Monday, October 20, 2008


I've always been afraid of stranded knitting. Stranded knitting is not my friend. When you are a lefty, knitting right-handed, except for holding the yarn in your left hand, but not knitting Continental style, the prospect of adding an extra color strand or two is too horrifying to even consider. Stranded knitting is scary.

Yes, I've seen many projects that I would love to have knit---if only they weren't stranded. Who knew that all it would take is the prospect of making a silly Halloween hat that also glows in the dark to make me go ahead and put my toes in the water? If you hang out here much, you know I can't resist teh silly, and Halloween has always been my very favorite holiday (lots of decorations, props, costumes...and more silly). So it's no surprise that glow-in-the-dark yarn would be the final temptation to the eternal 9-year-old in me! I had to do it! And how appropriate that I would try something scary to make something scary for Halloween. It was fate.

I found the lettering on Bernat free handout sheet for a Boo Bag. I loved the whimsical style of the lettering and how the O's look like spooky eyes, but I wanted a hat instead. So I lifted the lettering chart from the bag pattern, adapted it for working in the round and repeated it on both front and back of the hat. I didn't have a hat pattern, so it was just improvised as I went along and this is what came out...

I decided to make the top squared off so as not to interrupt the scary message on either the front or the back of the hat, and so the top could be arranged in various configurations of the wearer's choice, as well as adding some more glowiness.

I think it would even be cute with tassels or pompoms on the corners, but I had artistic differences with my "model," who refused to model the hat if said accoutrements were included. Supermodel temperament....

I did the lettering on both front and back so one can be scary both coming and going! This would make a great hat for more nighttime visibility for little goblins out trick-or-treating on the streets on a dark Halloween night.

Yes, the yarn really does glow in the dark and is visible for quite a distance! Here's a pic I took in a dark closet with no flash. Sorry for teh blurry, but it was a long exposure in the dark and holding the camera still for that long is impossible...

I used Cascade 220 Superwash in black, along with Bernat Glow-in-the-Dark yarn in Glow Worm White. The glowing yarn has absolutely NO give or stretch whatsoever, so it was quite a challenge to do stranding with---but I think the results came out pretty nice for a first try!

But the best part is---I get to be all silly and scary and glow-in-the-dark-like for Halloween!! How 'bout you?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Can someone please tell me....

What species of bird is THIS?

Rat Bastard! And in broad daylight, no less! Sorry for the slighly blurry pic, but it's hard to get a good shot of vermin while doing the squidgy-gross-out dance at the same time.

I must say, the little bastard has skilz, though. While sitting on the sofa I watched him shimmy up the pole and leap onto the feeder cage, then squeeze his ratty bod through the bars and proceed to enjoy the birdseed buffet.

The funniest part is, I'm so accustomed to seeing squirrels on the feeder I didn't even notice it was a rat at first.....until I saw the tail. Um, ick.

Sigh. Oh, well. Even a rat bastard's gotta eat. Just wish he'd find a new restaurant.....

Monday, October 13, 2008

Slam the Storm Doors, Stella! Hell Has Frozen Over!

And as rare as Hell actually freezing over, comes a blog post from me!

Don't fall over in shock! Yes, there's really a blog post here! Go ahead, rub your eyes. Still there. Not that I think that there is necessarily anyone around to even read it, but hey, I can live in denial about that fact. I run the rest of my life very successfully by spending lots of time in Egypt, so why not extend that to the blog as well?

I won't bother making any excuses about why I haven't blogged all summer. I've just been busy doing this and that, and blogging just didn't get included as a This OR a That. Unfortunately, most of the this-and-that is far too dull to even mention here. Let's just say it did NOT include a fabulous vacation or a lottery win, or anything else equally exciting.

And don't think I feel guilty enough to promise another post any time soon, either. Living in denial also affords me the luxury of a generous helping of guilt prevention, which I use very deftly when necessary---which is most of the time. So, for what's it worth, here I am for today anyway.

There has been a little knitting this summer! (and I do mean "a little"). I sort of lost my mojo for big projects and found lots of other things to do, but I did manage to finish a couple of small projects.

