Sunday, December 19, 2010


(Look at me blogging!)

A while back a friend mentioned that her 18 month old had outgrown the hats I made for her last year and they'd lost a few others, so were currently short on hats. I promptly took needles to yarn (because baby hats are cathartic - quick and satisfying). I had some bright pink Classic Elite Duchess (currently on closeout at Webs) and planned to make a basic hat with the little one's current favorite animal embroidered on it. Working on it late one evening, after a glass of wine or two, I had the brilliant idea to try to give it ears. A little short-row shaping and the owl hat was born.

The original pink one is there on the right with the owl embroidered on as planned. When realized Valley Yarn's Northampton Bulky was the perfect yarn for these (both pricewise and yardagewise), the hats quickly became an obsession. They knit up super quickly. I tried embroidering on a face on the dark blue one, but wasn't completely thrilled with how it looked or how long it took. The felt face with button eyes is much easier.

I love how each one takes on its own personality.

I whipped these two up very quickly for my old friend Heidi's daughters.

A coworker asked if I could do a tiger version of it for his son. No problem, the hat can easily be converted to any sort of cat face. But then he asked if I could do his daughter's favorite animal - a zebra.

It was a bit of a challenge figuring out how to make it look horse-like. Anisa suggested the mane (which runs all the way down the backside) and then the rest of it took shape.

I've written up the pattern and included templates for the felt face pieces. There are 4 sizes ranging from toddler to adult. Some wonderful friends have tested it for me (thanks Tina, Robyn, Donna and Melissa!). It's available for $3 on Ravelry at: Owls and Tigers and Zebras, Oh My!

I'm completely obsessed and cannot stop making these. I have a big bag of Northampton Bulky sitting next to me right now (I think I bought almost every color available) and plan to spend much of my Christmas break cranking out owls.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Nasty little trees

Oh yeah, I have a blog!


My brother recently sent me some videos from his new job as the River Restoration Director for the Southwest Conservation Corps in Colorado. I was going to just post the videos here and say a few words (yes, again) about his awesomeness. Just so I didn't say anything stupid and wrong, I checked the SCC website to make sure I had my facts straight first. While there I discovered my brother's bio and was totally impressed. Of course, I knew all of this was going on in his life, but it sounds so much better when it's all put together in one paragraph like this:
Mike grew up in rural Vermont where he grew to love the snow, the mountains and rivers. In the years following high school, he began to explore the varied Southwest and pursue a degree in Ecology and Natural History /Photography at Prescott College in Arizona. Over the summers he labored away, soon leading a trail crew, firefighting and as a lookout in the most remote tower in the lower forty-eight states. Mike finished his formal education by conducting Wild and Scenic river research in the Grand Canyon where his love for rivers really began. Mike was then hired by the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps in Steamboat Springs, CO, as Project Coordinator where he trained crew leaders and facilitated conservation projects in many stunning locations. Throughout the next few years Mike worked to hone his rafting skills on numerous private trips and worked as head sawyer for a fire mitigation company. Mike has also been carpenter, a snowboard instructor, and an Outward Bound River Instructor. In 2002, he moved to Nederland, CO where he directed the Mountain Youth Corps in Invasive Species inventory, monitoring and treatment. He soon was the Academic Director at the local alternative high school filling the roles of counselor, registrar, disciplinarian, records monitor, independent study facilitator, substitute, and district liaison for Chinook West, a program that serves at-risk youth. He also directed fundraising, coordinated and lead school excursions backpacking in Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, exploring the four corners area, rafting the San Juan River and more. Mike realized that his heart truly lies with conservation work, especially within the canyons of the Southwest, and jumped at the opportunity to reconnect with conservation corps as River Restoration Director.
Doesn't he sound impressive? (I still say the most impressive thing he ever did was to convince Julie to marry him, but that's just my opinion...)

Anyway, here's a couple of videos about the work he's doing on the Durango River. The goal is to remove the invasive species Tamarisk from the river. Tamarisk is a small tree-like plant that grows in dense thickets and has roots that grow 100 feet long and consume a huge amount of water (more than 200 gallons a day). Not only does it choke out native plant species, but the thickets block wildlife (and human) access to the river.

Here's a video that explains the project a bit more:

But this one has my brother narrating at the beginning and he's in it quite a bit - and it includes some of the kids from one of the youth crews:

If you know any young adults who might be interested in joining a crew, info is here.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Full disclosure: I don't knit socks

But if I did knit socks, I would knit them two at a time . I would knit them toe-up (so I could use up all of my yarn and never worry about running out of yarn). I would buy this book. If you knit socks, you should buy it.

