Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sugary Learnins'; Or, Cupcake Decorated Part Two!

What with one thing and another, I have fallen a step or two behind in updating you all about my (super extremely fascinating) cupcake decorating class.

This second week of class saw us make a "mini cake" with seven cupcakes. Here's what mine looked like.


And here's how we did it.

What you need

-seven cupcakes
-a solid, portable surface upon which to place your cupcakes
-a knife
-a small cup of water
-a lot lot of white icing
-a variety of coloured icing
-piping bags (one per colour - you can always just use a plastic bag with a snip at the corner)
-wax paper
-a marker
-a simple image you'd like to copy
-a decorator's clear gel (for which we did not receive a name, but I'll explain further)

How you do it

With your portable flat surface at hand and the weird decorator's transparent gel (but icing sugar can work as well, I'm told) arrange your seven cupcake in a circle and dab a wee bit of the gel/icing on the bottom. This will "cement" the cupcakes in place, since you'll be working a lot of icing on top of them in the next step.

Next step! Work a lot of that white icing on top of the cupcakes. The idea is to get all the nooks and crannies filled, fooling the eye into thinking you have one solid mini cake, and not seven individual cupcakes.

Helpful tip (that we weren't given until I asked almost at the end of the class: use the knife to dip in a bit of water to help smooth out all the icing, making it flat and lovely. Otherwise it sort of chunks up, and might disarrange the cupcake or icing below it).

With your marker and wax paper, trace your simple image onto one side of the wax paper.
Flip the wax paper over.
Using the weird transparent decorator's gel, trace the image you've just created.

Carefully, slap the wax paper, gel-side down, on top of your cupcakes (note: you can sort of see the remnants of this gel on my cupcakes in the top image).

Helpful tip: if you have any ability to draw whatsoever, just skip the whole tracing-with-gel-onto-wax-paper step. Just draw with the gel directly onto your cupcakes. As you know, I like to take as many short cuts as I can!

Ok, I swear you're almost there.

Now you get to mix up your colours, and fill in the image-outline you've just transferred onto the cupcakes.

That's basically it!


Now, as far as my cupcakes go, I didn't use the pre-selected images to trace. Obviously. I mean, what are the chances they'd actually have something I'd like to create? :)

And, just as a warning: as awesome as it is, black icing will absolutely change the colour of your fingers, tongue, and clothes.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Knit-Strology; Or, Extrapolations Based on General and Specific Nonsense - Pisces

PhotobucketSketching a Personality; Or, How I Have fun with Knitting and Astrology

Pisces: The Fishes
February 20 - March 20

Hi Pisces.

Dreamy, creative artists, you're likely to be (or dream of being) a knitting designer. You've got the patience and introspection to be quite successful at this endeavour.

Your knitting friends really appreciate your presence at knit night. You're always very giving, make a great teacher, and give out a general chill vibe that makes the whole evening quite pleasurable. You'd go out of your way to help a friend; overheard a conversation where she said she was missing just one skein of that colourway to finish this project that has to be done rightnow! You dive to the bottom of your stash where you know the saviour skein lies and you deliver it to her home the next day.

This could also be a bit of a Pisces' downfall. You're so very sympathetic, you might take on your friend's worry and make it your own! Focusing on the ways you so naturally help those around you might ease this stress.

You might be the sort who does a lot of knitting, but you're likely to do just as much (if not more) imaginary knitting. You think often about wonderful patterns, different designs, how great they'd look, how happy you'd be wearing them (and likely, how happy the person you've gifted the project to would be!)

This giving, thoughtful and sensitive nature leads you to, indeed, be something of a knitting-for-others knitter. Those who are worthy of your knits rejoice! Though perhaps not the best at working to a deadline. Just send along that Leo friend's birthday gift in November - they'll be just as pleased to receive it then.

Pisces rules the feet, so get those dpns and superwash yarn; it's sock time!
Mauve, lilac and sea green are colours sure to make a Pisces smile.
Start your Piscean projects on a Thursday or a Monday. They're lucky for you.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Knit-Strology; Or, Extrapolations Based on General and Specific Nonsense - Aquarius

PhotobucketSketching a Personality; Or, How I Have fun with Knitting and Astrology

Aquarius: The Water Bearer
January 21 - February 19

Hello Aquarius.

You know that original and inventive pattern? That one that's caught everyone's eye? You're either knitting it, or have just finished designing it.

Your intellectual skills and friendly inclination make you a great and useful knitting friend. As something of a free spirit (they didn't write that dawning of the Age of Aquarius song for nothing!) your comings and goings at knit night are met with hearty hellos and genuine pleasure at your attendance. This is because you're a great source of positivity, passion and inspiration. When something motivates you, you get super motivated!

