Sunday, August 30, 2009

With Needle and Thread Print

Dear Kelly,

Shopping at Rare Device during my visit was so awesome that I take a spin through their online shop every once in awhile. It's not quite the same, but a good fix. Last week I found this limited edition, Gocco print and had to order it:

Randy's little record label is called Pulled By a Kite, so this lovely print called With Needle and Thread by Lab Partners seemed like a little bit of both of us. (Awwwww.)

I'm not sure where I'll hang it yet - I still need to get these walls painted before I start hanging stuff.


Friday, August 28, 2009

More Changes of Address

Dear Kelly,

My mom recently moved too, so I offered to make her change of address cards. She picked out a clip-art image, cards and envelopes from Paper-Source and paper from the craft store and I made these:

Please note that because I am crazy, er, obsessive-compulsive, um, sooo crafty, I cut out the address labels, each and every one. First I printed them on 2"x 4" labels. (Have I told you how much I love my color laser printer, Lamont? I love Lamont. He is my printer boyfriend.) And then cut out every single one.

I've got the supplies to do a big stack for my grandma - just have to pick an image. I don't want them to look too much alike because there is probably some overlap in their mailing lists.

(All of this card-making and envelope-lining has me wondering if there is an envelope and liner on a Cricut cartridge that can be sized to Paper-Source's card and envelope sizes. Really, it's all about the Cricut.)


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Portland: Redux

Dear Shayne,

Yes, yes, more Portland Talk. Can't help myself -- I love it so!

As I mentioned previously, while I was walking from the the Sock Summit to Crafty Wonderland, I stumbled upon several other shops selling handmade goods.

One of those shops is Redux and it's chock full of amazing handmade goods. I couldn't stop looking around -- there was so much to see and it was all incredible. After taking it all in, I settled on these fantastic earrings:

They are tiny architectural scale models in tiny glass bottles. Yay! I love that the lady on the left is drinking her coffee (or tea). So great.

The earrings are made by iheartmies (that link is for her Etsy shop -- check out her sweet stuff. I particularly like this locket).

Believe it or not, I still have more to tell you about my trip to Portland. It never ends!


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Crafty Wonderland

Dear Shayne,

Are you getting sick of me waxing on about the crafty goodness that is Portland, Oregon? I hope not, because it's going to continue -- I love that place. Everywhere you go in Portland, it's arts n' crafts.

Including, but not limited to, a monthly craft show called Crafty Wonderland, located in the lower level of the very cool Doug Fir Lounge. I was finally in Portland the same weekend this was going on and it was within walking distance of the convention center where Sock Summit was held. So I made the trek.

Shayne, on the way there, I saw no fewer than four (4!) stores also selling handmade goods. It's Craft Mecca, I tell ya.

This is a monthly craft show and they had about 40 vendors there. Seriously? Seriously. I mean, really good stuff and a huge variety. I probably would have bought more if I didn't already have a yarn hangover from the marketplace at Sock Summit.

So I only bought one item. This seriously cool piece by Adrienne Vita of Arcane Arts:
Subterranean Swallows by Arcane Arts

It's called Subterranean Swallows. The colors mesmerize me. I love that it's mounted to a piece of plywood and is ready to hang:
Subterranean Swallows by Arcane Arts

She also has an Etsy store -- go check out the rest of her fantastic work. Love her style.


PS -- After posting this, I got a message from Adrienne. She wrote: "The piece you have is a special collaboration piece with my husband Aaron Barker. You can check out his stuff at He is an abstract artist so he did the background while I did all the graphical animal imagery."

So sweet!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Yarnia = awesome

Dear Shayne,

I love Portland. What a totally crafty town. Love that. One of the awesome crafty stops we made a trip to while we were there for Sock Summit was a wonderland called Yarnia.

Yarnia is a make-your-own yarn store. But not by spinning. Here's what it says on their site:

"What makes Yarnia different from other yarn stores? It's the only place where you can design your very own custom blend of yarn -- you choose the fiber, color, thickness, and amount, and can have your custom cone of yarn wound for you right on the spot."

It's totally cooool. I have been wanting a red and white yarn for the past year (yes, yes, wedding obsession) and I finally got some by making my own:
Yarnia yarn

You can see the individual strands of the six different yarns that I chose right here:
Yarnia yarn : stranded

And here is a crap-tastic video that I shot of my yarn being made:

(It particularly sucks because you cannot see the machine working. By the time we were there, I was exhausted from Sock Summit and could not stand up to get closer.)

I cannot remember what my yarn is made of... angora, wool, acrylic, boucle, silk. I guess I should have written it down. But I do know this about it: It's cool!


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Needle mishap

Dear Shayne,

As I told you all about yesterday, I'm learning a new knitting technique that uses straight needles (at least during the learning phase). It's been a very long time since I knit on straight needles -- I usually use circulars.

