Friday, December 11, 2009

NEW YEAR CHALLENGE

Since I can't post photos of the knitted Christmas gifts that I have been working on until after Christmas. I would like to talk about the Challenge I have given to myself for the up coming year.

I have seen knitters challenge themselves in the past and fail but I am determined. I also know that at this time of year many people make promises to themselves that go uncompleted but again I am DETERMINED to follow through.

I know there are people out there with gigantic stashes of yarn fiber and other crafty things that fill whole rooms or multiple rooms. I'm not that kind of person. Don't get me wrong, I love yarn and fiber just as much as the next person, and maybe sometimes more than the next person, but my personality does not allow me to have that much "stuff".
I once though I had a large apartment, probably before my boyfriend moved and, and before we got our little dog. A time when all the space was devoted solely to me and my things.
Now, I'm beginning to think that our space is not quite big enough. When my mind starts thinking this way I usually go into minimalist mode and start freaking out about where I am going to put everything and how I can get rid of all the things I don't really need.

Last night I was looking around at my knitting baskets and my fiber basket and realized they are quite full/over flowing. Some of this is lazyness on my part because I keep throwing yarn in the baskets that should go back to its home upstairs.
The knitting baskets downstairs are supposed to be for "daily use". I keep WIP's in them and soon to be WIP's (aka new skeins of yarn that I'm just not quite ready to put in the bin upstairs). As for the fiber basket I have fiber from the Common Ground Fair that I haven't touched yet that looks up at me, each time I walk by,longing to become yarn at some point. I also have fiber that was purchased much before that which is half spun and needs to be finished soon.

So my challenge to myself is:

1. GET ORGANIZED

2. Finish all current WIPS (things that have been hibernating in my closet for some time)

3. Spin up all the fiber that I have (approximately 10-15oz.) before purchasing any more.

4. Make 15-20 hats for the Mad Hatter ASAP so that I won't have to worry about them for a while, unless I get a special order.

5. Complete all projects for the Unique Sheep Yarn Club (I have successfully completed 1 project so far which means I have 3 others to make and 2 more on the way).

6. STASHDOWN as much as possible, I really, really, do not need to buy any yarn. I should learn to make due with what I have, istead of running off to the store to buy something different.

A side note on the stashdown which will become my mantra: If I use up what I have instead of going out and buying more I will have extra money.

Extra Money = Extra Cash To Pay Off Bills (namely my junk car and student loans since I successfully paid off both my credit cards!)

Paid Off Bills = Money That Can Be Saved For Large Purchases

Large Purchase = House for Amanda, Mr. Bobcat and Becca

All in all I don't think this is a hard challenge and I really think I can stick to my guns and work toward the ultimate goal of saving money for a house.

WISH ME LUCK!

Happy Knitting

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tis the Season For Sweaters

I love kniting sweaters, but sometimes they can take forever to knit up, and sometimes I feel like I may be in over my head.

Recently I knitted up a sweater for myself called Buttony. The reason for the name, it has 12 buttons.

The sweater I made for myself, I have not had the chance to get a photo of yet. (Note to self, have Chris take a photo of me in my buttony sweater for the blog). I made it in a dark green worsted weight yarn, that has been discontinued. This was my first top down sweater, I love it!

So anyway, I wore the sweater to work one day and everyone loved it. Our building maintenance manager saw it and thought it was really nice.
I told him I made it. He asked if I could make one like it for his significant other for Christmas. He also asked me to make a sweater for him. The whole time I was thinking what the hell have I gotten myself into, why cant I ever say no?
I have been planning to do something nice for him for a while though since he gives me hockey tickets all the time to Maine games.

I knew it would be a big project to take on, especially since its getting to be holiday time and I wanted to get some knitting done for family members, plus I still need to make hats occasionally for The Mad Hatter.
But anyway, I obliged and I made both the sweaters, in record time. It took me about 6-8 weeks to make both.