You do indeed come and go with the group. They motivate you too, but you often need time alone to focus on creativity and to recharge your spirits.

With an open mind and interest in all-things-new, stagnation is your ultimate enemy; you like to try out different patterns and techniques, even those which other might shun as being unconventional. If it floats your boat, you pretty much don't care what others may think.

Yarn purchasing for you is often contingent on that particular yarn or yarn company's commitment to your shared cause or passion. Read: you're environmentalist? You're keen on the recycled fibres yarn. Vegetarian? You're looking for the most animal-friendly skeins on the market.

Aquarius rules the ankles and lower legs. I think this calls for some pretty socks!
Your lucky days are Sunday and Saturday. Start projects then!
Colours that are sure to please any Aquarius are blue, green, grey or black.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Indie Designer Revisited

PhotobucketDesigner: Breean Elyse Miller
Blog: Breean Elyse
Etsy Shop: Breean Elyse
Rav ID: breeanelyse
Some Great Designs: breeanelyse's Rav Designer Page
Original Indie Designer Post: February 20, 2009

I think it's so cool that, over a relatively short period of time, people can create such wonderful bodies of work.

This week's Indie Designer Revisitee was profiled only a few short years ago. Way back whens, she had only one (quite cool!) pattern posted.

See her very recently published Tribune Scarflette, right. It's part of a Malabrigo Freelance Pattern Project ebook, a collection of five patterns entitled Hot Child in the City.
It's a great little collection of wearable, young, fashionable and uncomplicated accessories, perfect wee knits to start and complete, just in time for the chilly winter weather.

This ebook isn't BreeanElyse's first Malabrigo project. See also her piece, Twisted Cowl, part of a collection featuring other great designers like Stephen West. Fantastic work. This cowl is chunky, textured, fabulous.

There's really quite a lot to talk about, but I'll limit myself to just one more knit: the Anna Cowl. This is a long, delicate and lacy accessory; just the right amount of lace, mind you. Just the right amount to say, peek above your coat collar, and with a great amount of full-on knit to keep your neck nice and tidywarm.

I'm really looking forward to BreeanElyse's future designs. Her aesthetic is well developed; one that I think is wonderfully wearable and attractive.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Knit-Strology; Or, Extrapolations Based on General and Specific Nonsense - Capricorn

PhotobucketSketching a Personality; Or, How I Have fun with Knitting and Astrology

Capricorn: The Goat
December 22 - January 20

Hi there Capricorn. How lucky - you're a goat! (all we need now is a bunny astrological sign and we've covered the major fibre-bearing animals!)

Ok, let's get down to brass tacks, here: you have great initiative. Indeed, you might have been the person who set up the knit night group in the first place. Where you fall down is your reticence to ask for help, and false pride to see that you might need it. You're pretty methodical, so believe you've picked out a pattern that perfectly suits your skill level and desires. But you make mistakes too, and can find yourself lingering in unhappy-project hell due to your unfortunate mistake.

You'd make a great teacher; you have the patience to sit there with someone and go over technical details and you love to feel useful, just like the other earth signs Taurus and Virgo. You're someone who knows how to do things, and get things done. You set high standards for yourself and for others, and will accomplish that goal, climb that mountain, and reach the summit of whichever-challenging-project you've picked.

Many knitters turn to you for advice. Your practical and well-thought out responses always seem to solve the problem of which lace shawl should I knit for my sister's wedding, and, do you think I'd actually get use out of this poncho?

You value tradition over innovation, and so your knitting projects will use tried and true techniques to get things done (remember: you shine in that department!)

You are very practical and possibly the most resourceful sign of them all. Your projects will likely utilize the perfect yarn in your stash, and be something that avoids overly trendy looks that might be out of style sometime soon. A beautiful, traditional aran sweater or fair isle gloves will suit your tastes just fine.

Capricorn rules the knees and lower legs. I think some legwarmers are in order!
Lucky day Saturday! Start your projects then.
Gift a Capricorn a skein of brown, grey or black yarn and they'll be very pleased.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Knit-Strology; Or, Extrapolations Based on General and Specific Nonsense - Sagittarius

PhotobucketSketching a Personality; Or, How I Have fun with Knitting and Astrology

Sagittarius: The Archer
November 22 - December 21

Halloooo Sagittarius! I'm very glad to see you!

You're such a positive, optimistic person, it's a joy to know you.
Others you knit with will say the same thing. They're glad to see you walk in the door. You're a great example of a positive approach to life; even when a particularly stubborn pattern or technique is causing you problems, you don't let it get you down. You can take repeated troubles or disappointments with aplomb.

Knitting is great for you; you love starting new projects, and there's always a new one in every skein. You're a very forward-thinking individual, and I have to say, it's really rather difficult to write anything bad about you!