There are some challenges associated with using straight needles. Especially verrrry long straight needles. Including, well... you might snap one in two if you're not careful:


I had another set of size 8 needles at home, but they're not quite as long. Bummer.

The lovely needles I broke were Lantern Moon needles I bought at Sock Summit. Sniff! I may have to start buying my 14" needles from KnitPicks. Slightly more affordable than Lantern Moon, so less painful if I break one.

Or, you know, I could stop breaking them. Duh.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Knitting for Speed and Efficiency

Dear Shayne,

As I mentioned in my last post about all the yarn I bought at Sock Summit, I took a class with Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (the hilarious and brilliant Yarn Harlot) called Knitting for Speed and Efficiency.

The irony of this is that I am now knitting far more slowly than I have since I first learned to knit. In class, I even forgot how to purl. Seriously. (Worth a good laugh with the Yarn Harlot, I must admit.)

I am working on a practice scarf right now -- in theory, I will master the small motor skills required to do this new style of knitting after a month or so of daily practice . It's hard to believe right now that that is true, but I am willing to try. Especially since I have remembered how to purl again.

This class was amazing. Stephanie was brilliant. The background information she provided on how this way of knitting used to be the standard way to knit and how it fell out of use was absolutely fascinating.

And look! This photo, taken by Tina Newton (Stephanie's co-genius in creating Sock Summit), was on the Blue Moon Fiber Arts blog this week. It was taken in the class I was in -- it's a photo of me and Stephanie! (That's my hair on the right of that photo. I feel all famous now.)

(Re-posted here with permission from Tina.)

The style of knitting is called "Lever Knitting" or "Irish Cottage Knitting" or, far less flatteringly, "Armpit Knitting" (when you knit on straight needles, you hold one of the needles in your armpit.)

We timed our knitting at the beginning of class and I knit about 25 stitches per minute. Stephanie knits 60-70 stitches per minute (wow!) and the fastest knitter in the world? Knits around 120 stitches per minute. Using. This. Technique.

Watch Stephanie doing her super-fast magic knitting:

Since I have a ton of yarn, knitting faster would certainly be useful. So I am going through this one month period of knitting slowly and keeping my eyes on the prize: faster knitting.

To that end, I bought this lovely yarn that I showed you yesterday:
Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted

And I began knitting on a scarf (this color of yarn is difficult to photograph -- the colors above are more accurate):
Lever knitting -- practice scarf 1

But I didn't like what that stitch was doing with that yarn, so I ripped it back and started again (it's for practice anyway, right?)
Lever knitting -- practice scarf 2

I am far happier with the second scarf and I am sloooowly becoming more comfortable with this style of knitting. It's hard to imagine a day when knitting this way will be faster than my usual knitting style, but I want it, Shayne. I reeeeallly want it.


PS -- If you want to watch a super fast knitting competition video, go here. Take note: most of the competitors are lever knitting. Of course. (As pointed out in class by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee.)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Oh, yarn

Dear Shayne,

What is the last possible thing I need in this world? Yeah. Probably more yarn. Did that stop me from falling down and buying a bunch at Sock Summit two weekends ago? Of course not. So I might as well share it with you.

First up is a lovely black and white sock yarn. It's the Day of the Dead colorway by Lovesticks. Superwash merino. Probably destined to become fingerless mittens, because I love them so.
Lovesticks merino sock yarn
Wow. I googled that yarn to find her shop and I found these awesome socks that someone made using this colorway. Looove the stripes!

This next one is sooooo soft. Misti Alpaca Hand Paint Sock Yarn in color HS03. It's 50% alpaca, 30% merino, 10% silk, 10% nylon. (And 100% super soft!)
Misti Alpaca Hand Paint Sock yarn

This one doesn't look that great in this photo, but I saw it knit up into a sock and the stripes are great! It's also very squishy (50% superwash merino, 25% bamboo, 25% nylon). It's called Bamboo Sock by Universal Yarn in color 272 (linked to the Yarndex because the Universal Yarn site seems broken).
Universal Yarn Bamboo sock

This next one doesn't look like much, but it feeeeels like a dream. Why? Because it's 100% cashmere. Mmmm, cashmere. It came in a kit with 4 skeins of yarn and 7 sweet scarf patterns. I must admit, the sample totally sold me. I am making the scarf shown in this photo:
Jade Sapphire cashmere scarf kit
You can see it better on the Jade Sapphire website in this photo -- it's the pink one. Love the cables!

And this last one I bought to begin a scarf right at Sock Summit. I actually bought 4 skeins of it. I only needed 3, but with the quantity discount at Webs, I got the 4th skein for nearly free. Whee! It's gorgeous in person and so soft and squishy.

