, starting with a knit st, to the end of the round. Repeat this rnd 1 more time.

R3: ( p1,C4B, p1, k4) 2x. p1. work in 1x1 rib, starting with a knit st, to the end of the round.
R4: work the same as rnd 1.

R5: Work in cable panel pattern as follows:

1: (p1, k4, p1, C4F) 2x. p1. work rest of round in stockinette.
2: (p1, k4) 4 times. p1. work rest of round in stockinette.
3: (p1, C4B, p1, k4) 2x. p1. work rest of round in stockinette.
4: work same as round 2

Repeat these 4 rounds until you're ready to place the thumb. for me, that was at 4 inches.

Thumb: For the right hand, work across the cable panel. K2. Using waste yarn, k7; slip these sts back to left needle and k them again using working yarn. Continue working the rest of the round in pattern.

For the left hand, work the round you're on until 9 sts remain on the left needle. Using waste yarn, k7; slip these sts back to left needle and k them again using working yarn. K2.

After setting up to make the thumb, work in pattern for another 2 inches and BO. Almost done!

Finish the Thumb:
Remove the waste yarn and place resulting live sts on two double-point needles. There will be 7 sts below the opening and 6 sts above. Attach yarn and k the 7 sts on lower needle; using a second needle, pick up and k 2 sts (I wrap the picked up sts. to help avoid holes) in the space between the upper and lower needle, k first 3 sts from upper needle; using a third needle, k remaining 3 sts from upper needle and pick up (and wrap, if desired) and k 2 sts in space between this needle and lower needle. 17 sts.

K 4 rounds. BO and weave in ends.

Ta Da!

This is the first time I've ever written a pattern out, so please send me any corrections!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Around the Corner

Ever since 9/11, Christmas has come earlier and earlier. Target started putting out decorations before Halloween. The retailers have learned to prey upon our emotions. Everyone is all down about the economy and Christmas cheers people up...until they realize they have no money. This season is supposed to be a big hit for retailers.

But it is Christmas (your whatever winter holiday you celebrate) and gifts will be given. I'm a fan of handmade items. I like supporting individual creativity and there are a lot of special, unique items. I've become addicted to Etsy...there are so many beautiful and affordable things. I've rounded up some of my favorite sellers to share today.

*from left to right*

*top row*
Tilly Bloom - Surreal jewelry and art
Joanna Rutter - Simple silver jewelry, mostly nature themed
Zygopsyche - Neat stuffed animals
John W Golden - Cute prints
Toy Breaker - "Ties that don't suck"
*bottom row*
MaryInk - Screen printed clothing and housewares
Bunny With A Tool Belt - Fine art sculptures
Revisions Design Studio - Neat housewares and jewelry
Blossom Toys - Adorable baby gifts
Luxedelxue - Beautiful jewelry. I've bought a necklace from here and it's very well made. Also, there's an under 20 dollar section with nice things.

**Also, there's a thing on Etsy called Alchemy. You can request custom items and designers will bid on making them for you. I've had good luck with this.

There's a Handmade Pledge website if you want to sign up or find more gift resources. I don't plan on buying handmade gifts for everyone so I'm not officially taking the pledge because I know I won't buy everything handmade, but will look to buy some things.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Shooting Weekend Number 2

Despite the bitter cold, this weekend was a blast. Waking up at 5 am and working for 12 hours on the weekend isn't most people's idea of fun, but the awesome crew and script make it worth it.
Also, I don't get to see the sun rise often. It's not called the magic hour for nothing.

*This is less magical*

Did we encounter a fancy hobo tent? Nope. This little lean-to is something I helped put up to keep out the icy wind while we ate lunch on Saturday. Sunday was more pleasant.

The wind stopped and I got to be in the crew car for our mini car chase around the capital. It was really fun to see people on the street reacting to our "gang members" hanging out of their low rider screaming hilarious insults back at our main character. I think some people who didn't notice us following them with a camera were truly terrified and will tell their friends that Austin is going downhill.

We've got one more weekend to go. There will be more car action and hopefully more "freaking' out the squares" (as a friend used to say in high school).