The pattern I used for the man's sweater is called Curse Your Boyfriend. Which eludes to the mysterious sweater curse. If you don't know about it, Google it, it even has its own Wiki page.
For the other sweater I made Buttony. I used Miss Babs Yowza Whatta Skein in colorway Roasted Pumpkin for this sweater. It came out beautiful. Also, since I try to do something good for the environment every now and then, I used buttons made from Recycled Cotton, they were perfect. I do wish my photo quality was better though.




This is Luc's sweater. The pattern in the center I took from a celtic scarf pattern.
I hope you all enjoy! Happy Knitting!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Teenie Weenie Hats

I have been trying to find a way to generate a bit of extra cash using my knitting skills. Every so often an opportunity comes up for me to sell something or other. I wanted to let you all know what I have been up to and share a couple of photos.

About a month ago a good friend of mine asked me to make a hat for a baby shower that she was attending. She asked if the hat could be a bee hat since the mom to be is a bee keeper.


This is the bee that I made. Sitting next to my coffee cup to show how teenie it is.


Everyone loved it!








In the mean time the same friend who asked me to make the hat got the word out to a friend of hers (who owns a childrens clothing store) that I could knit these little bitty hats.

When the word got back to me of the opportunity to sell some of my creations I jumped at it. I made a few bee hats and a couple of plain hats with varigated yarn.

I also made this hat:














My goal is to make mostly novelty hats, I have a lot of ideas for hats that mimic various fruits and vegetables and hats that have random animal ears on them.

All of the hats will be the same size (generally for newborns or baby's that are a couple of months old) but, I will only be making 1 or 2 of each so that not too many people have the same thing. Unfortunately I do not have any patterns for these hats to share with you. I usually just get an idea in my head and then test it out, if it comes out bad I frog it and start over. If you are really interested in how I made the hats I can give general directions, but you will mostly have to wing it.

The hats are being sold in Maine at the Bangor Mall in a little shop called The Mad Hatter.

I will post more pictures as I produce more hats. I am glad to share these Teenie Weenie Hats with you.



I have added a few more hat photos to the blog. The Topsy Turvy Flower Hat I made quite a while ago for a special little girl on her first birthday. The others I have made in the last few months.
Also, please check out the Ryan J. Moore Photography Blog!
Ryan is one of my oldest friends, he e-mailed me a while ago and asked if I could make him a hat with teddy bear ears for his photo shoots. I ended up making him 3 hats, this morning when I checked his blog one of the hats appeared in a recent photo shoot! Its too darn cute!
Strawberry
Jack-O-Lantern
Topsy Turvy Flower
Peach



Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Going Green

I have joined the Six Kingdoms Yarn Club and am patiently waiting for the arrival of my first package. I will periodically post updates with the projects and goodies from the club and also put the FO's on Ravelry.

This yarn club also has a side theme based on 'being green'. The first contest was to comment on the Clubs blog about the things that you do at home to be green. That is where I got the inspiration for this post.

As I put up my comment and started writing down all the things that I do at home to be environmentally friendly, I realized that I do a lot more than I though. I will admit that my actions may seem a little crazy but I didn't start doing these things all at once and it has taken me a while to get where I am now. I also feel like I'm not really doing that much and I would be very easy for anyone to do the things that I do, it just takes some time to get use to.

Most of my green efforts started showing up after I moved out of my parents house, and started my new job as an environmental technician. As I have probably mentioned in the past, I live with my boyfriend who is about as far from 'green' as you can get, but hes getting much better and probably doesn't even realize all of the green things hes doing.

The first effort I put forth was to practice the 3 R's. We recycle our tin cans, bottles (in Maine you get $.05 back if you return your containers that require a deposit), plastics, and cardboard. I read the news paper online to cut down on paper waste. I also recently learned that you can spin news print and other papers with a drop spindle, so I have been saving the colored pages for that. I reuse Ziploc bags as long as they have not had raw meat in them and I reuse tinfoil whenever possible. I bring my own coffee cup wherever I go so that I don't have to get a paper or Styrofoam one, and I have a Brita water pitcher in my refrigerator that I use to fill up my water bottles so that we don't have to buy bottled water. I have more than enough Nalgene/Sigg/Sport bottles.

