Saturday, March 29, 2008

The zoo and some knitting

We had a lovely trip to the Zoo today, the Hug-a-Bugs, my dad and myself.
We have two zoos in the metro area.
One is small, free and a little depressing.
To be fair, this zoo is attached to the Conservatory which is one of my favorite places in Saint Paul.
That said, the animal enclosures are pretty wee and the animals all look kinda sad.
The other zoo is Huge and Shiny and Glossy and has an admission price.

We went to the Shiny and Glossy zoo today.
At the Shiny Zoo, they have a farm set-up that is chock full of cute-ness.

We saw baby chicks and lambs and kids and baby bunnies.

The Hug-a-Bugs got some great opportunities to ride on animal statues.

We also saw some free-range wildlife.


It was a lot of fun.

Our MN Zoo is really beautiful. It is in the middle of a heavily wooded area and there are a couple of pond/lakes.

The animals enclosures are not as big as their natural habitats, to be sure, but they have some breathing room.

There is also a fantastic variety of animals.

A tapir, a python, flying foxes (which the Hug-a-Bugs call the Stellalunas), a pair of gibbons, sharks, dolphins, wolverines, musk oxen, just as a sampling.

We spent 3 hours there and even as we were leaving there were still tons of things to see.

We didn't even visit the majority of the outdoor animals.
Also, the kids got to spend some together time with Grandpa Geoff and that doesn't get to happen all that often.
All in all, a really nice day.

I went ahead and got the year membership. I can see us going quite often.


Now, on to the really important info:

I finished the christmas stocking I was working on and began the second.

I tried the short row toe for the second stocking and I love the result.

There was no discomfort of being on too many needles, too close together.
I think I have made a major, personal shift in the construction of christmas stockings forevermore.
Have a fantastic weekend,
Jess.
If I don't post tomorrow, Happy Birthday Donna!!!!!! Yay for birthdays!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

No Black Yarn?


Yes, Easter is over and you know what that means - Christmas Stockings!

I sometimes get a client who plans ahead, which is fantastic I must say, and so begins the christmas stocking knitting for this year.
I just got invited to join Ravelry which I should have paid more attention to, stash-wise, because I can't find any black yarn.
I was sure I had some; it must be hiding.
Anyway, I guess the snowmen will have to wait for their hats and the bears for their eyes.
I was just at the yarn store yesterday too...
I did get to see all of my peeps, of the non-marshmallow variety, but I neglected to get any black yarn.
The pattern is Nancy Lindberg Christmas Stocking Pattern with some changes.
I decided to try making the stocking from the toe up.
I really like it.
As mentioned in past posts it always bothered the total knitting nerd in me that the stitches were upside down in the patterns when the stocking is worked from the top down.
Now they are right side up and I can read the charts right side up too.
I think, in the future, I will try a short-row toe and continue on from there.
To make this toe-up toe I cast on 18 stitches with scrap yarn and worked 3 rows, then picked up one stitch on the edge, pulled out the provisional cast-on, knitted those stitches and picked up one more stitch on the other side.
Then I increased up to the number of stitches I needed.
Also, I added a short-row heel.
This pattern calls for an after-thought heel and I like the short-row because you never have to take the stocking off of the needles.
I also charted out the bears, because there isn't one in the pattern.
It has been a long time, if I have even ever done it, since I have had such a knit-nerdy post.
Thanks for listening,
Jess.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Hoppy Day!




I realized about Monday that it was the week before Easter and there was still no dress. Luckily I had procrastinated about the Elder Hug-a-Bug's Easter togs last year, and had this bunny-themed batik in the stash.



There is a considerable amount of snow for this Easter, so all the fashionable pre-schoolers will also be arrayed in long-sleeve t-shirts, tights and sweaters for the festivities.



Here's hoping your Easter is full of colored fingers and family,

Jess
p.s. Jelly beans or chocolate?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

From the cracking


"Those are ice webs from the cracking."

Elder Hug-a-Bug

Monday, March 17, 2008

From lemons...

