Friday, October 30, 2009

A Finish

Not to be confused with a Finn. I met some lovely Swedish members of my distant family over a year ago, but have yet to discover any Finnish leaves on my family tree. But I did finally complete this Marsan Watchcap for my nephew Michael in Jerusalem. I hope he likes it!

This is the third black hat I have made for a young man in recent weeks. Two of the three will be entering the army some time in the next year to year and a half, so hopefully the hats will come in handy then as well as now.

But I'd really rather not have to knit another hat with black yarn any time soon. And aren't photos of items knitted with black yarn just so thrilling?

Instead of casting on for the scarf for my niece in Jerusalem, I decided to see if I could finish at least one other something first. I finished the leg, knit the heel flap and turned the heel on the second in a pair of baby socks made from leftover Koigu, and I hope those will be finished by Saturday night. Meanwhile, I am going to work on Meital's first tipless glove tonight.

It's so much fun to knit with the sound of the rain as my background music!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I Blame Ravelry

For those who may not know, Ravelry is an online community for knitters and crocheters. There are discussion forums, interest groups, and places to share your finished projects and works-in-progress, your yarn stash, your knitting/crochet book collection and more. The place I hang out most is the Patterns section. There are thousands and thousands of patterns on Ravelry; many are free, and others can be downloaded for a reasonable fee. The Patterns database is searchable, so if my niece in Jerusalem wants a scarf in black and pale turquoise (which she does), I can search scarf patterns for designs using two colors, and so on.

The guilty secret alluded to yesterday isn't that I ate all the Swiss chocolate stashed in the fridge, or that I splurged on new stamps, ink pads and the like. No, the truth is, the yarn you see in the photo above was calling to me, and I spent many enjoyable minutes browsing through the patterns at Ravelry, until I happened upon the one that shouted: "I'm the one you've been looking for!" Of course I got started right away. Couldn't make myself wait until I had finished one of the eight (8) projects already on my needles (one of which is a sweater for me, for Pete's sake).

I love the way this very simple design (it's the mara shawl from Madeline Tosh, for those who are interested) showcases the gorgeous yarn, which is Fiesta Boomerang in the Rain Forest colorway, purchased two years ago while we were in Oklahoma City. Another fun thing about Ravelry is that you can view the knitting of others who have made your project, read their raves and/or complaints about a pattern and any problems or innovations they had along the way. More than a couple complained that this was a boring knit, but I don't think that will bother me. So far, I am finding it fun and yet soothing to work on. The color changes in the yarn amuse me, and it's fun to watch the shawl gradually grow on my needles.

So there you have it; my guilty secret. I'll bet at least some of you were expecting something like this.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Knitting Content!

I'm finally getting around to showing you the tipless gloves I am making for my girls. If you've been visiting Bag Of Chocolates for awhile, you might recognize this pattern. Basically, I took Ann Budd's Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns glove pattern, did 2x2 ribbing for the wrist & hand, and stockinette for the thumb gusset and fingers. I've made gloves like these for my sister and both of her daughters. Liat's yarn is Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in the Apple Hill colorway, on size 2.5mm needles. This photo was taken a couple of days ago; I finished this glove today and cast on for the second one.

Meital's tipless gloves are also in Lorna's Laces, in the Flamingo Stripe colorway. Since her hands are a little smaller, I am using 2.25mm needles; not sure how much of a difference it will make, but it should be fine. That's what I love about doing these in 2x2 ribbing; they can stretch to fit, but are also fairly snug to the hand. I just don't love floppy gloves/mitts/wristwarmers! This photo is from today, but I have since worked on this and am nearly done with the thumb gusset.

I've also been working on the Marsan watchcap for my nephew in Jerusalem, but since it's black I just can't get enthusiastic about progress photos. I've even worked a little on the second baby sock in leftover Koigu. I started this pair months ago, thinking they would be the first in a bunch of summer knitting. But I ended up making other things and the socks have been neglected. Now I really want to free up th needles so I can get started on Avi's Chanukah socks, not to mention socks for some other lovely people...