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

In Defense of Food

I highly recommend "In Defense of Food". It's fascinating and, I believe, will slightly rock your food world. It's a modern version of "The Jungle" but instead of uncovering horrible slaughterhouse conditions and lack of regulations, Pollan sheds light on the the underbelly of the food industry, the incredible influence of nutritional science on our food products and calls us out on our lackadaisical attitude toward food.

According to one statistic in the book, the food industry puts 17,000 new products on the market each year. That blew my mind. He also makes the interesting point that as a country, we are obsessed with our health but yet one of the most unhealthy populations in the world. He correlates the amount the average family spends on food (about 10 percent of their income) to how much they spend on health care (about 17 percent) and makes the case that if we spent more on better food, we would spend less at the doctors dealing with chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

The last third of the book is devoted to his personal opinions that he has formed after doing this research. Rather than being snobby and elitist, I found his his tone and "rules" to reasonable and pragmatic. Pollan recognizes that not everyone has access to or the ability to afford organic, locally grown food.

*I love me a good tomato*

We eat pretty well here. Mr. W is an excellent cook. I am a vegetarian and he only eats meat on his sandwiches and when we go out. But reading this book has made me hyper - aware of what I'm putting on my plate. I've been checking labels now and Pollan is's pretty much impossible to find a boxed food item that doesn't have a dozen unpronounceable ingredients and a claim to protect against heart disease or cancer or whatever.

*The Chico, CA farmer's market rocks*

One of Pollan's recommendations is to circumvent the "food like items" that line the grocery store shelves and avoid the pitfalls to your health by buying quality over quantity.

I have a really hard time with this for some reason. I like to eat good food. I like to eat knowing that what I'm putting into my body is good for me. But I'm cheap. I love a good deal.
We have an ok farmer's market here (though nothing like the one my sister has in Chico). It is very expensive, sometimes twice what the grocery store charges.

We also have Greenling. For $35.00 a week, you can get a box of seasonal, locally grown produce delivered once a week. Again, expensive. We spend much less than that a week buying conventional produce that we pick out. You don't know what comes in the box. Apparently you get a lot of okra in the spring.

*lemon cucumbers from Chico*

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly Plants. I'm trying.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Sorry Jesus

Instead of going to church on Sunday, I woke up at the crack of dawn to make a drug lab.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Day Has Come...Almost

And I'm not talking about election day, though the title is befitting of that as well. No! I am speaking of Malabrigo Sock yarn! The sock version of my most favorite yarn in the world! I just pre-ordered a skein from Webs. One day, one day in late November/December, this yarn will be mine at last! muhaha!

It was so very, very hard to pick just one...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My, Aren't you Fetching?

*my goodness, my guinness!*
Pattern: Fetching
Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca
Needles: Size 6 dpns

I heart this pattern for sure. Easy, quick, fun. I learned a lot of new things, and it's been awhile since I learned some new knitting tricks. I learned the cable cast - on, made cables and did a thumb gusset. Good times! I have also immediately displaced them. Opps.

I really like the Ultra Alpaca. Probably not the best choice to show off the cables, but it was in the stash and there's still enough left over to make another pair.

Maybe I will use it for my big seasonal project...or maybe it will fall by the wayside as I am tempted with more little things.

Friday, October 24, 2008

It's Cold!

It officially got chilly yesterday. Time to get serious about the knitting. I'm working on another small project but sweater weather demands, well, a sweater. But which one? I've got four in mind. While I typically reside in a reality of my own design, I'm not delusional. I know I'm not going to make more than one. I might not even finish one. But, in my own reality I will, so I need to get going. Anyway!

Here are the contenders:

*The Minimalist*
Pros: I have the pattern, it's stylish, and looks really wearable.
Cons: It's a LOT of seed stitch

*Midnight Circular*
Pros: The back looks really neat and it's constructed in an unusual way.
Cons: I have to buy the pattern. Not entirely sure I would wear it.

*Modern Lace Henley*
Pros: The pattern is free. The lace looks interesting, and it seems to have a high amount of wearability.
Cons: It's listed as "Piquant" on Kinnty, and I'm not sure if I want something too hard. The lace is charted, which I've never done before and am intimidated by.

*Circular Shrug*
Pros: Free pattern. Looks fairly quick, opening up the possibility of making two larger things (delusional!) Could possibly add full sleeves.
Cons: No sleeves. Gauge instructions are vague.

