Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Adding to the Stash

What could be more fun for a yarn addict than to visit a yarn store. Here are my latest additions to the Stash, my teetering tower of plastic boxes full of yarn.

These are lovely big balls (ahem), each about 10 cm (4 in) across and over 20 cm (8 in) long, in red, orange, black and variegated mossy greens. The sun is hiding and these are too big to fit in my lightbox, so the red yarn isn't as deep, dark and delicious in the photo as in reality, nor is the orange as bright as it should be. I'm all set for my autumn projects now, methinks.

Sadly, said teetering tower was brought to the limit of its teeterings by these additions, so I will have to use some up soon. Or just buy another box to add on top.

I'll spend most of my evening tonight knitting another pair of fingerless gloves, in black, red and whatever colour strikes my fancy. It's not like I'm much good for anything else, since I seem to have injured my back somehow. Ouchie.

As final words of wisdom I can say it's a spectacularly bad idea to do a water change to one of your fish tanks using the ol' bucket method with a sore back. Big big ouchie.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Of Posters and Treasuries

I love shiny new toys. The latest one that has distracted me from all those important things that need doing is the Poster Sketch tool at Etsy. It's intended for a poster contest, but clever Etsyans have figured out another use for it. So without further ado, here's the poster I made from my own items:

In other news, I wandered into the Etsy Treasury this afternoon and to my surprise, there was an empty spot for a new list waiting for me. I grabbed it of course, but since I didn't have a theme thought out this time, I went with a few of my favourites.

I hope you enjoy, just don't buy them from under my nose please. ;)

Friday, July 27, 2007

Say hello to Salvador!

One morning this week I woke up and had a need to knit a seahorse. Yeah, I'm a bit strange like that. When I'm in one of those moods there's no point wondering why I need to make one right there and then; I may as well just take advantage of it. So I did make one. And it was wayyyyy fun.

Salvador was made in one piece, not counting the fins, so there was a lot of shaping to do. I have to say it was a challenge, but I'm happy with how he turned out. All in all, very satisfying. :)

Salvador is now available in my Etsy shop! You can even choose a different colour if you like.

On the topic of seahorses, I spent some time googling them to find some good reference photos. Hence I'm able to give you this little tidbit: the smallest seahorse is Denise's pygmy seahorse (Hippocampus denise), measuring only 16 mm or 0.63 inches long. Now that would be a real challenge. ;)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Mmmmmmm, muffins!

I'm taking a break from the yarn and spent the past two days writing up some new knitting/crochet patterns. The new ones aren't listed yet, but will be within the next week or so.

Aaaanyway, after all that writing I really felt like making something substantial. Didn't feel like knitting, so I turned to the kitchen. Well, not so much a kitchen as a tiny closet with an oven in it, but I digress. I dug up this old favourite carrot muffin recipe of mine and made a whole dozen.

I was going to take a photo after adding the yummy yummy nut-nougat icing, but the muffins mysteriously disappeared before I had a chance. Real fast too.

I thought I'd share the recipe, in case you'd like some amazing disappearing muffins of your own.

Carrot Muffins (makes 12)

This is the first recipe I've written down in English, so please excuse any funny wording. It's a very simple one, but that just means you make muffins more often, which to me is a great big plus. The more carrots you put in, the juicier they are. The less you mix the batter, the better they'll be.

4-5 dl (~2 cups) finely grated carrots (that's about 4-6 carrots)
4 dl (~1 1/2 cups) flour
3 dl (~1 1/4 cups) sugar
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
100 g (~1/2 cup) melted butter
3 eggs

Mix the dry ingredients together. Whisk the eggs, then add grated carrots and melted and somewhat cooled butter. Fold the wet ingredients into the flour mixture. Divide the batter into 12 muffin cups and bake for about 20 minutes at 200°C (392°F).

Let them cool down completely before attempting to apply any icing. This time I just used nut-nougat spread from a jar, but something involving cream cheese and icing sugar is also a good bet.

Happy baking!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

"Perfect Children for a less than perfect world"

You know what you need? A land shark. Yup, that's right. A land shark.