Made a bunch of these this summer, all of which went out as little gifts, except for this one:

These cup cozies really come in handy for keeping your cold drink from sweating and dripping all over everything. They also work great for hot to-go drinks as well to protect your fingers from the hot paper cup. I make them out of Cascade Fixation, and they are sort of like potato chips---hard to make just one!

Finished this cloth a couple of months ago. It's from a free pattern called Little Lace Kitchen Cloth that can be found on the web here. You can also find it on Ravelry as well.

Here's my finished Ruffled Tea Cozy! I started this one last year and finally pulled it out an finished it a few months ago. It's made from Socks That Rock and only used about half the skein. I haven't knit any socks from that yarn yet, but it was certainly nice to work with to make this cozy. Very squishy and stretchy! This was made from a pattern I got from the 2007 LYS Tour here in the Seattle area.

Here it is on a different teapot:

Those are little tea leaves knit directly onto the end of an I-cord coming from the top of the cozy. It was knit from the bottom ruffle up, and it came out very stretchy so it will accommodate a variety of pot sizes!

Have a couple of more projects OTN, but too lazy busy to post them right now. I'll try to be good and get some of them up on here soon---even the most embarrassing FO of all---a pair of socks that have been OTN for over a year (better known as the Tofutsies Torture Socks). I've told myself I cannot cast on another pair until I finish those, so I'm hoping to do that soon....or have some very cold feet this winter. Apparently I am not above following ridiculous, self-imposed rules, even though I hate following anyone else's rules. Don't ask---I can't explain it. But it's a rule, and I've followed it for months now, even though I couldn't tell you why. Aside from the stupid rule, I really need to start knitting from my sock yarn stash again soon or it's going to take over the house! So let's hope I get some enthusiasm up to finish the Torture Socks.

If anyone is still out there and happens to read this, please stop for a moment and say hello in the comments! Just because I've been too "busy" to blog doesn't mean I haven't missed y'all!

Oh, and while you're here--please try to guilt me into finishing those effing socks! I'm much more susceptible to guilt imposed from others, so maybe if you force me I'll actually finish them. Besides, I'm really sick of looking at them hanging around and I want my needles back...and my feet are cold.

Friday, June 06, 2008

It's Summertime!..Right?

Time for a weather-related rant! (If you want to skip by that, there is knitting at the end...)Yep. It's the good ole' summertime....every-freakin-where else except here! What are we having here? They're calling it "JUNuary." Heh. Very funny. It's been a balmy high of about 53 degrees and raining here all week. And I don't mean a light, warm summer rain either! We're talkin, get-the-hat-and-mittens-back-out cold, damp and rainy! Sigh.

Usually, once I put those flip-flops on for the first time in the summer months, my feet don't see closed shoes until they're so cold in the fall that there is threat of toe frostbite. I had started my official flip-flop season a couple of weeks ago when we had a couple of freak warm days in a row. Well, I finally had to give up and return to shoes and socks this past week or risk sloshing around in puddles with my bared feet.

The Official Seasonal Donning of The Flip-Flops (and sandals) is my small way of living in denial and pretending we have a real summer around here. Yes, sometimes I wear them with a jacket, and have even considered knitting Tabi socks to wear with them so as not to have any interruptions in my summery flow. To interrupt the official flip-flop-wearing season is a backwards move that must never be made, at the risk of encouraging the bad weather juju and summer skipping over us all together this year! The Horror!

Yes, I know I'll be complaining when we get those two weeks of 90+ degree weather in late August that calls itself our summer....but it's JUNE, dammit, and I.want.some.SUN! Not asking for much---just something at least pushing up over 60-65 would be nice about now. Again, sigh.

Okay, rant over for now. I was just sayin' is all...So let's look at some knitting, shall we? I only have one FO to show, but I have a couple of WIP's to throw in as well.

Here's a scarf I made from one of the one-skein patterns from the 2008 LYS Tour, with some modifications that made it a 1-1/2 skein pattern, a little longer and a little wider. My fluffiness does not like to be constricted by a skimpy or teeny scarf. Only makes me look more fluffy, IMO. It's sort of an elongated triangular shape, so it's pretty versatile and can be worn in several different ways: As a small wrap or scarf with the center in back...