Anyone want to help me make up my mind? I'm leaning towards the Midnight Circular. It looks comfy.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tilty Quilt

This is my new quilt project, the tilty quilt. I'm making it up as I go along...I'm not sure how I feel about the colors...on the one hand, it's autumnal. On the other, it's kind of rag bag 70's leftover hippie-ish. We'll see, I guess.

The leftover scraps are pretty.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Mr. Dangly

Pattern: Mr. Dangly
Needles: size 6 dpns
Yarn: O-wool Balance in Graphite & Peridot

*this is how monkeys are made*

I love, love, love this pattern. Knitting everything in pieces makes it feel even faster than it already is. I modified it to knit in the round, so the only seaming I ended up doing was attaching everything. Speaking of, there are no real instructions for the part attachment. I winged it and hopefully the intended recipient won't quickly tear his head off.

*what up?*

I want to make more. Many, many more. A dangly army. It's an excellent stash buster. The yarn was left over from Turn a Square (about half a ball of each color). I used it almost all up - I didn't mind throwing away the little bit that was left.

And I've mentioned before, I love teh o-wool.

I've had good knitting luck lately...I htink I might press it by knitting something large (gasp!) and wearable (eeek!)

Monday, October 6, 2008

This is Awesome

I just discovered a great, free video podcast. YOGAmazing comes in 25 minute sessions and each one is dedicated to a theme, like upper body strength or anxiety or even for gardeners (I haven't done the gardening one, so who knows what that's about).

It's taught by a real yoga instructor instead of some Hawaiian model. He actually holds the poses long enough to be worth it and he clearly describes and demonstrates everything. The only downside is that you have to sit through a commercial, but I think that's fair since they have to make money somehow.

I used to go to Joy Moves. It's a great studio with lots of class options and it's very affordable. Alas, we've moved and getting there to make a class de-motivates me. I think sitting in traffic each way would undo any benefit that I would have gotten.

October is "Alexis, take care of yourself month" and doing a little exercise was definitely on the list!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Elephants are Poopier than Donkies

But Republicans poop more. A LOT more. Sarah Palin is the Jessica Simpson of politics.

*You can buy the Poops t-shirt at Threadless

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Sppikey, Yet Soft

Pattern: Celestine
Needles: size 6 dpns
Yarn: a mystery

It's hard to get an idea of the size of this thing. I forgot to put in a reference object. It's huge. 12 inches in diameter. i like it, but I'm not sure what purpose it could ever serve.

It could be a fun baby toy. It's pretty hugable, despite the points. It was a really fun knit and a great stash buster. I could imagine doing one and felting it for a whimsical decoration or doing one in a bulky yarn to make a weirdo couch pillow.

When I first started knitting, I was anti socks and toys. I thought they were kind of stupid. Then I realized sweaters tended to be boring, expensive, and rarely fit the way I wanted. Although I am hankering for a bigger project...we'll see.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Mysterious Visitors

There are a lot of people crossing my path that I've never met and know nothing about.

We don't have a balcony or porch. We have a very wide walkway. We have a little table and chairs and some plants on our section of the walkway, as do most people in our complex.

We also have a mysterious person who regularly fills up and empties the ash tray. And someone is kind enough to keep our plants watered. (Smoker with a green thumb? Plant elf?)

I like that our little patio area is welcoming to strangers and the strangers are kind enough to take care of it for us. It's an invisible community. I almost want to leave our ghostly guests a little note, but I don't want to scare them away.

My other mysterious visitors are from the internet. I get an e-mail on Mondays telling me how many people read my blog, where they linked from, etc. The majority of my visitors find me through Google.
The keywords searched? Not "awesome knitting" or "really cool chick that likes to ramble". No. "Opposite of xenophobia" (a post about our trip to Italy and Spain) garners me the most hits. I rank number TWO on the search page for that one.

The second is "largest gauge" (about how I knit a big sleeve and my gauge was correct.) I rank number ONE! on Google for that.

So, just by writing those words, my hits will go up noticeably. Weird. I hope the people don't mind being led of track to a knitting/craft/randomness blog.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Tasty Pizza for an Herbivore

*This picture is a wildly inappropriate match for the rest of this post*

White Spinach Pizza

1 pre-made crust from the grocery store (or make your own, if you're talented like that)
Alfredo sauce
Fresh spinach
Red Pepper
Italian Cheese blend

toasted pine nuts or walnuts

Wine suggestions:
A good South African Sauvingon Blanc
An easy red, like Menage a Trois

Combine all of the ingredients in a pizza like fashion. Bake until is smells good, the cheese is melted and the crust browned.