Difficult, but not impossible.

Your blind optimism can lead you to carelessness. Fortunately for you, it's not such a big deal if you chose the absolutely totally wrong-o yarn for a particular project. Just start again with another!
It could be tricky to find you at knit night - you're restless, and might not be so very reliable a face around the table as a Taurus or a Libra. Exploration is your thing, so finding new places, new people and new yarns are right up your alley.
You can be impatient (you know, wanting to move on and all), so your projects might tend to be either small or unfinished.

Sagittarius rules the hips and thighs; shall I suggest you make some legwarmers? Possibly a knit skirt?
The lovely colours of violet, purple and red are sure to please the Sagittarius.
Thursday is a good day to start projects - it's lucky for you (but then again, what isn't?)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

January Sneak Peek; Or, YLYS in (semi) Hiatus

Well then.

My unfortunate predictions about my wrist have come true, and I fear it's highly unlikely that January's (and likely February's) editions of YearLong YarnSong will be published on time.

What with my wrist looking gross and icking me out, my progress has been much.... slower.... than it's normal pace.

Alright, boo hoo session over.

I do have a sneak peek photo for you!


This particular pattern, I'm very keen to have finished. Certainly so that I can share it with you all, but also, rather selfishly, because I WANTS to WEAR IT!

*insert evil laugh here*

Monday, January 23, 2012

Knit-Strology; Or, Extrapolations Based on General and Specific Nonsense - Scorpio

PhotobucketSketching a Personality; Or, How I Have fun with Knitting and Astrology

Scorpio: The Scorpion
October 23 - November 21

Greetings, Scorpios.

You're great knitters for your determination. You'll finish any project you set your mind to. You have almost limitless energy which you generally harness constructively. That's where your productivity as a knitting comes in. You've got plenty of finished garments, and you're very proud of each and every one.

Scorpios work very well on their own, and are quite happy being in their own company. You may be the type of knitter who knits with others, but you're more likely to not.

If you do have knitting pals, they are all inspired by your passion for knitting. Your resourcefulness, keen observance and intelligence comes in handy in many-a-situation. Someone's lost their stitch markers? (and there's no perpetually-prepared Virgos at the table to lend one?) Well, the Scorpio can MacGuyver something very impressive in no time.

When a Scorpio gifts a knit, they are very, very good gift givers. Your probing insight allows you to determine the best kind of gift for any one person; what garment, colour, yarn, will please them the most.

On the darker side, you might be a bit suspicious or jealous of others. You'd never bring a new pattern you're designing to knit night. Someone else might steal your idea!

The yarn you're likely to choose will be whatever is most suited to your current project. You wouldn't be the knitter who foolishly chose 100% bulky alpaca for a winter beret. Not you! You'd have done your research and known that something thick, with no elasticity, as lovely as it is, is not suited for a garment that's going to be worn in precipitation and needs to be fitted.

Scorpio rules the genitals. What should I recommend that you knit? I think I'll stick to the high road and say... socks.
Strong, fiery colours or red and rust do well to make you happy! Pick up a skein or two in their colour family.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Just a Bit of Cute Birdie

Title is pretty self-explanatory.

Here's Hilts, grudgingly sitting still for his picture.


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Knit-Strology; Or, Extrapolations Based on General and Specific Nonsense - Libra

PhotobucketSketching a Personality; Or, How I Have fun with Knitting and Astrology

Libra: The Scales
September 23 - October 22

Oh, hi there Libra. Sorry, was just lost in your eyes for a minute there. You're so damn charming! I blush :)

You're probably one of those people who show up to every knit night. You love to be around people, and especially love to be in posh, lovely surroundings (make sure your knit night's in a trendy new cafe for ultimate Libra pleasure!)

Your easy going, sociable nature makes you a much welcomed fixture at thesesame knit nights. Others appreciate the vibe you set out, making knitting in a group a great way to unwind after a busy day. You love beautiful things, and seeing all the gorgeousness of other people's knitting is very pleasing. You're the diplomat of the group, balancing out difference of opinion and finding a good, common way to maintain harmony. It's true, people's hackles can be raised if such a salacious remark as "continental is the only way to knit!" is spoke, but you're very good at calming those treacherous waters.

You may think less of someone for buying (in your humble opinion) cheap, horrid and useless yarn. But my goodness, you'd certainly never say anything about it! You loathe confrontation, and keep your "sophisticated tastes" to yourself.

When it comes to projects, you like your sophisticated, pricey and luxurious yarn. Unfortunately, you don't care for tedious, hard work, and will usually either work in very quick, simple projects or be a habitual starter and stopper of knits. Those quick projects are also a great choice for you, since you're sometimes indecisive and changeable.
You're artistic and talented, but might steer away from that intricate, 2,000-hours-of-work-shawl due to your underachieving tendencies.