(I know, lovely model...)...or centered in the front with the ends left hanging...

...or tied in some fashionable way that I haven't figured out yet...

Sorry for the crappy pictures. I tried and tried but could not seem to capture the color correctly, or hold the camera still, apparently. Here's a blurry picture of the yarn, but is the closest to the actual color, Dark Denim...

I'm not much for most of the novelty yarns these days, but this one has little bits of ribbons hand-tied into it (now, who can resist teh ribbonz), and it's purchase helps a village in South Africa to be self-sufficient. Besides, I really love the dark denim color and I need something to dress up my T-shirts (and flip-flops...grrrr) in the summer, cuz' you all know I roll real glamorous like that!

On the WIP front, I absolutely had to cast on for the ubiquitous and fun Noro Striped Scarf, made famous by the fabulous Jared at brooklyntweed. This is one I'll be working on for a while, as it's great to take along when knitting with other people, since I seem to be incapable of knitting and chatting at the same time without major knitting disaster. I figure it should be ready just in time for next winter.
Here's a final WIP to show ya that I'm loving working on as well, and also one that I can knit without any major screw-ups while knitting with a group...

It's a big, cushy, feather-and-fan-type wrap made out of Mountain Colors Merino Ribbon. The colors so much remind me of those found in a variety of hydrangeas that I love, so I have named it the Hydrangea Wrap. I usually don't feel the love for the ribbon yarns, but this one is soft and easy to work with, and pictures can't do justice to this colorway, which is called Lady Slipper.
Ahhhh. The cool colors of hydrangeas...and of summer. Hey, I can dream, can't I?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Back from blogging break...

It's been a looooonng winter here in lovely Washington State. So long, in fact, that it finally managed to suck the will to live out of me.....well, not exactly the will to live....but the will to do anything that took any kind of creativity or imagination whatsoever. Or any energy. Or actual effort. Well, you get the picture. And that snow in April didn't do anything to help the situation, either!

Well, we've finally had more than two hours of sun in a row around here, and some actual mid-day daylight has brightened my outlook considerably! At any rate, I actually got the notion to log in here and say absolutely nothing of consequence, but that's a start, isn't it?

In all honesty, part of the blame must be placed on the Ravelry as well. Over the past few months I've whiled away a few too many hours surfing around on there looking at the results of other knitters' ambition and drive! I've also amused myself rubbernecking on way too many discussion forums---great fun for the energy-less and SAD-afflicted knitter! Lots of inspiration on that Ravelry!

I must admit that blogging has lost some of it's fun-appeal since my discovery of Ravelry. Not saying I'm going to abandon the blog completely, but if I don't post for a while, someone probably needs to go drag my ass outta there. It's almost as bad as a gambling or shopping addiction, but you can do it at home in your robe and slippers, and it's not always quite as expensive---except when someone shows a new free pattern or yarn you simply must try....

Not to say that there hasn't been any knitting here at the Minion Ranch. It's been slow-paced, but I have managed to turn out a couple of FO's over the last couple of months. Lemme see here...::rooting around in FO basket to see if anything added since last post::.....

Oh, here's yet another Ballband dishcloth to add to the collection...

...and my first MD Bib O'Love....
No button yet, but I'll wait on that until I figure out who it will be going to. Here's a matching Baby Genius Burp Cloth to go along with the bib as a set...
It was my first time knitting both of these patterns from the book, and they are both fun and easy to knit if you are looking for a simple and cute baby gift. I like how the burp cloth pattern did fun, psychedelic-looking things with the variegated yarn colors.

And finally, here's the latest FO, which was knit as a present for my very special Nana on her 89th birthday.....
I'm quite proud of this one, so here's another close-up picture....
As I've been having some lace-knitting "challenges" lately, this project was a great cure and definitely got me going to knit more lace this summer! It's a pattern called Falling Water Scarf (free on Ravelry). I knit this one with Hand Maiden Swiss Mountain Silk (silk and cashmere). It's just as buttery soft as it looks and so lovely to knit with. The yarn is a little spendy but definitely worth it if you want a gorgeous, drapey knit scarf or wrap. BTW, Nana loved the scarf and has been wearing it proudly to church!