Secondly, we have a worm bin that we compost nearly all of our kitchen scraps, vacuum cleaner stuffs, floor sweepings, dead plant leaves, etc. I also use the non colored news paper as bedding for the worms. I think the worms have been my favorite pets so far, I don't have to go out and buy extra food for them, I don't have to walk them or clean up after them, they don't need any maintenance or have to visit a vet, and they don't make any noise. This really helps reduce the amount of trash leaving our apartment, even with 3 people living there we only have about 1 bag of trash per week or less. My ultimate goal would be to get 1 bag per month but I would have to work really hard for that and do a lot of training with the other residents of the apartment to achieve that goal.

When it comes to food, I do shop at the local grocery store but I also try to visit the local farmers markets and farm stands as much as possible during the growing season. Its a short season here in Maine but defiantly worth going out to get fresh veggies. I have a small container garden on my deck as well that provides enough for us to have salads regularly throughout the summer and early fall.

At the grocery store I try to buy products that come in containers that can be reused or recycled with the least amount of packaging. IF (and that is a big IF), we buy paper products like paper towels, napkins, paper plates, they are all recycled materials. The bathroom tissue that we purchase is also made from recycled paper, the brand we use is Earth First.
When we are done with the paper items they are fed to the worms, guests may think its weird but that's just how I roll (I would like to say we here but the boyfriend would just throw them away if I didn't tell him to put them in the worm bin every time). One thing that I need to work on, and have not been very successful at, is bringing my own bags to the grocery store. I reuse the plastic shopping bags to knit with, but I have an over abundance of them now so I really need to spend the money to buy a few of the reusable shopping bags and just start using them.

To save on electricity and reduce my/our carbon footprint I unplug appliances when they are not in use and our other electronics (computer, tv, vhs, dvd, playsation) are plugged into power strips so that they can be turned off when not in use and they don't cause a phantom loading issue. I also make sure to go around and unplug any cell phone chargers that are randomly left sticking out of the wall, drawing energy for no reason. We use energy efficient bulbs in all of our lights. Our apartment has a kerosene heater that we only use during the very cold months, it is temperature controlled so I set it to a lower temperature when we are sleeping or not at home. Starting in April and until we can't stand it any more in the fall the heater remains off and unplugged. We also have electric hot water which really is a pain! I take quick showers and I am a huge advocate of the old saying "save water, shower with a friend", this really keeps the electricity bill down. I also try to hold off on washing dishes until we have a good amount, that way I'm not filling the sink a bunch of times to wash a few dishes. So far my most expensive electricity bill has only been $96 which I think is fantastic.

I think I have covered everything but I would like to hear from any readers as well, its always fun to hear about the things that others are doing to be friendly to the environment.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Happy Monday

This past weekend was a little crazy but I did manage to get some time to take some pictures of things that I promised I would post photos of.

Why was my weekend crazy you may ask.

Friday night was pretty calm, my boyfriend and I went out to dinner and then headed to the movie store so that we could have a quite night in. We rented the Wrestler, and Slumdog Millionaire. Of course we had to watch the wrestler first, and it turned out to be a bit better than I thought it was going to be. I have not made it all the way through Slumdog yet because I am not good at watchimg movies and I always fall alseep, goal for tonight is to finish the movie.

Saturday was kind of a wasted day. I did a 5 mile walk for MS, with two friends of mine, but lately I have been having these wierd reoccuring migraines that decide to show up any time that I exercise so after the walk my head was pounding and I didnt really have the energy to do much. I ended up heading over to my parents house to do some laundry and get some advice from my mother about the headache issue. After chatting with her I now have an appointment to see both my regular doctor and my eye doctor so that I can get this problem solved.

