Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Visit to Color Crossing

Just before the weekend I visited Color Crossing in Roberts, WI.
Photo source: Color Crossing homepage

Unfortunately I have no photos for you of the store interior but that just means you'll have to go there someday. The town of Roberts itself is right off of I-94 (just before the WI/MN border) so if you're on a road trip and need to stretch your legs, or you run out of yarn while car knitting, it is an easy five minutes off the interstate.

This place was pretty cool. It was right by a set of busy train tracks and my little ones enjoyed looking through the store windows every time a train went by. The first room you enter has fiber for spinning for sale. The next room has yarn and a table to knit or crochet at, a back room has discount yarn and a ton of weaving looms, and the back of the store hosts local artists of all kinds. They will come in to paint, weave, sketch, and do other fine art. Generally, the artists let you watch them if you're interested too.

They were incredibly tolerant of my little ones. My naughty little boys who were cooped up in a car for most of the morning running errands with me until we arrived at Color Connection. So I spent a lot of my shopping time running after them (in circles), putting yarn back on shelves, catching them just in time to prevent damage to the looms, with breaks to actually shop when a train went past. Poor planning on my part, I know.
This is actually much more vibrant and much richer of a green than the photo.

I did get a lot of Malabrigo (in worsted, Verde) to make a baby outfit. Maybe I'll be able to finish it in time for the county fair. Maybe I'm delusional.

Next time I won't be bringing the little ones with me...

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this or asked to review this by the store featured, or anyone else. Opinions are my own.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Toddler Friendly Homemade Ornaments

Alright. I realize this  tutorial is pretty far out of season but I've been meaning to write it for a long time so you'll just have to grin and bear it while I talk about Christmas in January.

Salt Dough Ornaments (Recipe source)
1/2 c. Flour
1/2 c. Water
1 1/2 c. Salt

Other materials needed:
Nontoxic finger paint
Chopstick or straw to make holes
Ribbon (I used 3/16", the thinnest I could find)
Hot glue gun (Parents only or parent's controlled supervision required based on child's abilities)
Odds and ends to decorate with. We used buttons.
Mod Podge or another brand of shellac that you like to use
Paint brush or foam brush
Permanent marker, like a Sharpie

Pre-heat oven to 325°F. Mix dough ingredients together evenly.
Roll out. I kept mine at about 1/4" thick but this prolongs cooking time when they're so thick.

Use seasonal cookie cutters to cut out shapes. We used bells, Christmas trees, stockings, gingerbread boys and snowmen. My three and a half year old insisted on doing this himself. You might need to fix or redo a few ornaments... (Also, I recommend putting the holes in before cooking. See below...)
Lay out on a cookie sheet. No spray required. Cook about 8-10 minutes. At this point, I punched the holes into the ornaments. Next time I do this I'll punch holes before baking. Since I didn't wisen up after the first 12, I'll share my little wisdom with you.

  1. The outsides are already stiff. You need to punch them right away or the whole cookie will harden and it will be impossible. 
  2. I burned my hands a lot. And I melted a couple straws. I ended up starting the hole with the larger end of a chopstick and making it bigger with the straw. This was also hot and inefficient. It looks terrible because it was impossible to get smooth edges.
  3. The dough doesn't expand or change shape or size at all during baking. What you put in is what you get out, so your holes won't close in the oven if you make them before hand. If only I knew!
Let them cool. My one and a half year old was really into the painting. He also was confused that these were non edible. Hence the nontoxic paint requirement if you're doing this with really little ones. Because he ate the paint off his fingers and tried to eat the ornaments too.

Let everything dry.
I ended up putting all the ornaments back in the oven for another 5-7 minutes because they were not totally dry due to thickness. This actually brightened the paint colors and dried the dough faster. 
My three year old demanded he use the hot glue gun. Now, he has very developed manual dexterity. He is a good listener and in the end I decided it was safer than having him put the buttons on the fresh glue and potentially burning his fingers. Oh wait, that happened. You know your child's abilities. So you'll be the ultimate deciding factor in who uses the hot glue. Rein in every instinct to "fix" their decorating. It's more meaningful for the recipient and if it really is from the kids they don't need to be picture perfect or Pinterest perfect.

My three year old picked out the buttons for each ornament and told me where each one was supposed to go.

After everything was dried, I wrote the date and, "Made by: name and name with love" in a permanent marker. I did all the shellac since it was another day and would have been a much bigger hassle than I wanted to go through. Add two coats of shellac and tie your ribbon through the holes after they're dry.

These make great gifts for grandparents, great-grandparents, Godparents, etc.

These don't just have to be Christmas themed. They can be themed for a special outing (like if grandpa took the kids fishing, or you went to Florida with the aunts and uncles, use fish, sailboat, or shell shaped cookie cutters for a fun reminder of the outing or vacation).

Click below for more craft tutorials and how-to's:
Tutorial Thursdays Linky Party

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Afghan: 1.1

Since I finished all the excessive reading for class with a day and a half to spare last week, I was able to get some knitting done on the afghan over the weekend and yesterday afternoon. When I do updates it might not seem like I did a lot so I'll provide a measuring tape in the progress photos. Mostly to make myself feel better about it.

And no, I did not remember to measure it at the beginning of the year but I think the +/- ten rows I did only added about two inches.

I'm going to a local yarn shop on Friday that I just heard about over the weekend. Stay tuned for a look at the store, to be revealed probably Saturday. I'm buying yarn for some of the projects I mentioned in my post on my 2014 goals. (My "goal post" if you like sports puns.)