That's about all the knitting excitement around here for now. Too many WIP's on the needles right now, but that's normal. It seems I love to start new projects but am sort of slow about actually finishing them. But from what I read on line, this is a common knitter's affliction.

I'm off to enjoy another rare day of sunshine around here before the rain comes back! I'll be back when I have some more knitting to show, or when the blogging muse hits me,...or maybe when the cats drag in something interesting! >^oo^<

Friday, April 18, 2008

I love Springtime!

Today is April 18th.

It is 34 degrees outside right now.

It is both snowing and hailing at the same time...and it's sticking.

And oh, I forgot...the wind is blowing.

More predicted for the weekend.


It is Spring, right?

I would just like to say, for the record, that this does not make me happy.


ETA: Forgot to mention the thunder and lightening, and to deliver the photographic proof....

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Felting Fairy administers the Smackdown

So I had this idea to make a felted cat bed. Not an original idea by any means, but I've been wanting to make one for a while and finally decided to do so with some Noro Big Kureyon that I got for a great sale price. But I didn't want just a regular, small cat bed---I wanted a bigger cat bed!

I have knit many a felted basket in my time---granted, most of them smaller than what I was planning, but most turned out successfully nonetheless. Now, logic would tell you that I should take the methods I've used to make many successful small baskets in the past and transfer that to make the bigger cat bed. Yes, that would work! But did I take the path of logic and use what I already knew to make the big cat bed? No.

I thought I would try somebody else's pattern, because of course they must know better than me, right? Then, I would modify said pattern by adding just one more increase to make it a little bigger than the stated finished size! Yes! What's a little extra increase between friends? What possible harm could come of it? You can see where this is going, can't you?

So, I happily knit the popular Kitty Pi Bed pattern (based on the EZ Pi Shawl pattern) with my Noro, slipped in my little extra increase modification and some extra rows, and even cleverly added many rows to the side wall structure to make sure the sides would be tall enough to accommodate the extra width of the bed. After 3-1/2 skeins and feeling that the bed had reach ginormous-enough proportions, I further expressed my creativity by trying a new s-t-r-e-t-c-h-y bind off I recently found! (Sometimes with felting the upper edge can draw in too much, even if the bind off doesn't seem tight, so I thought I'd try out the new bind off to help eliminate that problem.)

It was after the bind off that I began to think that something was just not going to turn out right. Perhaps it was that first little tap of the Felting Fairy's wand on my shoulder. With the Pi pattern, the sides just flopped out sideways and could barely be detected before felting---not a good sign. Ginormousness aside, pre-felted baskets always show some structure of the side walls before felting. But the whole thing just lay there like a flounder. I tried to keep the faith and believe in the pattern, including what seemed like my very slight modifications, hoping it would all come together in the felting wash.

Here's what it looked like pre-felting (minion actual size)...

My little Toebi loves it! Sweet Toebi.

Slightly small cat on a very large mat. No problem---it will shrink tons when felted. See those slight little curls on the edges representing about 12 inches of knit side walls for the bed? Um, no problem--when it tightens up in the felting process they will stand up tall and firm! (second bigger whap from the Felting Fairy wand). Remain in denial about that new stretchy bind-off you included that might actually work. (Now being soundly thumped on the head by fairy wand...). We must have hope until the end, though, so let's move on to the actual felting and all will be fixed---Thump!! (That Fairy broad is really starting to piss me off now.)

So, fresh from the always-forgiving felting process (thump), I present to you for your amusement, the Minion Mat! (Thump, whomp, thump). Far better than an actual cat bed, and useful for all manners of cat repose,....

minion wrestling matches,....

and Felting Fairy smackdowns---and all unemcumbered by those silly, unneccessary side walls! Whomp! The Felting Fairy smites a death blow to the knitter who dares to get creative with a strange, untried pattern! Ouch. Well at least the colors are pretty, and it has that nice little lip to distinguish it as a handy cat mat rather than an actual cat bed or a throw rug!