No stamping for the last few days, but I think the ideas have been simmering just about long enough and will be ready to appear on paper soon. And next time, I will confess a guilty secret.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Still Wishing

Here's another card I made recently. I'm still wishing for cooler temperatures, as you can see. So far, it's not helping. The stamps for this card are, as usual, Posh designs - this is the Snowman set. This set will soon be available from Stamp A Mania. The blue colors on the right hand side were done by dragging a Blending Blox ink pad down the side of a piece of glossy cardstock. I then stamped the saying on top of that. The snowy background was stamped directly on the cardstock, while the snowman and all of the other pieces were stamped on glossy paper, cut out and glued down. I hope to have time tomorrow to do another card using other stamps from this set. I won't give up until the temps go down! ;-)

In knitting news, today I couldn't resist casting on for yet another project, for two reasons. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month (go get checked! I can't urge this strongly enough) and in the knitting world, people are casting on pink projects. Second, the project I started is a pair of tipless gloves for Meital, who was very excited when she saw I had started on her gloves, even before I had finished Liat's. It was fun to see her smile.

I took a photo of Liat's glove to show you, but didn't get a chance to upload it to my computer (an unexpected translation project came in late this afternoon). Next time, I promise!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Another Card

Here is another card I made recently, once again using the Posh Southwestern set. Soon that set and a lot more will be available at that link; the website is up but not all sections are active yet. They will be soon, I'm told! If you browse around, you'll see lots of beautiful card samples, and maybe one of these days you'll see a card or two that looks familiar! ;-)

I was organized last night, and made the sweet dough for cinnamon rolls before I went to bed. The dough rises in the fridge overnight, and then I can make the rolls in the morning. I got up bright and early and did just that, and let the smell of fresh cinnamon rolls and brewed coffee wake up my sweeties. I like to spoil them with something fresh-baked on the Saturdays that we don't go to Jerusalem (we go every other week), especially when the temperatures cool off. It's still not cool enough for my liking or for October, but it's a typical Israeli autumn.

I spent part of today working on Liat's tipless glove and it's coming along nicely. I can't find the ball band to tell you the colorway, but it's a pretty Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in pinks, periwinkle, blue and lavender. I'll try to take a progress photo so you can see the yarn. The pattern (my own) is a very dull 2x2 ribbed tipless glove (the thumb and fingers are in stockinette), but with a pretty yarn it looks good. The best thing is that they fit snugly to the hand without being tight. I just don't like the look or feel of a loose, floppy wristwarmer/glove.

I also made another card (this time not with a southwestern theme!) which I will share next time. I love the kinds of days where I do lots of different things.

Friday, October 23, 2009

This, that and the other thing

This is another card I made recently. The cactus, pot and lizard (gecko?) are from the Posh Southwestern set, and the saying is from the Greetings set. I made the background by drawing on a foam brayer with markers, then spritzing it with water before rolling it over the glossy paper. A fun, quick and easy way to make a pretty background. I have another card done, which I will show to you next time.

That is the Asherton Scarf I am making for Liat. The pattern yields a scarf about 7.5" wide, but Liat wanted a narrower one, so I eliminated one of the pattern repeats and added one stitch on either side. The scarf is now the width Liat wants. I forgot to knit the first four rows in garter stitch, but I don't think it will be a big problem.

As for the other thing, I've been starting to get to know the other stampers on the Stamp A Mania design team a little better. What a lovely group! We are going to have a lot of fun together, I can tell. I'm already inspired by the beautiful cards the team members have been making, and I can't wait to see more.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Busy, Busy!

Joansie mentioned she was interested in seeing my stamps. Well, above is a photo of one of them and below is a shot of my stamping table with the things I am currently using to create cards. I love my older, wood-mounted rubber stamps, but these new stamps are so much easier to use and to store.

