22 February 2008

a perfect vacation day

So, I really really really love vacation.  But some vacations are better than others. As are some vacation days.  Today was perfect.

Perfect thing #1  We woke up to snow.  Surprising lovely snow. Here is what it looked like.  Except it was morning so it wasn't dark.

Perfect thing #2--Inspired by the snow, we decided to go buy a toboggan and go tobogganing or whatever adjective describes hurtling your body down a slick hill on a circular piece of plastic.  We ended up buying not one but 3 toboggans as they were a "caterpillar" set so, theoretically you can link them together for 3 times the fun.  They were supposed to be 15.00 which seemed like a good deal for 3 toboggans but then they were 8 dollars which seems like a steal.  Especially since they are fairly sturdy ones that seem like they will last a while.  The "caterpillar" action does not work for grownups but we still had a great deal of fun hurtling ourselves down hills.  We got very, very wet and are happy to have a bathroom big enough for all our wet things:

Perfect thing #3--I organized the mountain of craft crap and installed it in the sewing closet.  Then I put it to the true test, actually using the sewing machine:

Look!  Contrary to popular opinions girls CAN use glue and screws and saws and make things that don't collapse.  Amazing.  I found strawberry printed fabric at work and took two strawberries to sew together into a pincushion.  It is very cute.  Particularly in my ultra handy girly sewing closet.

(see the shelves below?  one is for buttons and knitted swatches, another for stuffing, small scraps of fabric, and crafty things like googly eyes, and the bottom is for making dolls--something I did years ago but can't get rid of the supplies) Luckily our bed will have drawers to hold the 4 cubic feet of fabric that no longer fits in the sewing closet.  I can't even explain how happy this closet makes me.  It is something about the pink and the fake fur and the sewing machine all interacting to create ecstatic joy.

Perfect thing #4--Eating a delicious dinner and playing chess in our newly arranged kitchen.  We are getting ready to re-do the kitchen and wanted to see what it would feel like to have an island/table in it.  So we moved the fridge and put the dining table in there:

Wow!  Suddenly it is like we got a whole extra room (and didn't even have to pay 100,000 dollars for it!) I seriously have spent the last 3 days sitting in the kitchen.  I think today is the first day I went into the living room for any amount of time.  I cook James sits and talks to me, James does the dishes, I talk to him.  The table is also perfect for getting out leftovers, making drinks, playing with the birdy, and on and on and on.  

Two more days left of vacation.  Lets hope the universe doesn't decide to balance out today by making lots of crappy things happening (you never know dad, the hardware dude might still be right--watch out for crying phone calls.............)

21 February 2008

home improvement

Long ago (two years ago) when we were looking for an apartment I had visions of a craft room dancing in my head.  What if I could have a whole room or area just for crafty stuff.  In particular, a place where I could permanently set up my sewing machine.  In our old apartment the sewing machine had a stint in the living room but it had such a tendency to get messy that it was always sort of an eyesore.  A whole room for crafting would mean I could let things be the way they were in the middle of a project without it stressing me out while I relax in the living room.  Ahhhhh.....

Unfortunately I live in New York and the idea of a whole room for crafting or sewing is, well, rather laughable.  Particularly if you can barely afford to buy an apartment to begin with--one with an extra room is setting your sights a bit high.  Since we didn't have an extra 100,000 dollars laying around to dump on getting that craft room I began to think of alternatives.  

When we found our apartment it had a big bedroom and two closets (his and hers).  I realized we could put wardrobes in the bedroom for our clothes and use the closets for other things:

His and Hers hobby closets--guitars and sewing.  Its unfortunate how stereotypical our obsessions are---he likes to play with electricity and loud noises and I like to make clothes.  Sigh. 

Anywho, when we moved in I managed to get all the sewing stuff into a closet with grand visions that any day now I would go get some wood and make my little closet into a little sewing room.  Life of course got in the way and for the past 1.75 years I have been thinking, "any day now I will make that sewing closet functional." Over the past few months I have actually been sewing and the sewing machine has spent a lot of time on the living room table while I think, "any day now I will get around to that sewing closet."

Then last week many forces converged at once.  First we were informed that there is a leak in the basement coming from our apartment.  They would need to go in through the closet wall to fix it, which meant we had to take EVERYTHING out of the sewing closet for a few days so they could do the work.  WOW!  There was an incredible amount of stuff and it completely took over the bedroom, to get to my side of the bed I had to walk over the bed because all the floor space (remember I live in New York so that really means about a 2 foot swath at the bottom and side of the bed) was taken over by mounds of fabric, paint, yarn stuff, and other crafty items.  