Ingredient ratios can be adjusted to taste - for example, more spinach for a healthier pie or more garlic, to ward off potential good night kisses from unwanted suitors. Or, if you've had a crap day, forgo all the pizza ingredients except for the alfredo, cheese and bread. Increase the amount of wine to make up the difference.

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Window Frame

It's amazing what a little brown paper and an afternoon can do to a window. I love this technique...I made a headboard like this years ago. I don't think it would be good design to have a paper head board and a paper window frame in the same room, but maybe you could do a bunch of paper things and make it look like an art installation. It could also be cool to use wrapping or wallpaper if you want colors or prints.

I made this in three parts - the top, and each side strip individually. I folded the top strip gently in half and free handed some curves. I used a rotary cutter and I would recommend one for this kind of project.

I thought about making the sides match the top, but I share this office with Mr. W and I wanted to keep it somewhat simple to cater to his tastes too.

All in all, it makes me happy. : )

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Pebble Collection

I just discovered The Pebble Collection on etsy. I bought a pair of simple sterling silver hoops. They arrived today and I'm really impressed with the quality and workmanship, so I thought I'd give a little endorsement.

I love her simple and elegant designs and she also makes more whimsical pieces like tree pendents and berry rings. She's having an early Christmas sale - if you join the mailing list, you'll get 30% off and free shipping.

I'm unsuccessfully resisting the urge to buy a pea necklace and about a dozen pairs of earrings...oh, and maybe a Christmas gift or two!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Kicking Butt and Makin' Movies

*This is from a movie I made last year, called Quarter to Noon*
*Thank God it isn't true*
*Or maybe it is, and that's why I might be a failure*

I'm the Production Designer on an action packed, grimy thrill ride of a short film about
the lengths parents will go to for their children ... with some stunts, fight sequences, crazy camera shots and a lot of heart.

Our crew of 50 is unpaid and working for the love of film. Sadly, love doesn't put film in the cameras, or get us cameras at all.

Our goal is to raise 5,000 dollars to cover equipment rentals, insurance, art department (that's me!), post production and the list goes on and on ...

So, if you're feeling moved by the spirit of generosity, please donate what you can. We will be so appreciative!

Also, if you're in the Austin area and could help by donating food or an old car we can take apart, please leave me a comment with your info.

And if you're worried that we aren't legit, here's some links to learn more:

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Secret Life of Bees

I just finished reading...well, devouring this book. My mom lent it to me a few weeks ago, and once I started reading it, I couldn't stop. It's an engaging story told in a beautiful voice. Set during the civil rights movement, Lily, a fourteen year old girl, confronts growing up, racism, abuse, love and her own dark past. How can you not be intrigued?

Today, I was listening to Radio Lab and the guest this week was Zoe Keating who, by happenstance, scored the film version of the book. So all at once, it was hooray! There's going to be a movie version AND it will be scored beautifully.

I thought the imagery in the book was very vivid and the trailer seems like the film won't disappoint in the production design. As for the acting and the way they handle the story, well, who knows. It looks promising.

As for the score, Zoe Keating is awesome. She plays cello and then runs it through a computer to create loops that she then plays over. It's similar to Final Fantasy, but her music is purely instrumental.

So, lots of good, beautiful related things today.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Turning a Square

Pattern: Turn a Square
O-wool Balance in graphite and peridot
size 6 and 7 needles

*The only thing I love more than the hat in this picture is the man wearing it*

With the weather down to a mere 90 degrees these days, I thought I'd knit a winter at for Mr. W. You know, because it's weird to not be suffering from low degree heat stroke.

This is the happiest I've been with a knit project in a long, long time. It was quick, fun and I loved the yarn. It's 50/50 cotton and wool, wonderfully tweedy and reasonably priced. If I had the gumption, I'd knit a sweater out of it.

It's a nice update on your run-of the-mill striped beanie and would be a good gift knit. Also, you have a good amount of yarn left over to make a baby toy. (Watch out nicephew, your crazy aunt is already making you weird knitted things)