These Posh stamps are mounted on a foam cushion that sticks onto an acrylic mount, then comes off when you give it a little tug. They stay stuck on the back of those plastic sheets with the colorful images on one side until you need them. Easy peasy! And they take up much less space than my wood mounted stamps. I can, of course, see through the acrylic mount and get a fair idea of where my image will end up on the paper. If I want precise placement, I use a tool called a stamp positioner, which helps me get the image exactly where I want it to be. But, mostly I don't need to be that precise, which is more relaxed and fun.

I use those Marvy markers to color directly onto the rubber, and I can easily blend more than one color as I go. When I use glossy paper instead of matte, the image comes out very bright. That's the look you usually see with my cards. Then once I stamp, the image is done! That's the fun of these solid stamp images. The other kind just have outlines, and usually need to be colored in with pencils, markers or something else. That's a lovely look, too, but I have become hooked on these wonderful bold stamps.

So that's a little peek into my stamping world. I have more cards to show you, but that will have to wait until tomorrow. Knitting is lagging behind, but I am hoping to work some more on the Marsan cap for my nephew tonight. I wonder what's on tv?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Forgot to Show You

I completely forgot to show you the card I made for Liat that was given to her during her trip in Poland. Her English teacher had called and asked parents to write a letter that could be given to the student at some point during the trip. Well, of course I don't just write plain old letters!

You won't be surprised to know that my favorite thing about this card is that it all started with a used "color catcher" - those sheets you put in the laundry so your dark colors don't bleed into the lights. I used one of those foam craft stamps (you can find them just about anywhere) and some pigment ink to stamp the shell. I used my sewing machine to stitch some of the lines above and below the shell, then embroidered and added beads according to my whim. It was fun to just forge ahead with no set plan and see how the project developed. Unfortunately, the photo doesn't show you all the sparkly threads and pretty beads I used, but at least you get an idea.

I have started the hat for my other nephew in Jerusalem, and bought the yarn to make his sister's scarf. Now I just need to settle on a pattern to use. She wants black and turquoise, so at first I thought about double knitting, but with the scarf for another of my niece's being a double knitting project, I decided maybe that wouldn't be a good plan. Now I'm thinking about using a multidirectional pattern and alternating between the two colors. We'll see!

Mark at Stamp A Mania told me that he will soon be sending out the kits for the design team members. I'm more than a little excited! I made two more cards today and have started a third. What I really ought to do is make two of each, so that I have one I can send to a friend or family member. I think I'll do that with the next card I start.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Excitement is Building!

In a very short time, Stamp A Mania will be releasing their first Posh stamp sets. That means I should also soon be getting my first stamp kit from them. I am so looking forward to seeing what they send, and of course having the fun of playing! Meanwhile, I made the card above for a friend who hasn't been feeling well. I hope it perks her up. Both the saying and the crayon image are from the Posh Impressions Greetings set, which comes not only with a variety of sayings but fun things like a crayon (duh), a pencil, and a marker. Fun to use in cards.

For those lucky enough to live near Albuquerque, New Mexico, there is going to be a stamping convention there on October 31 - November 1. Sounds like a fun way to spend a weekend. I have only ever been to one stamping convention, two years ago in Los Angeles (actually, Carson, CA). I was lucky enough to meet Dee and Warren Gruenig there, and I have to say I basically haunted the booth until they shut the place down for the night! Luckily the friend I came with was very understanding.

In other news, two friends have reassured me that the over-large beret is actually a marvelously "in" slouch hat! Let's hope my niece is aware of this fashion trend... Meanwhile, I did a little yarn shopping today (most was for my mother-in-law, I swear!) and now have the yarn I need for the Marsan watchcap for my nephew, and a scarf for his sister. Time to cast on!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Love it or leaf it?

No joking, that was the title of the article this pattern came with. Love it, leaf it beret. Hrmph. I would leaf it, but it's too late. I am feeling grumpy about this hat, as you can tell. It came out too big, which is the complaint that everyone on Ravelry who has made it has. The designer claims she knits very tightly and didn't want the yarn she used (cotton and bamboo blend) to stretch out. That should have been a warning right there.