Also Melissa is a good teacher and you should take classes with her. You should ask your local yarn store to contact her about teaching. She taught me to knit two-at-a-time and I've done countless mittens and sleeves that way and it is a good thing.

Another disclosure: I am employed as a marketing and sales manager at a publishing company. But not the company that published this book. I'm just plugging the book out of the goodness of my own heart. (And the fact that Melissa delivers me the best fresh eggs - from happy chickens - on a weekly basis and I'm counting on a big jar of honey from her bees later this year has nothing to do with it.)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Soda can stars

In keeping with my family's non-commercial gift-giving which we started at Christmas this year, and inspired by this amazing tin can star mural, I made a soda can garland for my mother's birthday.

I followed Anna's tutorial for making the stars. I made a slightly smaller star template and managed to get 3 stars from each can. I used a metal knitting needle to make the scores and punched small holes on opposite points with an awl. Knowing the garland would spin, I decided to put two stars together so there was no right or wrong side. I matched up the colors/patterns on each pair of stars and made some of the stars with the silver side showing.

I had the idea to use fishing spinners as connectors (they looked at me funny in the sporting goods store when I bought 6 packets of them), but realized quickly that, while one end of the spinner opens like a safety pin, the other end is a closed loop. I thought about adding jump rings between each, but ended up snipping the loop close to the join, attaching a second spinner and closing the loop back up with round nosed pliers. Since the garland doesn't have to hold up to any tension or weight (the stars are almost featherweight), this works fine.

I like the muted colors that come from the organic soda and seltzers that I tend to drink. If you look close you can see one star made from a Pork Slap Pale Ale can (left over from my Lost Season Premier party. Because there are boars on the island. Get it?).

Someone asked if it is very 'owie' and someone else predicted I was going to be covered in blood while making it, but I finished without even a scratch. It's a little prickly and stuck to the cloth bag I wrapped it in and I would keep it out of reach of babies, but otherwise it's fine.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Her feet are no longer big

Happy Birthday Mom!On the back of this photo is written, in my grandfather's handwriting, "Tammy. 7 1/2 weeks. She has big feet."

Monday, January 25, 2010

Nor'easter Hat & Mittens

I have a new pattern for sale on Ravelry - Nor'easter Hat & Mitten set. For those of you who don't live in New England, a Nor’easter is a type of storm common during the winter in the Northeastern US that occurs when cold air coming from the Arctic Air Mass converges with warmer air from the Gulf Stream. These cosy mittens and hat will keep you warm even in the worst snowy weather.

They are a quick knit in chunky yarn and a perfect blank slate for simple embellishments. My embroidery skills leave a lot to be desired, but I learned quite a bit from this book.

100% of the proceeds from Nor'easter patterns sold between now and February 28th will be donated to Doctors Without Borders to assist with their work in Haiti. You can find other patterns for sale on Ravelry whose designers have pledged to donate proceeds to Haitian Relief funds here.

How cute is my colleague Alexandra (Editorial Assistant Extraordinaire) who graciously agreed to model for me?

The white set is done in Valley Yarn's Northampton Bulky which is a nice soft bulky wool (at a bargain price). The dark green set is done in Malabrigo Chunky which is extremely soft (but I have some fears that it will pill up with wear).

Of course the day I finished these, we're having a January thaw and it is too warm and soggy outside for thick woolies. But this is New England and the Nor'easters will come...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Birthdays are such a good excuse to bring out embarassing photos

My little sister turned 30 yesterday (I meant to do this post then, but I was busy lying feverishly on the sofa and blowing my nose all day). I dug through the box of photos I inherited from my maternal grandmother and came up with this random selection of photos of, and including, sis. Really random. And most don't have any sort of notes on the back (if anyone reading this has boxes of photos sitting around, please label them all. Someday someone else will have to go through them and they will thank you), so I have no clue when or where they were taken. Sis? Mom? Can anyone chime in here with corrections?

Look at Linz in her baggy 80s jean jacket.
I wonder what the pins say?
Not sure what she's watching here. This was maybe at a parade?

A (rare?) tender moment between siblings. I'm pretty sure that's Cricket Magazine I'm reading to them. I had a subscription to this children's literary magazine for many years. They have since branched off and now have literary mags for all ages of kids (even a board book magazine for little tykes) as well as science and archeology/exploring magazines. Some of the best magazines for kids out there (IMHO).

The thing is, I probably dressed her like this.

I include this photo only to show off my stylin' junior high winter look.
And the feathered hair.
1984/85? Was this a family Christmas card photo?

I cannot look at this photo with out snorting.
I don't know why it cracks me up so much that Linz and the
Care Bear have exactly the same expression.