Libra rules the kidneys - maybe a luxurious, comfy sweater is the thing to knit for you? (well, your kidneys are in your torso... come on! Work with me here people!)
Friday's you're lucky day to start projects.
You'll be sure to make a Libra happy if you gift them some (expensive!) blue or green yarn.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Indie Designer Day

PhotobucketDesigner: Dóra Stephensen
Website: Knitbook
Rav ID: dorabs
Some Great Designs: dorabs' Rav Designer Page

I can't believe how awesome this cape is.

It's Reykjavik, by this week's designer, dorabs. It looks warm, high-fashion, comfortable, and like a fun knit. This was my first experience of dorabs' design aesthetic, and believe me, it made me click superultrafast on her "other designs" link to see the other wonders she's created!

The November Cardigan is another great example of fashionable warmth and an interesting knit. I can see myself (and so many others!) happily sporting this lovely piece. I particularly like the long ribbing on the sleeve cuffs.

She's also great with colourwork. Here's Haust, (which means Autumn in Icelandic), a sweet top-buttoning cardi with simple and pretty fair isle running along the yoke.

Dorabs has plenty of other designs - check them out by clicking the link above.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Knit-Strology; Or, Extrapolations Based on General and Specific Nonsense - Virgo

PhotobucketSketching a Personality; Or, How I Have fun with Knitting and Astrology

Virgo: The Virgin
August 23 - September 23

Bonjour, my fellow Virgos! I'm keen to intellectually penetrate and critique our shared personality strengths and defects (haha, look what I did there! I like, totally proved I'm a Virgo in the first sentence. I'm just so damn clever!)

Virgos are precise, analytical and are often labeled perfectionist. You've got the most perfectest knit garments on the block! You certainly wouldn't be the type of person who, upon noticing a mis-crossed cable back near the beginning of your sweater, would just plod on and sport that handknit, shameful, glaring error and all! No! You'd frog, my friend. You'd frog.

You might have the most perfectest knit garments on the block, but you're shy and modest about it if people compliment you. You worry that perhaps it's not as perfect as it could be, you could certainly have made those stitches more even and done a much better blocking job.

It might have taken you a while to get comfortable with the new knit group you joined, but you've settled in well and are much appreciated for your dependability and helpfulness. Someone's messed up their lace pattern. Emergency! Hand it to the Virgo, who is certain to have the patience and analytical skills to work backwards through your piece and discover the root of the problem.

Industrious and efficient, Virgos might find themselves to be the knitter who shows up to knit night one week to cast on for a sweater, and two weeks later is in the process of sewing up all the seams. You manage your time well!

And the yarn you're knitting with betrays your practicality and love of all things natural. You're drawn towards that environmentally-friendly eco wool; it would be perfect for the timeless, classy cardigan you've been raring to knit for yourself.

Virgo rules (rather unfortunately) the bowels and guts and icky stuff. That's not particularly helpful when it comes to knitting garments, but Virgos love a good practical knit, so anything useful is a winner in their books!
Start projects on Wednesday - it's lucky for Virgos (though you're likely to always have some project on the go - you're uncomfortable if you're not constantly working!)
Colours for Virgo are like their personality; subdued and unassuming. Pick up a classy grey, beige or solid navy blue to make your Virgo smile!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Knit-Strology; Or, Extrapolations Based on General and Specific Nonsense - Leo

PhotobucketSketching a Personality; Or, How I Have fun with Knitting and Astrology

Leo: The Lion
July 23 - August 22

Leo Leo Leo!!!

I've been looking forward to writing your profile? Know why? Cause you have such powerful traits. And I'm not going to sugarcoat them for you, since you're so confident you can totally take anything lil' ol' me has to say.

People love it when you're there at knit night. Encouraging, inspiring, energetic and exciting, you infuse the drive and desire in others to try some new knitting trick, or tackle a pattern that might be challenging.
And you love to be loved (though, who doesn't, right?) The admiration you can see reflected in other's eyes just makes your day.

You're attracted to the finer things in life, and you work hard to get them. You're the one who's saved up pennies to afford the yarn for that indulgent baby alpaca and silk sweater. And you'd be able to pull it off, too. You've got that regal bearing! People notice when you enter a room.

Buuuut, my lion friends, if you, by some bizarre chance have your dramatic entrance go unnoticed, you might be put into a really rather foul mood. And when you're foul, the melodrama comes out.
While you are a natural leader, and are really a rather clever person, don't interfere where your two cents aren't needed. Leos can be bossy, so try not to tell that knitter that she's doing her yarn overs wrong. Just wrong! She's doing them wrong! It's ok. She'll let you know if it's a problem, because people know to turn to you for encouragement if she needs it. That is most definitely where you shine.

