Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!!!!

Two things........................................

Stitches & Scones won the Arts and Crafts category for They Indy Channel A-List competition!!!!! How exciting. Thanks to all of you who voted for us. We are so excited!

And now for a few laughs. Here is my team at the publishing company. The women dressed as flowers and Jake and Andy were the gardeners. A nice break to our week.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Long Awaited Pictures of Our "Art"

Okay, here they are. The large one hangs in our master bedroom and was painted by Patrick and I. From straight on, you can see a lot of the gold. I got some of the other colors to come out by taking side-angle pictures, but then all the gold dropped out, which isn't a true representation of the painting, but it was cool. The small dark one is Patrick's masterpiece. The larger orange/red one was mine and the small orange/red one was mine but I painted over our doodles, so it made the colors more vibrant. My two paintings are in the studio. Enjoy the art. (They really look SOOOO different in person.)

Beaded Shawl in January

Attention: Tonia, Kim, Chef Liz, Chef Liz's mommy, Nancy, Becky, and Robin:

I think I got those of you who asked about adding a beaded shawl class in January. How about the morning of January 26th? Let me know if this works for the majority of you and I can get it on the schedule. :)

Catching Up

I haven't posted in a few days, but I have a really good reason. My home laptop went boom. Well, the monitor portion did anyway. It will be sent out tonight for massive repairs. Ugh. I hate computer problems, plumbing issues, and anything related to cars. So, I will attempt to blog either at lunch or on Patrick's machine when he isn't using it.

I'm in the midst of finishing up Patrick's alpaca and merino pullover--only 1 sleeve left to go. I hope to have it completed by tomorrow evening. I can up my knitting time again since the house is almost finished. (We had the carpets cleaned and they look like new! I'm so excited to see the stairs clean. They even got out the ink stain in my studio. It just makes the entire upstairs feel better.) After the pullover, I have a few hours to spend on the Tulips sweater and that will be done as well. Then, on to swatches for class.

I'll post the pictures of our paintings tonight. We hung them up and they look fabulous. I was a little disappointed in the pictures of them because they don't capture the texture and color variation very well. My brother-in-law was over this weekend and thought that we had purchased them, so I take that as a good sign.

And now, a few pictures of Carol in her finished One Skein Wonder Shrug and Tube pullover from Finished Knits. Didn't she do a great job?!!!!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Random Thoughts on a Rainy Day

Oh What a Night!

Patrick and I woke up this morning and both agreed that last night was like three long, never ending, bad dream nights rolled into one. I feel asleep to one of CSI: Miami's bad Horatio lines where he ends with putting on the sunglasses in serious fashion. (How do the actors not laugh at David Caruso?) A few hours into the night, the electricity went out. You know that huge whining sound that occurs when the entire neighborhood shuts off at once. We woke up with a start and to a bunch of sirens. They went on forever! Patrick turns to me and says, "Riley is shaking like a chimney." I calmly said to hand him over, got him tucked in, and started petting him to calm him down. About 15 minutes into this routine, I chuckled and said, "Shaking like a chimney? What does that mean?" We got a few laughs out of it before Patrick fell asleep. Then began my Groundhog Day experience. I'd get Riley to stop shaking and I'd start to go to sleep. Just as I was on the verge, SNORE from Patrick. I tap Patrick enough to get him to stop snoring, but not enough to wake him up. Well, this arm movement was enough to cause Riley to shake again. REPEAT. REPEAT. REPEAT. Finally, I fell asleep and BOOM. The electricity came back on accompanied by another siren outside our window. It felt like we were trapped in a sitcom. By the time it was morning, we were exhausted! (I also had a strange nightmare about a dentist who wanted to fix my ear?!?)

Such a Bad Influence!!!!

Okay, Tonia, you are an enabler. Okay, we enable each other. So, for our latest little project...I was reading pages for my day job and dreaming about the Fiesta Lusso. So, I decided to check it out and the red colorway is gorgeous!!!!!!! We must give it careful consideration. Something to mull over between now and Thursday night.

First-Time Knitting

I received an email from Carol asking for advice on what/how to teach a beginning knitter. It struck me that I get this question a lot, so I thought I'd discuss what I've found out in my experiences.

  • Slip knots are the hardest simple thing to learn. I think it is because a lot of beginning knitters are adult women. We have a strong desire to learn things fast and be perfect. It all starts with the slip knot. I see it over and over again. The look of what? I've found that you have to be a visual, verbal, and written teacher all in one. I've also found that if you can equate actions to something that the new knitter does in everyday life, things click in much faster. (For example, when teaching a slip knot, you cross the end of the working yarn like you would if you were tying your shoe...and so on.)

  • Casting on scares the hell out of new knitters. BUT, teach them a useful cast on, not just the easiest one. For example, most people can get the e-wrap cast on quickly, but then they hate the look of it and they have a hard time knitting the first row. I force them to learn the cable cast on--even if that takes an entire hour of our first session. The act of getting this makes the rest of the knitting fly for them.