Go ahead---mock at will the thoroughly beaten and smacked-down knitter. I'll wait while you run to the bathroom because you've peed yourself laughing at my folly. After all, it was only 4 skeins of Big Kureyon, countless hours of circular knitting, eleventy-seven repeats of dragging it out of the wash cycle to check the felting, and endless sniffling while my tired little fingers worked to form something resembling a curled lip on the edges as it dried...

Well, at least Toebi likes it---he's an easy customer to please. And what are the lessons have we learned here today, children?

  1. The Felting Fairy is a bad-ass beeyotch who will whup the life out of you if you think you are getting all independent and creative-like with felting untested patterns, especially those of a large scale.
  2. Don't use (or modify) someone else's pattern if you already have a method that has worked a zillion times before---you will certainly be smited a blow by aforermentioned fairy for believing that someone else's ideas must certainly be better than your own.
  3. Don't use Noro to felt objects that need some structure---it turns into a fuzzy, floppedy, floppy thing. (I should have known better when a Booga Bag felted out of Kureyon was sort of mushy and soft and needed a reinforced bottom added---but I thought the bulky version would be so much stiffer after felting---silly me.)
  4. If you have a yarn you have used successfully for past felting, think about using it when moving up on the felting project ginormousity scale.
  5. Always post your felting disasters in an open forum for public mocking as payment to the Felting Fairy, so hopefully she won't open a can of whoop-ass on your next felting attempt! The felting process is time-consuming and uses a lot of precious yarn to make a shrunken object, so you don't want to risk getting smacked down again!
  6. Cats are beloved creatures who pretend to love what you made for them, even if it turns out to be a mat and not a bed, and only laugh at you on the inside.

I guess that simple example of a "true" statement from my first intro to logic class really IS true----"The cat is on the mat."

Friday, March 21, 2008

Video Magnifique

Have you seen this YouTube video by the band, Tricot Machine? Watch carefully, as each frame of the the knitting actually changes! Inconceivable for me to even contemplate that much knitting for that little exposure time.

Do you think they were all knit by different people, or that just one or a few did a LOT of creative tinking and frogging? Do you think the changes could be computer-generated? Make sure you watch until the end when the answer is revealed.

The video itself is quite an artistic accomplishment and very absorbing to watch. However, the french music?.....not so much. I guess it's an acquired taste, like escargot or goose liver pate......But no matter because (with apologies to the band) watching the video is really all about the knitting content, no?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

We Love Surprises!! - Part II

Usually surprises are far and few between around here, but the past month has been a bonanza of surprises! Did I say I love surprises? Oh yes, I think I did...

Here's the latest surprise to show up in my mailbox last week---the Defeat the Winter Doldrums swap box from my lovely and generous pal, Katie! It was hard to fit all of the contents in one picture...

Wow, what a box! Katie sent a fabulous dishcloth and two matching scrubbies in a pink/tan color that I love, as well as another plus-size cloth with a rubber-duckie motif--hard to see in pic, but so cute! (BTW, Katie and I share a little secret concerning rubber ducks, which shall be revealed at a later date.) The yarn is Knitpicks Cot-Lin, which I've been wanting to try, in a beautiful bright turquoise color as well.

There is also an assortment of tea bags, soaps, a candle, a notepad and a heart-shaped sucker! And down at the very bottom of the picture, there are some truly gorgeous stitch markers that Katie made, which deserve a much bigger picture of their own...

Hard to capture in a picture, but aren't they especially pretty? I absolutely love them and will use them often!

Thanks so, so very much, Katie, for all of the lovely gifts you sent! I couldn't have chosen more perfect colors for everything if I had chosen them myself! Your box and your great note truly made my day!

Katie is not only a swap pal extraordinaire and the sweetest girl ever, she is also adventurous and brave and works as a pilot! Yes, she actually flies big jets for a living. Go over to her blog and pay her a visit, and see a picture of her in the cockpit! How awesome is that? Not just your average knit-blogger, that's for sure! (...but I can see why her mom gets nervous sometimes when she reads her blog...).