Leo rules the heart, so wrap yourself in a beautifully knit shawl or dramatic sweater.
Think fire, and you've got the lucky colours for Leo; orange, red, and yellow will make thost big cats purr with happiness.
While your confidence and ability to control situations are a great strong point, try starting projects on Sundays - they're lucky for you!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sugary Learnins'; Or, Cupcake Decorated!

I like to learn things. So the opportunity to play with sugar and icing and sprinkles and cupcakes and call it a class wherein I learn stuff? Oh yes please!

A couple friends and I have signed up for a cupcake decorating course through my city's rec centres (you should absolutely check *your* city's rec centre instructional classes. You might find something kickass).

The first class was this past Friday, and we did a total of seven "chrysanthemum" cupcakes each.

At first I conformed:



But you know I had to be a total rebel and try other shapes, too:


This is a very easy, if slightly time-consuming, cupcake decorating technique.

What you need
Mini marshmallows
coloured sugar crystals

How you do it

Spread your icing on the cupcake (one at a time, mind you. I iced all mine at once and found I had an issue getting the marshmallows to stick once the icing began to dry/harden).

Cut each mini marshmallow on an angle, dip in coloured sugar, and place artistically upon iced cupcake.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Knit-Strology; Or, Extrapolations Based on General and Specific Nonsense - Cancer

PhotobucketSketching a Personality; Or, How I Have fun with Knitting and Astrology

Cancer: The Crab
June 22 - July 22

Hi Cancer!

You're the knitter who others turn to for support. You're wonderfully nurturing, and being around you creates an atmosphere of quiet calm that can really balance out a knit night (especially if you're there with some fiery Aries or Leos!)

Not the centre of attention, and you like it that way! Seated securely and comfortably in your home will make you just as happy as going out to the low-key cafe where you meet your buds to knit. And, don't stay away from knit night because you think that comment someone made was a slight on your knitting. Cancers can be overly sensitive; sweep the comment away and meet up with your pals - they'll miss your caring, sweet and supportive self!
You also need the support of other knitters. It's nice to hear that your knitting really is great. Your projects totally are lovely! They'll encourage you to try something new, or to keep plodding away at that ambitious lace shawl you'd love to finish.

Your great memory serves as an encyclopedia for yourself and others; no need to lug that heavy techniques book around, or worry about a wifi connection. The Cancer is here! Likely to remember just how to make that tricky entrelac square.

As an emotional, sentimental person, you cherish the hand knit blanket passed down from your grandmother, and you surround yourself at home with items of nostalgia and comfort. You're also very creative, and likely have at least thought of designing your own work, if not already sporting your very own sweater and hat patterns.

Cancer rules parts of the torso; that's fantastic for patterns! Knit yourself some pullovers, cardigans, wraps and the like!
Orange and white are Cancer's lucky colours. When in doubt, grab these eye-catching hues for that hard-to-buy-for Crab.
Try to start new projects on Mondays or Thursdays - you might find that they're lucky!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Urban Fervour; Poultry Panic

Chicken Family - on blog
I'm not a confrontational, politically passionate person.
Shameful admission? I guess that depends on your stance.

Morality is individual in this day and age, etc, etc.

With that preface over and done with, I'll launch into the post:

I'm the native and current inhabitant of a city which has recently decided to have a look over its bylaws surrounding pets and animals kept within the urban city limits.

Until a few weeks ago, one was only allowed to have three or fewer pets in one's household.
That's been repealed.
You can have as many kitty cats as your heart desires, according to the bylaw.

But goodness gracious, you certainly can't own a chicken.

Admittedly I have a limited practical sphere of experience with these creatures. I'm well aware that in large numbers they create a stink that will melt your face and make you most unpleasant and eager to shower.

I have, though, read some research. Research based on facts and all that stuff. Not just some city councillor's subjective, biased, personal experience.

Backyard chickens, it's feared, will spread disease.
In fact, there's plenty of evidence from people who know this sort of stuff that this danger is no greater from your (reasonably sized flock) of chickens than it is from your pet cat(s).

Noise level? Dogs are certainly louder than chickens! The decible level of hens, even in the "loud" times after laying their eggs, are the same as the decible level of people having a conversation.

So, I ask you out there:
(No matter where it is that you live:) Do you care one little bit about this issue, one way or the other?
Do you have any objective, or even subjective, information you can share about it?

Responsible pet ownership needs to apply to all animals people keep, and I'm just not sure that the reasons for banning urban chickens hold water, if people are held to certain reasonable standards.

