Thursday, April 29, 2010

Knitting Charities

Since I started knitting little hats last week I've been looking into other organizations that welcome hand-knit donations.

Here's a short list of what's out there in charity knitting land.

Based in the US:
A long list of charities from Interweave Knits
Ravelry group for charity knitting in the US
Knit for Needs
Afghans for Afghans
Stitches from the Heart
The Mother Bear Project
Orgs collecting for orphans in Eastern Europe and Russia (on a ravelry group)

Based in the UK:
A long list of charities from UK hand knitting association
Ravelry group for charity knitting in the UK
Blankets for the elderly
Hats for Innocent Drinks
Little Hen Rescue (Jumpers for battery hens)
Teddies for Tragedies

And here's one for our Canadian friends:
pakcanada (preemie items)

What are your favorite charities?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

New look!

So I've thinking about what blogs I like and which ones have a really nice page layout and design, like Colour Blast, Velma's World, and Smitten Kitchen, and I've come to the conclusion that white makes for a much cleaner design. Which, you know, makes sense, and which I probably have learned at some point in my life but chose to forget for the sake of a background more "more interesting", which probably just meant it was more distracting.

I still need to figure out what I'm doing with the "pages", and I need make a nice little picture for my header, but that's a whole nother blog post ... 
I hope you like the new look!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Little Hats for Innocent Drinks

Sadly it's been a while since I've done charity knitting, so this week I decided to change that by making little hats for Innocent Drinks. For several years now, around Christmas time, Innocent Drinks adorns their bottles with hand-knit little hats, with 35p of the sale going to Age Concern and Help the Aged.

Little hat 2

Little hat 1

The hats are so quick to make, and better still I made them with leftover yarn scraps!

I'm not sure what my next little hat will be though, maybe one with earflaps ?....

Friday, April 23, 2010

I love the internet, but ...

I love the internet, I really do. It keeps me entertained, it keeps me connected to friends back home and strangers around the world, and it has sites that make me marvel at what humans are capable of, like Nimoy Sunset Pie.

That said, I've discovered today that I can accomplish a lot more crafty stuff than normal if I stay (more or less) away from the computer.

Banana Bread
Banana Bread
It's calling to me, saying "please, enter my world of banana goodness."

I finally finished one of the gloves I started way back in September (well, actually it was a sock back then).
one glove

And, a little peak into another project I started.
Have you done a mini internet fast lately?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


This week's bake-along is biscotti. This is my first time making biscotti, and I used a recipe from Cooking for Engineers which I choose because it goes into more detail than other recipes.



It was all going pretty well until this point. And then I realized that I didn't have almond extract. This made me a bit flustered and not too happy because I was so close to buying it at the store, but didn't because it wasn't on my list of ingredients which I had written down from "prepare these ingredients" part of the directions, and not from the actual ingredient list on the bottom of the page.

And then I put the vanilla extract in with the flour mixture, not the egg mixture. Arg.
And then I started to worry that I had overmixed since it seemed a little "stringy".
It's a wonder I do any baking at all with all this worrying.

But it ended up becoming a normal batter, of course.

Waiting for it's time in the oven.


And it's done!

I really like the texture of the biscotti, but sadly, and I'm pretty sure it's just because of my almond extract stupidity, it didn't taste like very much. That didn't stop us from eating piece after piece after piece of it though.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Days 15 - 16 of Hadrian's Wall walk.

Last weekend we continued with our coast-to-coast walk. We were out of shape, and I think spent more time in cafes and restaurants than walking, and I'm pretty sure I gained some weight, but as a result I had a very nice few days.

I'm a city girl, so I took a lot of pictures of animals on Friday.

The first lambs we saw that day.
Sheep brothers

And the first cows

And the first horses

On Saturday our feet hurt, so we took a very short walk, most of which was along the river Eden.

Because there was some light rain and because buses didn't run into or out of Carlisle on Sundays we spent some time looking around the city.
organ pipes
The organ at Carlisle Cathedral.

This is the guildhall museum, a very tiny, free museum in a wonderfully crooked 500 year old building. The museum is mainly about the history of Carlisle's trade guilds.
Guildhall Museum

Carlisle Castle.
Carlisle castle
Part of the castle is over 900 years old, some of it being altered in the 14th and 19th century.

During Monday's walk, starting from where the river Eden runs along the city, ...

peering sheep

Mud! As Jessamy was trying to find the least muddy part to cross I decided to just walk through it as quickly as possible.

