Monday, September 30, 2013

Project 360: Week 39

{266} My mom found me this Pyrex dish that matches my Corelle dishes at an estate sale a few weeks ago.

{267} We took a day trip to Peaks of Otter and drove along part of the Blue Ridge Parkway. We also stopped at a yarn store. :)

{268} I am obsessed with woodland fabrics....these are going to become a knitting bag.

{269} It finally feels fall-like enough to light candles!

{270} Stitching a little girl in my autumn sampler. I've made quite a bit of progress since this.

{271} Knitting socks with self-striping yarn is so much fun. :) The stripes give you a way to mark your progress.

{272} Afternoon sky while doing chores.

I know I'm a little late with this post. I intended to put it up last night but I was watching Once Upon a Time and then cross stitching right up until I went to bed. :) I think I'm going to skip Music Monday today because I don't have anything planned...

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad {1949}

{Animated Disney Film #11 of 52}

Okay, so I was wrong. I said that the previous film, Melody Time, was the final Disney package film of the 40s. Technically this one is, though it only consists of two sections instead of six or seven. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad is based on the short story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and the novel The Wind in the Willows.

First up is the story of The Wind in the Willows. I read this book last year and remember certain parts of it vividly, but to be honest I'm pretty fuzzy on most of it. It seems to me like they changed some things when adapting it here, and I know they left out a lot of the story.

By the way, this part is narrated by Basil Rathbone, one of the most famous Sherlock Holmes actors ever. And probably about the only Sherlock I haven't yet seen! That should be remedied. :)

Rat and Mole didn't seem to be like I remembered them...especially Rat. Toad was pretty good and his character seemed to be much like it was in the book. The part where he sees a motor car for the first time and starts making motor car noises was pretty hilarious. But here's the thing. I liked Toad in the book, even though he was crazy and selfish and reckless. In this section of film, I feel like they were trying to make Toad out to be a nicer character than he really is. They were trying their best to make you like him, but I just thought he was really annoying. Yes, much more annoying than book Toad even though they're doing basically the same things. I guess maybe it just bugged me how they were trying so hard to make him likable.

The second section of the film was based on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. I've never read the short story myself, but apparently they stuck pretty closely with this adaptation. My only knowledge of the story was the Headless Horseman, so I expected this part to be pretty creepy and scary. It was at the very end, but the beginning is actually quite different and I had no idea it was going to be like that!

My two main thoughts on this part were:

1. Bing Crosby! He's the narrator. So that was pretty awesome.

2. Some of the colors and animation remind me (in a very basic way) of Cinderella. Especially Katrina! Her face is so Cinderella-ish. Speaking of Katrina, the fact that Ichabod Crane only wanted to marry her for her money didn't endear me to him at all. (And the rest of the men in the village only want to marry her because she's beautiful.)

Overall, I thought this film was sort of disappointing. It's not like I disliked it. And to be honest, I was a bit distracted winding some gorgeous yarn while watching, so I might not have given it the full attention it deserved. :) But the stories didn't seem to hold my attention, and there wasn't anything special about the animation or even the few songs that were included.

Next up in the Disney animated marathon is Cinderella! I can't wait, even though I've seen it dozens of times. :) Actually, I'm really excited about the rest of this marathon from now on, now that those package films are out of the way! On the list I see a lot of favorites that I can't wait to watch again and quite a few classics that I've always heard about but never actually seen. It should be good. :)

Friday, September 27, 2013

I made a sweater!

You guys! I knitted a sweater! Another 2013 goal marked off the list. :)

I feel like all of these exclamation points are justified because knitting this sweater was quite a process. Here's the story (because you guys know I have to have an in-depth story for basically everything I've ever made :)...

I knew I wanted to try to knit a sweater this year. Socks and sweaters seem like two big knitting milestones. I learned how to knit socks last year, so I figured that this would be the sweater year (next up: colorwork!).

I picked out the Ladies Classic Raglan Pullover pattern, because it seemed like a good, basic place to start. put Paton's Classic Worsted yarn on sale one weekend, so I ordered the yarn I needed for my first real sweater. (The yarn only cost about $29! I was counting on spending a minimum of $40 for a 100% wool sweater, so that was a pleasant surprise. Even though sweaters made from Madelinetosh and other lovely yarns look gorgeous, I don't think I'll ever be able to justify spending $120 on sweater yarn.) A week or so later, the yarn arrived, but...they had left one skein out of my order. Instead of seven skeins of brown wool (I picked brown because, though it's a bit boring, I figured it was a pretty safe color to be ordering online), I only had six.