Second, we discovered the bed of our dreams which not only is beautiful, but has 6 drawers of storage under it, AND happened to be on sale.  So we bought it.  Then we realized that a new bed was coming, the bedroom was popping with craft crap, and it was not going to be easy to get it all back in the closet the way it was.  So, I decided the time had come for the sewing closet escapade.

I went to the local hardware store, as I would like them to continue to exist and not be run out of business by Home Depot and Lowe's, and asked if they had any wood and if they could cut it to sizes for me.  "Whatcha making?" was the reply.  After explaining that I was putting shelves in  my closet and I need wood in the sizes on my list I got, "Woah! Are you taking a class to learn about being an architect or something?  This is what architects do, they write down all the wood they need in a list just like this.  How did you know to do that?"  I then explained that I just did, my dad builds things a lot and maybe I learned it from him.  "Oh!" was the reply, "your dad made this list.  That makes sense.  Well let's go see what we have."  

We went in the back where he tried to sell me pre-made closet shelves which I rejected because they weren't deep enough.  "What!  How many clothes do you have that you need such big shelves!?" he said.  So I explained about the sewing machine as he raised a questioning eyebrow.  Finally he said, "well so we don't have any lumber you want but you and your dad can go to a place down the street.  Its good you dad is going to do this for you."  I replied, "no, I'm doing it."  "Well, yes its good your dad is doing it because if you did it yourself it would just fall apart and you would have to call him crying to get him to fix it."  So.  I left.  And decided that I maybe don't care so much about his hardware store and went to Home Depot to get some wood.

Miraculously (since I AM a girl) I managed to cut the wood, glue and screw the supports to the wall and get it all to fit:

Then, I painted.  Though my obsession with pink still lies firmly within my early adolescence somehow I really needed this tiny craft closet to be bright, bright pink:

Now I just have to put it together.  Of course it will probably fall apart as soon as I do because the gene for knowing how to use a saw, drill, and glue is apparently located on the Y chromosome.  So dad, the hardware store dude is warning you to expect a tearful crying call any moment now.

05 February 2008

swirly bereanie pattern

It's a beret, it's a beanie, its fabulous! Actually it probably is mostly like a beret except that the berets I'm obsessed with are big and slouchy and this one is not.  It fits close to the head like a beanie but the opening fits around your head more like a slouchy beret.

2 skeins of Noro Kureyon in different colorways but that share some shades. I used 199 and 165
size 5 needles (dpns or 16” circular)
size 6 needles (16” circular and DPNs)

Gauge: 5 stitches to the inch using size 6 needles in stockinette

CO 80 stitches in color A using smaller needles (size 5), I used tubular cast on method that I learned from Ysolda Teague's Gretel pattern (a really great pattern-I highly recommend it!). She has a great tutorial here.

Join to work in the round being careful not to twist stitches (if using tubular cast on you will work 3 rows first and will need to sew up the join at the end)

Knit 1x1 ribbing for 1.25 inch or until color starts to change dramatically (my brim is 1 inch because the color started to shift from blue/green to purple and I wanted the brim to be all one contrasting color)

Next row:  Using larger needles *K2 M1* all the way around. There should be 120 stitches

Join B and work a row of stockinette.
(when you join the next color you need to decide how you want the colors to shift.  Start with a part of the yarn that is a very different color for more obvious stripes (though there will probably be areas that are more subtle) or start with a part that is similar for a more subtle shift.  For example, if I had started with the other end of the skein for color B the colors would have lined up more closely throughout the entire hat.

Drop B to the back and pick up A, work one row of stockinette
Drop A to the back and pick up B, work one row of stockinette

Repeat these two rows until hat is 5” from beginning (for berenie) for a slouchier or roomier hat add one or two inches. The decreases will create a flat-ish top and will not add any length.


*K18 K2tog pm* repeat all the way around
Decrease in this pattern all the way around, Knitting to 2 stitches before a marker, k2 together, slip marker for 14 rows still alternating colors. On the 15th decrease row break color A and use only color B continuing to decrease as above until 6 stitches remain.

Thread yarn through 5 stitches but keep the 6th stitch live. K into the front, back, front, back, front of this stitch—you should have 5 stitches on the needle. Purl 1 row, Knit 1 row, Purl 1 row, Knit 1 row, Purl 1 row. Knit all five together.

Break yarn and pull through the last stitch. sew this end into the top of the hat to make a small loop on the top of the hat.

Sew up the brim if you used a tubular cast on