So many questions about this one.
Did she take this of herself?
Did she know then that she would have years of orthodontic work?
Is that a hand knit sweater?
Was the faux paint-splatter OshKosh cap the height of fashion in the early 80s?

I can't believe I slept under the same roof as this.
I'm wide awake now and it's giving me nightmares.

circa 1990 - give or take a year? Clues being:
My hippie hoodie thingy (when did I buy that?) paired with late 80s skinny acid washed jeans,
Mikey is either growing out his asymmetrical, shaved-on-one-side, skater cut
or is working up to it.
What year did Linz get gum in her hair and have to cut her bangs really short?
Who's hair was longer mine or Lindsey's?

This one I can identify. All dressed up and well-behaved on my high-school graduation day.
(Mom that flower bed was a mess - you totally did the right thing tearing it out and redoing it.)
Liking the suspenders and the side braid and the socks with the mary janes sis.
And holy frik I was skinny then!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Throwing up the Knit Signal

Taking the advice of the Yarn Harlot, I'm throwing up the knit signal for Haiti. The symbol is in recognition of the fact that knitters are a force to be reckoned with when we put our minds to something. Today, whether you are a knitter or not, do what you can for the people of Haiti.

You can donate to Doctors Without Borders here. Quoted from the Yarn Harlot's blog:
The MSF Hospital has sustained damage that means it isn't functioning as a hospital right now. Staff have moved to the courtyard and set up tents and what materials they could retrieve from the building and are doing their best to help people as they can. Doctors who were providing maternity care are now running a trauma centre.

They, and their sister offices in other countries spent all night figuring out who could go and how to get them there, and staff is packing as we read this to get there as fast as they can. They'll be taking inflatable surgery suites with them so they can use that instead of their damaged buildings.

There are directed donation sites set up for Haiti on all of their websites, but I'd like to take a moment to ask you to please make your donation "undirected". Money given to a specific fund can only be used for that area and making sure your donation is undirected helps them a lot. It lets them keep serving other crises that continue to happen while the world watches Haiti, and more importantly, it allows them to be first responders.

On their websites (Canada here, USA here, Other countries can find their site here) when you give there is a drop-down menu that you'll see called "I would like my gift to be directed to..." and you'll see a lot of choices. Please consider selecting "Greatest Needs" or "Emergency Relief" so that they can have the flexibility that they need to do their best work.
You can also donate to the Red Cross which has pledged $1 Million to Haiti relief here. The easiest way to donate is to text the word 'Haiti' to '90999' and $10 will be billed on your next cell phone bill by the Red Cross.

The US State Department website links to this list of many different (valid) charities which are directing funds to Haiti.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Queen of Mod Podge

My sister wins the prize for making the most gifts this Christmas. She also made many different kinds of cookies and I think she said something about making 6 coffee cakes. And she is in grad school. I'm pretty sure she doesn't sleep. Here's a few samples of what she made:

First off are these bowls she made for my mother and I. They were inspired by these. She says the globe was very difficult to saw in half. The equator on globes is apparently reinforced with very thick cardboard.

She found the globe on Craigs List. My bowl is the Northern Hemisphere half and has the old Soviet Union on it.

She lined the rough edge with aluminum foil and Mod Podged pages from an atlas inside (Note to anyone thinking about what to get Linz for her birthday next week: She needs a new atlas). The feet are glass marbles.

I've always wanted to make my own vanilla extract and sis beat me to it. It's vodka and vanilla beans and I can add more vodka to replenish it.

I've got another week before it will be ready to use. I'm looking forward to baking something next weekend. I'm also thinking, now that I realize it's really just vanilla flavored vodka, about adding a few drops to mixed drinks. Vanilla martinis maybe?

Here is where sis went really nuts. And learned to know and love Mod Podge. These are yarn lights.

She Mod Podged yarn around balloons, let it dry and popped the balloons.

The finished balls were stuck over a string of LED lights.

I have no idea where she got the idea for these, but I love them. Perhaps she'll speak up and let us know where the instructions are.

Update: Sis says,"The idea for the yarn ball lights came from my own little head. There are no instructions. And I was afraid it was all a bust when I tried to paint on the mod podge and found the yarn collapsed when with the popped balloon. Then I GLOPPED mod podge on. That fixed it... but took forever to dry."
These are the perfect accessory for my house. They match the rest of the decor perfectly (since it it mostly consists of balls and skeins of yarns perched on shelves and tucked into baskets).

Up next is my brother's interpretation of the Non Commercial Holiday. Hint: He's a connoisseur of Goodwill stores.