  • You will be tempted to teach the new knitter how to knit and purl in the first project. You are excited and want them to get the knitting knowledge so that they can run with it. However, for someone who has never held needles before, it can be really overwhelming. I've found that learning the knit stitch and repeating that the length of a scarf is the best way to go. When you get to the end of the scarf, you can teach them how to purl on a scrap project. They pick up the purl stitch like they've been doing it forever!

  • When new knitters get to the end of a row, they are afraid of the last stitch. Do it for them on the first row to show them how easy it is and then make them do it on the second row while you watch. After this, the mystery is gone and they are much more at ease.

  • What yarn, what needles. Well, that can be tough. Some people want to start on inexpensive yarn. I recommend that they at least use an Encore or Galway quality yarn. These are good quality at a reasonable price point. Working with Wal-Mart yarn is often very frustrating to use. Encore Worsted and Galway are both worsted weight and are even yarns. Some teachers use bulky yarns or something lumpy (like a Manos). I try and stay away from these as the uneven yarn can also be difficult for the new knitter to hold--not to mention if they want to pull out the yarn it can really start to felt together. If the new knitter has knitted at all before, I have them pick straight or circular needles. If they are brand new, I tend to recommend circular needles and then help them get the cord not to curl. (New knitters are very concerned about the curling, but they end up loving the security of the cord later in their knitting.)

  • Holding the yarn can be tricky to teach as well. I show students the proper way for both right and left handed knitting and then show them alternative ways that work. They really have to just play with it to find what is best for them.
  • New knitters love the bind off. It really is VERY easy!
  • The most important thing in teaching knitting is to have fun yourself. You have to be comfortable so that students can be as well. The number one goal of the class has to be fun!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Fun at the Knit Out

We had so much fun at the knit out yesterday. It was so enjoyable to hang out with everybody and enjoy knitting and good food. (Love that carrot cake!) Everybody had a smile on their face and there was lots of laughter. We'll have to see about doing this type of event more often! (I'm checking my January schedule to get the beaded shawl class added.) It is so good to spend the day with others who share your passion in life!

The weather was perfect (other than the wind), so Patrick and I came home and took a stab at painting on canvas. It was a blast. We both enjoyed it a great deal. I surprised myself though. I thought that I would be inclined to very clean lines and being very precise. I tend to be a neat freak with everything else. However, with the painting I really let myself go and found that I liked mixing the colors. I also MUCH preferred painting with the little knife things instead of the brushes. I also liked the look of the textured paint I got with this tool. The paintings are currently drying in the garage. We should be able to hang them up tonight and I will post pictures soon. We want to do this again, but we don't know what we will do with them all!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

UFOs and an Organized Yarn Room

Lots to touch on today! I am sooooo excited. I finished my Einstein Coat and organizing my yarn studio. I just want to curl up in there and knit away. AND, I have plenty to knit on. I took the Knitting Daily UFO project poll. I have 15 (13 pictured here). I am actively knitting on 14 of them and 3 of them I only knit on in classes and groups because they were selected for those sessions. Additionally, 2 of these were started today and another 3 were started within the last week. I am hoping to get at least 7 done by end of November in addition to one other project I want to knit up by then. Ambitious? Probably. My goal is to then not have more than 5-6 UFOs at any given time. I just have to get better at managing them. With that said, I was actually surprised at only having 15!

We are off to have Sushi, movie popcorn, and enjoy a good knit while watching a movie. I need to pick which one of my 15 to take along!

I picked up a copy of Knits for Men today and Patrick picked out his favorite garment. We picked out the yarn and I have the swatch started. (Yes, it is one of the 15.) He did pick what is probably the most difficult pattern in the book, but that's okay. I love him lots, so it is worth it.

We also finished up the large majority of the clean up and redecorating of the master bedroom. We still need to hang the pictures on the wall, BUT we decided to make our own paintings. I'm a little worried about this, but it should be fun. Neither of us have ever done any painting, so shopping for supplies was very comical. I think we have the needed items, but we really aren't too sure. We are going for something abstract. We are going to paint the large wall hanging that will go over the bed together. Then, we are each going to paint our own small paintings for the other walls. I'll post pix when the projects are complete (good or bad).

For all you knitters in the area, our Cruise In to the Knit Out is tomorrow (10-21) from 11-1. Swing by for some good eats, knitting, and hanging out.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Princess and the Pea--Our Little Kennedy

End of Day 2

I'm really worn out. It is 9:41 and we have been working on things around the house since 10 this morning. We made a lot of progress, but have a ton of stuff still to do. (For instance, we currently have a mattress in Patrick's bathroom!)

Here are some quick pictures of the rooms we have completed... If you look closely in the first picture, you can see a sketch of Patrick and I that a man in Rome drew for us on our honeymoon. Best $20.00 we spent!!!!