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

In which she proves that there really IS knitting going on...

If you read my blog, you would think that I spend all of my time wrangling minions, untangling ravaged stash, returning damaged stash and acquiring more stash, with no actual knitting going on. Well, yes, most of my time is spent in these pursuits, but not all of it. While FO's are scarce at times, there is occasionally a little actual knitting that goes on around here.

I recently joined the "Defeat the Winter Doldrums" swap, and made this cloth and scrubbie set to send to one of my pals...

The dishcloth is the DW cloth, a free pattern that can be found here. It was a fun and quick knit and great for variegated yarns. I've never made a scrubbie before, but this one was a snap.... The scrubbie is also from a free pdf pattern called "Dishcloth Duo," which can be linked through this page. The scrubbie as written in the pattern is cute, but comes out very small, so I modified the pattern to super-size it! I just increased the number of CO stitches and proportionately increased the number of rows knit, and got a bigger and better version.

Here's a little yarn pron interruption.....

It's the Knitpicks Bare laceweight I also included in the swap box. I have never seen this yarn in person, so I took a chance on ordering it, but I was pretty impressed with it when it arrived. (It was tempting to keep it for myself, but I didn't). It is very soft and cushy, and has excellent yardage for the cost. I even think it looks very pretty undyed as well. I'll definitely be keeping this in mind for a future project of my own!

Back to the FO's---here's a little something I knit for myself with a lonely skein of Noro Kureyon #134 from my stash...

My first pair of fingerless mitts! (modeled by cute hubby so I could take the pic)...He's so good about the knitwear modeling. Remember this? (scroll down past yet another yarn tragedy...). I'm sure he'll be thrilled about me sending everyone to have another look at that one...heh!

Anyway....I've never made mitts before and wanted an easy pattern to master the thumb-knitting thing without too much fuss, and this pattern certainly fit the bill. The pattern is "Maine Morning Mitts," from The Knitters Book of Yarn. (Great book, btw, if you haven't seen it.)

I believe the pattern is also available free on the web, and is linkable on Ravelry. The pattern is pretty straightforward and clear, so if you haven't knit mitts before, this is a good place to start. I only modified the pattern slightly by knitting on two circs, and picked up a couple of extra stitches around the thumb hole. They are comfy and fit very nicely, and after a long soak are now soft and cushy!

One warning if you use the pattern---it calls for one skein of Noro Kureyon, and it does mean the whole skein! So if you only have one, make sure you don't waste too much because it cut pretty close for me with only a couple of yards leftover! Of course, your mileage may vary, but I'm just sayin'...

I have a couple of other recent FO's, as well as the contents of the awesome swap box I received from my fab swap pal Katie, but still waiting for enough light to take some pics of all of it (what happened to all of our sunny days?...wahhh). As the queen of lollygagging and general procrastination, I can't say for sure when that will be, but we can shoot for soon, I hope...

Monday, March 03, 2008

A minion's work is never done...

As cute husband was heading out for work this morning, he came across a certain minion engaged in what can only be described as felonious activity of the highest degree. He found said minion on the floor with a blob of what was once a skein of Frog Tree sportweight alpaca, arms shoved in up to the armpits, nuzzling the yarn with his pointy little nose (can't say as I blame him for that part).

I'm not mentioning any names, but he has a lot of toes, is always busy, and was too inexperienced (or dumb) to realize he was even doing anything wrong. Cute hubby reports that he appeared to be quite pleased with himself and was enjoying the felonious activity immensely---so much so that he didn't even bother to stop or run away when caught! (Which begs the question... exactly how long CH let him continue before he stopped him....ahem).

Since the two older minions probably had the good sense to run away, I'm not sure he was in it alone, or if he got to it after prior assault by minion-y accomplices, but here's the result...

Busy, busy, busy---A minion's work is never done.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

We Love Surprises!!