And, a little bit of self-promo:
It's unlikely that any of you are Hamiltonians. If you are, and have anything to say about this issue, you can email your councillor.
Even better (for me, that is!) sign this petition if you agree with the stance.

Thanks to everyone for your input.

And now, back to knitting!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Knit-Strology; Or, Extrapolations Based on General and Specific Nonsense - Gemini

PhotobucketSketching a Personality; Or, How I Have fun with Knitting and Astrology

Gemini: The Sign of the Twins
May 22 - June 21

Howdy Gemini!

Are you a process or a product knitter? Do you have a love/hate relationship with your stash?
Does your clever wit uplift a possibly downbeat knit night?

You might be a Gemini!

This sun sign says you're meant to be dualistic; possessing traits, likes and dislikes that are, apparently, contradictory. Now, for this author, that seems like I could say anything about you, and it'd adhere to the "Gemini" personality sketch.

But lo, this may not be so!

Gemini love change, freedom, independence and communication. When you do show up for knit nights (sorry, you can be flighty! things don't always hold your attention for very long), you're the one to ask for advice. What should I knit for my impossible-to-knit-for brother? Will this variegated yarn compliment my hair colour?

Your restlessness might lead you to be one of those knitters who has, say, 30 WIPs and perhaps only a handful of FOs. Your voracious appetite for knowledge and learning may lead you to be attracted to projects because they'll teach you something new.

Remember how I said you rule in communication? That applies to more than just chatting with your friends. You might make a great knit blogger, too! Try setting down some of your clever ruminations on knitting and sharing them with the cyber-public.

Gemini rules the hands and arms. Mitts, gloves, and armwarmers will all be welcome gifts for a Gemini!
Your lucky day is Wednesday, so starting projects then is a good idea.
Lucky colours for Gemini are lemon yellow and orange. I'm jealous! Such lively and happy colours. Pick up some sunny skeins for yourself or other Geminis you know.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Indie Designer Day

PhotobucketDesigner: Boo Knits
Blog: A Contented Life
Etsy Shop: BooKnits Too
Rav ID: generous-gardener
Some Great Designs: generous-gardener's Rav Designer Page

If you like floating, dancing, ephemerally gorgeous lace, then this is the designer for you.

Boo Knits has a fabulous collection of such garments, and I'll briefly point out a few of them for you today.

First is the pictured Cloud Illusions. It was difficult to choose which pattern I'd feature in the photograph, but this one was the winner because of it's quintessential lace edge points and stylish thrown-over-the-shoulder look. I think it's pretty important that your time-comsuming labour of love lace shawl look good scrunched up around your neck; not just when you've got it spread across your shoulders, wing-style.

Ictis is another example of prettiness in both stretched out and scrunched up forms. In particular, the optional addition of bead details on this piece makes for a wonderfully elegant accessory.

Dragonfly Wings, a fantastically free pattern, looks really cool wrapped around your shoulders and pinned in place. It's another example of that great wide scarf/shawl shape that I love so much. The layers of wrap with it's overlapping points create an apparently seamless rhythm, drawing attention to your face and making you and your outfit look amazing!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Knit-Strology; Or, Extrapolations Based on General and Specific Nonsense - Taurus

PhotobucketSketching a Personality; Or, How I Have fun with Knitting and Astrology

Taurus: The Sign of the Bull
April 21 - May 21

Hiya Taurus!

You're the knitter that will sit there and frog and frog and frog. You'll frog something for yourself. Not because you're a perfectionist, but because you're patient. You'll find your knitting friends will hand you their projects to frog, their stubborn skeins to untangle. That's because you're just as stubborn as that knotted skein!

It's also claimed that your lazy streak could lead you to simply drop a troublesome project - I prefer to think you'll take that bull by the horns and utilize your persistence (read: stubbornness) to a positive end.

Taurus are sensual, as in, taking delight in all the senses. This leads you to pick a pleasantly textured yarn, comfy warm sweater, snuggliest seat in the house and most delicious snack to nestle down with to do your knitting.
You are very practical, though, and while you love the luxurious softness of the qiviut, you're much more likely to pick up that soft blue (and reasonably priced!) superwash merino.

Your practical nature also leads you to be very adept in knitting emergency situations. Yet another reason why your (perhaps more impulsive and impatient) fellow knitters hand you their frustrating project! You're a very reliable friend.

With your respect for tradition and established, reliable techniques, you might not be the first person to jump on the trend bandwagon. You'll be the one utilizing the successful, good, well-tried skills and will generously help anyone experiencing issues with their new-fangled work.