Aside from that, instead of having you decrease one stitch at a certain number of points around the crown of the hat, she has you decrease two stitches. I think the result looks pretty yucky. I haven't blocked the hat yet (anyone have a spare 12" dinner plate I can borrow? mine are all 10") but am not sure that will help much.

The bright side in all of this is that my niece is not only pretty easy-going, but definitely a lover of funky accessories. I am sure she has the panache and style to carry this thing off. I just hope she likes it! She saw the photo in the magazine and requested the hat in dark green, and that's what she's getting.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Wishful Thinking

It is in the 90s here today, and MAN do I wish it would cool off already! It's been fun (not) but it's October, for Pete's sake! (My family always asks me who the heck is Pete and why should we do anything for him?).

Ahem. Sorry about that little rant. Anyway. The idea for this card came when I tried to think where I could use those cute little face images (from the Posh Impressions Halloween Duets set). I've used them on flowers, and as you know, on the card in the post before this one. Actually, I started this card first, but it was finished second so that's why they're out of order. The hats and saying are from the Posh Snowman set, and of course the background and cacti are from the Posh Southwest set.

I think I will stamp some more snow-themed cards. Rain would be more realistic, but if you're gonna dream, dream big, right?

Sandy asked how long it took to make that little Hug from Home that I gave to Liat. It really knits up very quickly, and it's all knit flat and then sewn together. But it's tiny (fits in the palm of your hand) so it's fast. Doing the intarsia (where I changed from purple to blue green for the heart) made it take a little longer, but I would guess you could make one of these in a couple of hours or less.

And speaking of knitting, I have a completed Leaf Beret to show you as soon as I can get one of my models to pose for me. I'm also nearly done with another black London Beanie, this time for one of my nephews in Jerusalem.

I hope all of you are having a fabulous, not too hot!!!, day.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


I had some fun in my stamping room today. Soon the new Posh stamps from Stamp A Mania will be available (and I hope to be getting my first Design Team package soon, whooo hoo!) and I'm getting my stamping muscles back in shape to make sure I'm ready.

I was using the cactus stamp for a different card (which I hope to show to you soon) when I got the idea for this one. The pumpkins and all of the faces are from the Posh Impressions Halloween Duets set, while the cactus is from the Southwestern set. I love mixing things up and throwing in something unexpected.

In other news, Liat is safely home from her trip to Poland! She took lots of amazing photos and has already told us quite a few stories. It's so much nicer to have her home, even though she is making sure I won't be bored by reminding me of all the knitted items she wants me to make for her (this list got even longer while she was away). At least I finished the beret I was working on for my niece's birthday, so obviously I must cast on for something new (we'll ignore the two sweaters, scarf, wristwarmer and baby sock already on the needles, shall we?).

I thought we would.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Hat of My Own

I finally took the time to make a hat for myself! It's the Claudia hat, and it's a free pattern! I made some changes to the pattern, like using a size 5 (instead of size 4) US needle for the beginning of the hat. I then switched to a size 7 (instead of size 6) for the body. I knit until the hat was 5.5", which I think was too long, before starting the decreases. I realized that the decreases go on for quite a few inches, and my hat was either going to be too long or would have a little point poking up at the top. Not a look I am interested in cultivating.

So I cut short the decreases and also switched to size 6 double pointed needles after awhile. It fits nicely, but I haven't studied how the top of it looks when on the head...scared to, I guess.

I still have a lot more gift knitting to do, and we're talking about birthdays, not holidays! But first we have some more work to finish up, and I'm also itching to get back into my stamping room. Never enough time, is there?

Friday, October 9, 2009

A Hug from Home

I made this little guy (a modification of a Jean Greenhowe pattern) to tuck into Liat's suitcase before she left for Poland. I sewed a little bag for him, and attached a tag that said "A hug from home." I hid it with her pajamas, knowing she would find it on the first night, and she did.

She sent me a text message that she really loved it, and mentioned it again when we spoke last night. The idea was that whenever she felt she needed a hug, she could squeeze this little guy (he fits right in the palm of the hand) and know that I was sending her a hug.

