Saturday, December 20, 2008

Merry Christmas from the Family

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Pink and Butterflies?

This is a picture of my new dining room valance.  I am not sure I like the green under-valance.  It seems to droop.  I think it's the hem but am thinking about removing it altogether.  Not sure it is necessary.  The colors look good in the dining room though.  My husband who wished they made Garanimals for adults said it looked good.  My 11-year-old daughter Samantha said, "Pink and Butterflies?  It does not get any better than that."  This is from a girl who entered our cat in an onlne baby contest and then signed her up for a Gerber life insurance policy.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Variegated and the Yarn Stash

I was looking at my projects on ravelry the other day and noticed all of them are variegated and the funny thing is I cannot stand variegated yarn. When I first started crocheting, hand-dyed yarns were just coming out and the big thing. I had a full-time job then so I built my stash with all the fascinating variegated yarns and now I am stuck. I really prefer matte solids now but I have all this stripy stuff. I'll just have to work through it.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Dining Room 95% done!

final walls 3
Originally uploaded by orangeeener
The dining room remodel is 95% done. We began 2 years ago (it could be longer) on our dining room and finally broke down and hired a painter. Boy, was it worth it. Since my flare in January, I have not had the endurance or control to do all the hand-painting required in this room. It really turned out nice, though.

I did a lot of research on period paints and paint schemes. You cannot tell from the photo but the trim is actually cream. You could not make a true white paint in the 20's because the pigment was not available so I went with a very yellow white. Also, the ceiling has a metallic glitter overglaze. A lot of Craftsman homes had pearly and metallic accents on the ceilings and in the wallpapers and I tried to stay true to that. The only place I stretched was the raspberry paint color. That color may not have been available but it was the dominant color in the original wallpaper of the room.

The doors were originally varnished in the 20's with an obscuring dark brown varnish. Then, in the 50's or 60's painted tan which has been slowly flaking and peeling off. By painting it dark brown, I am trying to restore the look the doors once had. Modern stain do not give the doors the "grain-less" look the original varnish did.

There are more pictures on my flickr site, , if you are interested in the before shots and other views.

The paints I used were all Benjamin Moore and I am pleased with the sheen and coverage of the paint. The colors are: ceiling - tucson tan, wall - cinco de mayo, trim - vanilla ice cream , doors, bittersweet chocolate

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My Own Liquid Laundry Detergent

I finally broke down and did it.  I made my own detergent using Recipe #1 from the frugal shopper.  After analysis of the ingredients, time, and the kicker, money saved.  I decided it was time.  The article that really swayed me was an article from The Simple Dollar.

The author broke down all the costs and what his savings would be.  He also tested his detergent against Tide with bleach alternative.  My costs were more because I purchased one bar of Fels Naptha soap @ $2.39 (but use only 1/3 of it).  Also, I had to drive to 2 store to find the materials.  If you are in McKinney, save yourself the trouble and go to the Kroger on 380.  I have only used it on one load but the kids have said it smells good to them and thought it was cool I was making a mess in Dad's kitchen.   After cooling, the mixture is glutinous and slime-like and a light chartreusy yellow.

I have decided to buy a laundry soap dispenser from The Container Store to store it in.  I may need 2.  It made more than I anticipated.

I have not tested it on my hand-washables.  I was interested to know if anyone had tested it on wool or their hand-knit items.

Myths of Fantasy Football Debunked

This is my analysis of Week 1's Fantasy Football action for the Women and Children First League on ESPN:

  • You should show up for the draft: The highest scoring team was the Bowles Hole Gang who was unable to make the draft. Levi's Arrows beat Shag's Dogs. I was shocked. The Dawgs spent hours analyzing, sorting, reading, reanalyzing multiple sources of FF data to be beat by a team who did not show and did not adjust their lineup before the games. The Jerfs do not show up but have a concrete strategy (Cowboys and Giants). This year it could pay off now that Felix Jones may be replacing an injured Marion Barber. I myself developed a draft strategy, read articles, and sorted my draft order. Next year, ESPN is doing all the work. It might be more fun to be in the draft but not more fun than winning.

  • Sleepers are value picks: My sleepers should be called zombies. They are dead and therefore have no value and therefore were expensive to me (and not values) because they are taking up precious line-up space.

  • Pay attention to ESPN projections: I believe these are computer-generated and the algorithm does not look at factors like fear, stupidity, and guts. The Hats did not play Brett Favre because of his projections. Willie Parker was not played by the Arrows. I played Braylon Edwards and Joseph Addai and lost. Both were going to be blue chip.