Taurus rule the neck and throat; you have a plethora of projects that would suit you wonderfully! Pull out that scarf pattern, knit yourself a quick cowl.
Try to start your projects on Mondays or Fridays - they're your lucky days.
Stuck on what colour yarn to pick? Taurus' lucky colours are blue and blue-green. Very soothing for those bulls!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Completing the Quartet: Winter Little Seasonals

I'm pleased to announce the publication of the fourth and final installment of my pattern writing partnership with Hannah Poon (aka mousewife), Winter Little Seasonals.

Like always, we've each contributed two patterns to this issue. Mine are a set: Snow Honey (the cowl!) and Snow Honey (the mitts!)

Snow Honey Mitts - on rav

These are a matching set which utilize the honeycomb stitch as well as an interesting shape to create interest and uniqueness in an otherwise very regular and functional gathering of garments.

Hannah's patterns are very cool. Check them out: Plaited Warmth Cowl and Plaited Warmth 3-in-1 Gloves.

Clicky here for download.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Knit-Strology; Or, Extrapolations Based on General and Specific Nonsense

Sketching a Personality; Or, How I Have fun with Knitting and Astrology

I'm far from being an expert on anything (except perhaps the dietary inclinations of yellow songbirds and which specialty cheese would best match your current mood), but I've decided it might be great kicks to manufacture some amusing knitting-personalities based on the sketches astrology provides.

Disclaimer: I don't believe in astrology.
Full Disclosure: I LOVED astrology in high school. Thought it was the bee's knees and so forth. So, I'm familiar with the proclivities and fatal traits associated with each sign.

So, for your amusement and reading pleasure, I'll be posting these sketches every other day til they're all up.

First, I'll start where the astrological wheel starts: Aries.

Aries: The Sign of the Ram
March 21 - April 20

Hello Aries.

You have a ram as your sun sign counterpart; talk about serendipitous!

Your courageous and optimistic nature leads you to gallop headlong into new projects and challenges. Good for you! It's wonderful to expand your knowledge base and take on new skills.
The downfall here is when that new challenge is proving to be more trouble than its worth; across the room it flies! Impatience and a short temper can adversely affect the outcome of these brave new endeavours.

Take heart, though! You might have faults, but you have plenty of positive traits as well!

Your generosity leads you to be something of a gift-knitter, one of those whom put their knitting time on the line to give to others.
Your enthusiasm for your knitting brings excitement to those other knitters in your group who may be of a more subdued nature.
And speaking of that knitting group; your natural confidence and leadership skill make your absence from the regular meetings very much missed, but don't feel bad about your independent nature leading you to seek more "alone time" knitting.

While you might not be the best person to teach someone else to knit (patience isn't one of your virtues!) you're great with advice; your frank, direct and candid countenance will stop someone from buying that horrid yarn you know they'll regret later. Your recommendations on good patterns for taste and skill level will be much appreciated!

Aries rules the head and face: knit hats for yourself and other Aries in your life.
Red is your colour; if you're stuck and don't know what colour yarn to buy for an Aries, a beautiful fiery red is the answer.
Try to start your projects on Tuesday; it's your lucky day of the week.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Another Great Way to Waste Some Time

And, I mean "waste some time" in the most fulfilling sense possible!

Here's a link to a vid, the first part in a 2004 reality tv show called Regency House Party. They throw men and women together in a period house with period clothes and period courting rules. History lessons, drama and hilarity ensues.

I'm currently addicted, though really rather late to the party.


Friday, January 06, 2012

Indie Designer Day

PhotobucketDesigner: Kristina Vilimaite
Rav Group: ANIMA Knitting Club
Rav ID: AnimaKnits
Some Great Designs: AnimaKnits' Rav Designer Page

Let's start off this year of indie designer profiles with a knitter who has a lovely, delicate and wearable aesthetic.

AnimaKnits, recently featured in the Winter edition of Knit Circus, has only a handful of patterns. But it's a handful of patterns that are all so attractive and knittable!

I'll point out two:
First, there's Hana Shawl (pictured). I'm a big fan of the wide scarf/shawl garment. I have a couple myself, and find them to be very functional garments. A great way to add a bit of lace to your wardrobe.

There's also a shawl-proper, Late Hours Shawl. Fun fact: this shawl comes in 11 different sizes. Baroo? Whatcoo say? Eleven sizes? Not only is it given in S, M and L, she's also provided different instructions for different gauges.
Very cool.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Ultimate Fruits of 2011 Gardening; Or, How I Have Learned

Garden - on blog
I'm not a gardener.
My dad is, but I'm not.

I'm hoping that there's some sort of positive, genetic connection that will give me great talent, wisdom, or perhaps even luck, for my planned 2012 garden.

The above picture is pretty much the height of success I had last year in my community garden plot.

I spoke briefly (but sadly far too soon) about the rambunctious growings of my pumpkin plants this summer.
The suckers ended up getting fuzzy mildew and I got one good, ripe pumpkin out of it. Well, two, but someone stole one before I harvested it.