Now for Sunday, but first a little background info. My boyfriend and I decieded a while back that we definately needed some new things for the apartment, we chose 2 items that we absolutely needed. 1st a new tv, the old 20 inch tv wasnt cutting it and with the switch over to HD tv coming very soon we decided that a new tv would be a high priority. The second thing we decided we needed was some new furniture. The chair and couch that we had were both from college days and they have pretty much lived thier life. We made a deal that my boyfriend would purchase the tv and I would buy the furniture. So, a little over a month ago we went shopping and Chris purchased our new 42" flat screen plasma television. Yesterday we went furniture shopping. We checked out 3 places and ended up coming home with a dark brown leather recliner from the first place that we went to, the second place we visited had absolutely nothing that we were interested in, and at the thrid place I bought a love seat and a sofa. I am very happy with my purchases and I think they will last us a long time.


On top of all that I managed to get around to taking some photos.


Here is my new baby. As I explained in the post before this, its an Ashford Traveller and I love her, stay tuned for more photos. She still is nameless but I'm sure it will come to me. So far I have spun some BFL from Maine Woods Fiber, a bit of wool and silk that I got from the DiA swap, a bit of Lornas Laces fiber in the colorway Daffodil, and currently on my wheel is some dark chocolate brown Alpaca.

This is my first handspun attempt. All of this fiber is from the starter kit I bought from Maine Woods Fiber on etsy.com. The first skein is 2ply, one of the plys I spun with my drop spindle, the other with the wheel and they were plyed together on the wheel. The other two skeins are singles that I made with my drop spindle.
The darker green is the first skein I made and its pretty hard to see but it came out decent for my first go at spinning.
Peace and Happy Knitting!
Amanda

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Too Long Without An Update

WOW! Its been a long time. I have been so busy doing crafty things that I haven't had much time for blogging. Needless to say my Ravelry page and my Blog have suffered.

What have I been up to?

First off the Dragonfly in Amber Swap is nearing and end. I recieved my swap goodies from my spoiler and boy was I supprised. The gifts I got were beautiful.
The book is not from the Diana Gabaldon Series but there is reference to one of her characters in "Into the Wilderness" hence the reason for recieving this book. The buttons have little scottish thistles painted on them to go with the theme of the book. I also recieved some silk for spinning (another thing that I have been doing a lot of lately), and the beautiful hand made stitch markers.

Some other things I recieved were BEAUTIFUL hand spun yarn, made by my spoiler, a hand knitted pence jug, and cocolate chip cookies MY ULTIMATE favorite! I will have a picture of the hand spun but the only one I have right now just does not do it justice. If you visit my ravelry page (aplourde) you can see all of these items in my projects page.
Secondly, I have started going to a local spinning guild once per month, I have met the nicest ladies there and I have become a fiber addict! My knitting has suffered. Its gotten so bad that after 2 months of spindling (which I love and was getting pretty good at) I decieded to go out and buy a spinning wheel.
Just last week I brought home my new baby an Ashford Traveller. Don't worry, like any proud mother I will post pictures of her. She still does not have a name but I am sure it will come to me eventually.
I have successfully created 3 small skeins of hand spun and I am so proud of myself. IT's by no means perfect and is pretty lumpy but I feel very accomplished.
The roving that I used to make the yarn is from Maine Woods Yarn and Fiber. They have a little shop on etsy.com that you can check out. I also orderd some fiber from Sonny and Shear, which should arrive by the end of the week.
I also took it upon myself to buy 3lbs of un-cleaned Alpaca fiber in a lovely chocolate brown color from an animal named Maja. I have ever so slowly been going through the process of picking and cleaning said fiber and I had a feeling it would take forever but luckilly its not wool. Apparently wool is very hard to clean because of all the lanolin you have to wash it in very hot water a number of times to get the grease out. Last Saturday I spent a whole day at one of my newly found fiber addicts houses cleaning a bit of my fiber and learning the process. Its very fun and I can hardly wait for the finished product. Thanks Nicole I had a GREAT TIME!
Finally I have been doing some gardening, or preparing to garden. I have seedlings galore at my apartment waiting patiently for the temperature to increase so that they can go out doors. I have also been helping my parents prepare for thier first square foot garden attempt. I am so excited! I highly recommend the square foot gardening method. For a great reference I suggest The All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew.
This years crop should produce the following: Tomatoes (roma, cherry, and heirloom), cucumbers (lemon, and regular), bush beans, egg plants, bell peppers (in carnival mix, and green), sweet peppers, carrotts, parsnips, watermelon, cantulope, summer and winter squash, acorn squash, zucchini, basil, chives, sage, oregano, and last but not least some flowers (dahlias, bachelors buttons, petunias, coleus, morning glories, moss rose, and cypress vine).