Big mistake. I took a few tentative steps. Then put my right foot into the dirt. As my foot was sinking into the mud I quickly took a step with my left foot. It too sank. As I tried to take my third step my foot came completely out of the shoe. I was going to ask Jessamy for help, but when I looked over she was already bent over, laughing hysterically. After some awkward balancing and one sock in the mud I managed to force both shoes out of the mud.

Fortunately we only had a few minutes walk to the bus stop.

A little church in the town of Beaumont, where we waited for the bus.

And lastly one of my favorite pictures of the trip.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

It totally does your head in ...

J and I are finishing our cross-country walk this weekend, so my next post won't be until Tuesday. Until then enjoy this very funny video from Pringle, a Scottish company that makes jumpers.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A day trip to Glasgow aka a shopping trip for a new ukulele

Yesterday I took a day trip to Glasgow.

I took the bus, about an hour and a half ride, but fortunately I had my knitting and an iPod with Aesop Fables in Spanish.

The first thing I did was walk a few blocks to the city chambers and took their free tour.
Glasgow City Chambers


It's a very fancy building and a lot of it is built with marble.

Marble Staircase

The tour included sitting in the council chambers where they hold their city meetings.

And here I am sitting in the Lord Provost's chair.
Right in front of the chair is where the gold-plated silver "municipal mace" sits during their meetings. We didn't get to see the mace in person, but we did see the glow of light reflected from it through the glass door of the Lord Provost's room. I happen to think it's pretty cool that they have a scary and intimidating weapon in their government chambers.

After the tour I walked to Glasgow Cathedral.
Glasgow cathedral


It never occurred to me that the church needs to be vacuumed frequently.

And then to CC Music store, the actual reason why I took the day trip.
A new ukulele! I've been borrowing my brother's for the past few months, and it's a really cheap one. I haven't really been practicing on it much lately, it sounds that bad. So I bought my own! It's a Lanikai LU 21 soprano.

With my new uke in tow I went to the Kelvingrove Museum. It's a strange museum, aimed at children I'm assuming because the description posted next to their art, etc., is in very large type and written in simple words.

Now most of the time when I need to catch a bus, train, or plane I get really paranoid about missing whatever I need to catch and get to the station with way too much time to spare. I decided that this time, since I didn't have that much time in the city anyway, that I'd try to get get there right on time. Well, of course I couldn't find the subway stop, just missed the subway and had to wait 6 minutes, then I had to walk many more blocks to the bus station from the subway than I had anticipated. In other words, I missed my bus. Fortunately they run frequently, and although the driver of the next bus grumbled, he didn't charge me extra.

In other words, it was a nice day.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Have my cheesecake, and sunshine too

After writing yesterday's post about the make-along I made a cheesecake. It was about 1 am when it was done but still had to set, so I couldn't try it until this morning. Oh the anticipation!

Lemon ginger cheesecake

It's my best cheesecake yet! Which isn't really saying much because I only really remember baking one other one, but it is saying ... something.

It's Lemon Ginger Cheesecake. I put a little less ginger than they called for on the topping since I'm not a big ginger fan (it reminds me of being woozy on long car rides) so it came out gingery, but fortunately not too overpowering.

It was a lovely day today so we went into the city centre where we saw some Japanese tourists taking lots of photos of fancy cars. You know, like you do.
Oh look a car

Proof that it was so warm that I took my coat off, that I wore my scarf out, and that I pet a metal pig:

And look! People lounging on Calton Hill.
People on a hill side

Make-along Day 1

So you know how I said I was going to make a shirt for J?

Didn't happen.

After a not so pleasant morning, and as I was planning my measurements J bluntly informed me that since I wouldn't be working with a stretchy fabric I would have to either make the shirt with buttons or a zipper. (I had a project fail a year ago and blamed it on the stretchy fabric, and have refused to work with a similarly stretchy fabric to this day. I'm still not sure if it was the fabric or my nearly non-existent sewing skills, but it made me feel better to blame it on the fabric.)

I've never sewn button holes in fabric, and I certainly did not have fun the last time I sewed a zipper on something. So, after a not so great morning, all I needed was the feeling of being overwhelmed and the sense of impending failure to make me throw in the towel.

So instead I felted my first nuno scarf.

Iused some of the linen fabric that was to be made into the shirt (there's still enough for the shirt, I think, when (not if) I do actually make it).

The first thing I did was watch an excellent video on nuno felting on

Then I layed down a long piece of bubble wrap (it couldn't all fit on my short counter space), and then saran wrap. I put down some red and blue wool, then two thin layers of green wool, and then bits of yarn. I couldn't fit the whole scarf on my counter space, so I just layed down wool for the length of my counter space.