This picture below is one I took (clearly months ago!) of my backyard.
For this year's garden, I suppose it's not human thieves I need to be concerned with, but rather the local cats (a number of which I've already met, as has Elbie!1) and likely ravenous birds.


This L-shaped strip of garden will, with hope and plans and fingers crossed, become my fruitful joy of the season.
We'll see.

But for now, I've ordered my seeds, and am anxiously awaiting their arrival.

I think I just like getting mail, since it's certainly not because I can plant them. I can't even start the wee ones out for months!
1 At the risk of sounding like a doting mother, I have another Elbie story for you.
When I was moving in to the new place, I was parked across the street and physically toting a couple boxes or two to the front porch, and then would lug them inside.
Well, didn't I just take the risk of leaving Elbie on the porch for a very short second, to jog across the street and grab one more box.
And don't you know, without a lie or hyperbole of any sort, three neighbourhood cats appeared mere moments after his cage was set down and began, very interestedly, trotting up to my poor lovebird.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Zebra Finch Fantastic: Peg, the One-Legged Bird

I hemmed and hawed about whether or not to post this post; it's a good story in the end, but scared me very much when it happened.

Ultimately, I thought it would have made me feel much better if, in my desperate google searches for "zebra finch leg break", I found some reassurance that it's not necessarily the end of her little bird life.
So, to the story:

One morning, I awoke to discover one of the three month old zebra finch females had her leg caught in part of the cage. These birds aren't the cleverest or strongest of creatures, and when stuck, they'll thrash in order to get away.

On closer inspection, it was clear (and I'm not going to get too graphic here) that her right leg was broken.
I felt so sick and terrible and afraid.
Of course, I carefully freed her immediately. She flew off, and, while clearly struggling to remain balanced on one foot, she seemed absolutely fine.

And of course, I was still very worried.
Her leg was broken in such a way that it was obvious that splinting it was not going to help. I knew she'd have to lose her leg.

Fear not, folks. Remember: happy ending.

I took her to the vet. He explained how lucky I (well, how lucky she) was: the way she had broken her leg had ensured that she didn't bleed terribly. He amputated the leg, and gave me some antibiotics for the newly named Peg.
(naming her Peg - does that make me evil?)

She got her two drops of antibiotics twice a day for a week. Her stump still looked suspiciously red and a bit inflamed (to this untrained eye), so I still worried.

Now it's been several months, and she's thriving.

She very quickly learned to compensate for her new balance. She's back in the cage with her mom and sisters. She eats as heartily as ever - most of the time she beats the other birds to the feeders. And her poor little stump leg has healed perfectly.

Birds can be mean to each other, and I keep a watch out for any bullying. They tend to pick on the weakest member of the flock, but it seemed Peg happily eats, chirps and snuggles into sleepytime perch alongside her family.

So, take heart: if you have a zebra finch who's broken her leg, and it's clear she'll have to get it amputated, this will not end her life. She still has the ability to be a happy, funny, curious, chirping little feather face for a long time to come.


Tuesday, January 03, 2012

2012; Or, How This is Not a New Year's Post

Colour of the Year, Tangerine Tango1

I was pleased to discover that the colour-mascot of 2012 is this fantastic shade of red-orange.
Apparently it was picked because of its "sophisticated and dramatic undertones". Shall 2012 be sophisticated and dramatic, then?

I hope not.2

I prefer to hitch my cart to this colour with the invested symbolic meanings of "fire in the belly", the drive to get things done, choose your goals, choose your desires, choose your path and actually do it work towards it.

To that end, I've made me a list of goals for 2012. And, while this might sound... ridiculous? overly impersonal? twitchy? I heard some advice that setting yourself a personal mission statement can be very helpful for clarity of mind.
I've set that down, too.

I've chosen to focus more, more and more greatly on designing. I want to show you all the lovely things that are dancing around in my head. I want to work with wonderful yarn and gorgeous colours. Maybe even some Tangerine Tango itself.
So this year, plan to see even more from me. *grin grin*

Now, hmmm... I feel that my postmodernist foolishness of a post title needs to be addressed.
Well, I've never been one for resolutions. It seems very much like setting yourself up for failure.

So, I'm re-naming this activity. It's not resolutions I'm making. It's choices and decisions. With no connection in the least to the flipping of a calendar. Yes. No pressure, folks, no pressure.

1 Linky here. Tells more about Pantone, how they choose colours, and who this affects. Namely, everybody! It's like that scene in The Devil Wears Prada, where Meryl Streep goes on and on about why Anne Hathaway's shirt is blue.

2 I don't like drama (that's skirting far too closely to change, and change is frightening), and I'm certainly not sophisticated!