Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Summer is definitely here!

We've had a whirlwind couple of weeks at our house. First, our spontaneous (for us) family road trip to Washington, DC the week of June 10. We visited various monuments/memorials,

Smithsonian museums, including:

The Museum of American History (where Tori totally geeked out at seeing the batarang from the 2008 movie while wearing her Batman shirt!),

The Museum of American Art (where both the kids geeked out because of the Video Game As Art exhibit),

And, I think this one is from the Archives, but I'm not 100% sure..... Still, it's terrible, but it's such extreme propaganda that I couldn't help but laugh.

We rode the Metro a lot,

got rained on,

got sunburned, and even cried a little (both at Arlington National Cemetery, where I didn't take any photos). 

Tori and I visited a wonderful yarn shop in Alexandria, VA called Fibre Space, where I bought some amazing locally dyed yarn. 

On the way home, we spent a day at Cedar Point, riding roller coasters and getting more sunburned. Again, no pictures. This time we were too busy having fun.

All in all, it was an excellent week away. Just what we needed to completely wear ourselves out and feel like we needed a vacation from our vacation. I know you know what I'm talking about!

Then, after a few days of "normal" (whatever that is), I left town to attend TNNA with Elizabeth (who owns River Knits) and Heather (who is the other instructor at River Knits). This year was quite interesting. We didn't go last year, and the difference two years can make (and not make) is amazing. Every year when we go, we see exciting new yarns and patterns, and sometimes even innovative new products. This year was kind of disappointing. In addition to the fact that there wasn't much new stuff to report about, attendance was really low, there were way fewer vendor booths than in the past...... it was kind of sad. But, I think it speaks to the fact that yarn companies and publishers need to re-think their marketing and how to get their product seen by retailers. Clearly, they weren't attending the trade show. My husband says the same thing happened in the computer industry about 10 years ago. In the digital age, there's just not a lot of logic in the old trade show model.  Even with the tactile experience of touching yarns and trying them out, it HAS to be less expensive or at least cost the same for vendors to put together packages of samples to send to yarn shops than it does to go to the trade shows. There is one exception: the classes are amazing, and you can't replicate that experience online.

I took a class called "Fake your way to Fair Isle." We dyed knitted blanks using Greener Shades Dyes. It was so fun, there aren't even words!

Undyed blank:

Dyed Blank:

After steaming:

Another set, after steaming (I'm using these together for Fair Isle Mittens):

And what trip to Columbus, OH would be complete without a visit to Schmidt's?!?!?!

And now, we're all caught up! That's what I've been doing the last two weeks. I can't wait to do more dyeing. I've purchased dyes, and Elizabeth has ordered me a knitting machine so I can make tons of blanks and dye my little heart out. I can't wait! I'm sure you'll get to see lots of pics of that in the future.

What have you been up to this summer?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Vacation Knitting and my Craft Cart

I know I'm not alone in planning specially vacation knitting. Many bloggers talk about packing their knitting, and then seeing if there's room for anything else. :) I'm not quite that bad, but when I'm staring down a road trip with hubby and the kids, you can bet I'm thinking about all that uninterrupted knitting time in the car. You see, I'm blessed with kids who travel well and a husband who prefers to drive....one reason for that could be that I'm an impatient lead-foot, but I digress. So, here we are. It's summer, and I find myself once again evaluating my Ravelry Queue and Favorites to find just the right thing(s) to knit while we travel. Which raises the question: What makes perfect vacation knitting?

For me, it has to be simple enough that I can look away regularly without losing my place. It also has to be complex enough to hold my interest for hours at a time. Past vacation projects: Morganite shawl, various moebius scarves, socks, Clockwork, Catkin... you get the idea. I seem to really like shawls and scarves for travel knitting. But not super-lacy, complicated shawls and scarves. I stick to the basics. Nothing finer than fingering weight--the bumps in the road make laceweight too difficult to handle--and garter or stockinette stitch with a little shaping thrown in for interest. This year, I think I want to knit a sweater. I've done a ton of shawls lately, and I'm ready for something different. I picked up 4 skeins of Briar Rose Glory Days at the Fiber Event in April, and it's calling to me. It hasn't told me what it wants to be yet, but it's definitely calling to me. Stay tuned.

In other news, last week I took Wednesday off, and I used the afternoon to assemble a Craft Cart. I had an idea of what I wanted, but tried to keep an open mind as my son and I wandered through two Goodwill Stores and the local Habitat for Humanity ReStore. Nothing was quite what I wanted, though. Sigh. Off to Target to get a few groceries before going home....and then I found it. It wasn't exactly what I was looking for, but it would sure work.
Room Essentials 3-Tier Wire Shelving plus the set of casters (sold separately). I also stopped at the hardware store and picked up some S-hooks and carabiners for hanging things from the wire shelves. What it holds: Both sewing machines (which are both hand-me-downs, and the only reason I keep them both is because my daughter likes to sew when I do), laminator, box of scrapbook papers, sewing supplies, boxes of fabric, trims, thread, craft paints, brushes, a couple of canvases, and on the very top is a paper cutter, a bolt of fabric and some fusible interfacing that I don't want to fold.  And the best part? It fits in the closet, under the games and beside the vacuum and carpet shampooer! (Yes, it's an insanely deep closet.) I do have to pull it out to get the vacuum and/or shampooer out, but that's okay!
Now, all I have to do is pull it out when I want to use it, and push it right back in when I'm done. This is going to go a long way toward keep my crafting messes under control. It will also make it more likely that I'll work on projects now that everything is in one place and easy to get to.

How do you store or organize your hobby/crafting supplies?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Busy weekend!

Had a great weekend! Spent the day Saturday painting over the blue wall in the front room. Kicking myself because I forgot to take a "before" picture. I loved the blue once upon a time. But it's been about 4 or 5 years of blue. Time for a change!

I took this picture with my phone, not the "good" camera. So, it's a little fuzzy, and not great. But, you can see the green, which I love. Did you know green is my favorite?

I also made curtains for the same room the windows are directly across from the green wall.

I cannot wait to get rid of that blue futon! But, that's a project for another day. Still, I love the curtains. Here's a closeup of the fabric:

I have enough to make some pillows....maybe even enough to make a pouf or maybe this one or this or even this!

While I had the sewing machine out, I decided to tackle a project I'd been mulling over in my mind for a while. I saw this really awesome magazine organizer on the Container Store website.

Cool, right? And, really, at less than $15, totally worth it! However, I don't have a Container Store nearby, and I didn't need the little pen pocket, and the grommet hanger wouldn't really work where I wanted to use it. So, I decided to engineer my own.

I had some 6-packs of fat quarters I picked up on clearance at JoAnn Fabrics a few weeks ago, so I used those to create the pockets, which are sewn to a base of remnants from the tablecloth I used to make my curtains. Here it is, filled with my knitting magazines:
It's just what I had envisioned. And way cuter than the one from the Container Store, right?

Tomorrow, I'll tell you all about the crafting cart I put together on Wednesday of last week. It's made my life so much easier! And it's helped keep the house tidy.

What did you do this weekend?