While reading one of my favorite blogs, Chickenlips Knitting, Sharon posed a question in her post about Rod Stewart that only an older-than-dirt person like me would probably know the answer to. It wasn't a contest, but just a question that amused me in my ancient-ness, and so I answered in my comment.

Imagine my surprise when, while later reading her next blog entry, I saw my name mentioned at the bottom of her post....together with the words "I wanna send some yarn." Whaaaaat? For moi?!! In case you don't know, Sharon is a yarn-dyin' Diva of the finest degree and her yarns are lively and colorful and---I have drooled over them many times! It couldn't have been more than just a few days later when.....

"Hey, Mom! Is that the mailman?"

Why, yes! It was! And this is what he brought.....

A wonderful surprise for me! A yummy skein of Sharon's Stitchjones sock loveliness, called "Closer to the Heart." It's hard to capture the colors accurately, but trust me, it's gorgeous! And so soft, too.

Thank you so much, Sharon! I love the yarn and it will truly make a rockin' pair of socks that I can show off under my clear Converse sneaks! So sweet of you to send me such a nice gift, and the note you sent along was equally lovely!

"Can we make some socks from this yarn for me as well? I do have extra toes to cover, you know!"

"Hmmph. I don't know about this sock thing...and more yarn?. I think I disapprove."

"Oh, don't listen to him....he's always a grump. I approve!....Now about those socks...."

We do love a surprise around here---especially in the form of the gift of wool from a very nice person! Thanks again, Sharon! (And BTW, who would have ever thought I'd receive a knitting-related gift for knowing something about Rod Stewart?...and being old enough to know it...heh.)

(If you'd like to see some more of Sharon's great yarn, be sure to go take a look at her new online store.)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Thanks, Nikki! :)

A few weeks ago I entered a contest on Nikki's blog, and I won! I was so excited to win her contest, even though my history with blog contests has not been the greatest (more about that another time, so as not to detract from the thanks to Nikki and the display of goodies...).

Nikki was so sweet and actually "stalked" my blog to see what I might like. So not only was she nice enough to send a prize, but she cared enough to personalize it as well! She sent some lovely wool in shades of denim blues for a future felting project, which I absolutely love, some stitch markers (always very handy and used often by me), and a cute little sheep figure and sheep card. She even sent a prize for my precious minions as well---a catnip mouse!

Thanks so much for the lovely prizes, Nikki, from both myself and the minion posse! You are a lovely knitblogger, indeed!

While the wool was well-protected from the mitts of ravaging minions during the picture-taking and put away snugly after the photos were taken, unfortunately I cannot say the same about the fate of the poor mousie. I had to beat the minions off of the unfortunate creature long enough to get a picture, but then the carnage began---there was nothing I could do. First the toe-cat had a go at him...

After some fierce, extra-toed abuse, this was followed by a steal by the techno-cat....

who then gave the ill-fated mousie an advanced level thrashing of the worst kind....

....the dreaded bite-claw-kick combo! Ouch! Poor mousie. Let's just say he's not looking so good right now.

However, the cat posse would like me to say in their defense, that the mousie had a snarky smirk on his face from the minute he arrived here that they just didn't like, and he had the nerve to come around smelling like catnip, so of course he had it coming to him! They would never condone an unprovoked attack. Almost never. Not sometimes. (Well, mostly always...but they are minions, after all).

Thanks again, Nikki! We all love our prizes :)

>^oo^< >^,,^< >^--^<

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

My Warm and Fuzzy Heart(s)

I have always loved Valentine's Day. Not so much for the commercially-required purchased shows of affection for our loved ones (paper valentines, flowers and chocolate, all marked up 500% in honor of the occasion), but rather for the celebration of my favorite iconic shape---the heart! I am a lover of all things heart-shaped and Valentine's Day simply gives me an excuse to combine my love of heart shapes with my love of fiber and felting!

As you know, I adore felting and the resulting firm-but-fuzzy felted objects produced by the process. To me, felting is a magical illusion carried out with the addition of some warm water and friction to a usually somewhat floppy knitted object to produce a lovely, fibery piece of art.

How else but magic can you explain the ability to turn this basket full of non-descript pieces of knitting....

into these....

and these!!...