I stumbled upon this Etsy shop last night, while browsing just for fun. I don't know how many times I've read the description of this cool creature, but it cracks me up every time.

If you're in dire need of some unbelievable critters, head on over to the Perfect Children Etsy shop and browse around. Say hello to Crusher and the Big White Grr while you're there.

"Oh MY!"

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Meet Francis Raven

I love knitting ravens. Oh yes I do.

Meet tiny Francis Raven, younger brother of Ferdinand and Frederick. Francis shares not only his brothers' looks, but their love of chocolate chip cookies as well.

I just can't stop making these little guys and they seem to just get tinier and tinier. Little Francis here breaks the record with his whole 4.5 cm (1.75 in). Tiny creatures is what I started out with when learning to knit all those oh so many years ago and making them is still one of my favourite things to do. Hence the name of this blog and my shop, I suppose.

Want a tiny Francis of your own? My shop is just a click away!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Preparing for autumn

Remember that lovely yarn hubby got me for my birthday?

The cabled pair of gloves I visualised from the soft green merino wool were finished quite some time ago, but I forgot to take photos to show them off. I went out of my way to make the most detailed and perfectly fitted pair of gloves I have ever knitted and I'm glad to say they fit me like, um, a glove. Most glove manufacturers seem to think my little finger and thumb are abnormally long, so it's a fun change to have gloves where all the fingers are long enough.

All that shaping means these gloves don't want to lay flat. When I first showed them to hubby, he remarked that they have a certain disembodied look to them. So not only are they perfectly fitted, soft and warm, they're a bit creepy too!

While knitting is great fun, there's one thing I don't much like: weaving in the loose ends. I can't think of anything more dull than that. So the main problem with knitting gloves is that they have a bazillion loose ends to weave in. Combine that with my perfectionist nature and all I can say is ugh! I could feel myself getting older and older as I was struggling to get them all tucked in neatly.

In the end though, I'd say it was worth it. The only problem is that now I feel kinda guilty for wishing it was autumn already, so I could start using them.

By the way, that ball of yarn you see is what is left after both gloves. I wonder what I can do with the rest...

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Oh so soft!

These are soft. Oh so soft. Soft soft soft.

I would say more, but I'm busy stroking the soft leftover yarn from these fingerless gloves.

Did I mention they're soft?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

My love of surface textures continues

I finally got around to something I have wanted to do for a while - knitted ACEOs with a focus on surface texture. Today I listed the first in a small series of the four seasons in my shop: Summer Yellow.

Basically I just started knitting with an image in mind and I'm quite happy with how it turned out.

The other three will follow within the next week or so!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Wohoo! A treasury list!

Managed to grab one again! Looks like this Friday 13th ain't all bad. This list is all about items I wish I could touch, not just see.

The Treasury lists only last a few days and this one has already gone, but I grabbed a screenshot this time.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I am the proud owner of the world's ugliest lightbox

I was browsing the Etsy forums when I noticed this article on building a lightbox that some kind soul had linked to in a thread. I had nothing better to do last night, so I decided to give it a try.

Armed with a hobby knife, scissors, tissue paper and tape, I attacked a poor empty cardboard box I found. The article I linked to has much better instructions than I could give, so suffice to say that after about 30 minutes of cutting, taping, cutting and more taping, I had produced the world's ugliest lightbox.

Working with paper has never been my strong side. The box measures 47 x 32 x 26 cm (about 18.5 x 12.5 x 10 in), so it should be big enough for most of my stuff. Inside I put last year's calendar upside down (the biggest white sheet of paper I had at home), which is ok for now.

So, does it work?

Well, I took some test photos today, as it's a very cloudy day and thus sucks for product photos. Suitable lights were nowhere to be found at home, so I thought I'd try the lamp from one of my aquariums as the light source. While the amount of light was better than before, the purplish fluorescent tubes that were in the lamp were about the worst choice I could have made. The colour balance was awful, but was at least easily corrected in Photoshop for these shots. I imagine once I get my hands on some daylight tubes, the result will be much better (and the aquarium will look better too).

So in summary:
Total amount of money spent: $0
Injuries: Surprisingly, none!
Bottom line: It's a promising project, but needs more work and I need to work on how to use my camera for the best results. Stay tuned for more experiments.