What can I say? I'm corny like that.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Ain't No Sunshine

Liat left for Poland on Tuesday night, and it is very strange around here without her. Everyone keeps telling me, "Wait until she starts the army" and "Wait until she gets married."

Hello? Not helpful, people.

Luckily, we have a big translation project to work on, so my mind is occupied for minutes at a time. Just kidding; once we start working, that is what I focus on. The hard part is once we take a break or are done for the day.

I think it's even harder because school is still out on break. Once Meital goes back to school on Monday, it won't seem so odd that Liat isn't here all the time.

How many hours until Wednesday morning?

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Trip to Poland

Several people have asked me about Liat's upcoming trip to Poland (she needs to be at the school in another 25.5 hours...) so I thought I would give a brief explanation.

It has become an almost standard part of the high school experience that, in their senior year, many Israeli teens go on a trip to Poland, under the authority of the Ministry of Education. They are considered part of an official Israeli delegation.

This year, the trip will last for one week and will include such sites as Warsaw, Lodz, and several death camps: Auschwitz-Birkenau, Treblinka and Majdanek. They have had many hours of preparation for the trip, including visiting several Holocaust museums here in Israel, listening to the personal stories of several Holocaust survivors, and participating in a number of activities designed to prepare them emotionally for what they will see and experience in Poland. They have been assigned books to read, and some of the students on the trip are responsible for preparing a ceremony for a specific stop on the trip (Liat and her group prepared a ceremony for Warsaw, site of the famous ghetto).

There will be, of course, a number of teachers on the trip, not to mention a security force there to protect the students. It all seems very well planned out and organized.

If you'd like to read a little bit more about the trip, go to this website and scroll down to question number 11, which deals with the trip.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Hat Trio

As promised (or threatened?) here is a photo of my three most recent hats. Bet you can't guess which one is for a guy.

Just kidding.

The black hat is, of course, a London Beanie. The colorful hat is Swell, a pattern which can be found on Knitty, though if you are thinking of knitting this fun hat, I strongly urge you to use larger needles than called for in the pattern. I used size 8, with size 9s for the colorwork. And of course the purple hat should look at least vaguely familiar; this is the fourth time I've made this Coronet pattern from Knitty! And the second in about a week.

You may recall my mentioning that originally, I had planned to make a Coronet hat for myself, then ended up making one for my niece, one for Liat, and now two for Liat's friends. Well, I am heartily sick of this pattern at the moment, and I also just happened to notice a pattern I had saved (not sure where I found it, but it's on Ravelry) called Claudia, by M.J. Kim. I decided that before I start the hats for my nephews, I would finally, finally, make a hat for myself. I cast on in royal blue, and am really enjoying the pattern so far.

And it's a jolly good thing hats are so small and quick to knit.

In other news, Liat leaves for Poland in approximately 50 hours.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Card for Joan

One of my friends at Club Posh suffered a stroke recently, so I made this card for her today. I am craving autumn (it is in the eighties and humid here, phooey!), so I chose that as my theme. The background is another piece from that large blotter paper background that I made months ago. For those who don't know, I started with the paint spattered newsprint I use as a blotter under my stamping, then added more color, stamped images, etc. to make an interesting and rather random background.

The leaves, acorn and pumpkin (all by Posh Impressions) were stamped on alcohol ink backgrounds I made some time ago, using pigment ink and embossing powder to really make the lines pop. They were then cut out and glued onto the background. I was worried that the background paper would be too dark and/or busy for the word stamp, so I used my finger to rub some white chalk onto the background. I didn't want to obscure the background, just lighten it, and I am very happy with the results.

I just hope the card brings Joan some cheer.

I am nearly done with the hat for Liat's friend Eden. I hope my next post will feature a photo of all the hats I haven't yet shown you. And just in case I wasn't already getting just the tiniest bit weary of hats, I promised to knit one for each of my two nephews in Jerusalem yesterday. Their sister wants a scarf. Bless her heart!