I had to pull out an entire sleeve on Thursday.
I had misremembered the number of cast-on stitches.

I am a doofus.

On the bright side, when I was taking a mental health break from that sweater I got a ton of work done on my Color Wheel Quilt.

I started this post on Sunday.

I finished the quilt last night!

I am not totally happy with it.

The center of the wheel got really stretched out from the high concentration of stitching so it pokes up.
Also, I had it out of the dryer for about 15 minutes before there was a yogurt spill on it, as seen below the oranges.
White appears to be a bad idea at our house.
That said, I am thrilled to be finished!
The Hug-a-Bugs' favorite activity is to play ring-a-round the rosie on it.

They also like to pick out familiar fabrics.
That's my rocket-ship!
There's my hat!
There is Aunt Donna's frog!

So happy to have something in the FO column.

I started the failed sleeve again and I am about 2/3 the way through.

Another wonderful thing we discovered last night is playing Store with button currency.

The kids each had 3-5 buttons in their own boxes and they purchased toys and dolls from me in the shop for 1 or 2 buttons each.

It is so exciting that the younger Hug-a-Bug is old enough to play with smaller things without necessarily putting them in his mouth.

Happy Birthday to You, Dad!

Wishing a cozy Tuesday to you all,

Jess

Optimism



Maybe that 6 inches of snow we're expecting tonight won't stick...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Introducing music performance to pre-readers




I have a 4-year-old.
She is very interested in the piano.
I find I don't really have the patience necessary to give her any formalized lessons.
I don't know if it is her age, or the fact that she's my daughter.
I have, however, found a way to teach her some songs.
The elder Hug-a-Bug has a little blue xylophone piano.
I am sure that most of you folks out there have one too.
The keys are rainbow colored from purple at the lower octave up through pink at the higher.
I painted some cards with strokes of color corresponding to the keys on the piano and when she plays them in order she can play a song.
I also added pictures of the titles since she doesn't read much yet.
We haven't gotten into note length or rests.
Her musical instincts take over to some extent.
It is really rewarding for both of us when she successfully plays a song.
She is so proud of herself.
She played Mary Had a Little Lamb!
It's also fun to take out the paints together and make some art.
Sorry the color is so bad, the paint faded darker than I anticipated and here on the screen it looks like all the same notes, but I will take a moment to blame little tykes because they have two very similar greens next to one another and that is difficult to paint.
Sleep well,
Jess.

primavera


In college I sang the song "Primavera" by Celius Dougherty it was one of my favorites, mostly for the fantastic vocabulary used.

Here is what I can remember of the poem by Sara Teasdale

'Spring has arrived.
It is no use your telling me to look at the calendar
and saying that it is 5 good days 'til the 21st of March
Is the year bound to obey the almanac-makers?
O, model of all egregious pedants!
Would you shackle Spring to times and seasons,
or catch her back by her long green skirt 'til the moment you have planned for her?
She has stolen a March this year, for certain!
Today at sunrise I saw a white-breasted nuthatch running up the branch of the oak tree that was so broken by the ice-storm last December.
And in the garden a pheasant was picking grains out of the manure covering the garden beds.
There is a snow-drop up by the porch shot clean through the tulip straw.
And the crows are all agog over the neighbor's pine trees.
It is a game of catch who catch can with that green skirt then.
Even though, in your passion for order,
you bring about a snowstorm tomorrow,
it will not matter to me.
This morning, I saw the Spring!"

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Guest photo-journalist



Yesterday we had a treat at the yarn store.

Incaknits and her daughter came over to hang out

I asked E to take pictures of her favorite places in the store and here is a sampling.





The bottom picture is of the Wooly Snowman and Snowbaby by the amazing and talented Marie Mayhew.

Wishing a punctual Daylight Savings Day to you all,

Jess

March from the fifth lamp

S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y Morning!


Thursday, March 6, 2008

Love from Wooly


The elder Hug-a-Bug's favorite cat Moopy wanted in on the group photo action.
This was the most fun I have had knitting for small stuffed animals EVER!