    I have decided to trust the 4 year-olds in my class. I am taking my lineup and letting them pick who should play. . .the old faith of a child gambit. Speaking of the 'Nators and fear. . . we'll see if Peyton can get over this hurdle and Karen can take advantage of the QB/WR punch like she did last year with Tom Brady and Randy Moss.

  • Drafting a great player in the first round can carry you through the season: Two words, Tom Brady. The Ponies picked him up early and will now be consulting my class to figure out who will replace him.

  • Naming your team after an animal helps you win: Seems that having an animal name means you lost this week. The Badgers put up amazing points but the curse of the animal name struck. Ponies were ridden down. The Dogs sent to the pound. (What is a Jerf?) I'm changing the name of my team to the Rats.

  • You should make not drastic changes to your team after losing week 1: After scoring 24.8 points and losing to the Aggies (who made some unexpected draft picks that paid off), I am going to revamp my team. 

Monday, September 8, 2008

Dale Baby Ull

I started the back of Madden's Hoodie.  It's
Luvtroja Mans by Katarina Brieditis from Interweave Knits Summer 2007 made with Dale Baby Ull. I had never used it before and was looking for a wool that could actually be worn in football season in Texas. I like it so far. It splits really easily and it's tiny (very small tedious stitches) but I do not itch and my eyes are not red and itchy, woo-hoo. It's soft and does not feel wool-like to me.

I worked on it at the girl scout camp out I had with my troop this weekend. I am the intrepid leader. I taught them to crochet this weekend and I think it stuck with two of them.

The hardest part seems to be teaching the slipknot so if anyone has thoughts on an easier way to teach a slipknot, I'd love to hear it.

The camp out was a great success once the broken jar on the cabin floor, vomit episode, and the two meltdowns are backed out.
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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Kill 'em with Kindness

Here's the progress on the Quaker Ridge Pixie Hat from Little Badger. I am past the first set of "ridges". It is going fairly quickly despite the vast number of stitches and the size of the needles. Hopefully I can get it done before next Saturday a.m. and give it to Mom to take to the shower. The shower for my cousin's  wife that I was not invited to although my sister and mother were. Hmm-m-m. 
The grapevine (Mom) says it was because we did not attend the wedding.  The wedding invite said no kids allowed so it was kind of a no win.  I could not reconcile babysitting costs for a 14 and 11 year old for at least 4 hours (including drive time) yet I could not leave them at home by themselves that long.  I also heard that the bride's family had all their kids there.  It was suggested by the grapevine that I could have left my escort of 16 years at home to babysit and go by myself.  Either way it was not going to work.  Mike says I should not send a gift but I believe I should.  Kill 'em with kindness.

Purchased the paint for the dining room and I am very excited about it. It is from the "Bloom" brochure by Benjamin Moore. Cinco de Mayo, Vanilla Ice Cream, Tuscan Tan, and Bittersweet Chocolate. Sounds good enough to eat, doesn't it? On the coffered ceiling I am using a Ralph Lauren Duchesse Satin paint in Oyster, I had stashed. I am hoping it will reflect a lot of light down in the space.

#1 Son's first cross country meet was yesterday. It was a European style race with four man relay teams on a 6 mile course replete with hay bales and hills. His coach put together a freshman team and raced them against all of JV A. They came in 4th. I was so proud. They tried so hard against teams running upper classmen.

Rearranged the family room. I was just a little tired of it. Don't know if it's as aethestically pleasing to me but Mike likes it because everything is lined up and nothing is blocking doors.
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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Pixie Hat

I've been attending a professional conference for preschool teachers.   To keep my hands occupied so I could listen, I took the Pixie Hat I am knitting.  It is knit with Denim by Madil Yarns.  It's knit on #1 needles and my wrists are so sore.  One of the things I really dislike about Behcet's Disease is the carpal tunnel and the RA-like symptoms that for me come and go.  I take Plaquenil and that seems to help with the swollen knuckle feeling but I have not figured out how to cope with the tendon ache.

I found switching projects frequently helps.  I also switch between crochet and knitting so it's a different motion.  Also, I have found using nickle-plated needles make the repetitive motions smoother.  Last year, after my flare I just quilted until I discovered my eyesight and changed and then I left that off until my new prescription.

I am actually uncomfortable talking about this topic.  I have a high tolerance for pain and am very private so most people in my life do not know that I suffer most days.  It's even difficult to write about here because I feel that I am whining but then it's just a fact of my existence.

It's difficult to explain to people that you are ill when you do not look ill. 