Friday, January 16, 2009

I Must Be Dreaming

Ravlery is taking over my life. I am completely ADDICTED and I hope I stay that way. I have been making new friends and sharing ideas and tips about a lot of things that I love.
Also, I have joined many groups including the Diana Gabaldon Outlander group. Through this group I will be participating in the DiA swap and I CAN'T WAIT! The Outlander books were my most favorite series ever next to HP and Twilight that is.

Last weekend I worked desperately to finish up some of my projects from the pile of WIP's. Unfortunately I ran out of yarn for most of the projects that I was working on and couldn't tear myself away from the needles long enough to go to the store and get more yarn.

I also forgot to mention that I recieved the Pattern-A-Day calendar for christmas. I LOVE IT! I am going to try to make all of the projects since most of them are small quick items. So far I have made the soap sack, and I am working on the Guitar Man socks. I hope to post photos of these things.

Goals for the weekend:
-Go to the store and get yarn to finish WIP's
-Take Photos of projects to post for all to see.

One final note, I have been pondering the idea of starting my own yarn shop......this is the reason that I must be dreaming. With the economy the way it is, I don't know that I would ever be able to get this off the ground. Maybe yarn shops are only meant for those of us who have spent years in the coorporate world or at other taxing jobs and have finally had enough. I have only been out of school for a few years now. I also have considered possibly creating the yarn store as an online buisness, that way I could do it as a part time venture. If anyone out there has any suggestions, or helpful words by way of constructive criticism I would love to have a chat.

I hope everyone is staying warm and enjoying the winter!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

KnittingKnittingKnitting

Lately (well in the last month or so) I have caught a serious knitting bug. I recieved some yarn for Christmas (see Knitting Basket below) and I started knitting everything in sight. I have many different types of yarn in my basket. Anything from acrylic Red Heart to Fleece Artist Sea Wool. Center yarn is the Caron Bamboo. Next to it on the right is the sea wool. I will be taking another picture of that so that you can see how beautiful it really is. The pink varigated is Red Heart.


The picture above is a dragon sweater that I have been working for a friend of mine's daughter. Needless to say I have 1 arm and the hood to go and then the spikes down the back, i ran out of yarn. (Note to self: must make trip to AC Moore to get more yarn for project).

The afghan may or may not get finished before 6 Kingdoms starts. This project was given to me by my grandmother. She got it from another friend who can no longer see well enough to knit. I have been working on it here and there and I have about 2 out of 7 panels done. I know I will love the blanket when its done, however the panels just get too repetitive and boring for me. This is one reason that i have so many projects going on i get bored too easily. I guess that is a Pisces thing.


Next on the roster. This is the Knitting Hush Hush. I decied that since i hate wearing nighites but i loved the pattern i would just turn it into a tanktop. I have completed about 90% of the project to date. This is also the project that I have been working on the most in the past couple of weeks. I will post a finished picture of all of my projects as they are done. I also am on ravelry as aplourde and my projects will all apper on there as well.

Finally the Plastic bag Bag. I made my yarn out of hannaford bags. This project is also about 95% done. All i need to do is make the handles or a strap or some thing that I can use to cary the bag around. I will be lining this with some random material also so that it has more of a finished handbag look.




This project was finishe. However......it is a sweater that i made for my mother. Little did i know while making said sweater that the arms were going to come out as long as they did. I believe i may have made the arms to fit me. Moms arms are much shorter. So now I have the task of removing said arms and re-knitting them so that they fit mom. I have decided to put this off till last, she may not get the sweater back until next winter.......who knows.


Now I want to talk about Ravelry for a minute. I LOVE RAVELRY! It may possibly be the best thing to ever happen to knitters and crocheters. The website is very well organized and there are many many many patterns/groups/forums and wonderful people that make up the community.