(By the way, the fingerless gloves in the photo are available in my shop.)

Monday, July 09, 2007

Deep magenta is still an excellent colour

Remember my ode to deep magenta and the shawl I was working on? Well, it's now finished and listed in my shop! I'm very pleased with how it turned out, if I may say so myself. The cotton is just SO soft and great to work with; I wish I had more of it in this colour.

In other news, my missing favourite knitting needle has been found. Yay! It was inside one of the boxes under my bed. To get in there, it must have somehow jumped over the stack of papers placed in front of the box. Crazy.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Bad monster! BAD!

So I lost one of my favourite knitting needles. I was putting a set away into this bag which houses several of them, when two of my faves fell out. One fell on the floor and the other rolled under the bed. I picked up the first one, but when I went to get the one under the bed, it was gone.

I saw exactly where the needle went and it wasn't rolling very fast either. I don't even keep much under the bed, just a stack of papers and some boxes. Yet the needle is nowhere to be found. The only reasonable explanation I can think of is that some mischievous beastie lives under the bed.

So far this beastie has been content with just a sock or two now and then, perhaps some hairclips. That I don't mind so much, those are easy to find in shops. But when it comes to my fave knitting needles... You've just made an enemy, bed monster. >:(

Saturday, July 07, 2007

I've been naughty again...

I promised myself (and hubby) not to buy any more yarn until I'd used up half of my huge stash. I was doing pretty well until I walked past a local yarn shop and saw that they had a big sale. There was no way I could stop myself from going in to have a look. Nor was there any way I could walk out empty-handed.

In my defense, I was able to control myself enough to only walk out with this beige mohair blend. I've been wanting to get my hands on some nice mohair for ages, so when I saw these last three in the shop for a ridiculously low price, I had to get them.

Now, what should I make with this... So hard to decide! Any suggestions?

Thursday, July 05, 2007

I love wool and I'm not ashamed to admit it

Wool seems to divide people into those who love it and those who hate it. I love the stuff and use it whenever possible. All my winter accessories and sweaters have some amount of wool in them. Before you decide I'm crazy or have no sensation in my skin, let me explain why I love wool.

The most common argument against wool is that it's itchy, scratchy, icky to wear! Well, it is and it isn't. Some of it is - the cheap kind is the horrible scratchy stuff. Because it's cheap, it's what is more commonly used and seen (felt?) in non-handmade items, and I imagine that's where the impression of "wool = itchy" comes from. I can't stand that stuff either. Also, cheaper wools may have been treated with harsh chemicals, which irritate sensitive skin. But all wool isn't like that - soft, high quality wool is something different altogether and this is the stuff I love. In between the extremes are all kinds of levels of soft/itchy that you may or may not like depending on how sensitive your skin is.

Now, think about wool from a hand knitter's perspective. When knitting, you feel the yarn all the time while you work - would you want use itchy stuff that irritates your skin? Or would you go for the soft fiber that is a delight to knit with? Hardly a difficult choice, I'd say. ;) The same goes for hand spinners. Besides, why spend time and effort knitting something from yarn that's too icky to wear once the item is finished?

Another aspect of wool that I appreciate is that it keeps you warm but 'breathes', which it has in common with other natural fibers. This is a combination I have yet to find in synthetic yarns. The few sweaters I've made from acrylic have made me all hot and sweaty, and not in a good way.

So, that's my opinion on wool and why I like to wear it. If you've never laid your hands on any soft wool then don't take my word for it; see if you can find some high quality, soft yarn (handmade, perhaps?) to feel - I think you'll be surprised!

*steps down from soapbox*

Monday, July 02, 2007

Yum yum, cables!

Cables are pretty much my most favorite thing to knit, ever. One evening I sat down with a couple of balls of cotton yarn and ended up making three headbands in one go, making up the pattern for each as I made them. I must have had major cable withdrawal.

The blue one with a pattern resembling pea pods is already for sale in my shop and the red slim one will be as soon as I get myself to write a description. The red triangular one on the left with a bit of lace knitting is for my mother, assuming she likes it.

One of these days I'll make one or two for myself too.
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