More Works in Progress

I have assembled a list of the most active works in progress in my knitting and other categories.

First, I have finished the Love From Wooly pieces.

Here is Kit the Kitten wearing her mittens. She has a friend named Tom Kitten, but he didn't come to visit.

Here is Finlay the Fox. He is wearing socks. The photo doesn't do Finlay justice. He really is a total fox.

I also am working on my Jess Sweater. The Prime Alpaca is a dream to knit with. I have the back and one front finished. The first sleeve is about a 5th of the way complete and I cast on the second front.

The Jess Sweater has to take a back seat to the custom project I am knitting.

I have a client who's favorite sweater was losing shape and so she asked me to duplicate it. I have the back and some of the front finished.


The last item on the list today is a project that I began about 2 months ago to help the kids with their fine motor skills. My first idea was to sew buttons and laces and zippers and snaps to one big pillow. I rethunk that idea when I saw someone out here in the internet using pieces of clothing. My new plan is to make individual pillows and label them each with needle felting. I have to think up how to do the lacing one. I haven't started that one yet, but I have some ideas bouncing around.

I will now pledge to finish these projects by the summer. That will be perfect because I will feel more like sewing then anyway.

I hope that Thursday is treating you all well,

Shout out to my mom. Happy to see, or hear, you at home!

Bye,

Jess

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

wips & future wips

I recently have been introduced to Crazy Mom Quilts.
She makes some fantastic quilts and I looked at my WIP stack and felt a little overwhelmed.
Therefore I am hereby making a pledge to finish everything in my quilt WIP stack by the end of 2008.
I have here a sampling-
The United States and the Sky quilts are both hand-quilting which I rarely take the time to do.
I am quilting around each state and I think that I will do diagonal lines out across the rest of it.














The batting of the Sky quilt is a matress pad, from our own bed, that I am recycling. This doesn't need so much quilting so I traced out a bunch of airplane shapes and am about a 3rd of the way through them.

















The Color Wheel is machine quilting. I have a little less than half of that left.














The World Map panel is, I think, going to back an applique quilt of the back of our house and our garden. This quilt is in my head, and I have pattern pieces that I have cut out and the fabric chosen, but it isn't assembled yet.














The rockets I just think are wonderful.
These may end up as snuggle pillows in the toy room, I haven't decided yet.














As I have said before, I work at a fabric store and the main aim when I got hired seems to be that I would leave each time having spent more than I earned.

They do have to keep ordering panel prints. I am a sucker for panel prints.













Also, I am a sucker for anything with maps, moons, stars, suns, rockets or robots.

I started the Sky quilt because I just kept buying a yard or 2 or 3 of anything that had rockets or clouds or airplanes or stars or moons and I had such a big stack that I decided that I should make something or get rid of it all. That was two years ago that I assembled the quilt top. The time has come to finish these guys.


I hope the fact that spring really is still a month away doesn't get anyone down,

see you soon,

Jess.
Update-
I was asked which fabric store employs me.
I work at Treadle Yard Goods in Saint Paul.
They specialize in natural fiber fashion fabrics.
The silk selection is fantastic.
They also have hundreds of cotton prints.
And even though they are not natural fiber or fashion fabrics there is also a terrific selection of oilcloth and vinyl printed fabric.

Also, sorry for the shoddy photos.
The late afternoon sun was blaring, but apparantly only on half of the floor.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Spring?

It has been said by me that the best musical ever written is about a mass murderer who feeds his victims to unsuspecting pie-shop patrons.
This fact is, in fact, indisputible.
I have to say that my second favorite musical play is also somewhat darkly themed.
Governmental restructuring, war, incest, adultery - Yes, I am talking about Camelot.
I have been thinking about Camelot all day today, and I'll tell you why;

The winter is forbidden 'til December
And exits March the second on the dot.
By order Summer lingers 'til September
In Camelot

We have had a rainy day.
I am choosing to see it as more of an early spring somewhat chilly rain rather than a late winter freezing rain.

I choose to think that I, through my optimism, have great influence over the weather.
Hooray for Spring!
Jess.