Sunday, August 24, 2008

On the importance of gauge swatches for crochet

Originally uploaded by orangeeener
As a happy birthday to me, I bought the Knitter's Almanac by Elizabeth Zimmermann. I started in August and read the first entry. I then skipped around and I read where the Mrs. Zimmermann wrote about the importance of swatching. I've made quite a few projects lately where things did not turn out how I wanted them (the trellis pull-over, the felted hooded vest, zip-up vest). I had measured for gauge as I worked but did not make a swatch. I think if I had made the swatch and then washed and hung it, it would have given me a little bit of an inkling of how the yarn would behave.

In the case of the zip-up vest, I tend to crochet loosely and the Noro Himaraya yarn stretches over time because it is single ply and loosely spun.  Had I made a gauge, I would have used a smaller hook or adjusted the number of rows in the sleeves to allow for the stretch and prevented making a sweater that looks great on my son.

Same thing with Trellis. It was made with a rayon yarn and rayon is notorious for stretching. How many rayon skirts have I made that when I hung up had a funky hem in the morning?  Again, a smaller hook and I think a foundation single crochet so that each side of the garment stretched the same.  The side with the foundation chain did not stretch as much as the other.

So, I have resolved to begin making gauge swatches. While this one will not be made a wash cloth like Mrs. Zimmermann recommends, it could probably be a very plush rug for Sam's dollhouse.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Madden the Muse

Originally uploaded by orangeeener
Mike and I were talking last night over dinner that Madden has a creative bent and it causes him to request esoteric items to be knitted (like a golf hat, Clint Eastwood poncho, war pain balaclava). Samantha asks for items that are practical and easy to knit or crochet (a poodle scarf) but Madden wants the unique. That's why he wanted the DJ bag from the Son of Stitch 'n Bitch. It's so him - a felted wool messenger bag with an image of a mixtape on the front.

It tickles me that he requests these items from me. It gives me a sense that I do not have a limit in what I can make/

Friday, August 22, 2008

Oh, Nuts!

I reviewed the pattern for the Simplicity Top and realized I should have been increasing for the past 6 rows.  I was just knitting up the pattern rows so quickly and not the Inc. pattern rows.  Back to the frog pond.  Lesson learned - do not pre-read your pattern when you are really tired.

Simplicity Swatch

simplicity swatch
Originally uploaded by orangeeener
I could not resist sharing this. I really love Free Spirit by Muench and wish I'd gotten more of it at the time. Looking back at my finished projects made with fiber from my queue, I really had an obsession with variegated hand-dyes. Now, I really like solids and heathers. I need to finish all those variegated projects though the pooling makes me nuts.

Simplicity Progress

Originally uploaded by orangeeener
I've worked up to the increase row on the Simplicity Top. I tried this top once before and got completely frustrated with the foundation single crochet but snuffykin has a great blog with photos that walked me through it. This picture does not do it justice so I'll post another to follow that shows the sheen of the Berocco Glace. I am making this in the 44" size. I am also going to make it with the optional sleeves. I am not enamored of my upper arms - any little camouflage helps.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


I wanted to post a photo my son took of me working on simplicity.  I have since frogged that portion.  I am wearing Mondo Cable designed by Bonnie Marie Burns of ChicKnits.  I really enjoy it.  It is a tank top that covers my bra straps - a huge plus.  It was also my first cable project.

Teaching a Southpaw to Crochet

Sam's friend, Eli, came to visit her during her tonsillectomy convalescence.  He was fascinated with the hug mound of stuff I was photographing to put on Ravelry.  I was trying to conquer the foundation single crochet for the Simplicity Top by Doris Chan.  He asked me how he could make a scarf.  I showed him one I made for my son that was a Harry Potter Gryffindor scarf.  He wants to crochet one like it out of cotton.  I loaned him a hook and he chained what he thought was appropriate and then could not proceed.  I showed him 3 times and kept trying to crochet backwards.  I had that ah-ha moment.  "Are you left-handed?"  He said yes.  I remembered that Knitty had an article about knitting in the mirror if you are left-handed so I stood in front of the mirror and demonstrated.  It worked he's able to work double crochet and turn his work.

Now back to Simplicity, I have the FSC down but 40 stitches does not look like it will even go over my head so I am going to move up to P.  I've seen other peoples sweaters in this and they look great so I know I can do this.  I love the Muench Free Spirit that is the contrast color.

Madden's DJ bag is going well I have 8 inches or 50% of the sides completed.  The wool is giving me the itches so I need to change projects for a bit.