This seems to be a bit of foreshadowing of the troubles that were to come. :) At one stressful point while knitting this sweater, I (very dramatically) told my mom that maybe I just wasn't meant to make it because it even started off badly! :) Anyway, I emailed Joann's and thankfully they quickly sent me out another skein that even matched the dye lots of the others. Then I saw that Shannon (of luvinthemommyhood) was hosting a summer sweater knit-along, I knew that this was the perfect chance to start my sweater.

I started out with the recommended needle size (8), and knitted along until after I finished the waist decreases. Then I tried on my was huge! Not just baggy- about four inches too wide on each side. I couldn't bring myself to rip out all of that work just then, so I started over on size 7 needles with a new skein of yarn.

Once again, I knitted until after the waist decreases (this is about half the body of the sweater) and tried on the sweater again. It was still much too big. Actually, it didn't look that much smaller than my first attempt. I didn't have any size 6 circulars, plus I knew that if I started over completely again I probably wouldn't finish the sweater before the knit-along deadline. So I tried a quick fix. After you separate the sleeves, the pattern called for casting on 14 stitches under each arm so you can continue to knit in the round. The sides are where there seemed to be so much excessive fabric, so I decided to just cast on 4 stitches under each arm. This wasn't the "proper" way to adjust the fit, but with time restraints, it's what worked for me. :) It's basically the equivalent of taking in the side seams while doesn't fix everything, but it does help when something is just too big.

{By the way, my problems with fit were not because of the pattern. The pattern as wonderfully simple and well-written. Even though I ended up using the exact yarn the pattern calls for, I just couldn't get gauge for some reason. Up until now I've always been a tight knitter and if anything I've had to go up a needle size. That's why it's so bizarre that this sweater kept coming out too big instead of too small. I don't know if I was trying to overcompensate and was knitting too loosely or what. And yes, I was checking my gauge as I went along. But I was only checking it over a 2 inch space instead of a 4 inch one, so it wasn't very accurate. Lesson learned.}

Casting on fewer stitches under the arm solved my problem! The finished sweater is still a little loose and baggy. It fits like a comfy sweatshirt. It wasn't supposed to be quite this big, but the finished fit is still so much better than it was before. Other than that, I didn't make any other real changes to the pattern, other than a few small adjustments with the hip and sleeve shaping. The part I was most nervous about with this sweater was picking up the neckline stitches to do the ribbing. I was trying to be a perfectionist at first, but then I realized that it doesn't have to be perfect because it ends up looking nice, anyway. :)

I'm so happy with my sweater! It's very warm and cozy and I can't wait until it's cool enough to wear it. :) Even though I didn't have the best experience with my first sweater, I learned a lot and I'm very excited about knitting more sweaters. Not just yet, though. For now I'm enjoying smaller, quicker projects like socks and cowls. :) And soon it'll be time to get started on Christmas gift crafting...

P.S. I did miraculously finish knitting before the knit-along deadline! It was eventually extended a bit, so I would have been okay, but I finished the day before the original deadline. I still haven't blocked the sweater yet. More sweater details on my Ravelry project page here.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Handsome and Gretyl {Music Monday 13}


I just found this musical couple called Handsome and Gretyl and their new album, Miles and Miles, about a week ago, and I am so smitten. It's kind of folk/pop sounding, but mostly it's just fun and bouncy and it makes me smile. And I love how effortless her voice seems. I had a stomach bug last weekend and I spent a lot of time just knitting and listening to this music, and it definitely improved my mood. :) I seriously love this CD, and you can download it for free on Noisetrade here. And how cute is their name? As a fairy tale fan and a lover of clever wordplay, I have to admit that drew me right in. :)

This isn't my absolute favorite of their songs, and I don't feel like it's the best representative of what the rest of the album sounds like. But I do like it and it's just about the only song from their new album that's currently on YouTube...

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Project 360: Week 38

{259} Working on the final stretch of my sweater!

{260} Now that the sweater is finished, I can work on the frames for the autumn cross stitch sampler. Because if I don't hurry up, I'll start the first week already behind and that's not what I want to do. :)

{261} Some of the sweetest fabric I've ever seen. It's Fort Firefly by Teagan White.

{262} Tiny little zinnia. Zinnias are like super flowers. They seriously bloom for months and months! Most of ours are drying up but there are still a few small ones that are just now blooming.

{263} Trying to catch up on my reading because I should have reviewed this book weeks ago! My sweater knitting definitely cut into my reading time over the past month. {Edit: review is up today!}

{264} I cast on a cowl from my handspun, and it's coming along so quickly.

{265} A little bug on some goldenrod.

Happy first day of fall, everyone! Today has really felt like fall, and I'm so excited about my favorite season arriving. Please excuse the not-so-great photos this week...most days I forgot to take them until after dark, hence the boring, badly lit pictures. :) To be honest, on weeks like this I'm feeling a bit burned out on this Project 360 thing, though I'm determined to see it through until the end of the year!