It's Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted 100% superwash wool in colorway Bittersweet. It looks like a sunset.
Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted
I wound it up into a ball right at the Summit so I could start knitting on it and I think the woman who helped me wind it went and bought some after I left the winding booth. It's irresistable!

I took a class at Sock Summit called "Knitting for Speed and Efficiency." It was fantastic and I will tell you about it another post, but what I have to say now is: with all of this yarn, I had better start knitting faster!


Thursday, August 13, 2009

I used the Cricut!

Dear Kelly,

Here's the first thing I did with the Cricut:

Little envelopes!


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Anna Zilboorg touched my little sock!

Dear Shayne,

Wow. Sock Summit was absolutely amazing. Seriously. One of the best parts about it was seeing various knitting stars walking around and even (and this is silly to say, but it was cool) using the same public restrooms that we did! (Seriously, you'd come out of a stall and think, "Wow... is that... [fill in famous knitter here]?!" And it was!)

I saw Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (I actually had a class with her -- more on that later), Amy Singer (editor of Knitty), Barbara Walker (author, feminist, and knitter extraordinaire), Lucy Neatby, Cookie A, Cat Bordhi (all amazing designers and fantastic knitting gurus), plus many more.

But one of the highlights of the weekend was when Anna Zilboorg sat down at the same table with me and my friends. You might right now be asking "Who is Anna Zilboorg?" and I'll tell you, Shayne: Among other things, she is the author of one of the best knitting books I have ever read: Knitting for Anarchists.

If you are a knitter and you have ever wondered what, exactly, is going on with your stitches as you create them, you should read this book. It's an eye-opener.

Besides being an illuminating author, Anna Zilboorg also turned out to be a lovely, gracious, smart, and funny woman. Exactly what you hope your idols will turn out to be. It was fantastic.

As she chatted with us, I explained that I had never actually knit a sock before. But then I realized, oh, wait -- I just finished one!

Anna picked up this sock to look at it and asked me some questions about what I like to knit, and then she put it down and we talked about her book (I admit it: I gushed a bit) and then she gracefully parted company from us.

After she left, I turned to my friends, we all babbled some about how amazing it was to talk to her, and then I blurted out: "Anna Zilboorg touched my little sock!"

Because, Shayne, it truly is a little sock:
(Yup. That's a US quarter for scale.)

I'm still working on the ones I showed you last week, but it was easier to finish this one, so I did.

Meanwhile, I have about a million other things to show you and tell you about from my awesome weekend at Sock Summit. I'll do my best to get them posted as soon as I can, but I must admit that I am still recovering from the buzz. Wheee!


Friday, August 07, 2009

I did it!

Dear Kelly,

Did you know that let's you pay in installments, interest-free? Did you know that they sell Cricuts? They do and I just ordered one! I'm pretty sure it is a good deal as it comes with a ton of accessories, including the permanent ink markers which is what I'm most interested in using. (They also sell Yudu.) I am so excited!!!!!!!!!!


Monday, August 03, 2009

Knitting camp

Dear Shayne,

This weekend, I am off to what some have referred to as "Knitting Camp," but what is officially known as Sock Summit 2009.

Although I am not and have never been, technically, a sock knitter, there is much knitting knowledge to be gained (and yarn to be fondled and knitting celebrities to worship) at the Sock Summit.

I leave for Portland on Wednesday night with my stitchy peeps (Hi, Katie! Hi, Jan!) On Thursday, I have two classes -- one of them is with the one and only brilliantly funny Yarn Harlot. (Oh. My. God.)

On Friday, I have some free time which I hope to spend a bit of in Portland -- that is a very crafty town, my friend. (Seriously. Check out this map.) We have been talking about going to Yarnia that afternoon. Dude. Make your own yarn. Hells yeah.

I have classes all day on Saturday, although there should also be plenty of time for yarn shopping between them (like I need any more yarn, right?) One more class Sunday, and then I'm home again.

In honor of the event, I have begun my very first sock:
My first socks

Doesn't look like much, does it? Despite the drab color, the yarn is divine -- cashmere, cotton, and hemp. It's made in Canada and I bought it there, but it's sold in the States, as well. It's called Cashmere Canapa by Lanaknits.

I bought a kit that includes two balls of yarn, a sock pattern, and a cute little bag. You know I cannot resist a cute little bag.
My first socks: the kit

I can't wait to show you what I buy learn at Sock Summit!


Sunday, August 02, 2009


Dear Shayne,

Can you believe it? Even with our quietness here this year, we have made 400 posts. Whee!

I am addicted to photobooth photos these days, after the super-fun experience of having our very own at our wedding.

(I realize most photobooth photos have 4 frames, not 3. I did have 4 frames, but the 4th frame was a "thumbs up" and it was so unbearably dorky looking that I had to chop it off. Hey -- sometimes you gotta tear off the last photo in a photobooth strip.)