I put some of the fabric on top, and two layers of green wool, yarn, and bits of red and blue wool. Since I didn't hem the sides I made sure that there was wool wrapped around the sides.

nuno scarf start

I put the nylon netting on top of the wool and fabric that I just completed, wet it with cold water and smoothed it down, then rolled it around a rolling pin until I hit the next chunk of blank fabric. I applied wool, etc. to that next length of fabric, and repeated until all the fabric was covered.

Then I tied it and rolled it back and forth until my arms were tired. I took a long break.

nuno scarf rolled

When I went back to the package it didn't seem like it had felted very much, with a lot of the fibers sticking to the nylon and not to the linen. So I spent a long time manually rubbing it with a bit of bubble wrap. When I could see signs of felting I wrapped it in the bubble wrap again, and started rolling it until I was sick of the monotony.

Even though it seemed like the wool hadn't felted completely to the linen I decided to walk on the wild side and started felting it with warm water. Eventually, when I was once again sick of the monotony I wrapped it lengthwise in the nylon mesh, put it in some pantyhose, and threw it in the washing machine (on a quick cycle).

The result:
finished nuno scarf

Friday, April 09, 2010

Can I make it?

I'm going to try and sew J a shirt tomorrow as part of the make-along. I've never sewn a shirt, I can't even sew in a straight line, and I'm fully expecting to ruin the semi-expensive cloth J bought for it yesterday. And although I know I'll look at my crumpled, lopsided attempt at this time tomorrow and feel disappointed that it's not perfect, I also know I'll be another step closer to being a decent sewer.

Are you going to joining the make-along? Making something crazy ambitious is not a requirement by the way.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Supply list for the beginning felter

You may have already noticed that I really enjoy felting, and one of the things I like about the craft is that you don't need very many tools to do it.

If you'd like to start felting here's my recommendations on what supplies you'll need.
basic supply list for felting
If you just want to experiment and see if felting is your thing, but don't want to invest much money into it, all you really need is a towel, bowl, dish washing soap (an apron for your washingup liquid is purely optional), and fiber.

basic supply list for felting
But, tools are meant to make your life easier, and I'd recommend you add to your shopping list vinegar for rinsing, bubble wrap, nylon fabric, flexible hard bubble shelf liner, and a container to sprinkle water/soap mixture with. You can use a spray bottle for that, but an empty bottle of laundry detergent with holes poked through the top works just fine for me.

bigger supply list for felting
And if you want to get really crazy with the supplies you can also use gloves, a bamboo mat, more fiber (and more, and more...), two rubber bands (wrap them around the shelf liner or bamboo mat to keep it from unrolling), and olive oil soap, which is supposed to be the best kind for your felting hands.

And that's pretty much all I've needed. Have fun!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Fiber Soap

I hope you had a lovely Easter!

I had a cold, and spent much of the weekend on the couch or in bed looking and feeling miserable. I'm feeling much better this morning, well enough at least to post on the blog and take a shower, and yes, I do know that last fact is far too much information, but I actually have a good reason for sharing. Last week I covered a bar of soap in fibre, and I used it for the first time today.

I had followed the tutorial from Mielke's Fiber Arts. But I knew before I started that I wanted to make one modification to the instructions, so I took some of my own pictures.

Here's my supplies.felt soapThe fibre is North Ronaldsay, which is a sheep from Scotland that lives mainly on seaweed. Postmodern, don't you think?

I put down the lengthwise layer of roving on the fabricfelt soapfolded it
felt soapand then placed down the width wise layer, and made a little fiber pillow.felt soapAnd then, right after I took this picture, I realized I didn't have any hot water for the next step.

I can't remember what I did as I was waiting for the water to boil, but I can assure you it wasn't interesting.

So my main mod from the tutorial was that I used some loose-weave polyester fabric around the bar of soap for the initial felting, and speaking from experience it works much better than working with it by hand. If I don't use the fabric the fibres usually stick to my hands, which is a bit too chaotic for me. I've seen videos where someone puts soap all over her hands first, then rubs the fibres, but seeing as the fibre is wrapped in soap that just seems wasteful and weird.

felt soapThe soap was very floppy floppy (technical felting term) to begin with.

felt soapAnd then it started going crazy with the suds, and I was feeling like I was in that soap car in Charlie and the chocolate factory. Here it is just starting to go sudsy, felt soapbut unfortunately I don't have any other pictures of the chaos after this because my hands were wet and covered in soap and suds, and I didn't want to damage the camera. It was around this time that I just used my hands and took the fabric off.

Towards the very end, when it was almost totally felted, I did rub it on a harder surface on (some plastic bubble shelving from IKEA) to speed up the process, as the instructions suggested.

The finished product after drying. And in case you're wondering, no I don't smell like wet sheep right now.