Made to Last.

The premise of Melissa Tagg's debut novel, Made to Last, drew me in from the very beginning. A famous lady who is living a lie by pretending to be married? My first thought was, This sounds like Christmas in Connecticut! And Christmas in Connecticut just happens to be my favorite Christmas movie and one of my favorite classic films ever.

In the film, it's a columnist for a home magazine pretending she's married, has a child, and can cook like a chef. In this book, Miranda Woodruff is the host of a homebuilding show. She can actually do woodworking and such, but she never told anyone that her live-in boyfriend left her several years ago, before they could get married. She lets everyone believe that she does indeed have a wonderful husband. But when ratings are dropping and her show is in trouble, she has to find a fake husband and keep up the lie in order to boost publicity and save her show.

I did enjoy Made to Last, though perhaps not as much as I expected to. But more on that later. :) Though I read quite a few Christian/inspirational romances, I generally stick with historical fiction. To be honest, I don't read many contemporary novels in this genre at all (with the exception of Jenny B. Jones). So I wasn't sure what exactly to expect! When I was younger, I used to be a bit obsessed with home makeover shows. Trading Spaces was my favorite TV shows for a while. Yeah, I know that's weird. :) But that means this book had something else going for it...the whole homebuilding show aspect of the plot made me feel a bit nostalgic. :)

Anyway, I loved the writing style in this book, and I also enjoyed the occasional classic movie reference. The two main characters, Miranda and Matthew, were likable, despite their flaws and past mistakes. I really loved the relationship between Matthew and his niece. It evened out his character and made me see kindness and sweetness in a person who sometimes could possibly come across as a bit overzealous and annoying. :) Out of the many supporting characters, Blaze was certainly the most memorable and the source of most of the story's humor. :) The romance was sweet, although it was so up-and-down that I wondered if there would ever be a happy ending! {Speaking of romance, the "dance lesson" with twinkling Christmas lights and big band music playing in the background? *swoon*}

(By the way, I was not picturing Matthew as the guy on the cover at all. I assume that is Matthew, anyway? I was thinking of a guy with dark blonde floppy hair...floppy in the way that Bill Pullman's was in "While You Were Sleeping." :) Also, it bugs me that they cut off the top of the guy's head on the cover!)

The pacing was good and there were several twists that kept me guessing how things were going to work out. Sometimes guessing a bit too much. That's the only thing that bothered me about this book- it seriously stressed me out! :) I know that sounds silly, but this wasn't exactly a relaxing read. There were so many characters and back stories and past drama, not to mention trying to keep up with the deception that was currently happening. It was hard to keep everything straight in my mind, and sometimes it just seemed like there was a bit too much going on. And some of the things didn't feel like they really needed to be included, because they ended up not being fleshed out enough. For example, Blaze's mysterious past is alluded to several times, but it's never explained. I kept wondering if it was going to be part of the story, but it wasn't. And the whole Delia Jones thing also seemed to clutter up the story unnecessarily.

Despite the busyness of the story, I did enjoy it. I won't be so hesitant about reading more contemporary Christian fiction now. And I hear there's going to be a follow up to this novel next year, which I'm excited about. I'll be glad to spend some more time with these characters and maybe have a few loose ends tied up!
"Miranda Woodruff, star of the homebuilding show "From the Ground Up," will do anything to keep the job she loves. Due to a painful broken engagement and a faith she's mostly forgotten, she's let her entire identity become wrapped up in the Miranda everyone sees onscreen. So when she receives news that the network might cancel her program, she must do the very thing she fears most: let the spotlight shine on her closely guarded personal life. The only problem? She's been living a lie--letting viewers believe she's married--and now she's called upon to play wife to a sweet, if a bit goofy, pretend husband to boost ratings.

Desperate to help his family and prove he's not a total failure, reporter Matthew Knox is looking for a breakout story. When he's offered the opportunity to do an online serial feature on Miranda Woodruff, he jumps at the chance, even if celebrity reporting isn't really his thing. But as soon as he meets Miranda, he knows she's keeping secrets.

When Miranda's former fiancé suddenly appears on the scene again, she doubts her life could get more complicated. Juggling three guys, an on-the-rocks television show, and the potential exposure of her deception is way more than she bargained for. Can the woman who makes things look so good onscreen admit it's time to tell the truth about who she is? And if she does, will the life Miranda's built come crashing down just as she's finally found a love to last?" -Summary from Goodreads
*Note: I received this book free of charge from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.*

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The best $15 I've spent in a long time.