And now, here are the first day pictures of working on my studio room...Check out that shelf of mostly Aurora 8!!!! The ottoman (with storage) is on order and will go in front of the chair and a half. My red Mountain Colors shawl matched so well, that I left it on the chair. I plan to use all my extra reds to knit up a throw for the room.

Tomorrow we need to put up the curtains, get the second shelf set up, move out the desk, and generally organize everything. It is really shaping up!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Crochet Me Book

It has been a long time since I was anticipating a crochet book as much as this one. I'm going to swing into B&N today to see if they have it in stock. If not, then Amazon it is. I'm also thinking of signing up for the Crochet Along I have yet to do a KAL or CAL, so I think that it would be a fun adventure. (Working in book publishing and being exposed to a lot of multi-media support for print publications I took special note of their website. They did a really nice job with it.)

If you are a crocheter and are looking for projects that are not old-fashioned looking, this is the book for you. I'm very excited to get it and pick my first project.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Yarn Room Makeover Part I

Tomorrow starts the makeover of the guest room from extra bedroom where my yarn is stored to...The Brownie Knits Studio. I'm so excited!!!!! Patrick spent today fixing up the walls where I had scratched the paint, had nails, etc. (He also planted some very pretty mums out front. The yard looks very nice for our simple little house.)

Here are the messy spare bedroom pictures. I hope to have the revamped organized Studio pictures either by the end of this weekend or next weekend. I have a huge laundry list of things that setting up the Studio is going to effect throughout the rest of the house. For instance, our antique dresser is going to become a display and storage unit in the living room. I hope to have the house in tip-top shape by end of October.

So, tomorrow starts the big overhaul. I plan to get up, do a little work, teach a private lesson, go shopping, rearrange furniture, and then organize all my yarn and patterns. EXCITING!
I need to work on the last sleeve of Einstein this weekend as well. I want to finish the coat, sew on the buttons, and block it this weekend so that I can wear it the rest of the month. I also want to get it done so that I can start my topdown autumn colored sweater out of this lovely Aurora 8.

Tonight was Sit and Knit night at the store. We had a nice turn out. Tonia does such a good job with everybody. I hope that she knows how much I appreciate having her in my life. She always makes me smile.

I did have a new experience--I cut a customers knitting!!!!! On purpose, but still scary for me. Her Crayon Box was coming out too large and we determined that we could take off two of the vertical squares (which was 4 horizontal) and that would fix the size. I think it will work well. I did feel like I was going into surgery. I'm glad that we were able to come up with a solution and it is another trick in the bag.

New Winter Rolling Stones

I started my winter Rolling Stones sweater. I'm using Brooks Farm superwash wool/silk for the main color and their Riata, which is a wool/mohair/silk blend, and it is gorgeous. (You can learn more about them at After winding it I sat and looked at how it was even more beautiful. It is great to work with and the project is going fast. I'm working on it whenever I need a break from Einstein (which is on the home stretch). I am very excited to get this one done so that I can have a new garment (now that feels more like fall) and so that I can start my next new project as well. This is such a great project and if you haven't done it, I highly recommend it. Chris Bylsma is a fantastic knit designer. I love her patterns and have had the pleasure of taking several of her classes. Her patterns are easy to locate in the fuchsia binder in stores everywhere--such a good marketing move on her part.

(My connection is slow!!! Probably something to do with Tivo completing a service update that says it is going to take an hour or longer. What? We lost power at some point last night and it messed up some stuff. I hate having to Power Up Tivo. Seems like they should figure out a way for it to do that stuff while you are watching at least live or basic TV. See how addicted I am? Wow. Very sad.)

Anyway. Today is my dad's birthday (happy bday!!!). I talked to him on the phone today and my grandmother. I'm going out there for Thanksgiving. I haven't been with my grandmother for Thanksgiving since I was 6 or 7. It will be really nice to see the gang. I haven't been out for a visit since last year. Now that Matt and Nicole are living out there too, I really need to get out there at least once a year. However, I am planning to take xmas gifts out on the trip to avoid shipping later. That means I'm under pressure now to get those things done. I have some stuff already from our NYC trip and I have some particular ideas for Nicole. I tend to buy things throughout the year and then I have to dig around to see what all we purchased. I will probably pick up a few items at the Holiday Mart as well. (Email me if you are interested in making a trip to the mart on the morning of 11/3.)
Off to eat some din din!!

Recovery and Intarsia

I am finally feeling a little more normal after being under the weather since Sunday night. I caught a cold--complete with cough, sore muscles, and stuffy head. I slept so much yesterday and poor Patrick made me something to eat and I fell asleep before it was done. I think I'm catching every bug that comes into the store. Anwyay...

I taught beginning intarsia last Thursday night. We had a lot of fun despite the complexity of the subject matter. Here is a picture of the mini project we did in the class. Both of the students were able to get the overall concepts of intarsia. It is definately something that takes a lot of practice to get the tension right and to ingrain the repetition of joining colors in your brain. I plan to teach future intarsia sessions in either a 3-4 hour workshop or as private lessons if anyone is interested.

Here is the back of the intarsia...