Yes, it's magic I tell you! I have completed many a felting project and I never cease to feel that little squeeee! of excitement every time, as I mold the felted objects into their final shapes for drying---and these little heart baskets and coasters were no exception!

The pattern I used to make these hearts is a Fibertrends pattern called "Heartfelt Expressions" by Evelyn Clark. I used Lamb's Pride Bulky and size 13 needles, dropped them in some hot water and woolwash, stirred vigorously and....Voila! Fuzzy hearts!

Since it's hard to see scale in these pictures, the coasters are all about 6 inches or more across the widest point, so quite generous in size. The hearts are about 6 inches wide by 5 inches long at the opening, and a bit wider at the base. The pattern has various options for bind-offs and height of the baskets or trays. I did each one a little bit differently in those respects, but I love how all of them turned out!

My Valentine's Day will be spent at Madrona, spending some time with the lovely Miss Evelyn Clark herself, and probably crippling my checkbook at the marketplace...

Happy Valentine's Day to all of you! May your hearts be warm and fuzzy....

ETA: Thank you, blogger, for that lovely last pic....I love you, too....

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


No, not that kind....

Just a little blog post catch up. There have been knitting and things going on here at the Minion Ranch, but I've just not been in the mood to take and edit pictures and actually blog something (read: lazy). I guess I could partially blame it on the evil Enablry Ravelry, which has become an incredible time suck and procrastination device for me lately. It seems I sometimes spend more time looking at knitting (other peoples') and reading about knitting (other peoples') than working on my own WIP's....

Anyway, on to the ketchup. Here's a nifty item that I've been wanting for a long time, and cute husband got it for me for Christmas...

Living in the PNW, trying to find the right time and place to take pictures can be challenging, especially in the winter. With this lovely little tent, external light of any kind can be aimed from the outside, allowing you to concentrate the light and take pictures of even the darkest objects on the darkest days.
(Minions provided for scale---must be purchased separately.) Simply remove optional minions, place your object inside, provide some lighting or place near a bright window, and you can take pics of your most objects without color change or much loss of color (depending on the lights you provide). The folded-up flaps provide a way to leave just a small hole for your camera while taking the picture, or you can use it with the front open as well. This particular light tent came with 2 drapes for the inside, white and black. It also collapses down to go into a small, portable soft case.

It will take a little practice to get things perfect, but here's my first couple of test shots with some beautiful Noro sock yarn...

Not perfect yet, but I love the way it was so easy to capture the colors of the yarns. The colors as portrayed are pretty close to the original with no color editing applied. (Also need to figure out what to do about those wrinkes in the backdrop cloth...). I'm so excited about being able to take pictures on any day, no matter what the light level outside, and at night---no more waiting!

I also got a set of Knitpicks wood knitting needles for Christmas, which I absolutely love! I'm usually not big on wooden needles because of the drag factor, but these are slick with much less drag than bamboo---just a little bit grabbier than turbos or Denise. I'm using them for the first time on my Secret of the Stole-ii. Progress on that is very slow, but it's not because of the needles....they are working out great.

I also completed a scarf for my hubby as a Christmas gift. Even though it was only a scarf, it was not without it's complications. Cute hubby is many things: Cute (of course), smart, lovable.... and picky as hell about some things. It had to be just the right yarn, just the right softness, just the right length in just the right stitch pattern to reduce chance of polite rejection. After much trial and error, I ended up with this...

I'm happy to report it was a smashing success all around and he loves it! The color is actually a more deep Merlot-red than I could capture in the pics. Rowan Cashsoft DK held double-stranded in a nice, manly-looking Mistake Rib.

I have never knit anything in Mistake Rib before, and I have to say I really like it! It makes nice, deep rib channels with a nice stretch, without bunching up together like regular rib. It's more interesting to knit than a normal 2x2 rib, and it also has a slightly more complicated and attractive appearance on the finished scarf than a regular rib, in my opinion. I like any stitch pattern that makes me look like a far more clever knitter than I really am, without giving me a headache. Hey, I did say I'm lazy, after all...