I am obsessed with my new ball winder.
A ball winder is one of those tools that isn't necessary. For the longest time, I thought, why would I want one? I do like winding yarn by hand. Besides, they normally cost at least $30-40, which seems like a lot. Then I saw that KnitPicks had one for $20. I thought...that might actually be a neat thing to have. So I added it to my wishlist but wasn't planning on ordering anything from them anytime soon.
A few weeks ago I got an email saying that for one week, the ball winders were on sale for $15. So guess what?

I love this thing. It takes my handspun or hanks of store bought yarn and turns them into adorable little crisscrossed cakes of yarn. Yes, cakes! I'm all for anything that is named after a dessert. :)

And the cakes are center pull, so your ball of yarn doesn't move around and roll off into the floor while you're knitting. The ball winder comes with a handle, but it also comes with a clamp and that's what I use. I clamp it onto my desk and hold the hank of yarn looped over my arm, because I even though I might pay $15 for a ball winder, there is no way I'm paying $50-60 for a yarn swift.

This is my favorite handspun. It looked pretty enough in a hank, but like this it's irresistible. I just cast on a cowl using this yarn, and I just keep squishing it and holding the cake of yarn up to my face because it's so stinking soft.

And suddenly I've become one of those crazy fiber people who rubs yarn against her face. (And who devotes a whole blog post to her new ball winder.) When did this happen?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Natural dyeing: biden and goldenrod.

Recently I did some more dyeing. Things seem to be wrapping up for the season, so I wanted to take advantage of using these flowers while they are blooming everywhere. :) Except for experimenting with black walnuts, this might be the last bit of dyeing I do until next spring. I wanted to try pokeberries, but most of them seem to have shriveled up already. If I can gather enough of them, though, I will try it.
First I used some biden (also called tickseed sunflower). We had a few of these flowers blooming near our house earlier this summer, but over the past couple of weeks they are everywhere. There's probably enough just on our property to dye pounds and pounds of fiber, not to mention all of it that's growing on roadsides nearby. But you just pick the blooms, so it can take one person quite a while, even if there are an abundance of flowers. :)

I had a ball of white wool from Hobby Lobby that I already mordanted in alum. I decided to give solar dyeing a try. I love the idea of sticking a jar of water and flowers outside and letting the sun do the work for you. You don't have to heat up anything! The fiber weighed .28 lbs, and you use a 1:1 ratio, so I picked .28 lbs of blooms and put them in a jar with hot water outside in the sun.

The water starts turning yellow within minutes, which is neat to watch. :) I left the flowers in the jar for about two days. The water was orange by that time, so I stuck the yarn in and left it for a couple more days.

The yarn turned out a nice light orange/yellow color. But I already had a skein of yarn from Joann's that was almost exactly this same color, and I really wanted a darker orange anyway. So about a week later, I decided to dye it again.

I picked another .28 lbs of blooms and dyed the yarn outside on the burner on my dad's grill. And this darkened up the color to a really pretty orange. I'm so pleased with this and I'm glad I didn't leave it as it was. I like this color much better. :)

While I was dyeing that yarn, I decided to dye some from goldenrod, too. I used some random yarn I got in a mixed bag at a yarn sale. You have to have a 10:1 ratio for goldenrod, so I ended up picking about 2.5 lbs. That's not as much as you would think, though, because you leave several inches of the stem with the blooms and it weighs more than you would expect.

The color turned out just like you'd expect it to: a pretty yellow with a hint of green to it.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Knitted baby set.

It just hit me earlier this week that September is halfway over. Which means that my baby niece is due in like...less than 6 weeks! I can't believe it, you guys. I can't wait to be an aunt. Have I mentioned that? :) My sister-in-law and brother had one of those 3D/4D ultrasounds done a while back and brought home the video and pictures. It was so amazing to see Stella's sweet little face. She frowned and poked her lips out and propped her chin on her hand. I can't wait to meet her in person. :)

Anyway, the church we attend gave them a baby shower over the weekend. I took a quick break from sweater knitting (and as of Tuesday, the sweater is done! That post will be up soon) to knit a small gift to take to the shower. I ended up not getting to go because I had a stomach bug over the weekend, but I'm glad I made them anyway.

The hat is made from this pattern, which is incredibly simple but looks nice. It's free and available in basically every size you could want, from baby to adult! I had to make the hat a tiny bit shorter than it should have been, because I ran out of yarn. But it's still plenty big enough for a newborn's head. :)

The booties are from this pattern that I used before. They're cute and adorably tiny as a finished product, but you really have to either stuff them with tissue paper or put them on an actual baby to make them have a shape. While you're knitting them, they're rather shapeless.

I think all of my baby gifts are done for now, and I'm going to do some selfish knitting (and sewing) until about November when I have to start on Christmas gifts. :) And now we're just waiting on the baby!