See more projects by clicking below:

Monday, January 13, 2014

Yarn Review Monday 12: Red Heart and Sole

What is YRM: I honestly believe there are good things and bad things about every type of yarn, no matter how much you save or how much you break the bank. 

This is for the lay-knitter, not professionals. This is for people like me who might not necessarily be fiber experts despite being a crocheter or knitter for a long time, but need an honest opinion about yarn before they dive into a project with it.

[Photo source]

The yarn:Red Heart and Sole sock yarn
426 yd/389.5 m
70% wool superwash/30% nylon
Christmas colorway (#3973)

The project: Fred and George socks by Rachel Coopey. Published in Interweave Knits' Unofficial Harry Potter Knits. 

(The main yarn of the sock on your left.) 
What I liked: Doesn't really split when knitting. Doesn't stretch out as much while wearing the sock, and gets back to it's original fit after a wash and air-dry. Feels light and warm during wear. I also just realized while writing this up that it would probably work really nice as the main yarn for a Devan sweater since DGB is impossible/a pain and a half to find in the States. It is also made with aloe, although I'm pretty sure that after wash and wear since I made these socks last summer it's probably washed out by now.

What I didn't like: As you can see on the solid red sock there is some texture to the socks. Yes, I realize it is self patterning yarn but the textured stitches are so basic I was still disappointed they're so hard to see. This is definitely best for stockinette-only projects.

Affordability: I was gifted this yarn. However, you can find it online for $5.79 at the Red Heart website. It can be slightly less or more expensive depending on where you shop.

The kicker for me is in the dislike section. Even basic textures do not show up which will limit what you can do (in my humble opinion). I know of some sock patterns that specifically utilize and accentuate what self patterning yarn can do with certain textures, but we all know what I think about knitting socks so I guess I just limit myself.

Previous yarn reviews:
Bernat Boa ( Eyelash yarn; "unofficial" yarn review)
Berroco Vintage (TM) Chunky
Caron Simply Soft Solids and Simply Soft Light
Cascade 220 Sport Weight
Deborah Norville's Serenity Chunky Sprinkles
DGB Confetti
Fisherman's Wool by Lion Brand
Madelinetosh DK
Paton's Classic Wool
Plymouth Yarns Galway (TM) Worsted
Regia Angora
Vanna's Choice by Lion Brand

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this or asked to review this yarn by any store or the company itself. Opinions are my own.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Knitting Memes

Found these on Pinterest and have had then on my Knitting board for a while.


Remember: it is Sunday. Go to church and have a nice day.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Narcissa Socks: Complete

I got these beauties finished last night. After three months of having this pair of socks on the needles, they're finally bound off and ready to be given away.

I'm so happy. Now I can happily and confidently deny making socks to anyone ever again because the people who are worth my aggravation of making them, have socks from me now.... Mwahahahahaha!

Alright, alright, enough of my deranged happiness lunacy. Go look at some other finished projects, by less crazy people:

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Almost Finished

Here's my progress on that darn second sock:
Right sock finished, left sock on the needles

I have impressed myself too, considering the few times I've been able to actually sit down for a decent amount of time to work on this uninterrupted. This is a huge relief since I want to finish then before Monday.

...Which means I haven't been reading this week.

I decided to do a "2014 goals" post yesterday. You can read it and vote on the right on how well I do this year. I need input from pessimists, optimists, and realists. It's just for fun and I will show the results at the end of the year.
I'm hoping to get a Yarn Review Monday post in if I get the sock done in time so if it interests you, check back here on Monday.

See more projects by clicking below:

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Goals for the New Year

I'm going to do a joint post for my Love Your Library goals and for my Yarn Review Mondays, despite the fact that they are in no way associated with each other.

First, Love Your Library goals.
My number one priority for this year is to finish the blasted afghan and my plan is to have that as the only project on my needles until it is finished (as soon as I finish my friend's socks).

My next goal is to make some more baby knits out of the Bear Brand book my grandmother gave me at the end of 2012. This book:
I'd start with these...

It has some of the cutest "vintage" baby knits you can imagine. I've gushed over it before. Gotta love that buzzword: vintage.
I'd also like to make the dog sweater from the Ninth Sublime Baby Knits book. (That's not the actual title but I can never remember exactly what it is.) That sweater would be a great gender neutral garment because I can add a simple bow to the dog if the baby I'm knitting for turns out to be a girl.

I think that with nursing school in the mix just accomplishing those three projects will be a big deal for me.

Now for my YRM goals. 

I just have two major goals for this one, although I'm not really sure how well it will go.

 The first is that I want to start reviewing some yarns by local fiber artists. I definitely have some in mind that I will make a gigantic, thick, chunky scarf out of for the man of the house. This means I'll be doing some more shopping at Mrs. I's Yarn Parlor since she carries a lot of local yarn.
The other goal I have is to review at least twice a month, although I like to have finished projects to write about so this might not be such a reasonable goal. We'll see. That's all for me. Stay tuned to see if I accomplish my goals or horribly crash and burn... Haha.

I made a poll for my readers to vote on whether I accomplish any of these goals or not. You will not hurt my feelings if you think I won't be successful. Seriously people. I don't even know you, and it's just for fun. Vote away! I think you can vote more than once, like if you change your mind about my progress half way through the year. The poll will be on my sidebar all year.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Another New Year

Working on my friend's second sock. Pattern: Narcissa Socks by Rachel Coopey. You can look it up on Ravelry.
Ta da!
Sorry about the crappy photo quality...

I finished Silas Marner over the holidays and downloaded Lorna Doone. I started it but will have to read it in total silence until I get used to the change in reading complexity. I was not expecting such a drastic change when I started.

See more projects by clicking below: