Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Testing Testing 1, 2, 3

I really want to try my hand at making GIFs so here is my testing post attempt...

My first GIF: one of my rosemary cookies being eaten!

And now the ultimate test: *presses publish*

Monday, August 12, 2013

Weekend in Review

Friday: Stitches Midwest!

This year I crocheted another hat for Halos of Hope, a charity which gives hats to cancer patients going through chemotherapy:

Last year the hat I made was a little plain so this year I sewed some buttons on the side and the woman at the Halos of Hope booth loved it! I got some free hat patterns so I can make more for next year.

On the fiber front, I bought 12 oz of this beautiful Merino top to spin! I am not sure what it is going to be yet, but I am thinking a simple shawl would show off the colors of the wool nicely.

On the yarn front, I also bought these two skeins of cotton yarn for a really good price! There is probably around 2,000 yards here and I have just the pattern in mind for it. (More on that later, once I check the gauge...)

Saturday: Baking!

We recently got a huge bundle of rosemary from my aunt and I have been dying to try making rosemary cookies so that is what I worked on this weekend. 

They are different, but I like them! Don't take my word for it, try the recipe for yourself! I found that mine baked for only 14-15 minutes rather than 18-20 though.

Sunday: Knitting!

College is right around the corner, and I have been hoarding all my dorm room necessities in my closet in anticipation of move in day! One thing I thought I needed (since I plan on baking in the dorm kitchenettes) was a dishcloth.

I found some awesome knitting graph paper and drew my college's logo on the paper and filled in the shapes the best I could. (It is always hard with curvy shapes...)

But I think it turned out scores better than I imagined! I was going to make another with the school's coat of arms on it but... oh look at the time! One dishcloth will suffice! 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Looking Ahead: Winter

I am always cold. Always. So naturally I start preparing for winter mid-summer! Remember the big ball of wool I bought last year at the Stitches Midwest Conference? Well eventually, it was all spun into a lovely worsted weight yarn and I have been working on making some matching winter accessories with them:

Overall, I think the results have worked out very well, all things considered! If I have some more yarn left over from the scarf, I am going to knit some legwarmers (cabled of course!). I absolutely adore this color of blue and think it is going to look fantastic with my black and grey plaid pea coat!

There was a little difficulty with the hat because it wasn't quite the right shape because the wool yarn is a little stiffer than the recommended yarn so I knew that blocking was going to be a must. The only problem was finding something that would fit into the hat and then hold the sides out while it was drying.

I found a pot lid that was the perfect size!

The brim was a little bigger than I had expected, but I am certainly happy with the result!

I must admit the scarf is giving me some trouble. The pattern itself is easy... too easy. I keep getting lost and don't know which row I am on and if it is a front cable or back cable! I started it this morning, so it is a quick knit!

Tomorrow I am going to Stitches Midwest again!!! I am so excited, there is more yarn and wool there than any other place on earth! Hopefully I will be able to purchase some wool for spinning while I am at school and then some yarn for some of the projects I have been eyeing. More on Stitches Midwest later! 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

How To Waste Time In Chicago 101

Today I had my last voice lesson in the city before college starts. It was kind of at an awkward time with the train schedules so I ended up having an hour and a half before and after the lesson to kill before my scheduled time.

I was walking along wondering what was along the way that I could do and then I stumbled upon the Federal Reserve Money Museum!

I've walked passed it so many times and have always wanted to walk in!

The museum is completely free, you just have to go through the backpack scanner, the metal detector, and show a photo ID! It was a small, little place but was filled with old bills and coins from Colonial and American history, information about inflation, economics, the FED, and counterfeiting. I was pretty good at finding the counterfeit bills at the "Know Your Bills" interactive exhibit!

This cube is full of one dollar bills to make $1,000,000 and it ways more than 2,000 lbs! 

There were free bags of shredded money! This bag contains approximately $384. So it MIGHT be worth trying to put back together again! (Only joking, of course).

After exploring all the little interactive stations, I left and continued my way to Michigan Ave. with a little more time to burn. As I walked, I saw some tents and followed the scent of bread to a little farmer's market by the Flamingo!

There were so many tasty baked goods to sample! I decided after my lesson I would come back and get a muffin of some sort. 

Eventually the time came for my lesson which brings me to the Chicago Fine Arts Building. A wonderful old building that feels... magical. Let me attempt to paint the picture for you:

You walk into 410 S. Michigan Ave. and are greeted by a cool air and a dimly lit entry completely built of marble: 

The elevators are probably one of the last manned elevators left in the city and it is like something from a movie. There are the glass doors that separate each floor, and then a golden grate which closes to protect the elevator riders from the wall in between. I love ringing for the elevator because it makes a sharp bell ringing noise and then the ride is breezy since there are no doors on the elevator, only the golden grate.

Here are the elevators: I felt kind of silly taking a picture of the inside of the elevator with attendant and the other art patrons inside...

 The hallways are rather dim also, and there is a ubiquitous smell of old wood, but it is pleasant scent (not dank or musty in any way). My shoes make a quiet little patter on the mosaic tiles and as I walk down the hall, I can hear a violin, cello, and piano furiously playing. Further down the hallway there is a woman belting  a soulful jazz song. I must admit to eavesdropping on the other musicians in the building on more than one occasion, but the thin walls and scattered benches are quite the invitation for someone like me to anonymously enjoy the work of others. Maybe someday my music will make people want to stop and listen. 

Once you reach the 6th floor, there are paintings like this on every wall and the stairwell is open to the 10th floor where there is a bright skylight. Today, in this open space, dancers were scurrying everywhere and a woman's enchanting operatic voice rang through whole space. 

Upon my further exploration of the building, I met a pleasant gentleman who showed a plaque which commemorates Frank Lloyd Wrights studio, as well as the studios of the illustrators who worked on the Wizard of Oz book so many years ago. Coincidentally, he was also the owner of the sheet music store I was looking for (as well as a fellow violist). My music collection for the viola is sparse at best so I was more than enthused to find such a large viola solo book section. I ended up choosing a book of Bach's six cello suites transcribed for viola. They will pose me a challenge which I cannot wait to tackle when I start to play again in college. 

As I made my way back to the train station, my mind was diverted when I thought I heard the sound of music playing. I followed my ear and it led me to a street musician in front of the Art Institute. I sat on the wall and listened to him played the keyboard for awhile. It surprised me how so many people could walk by such a great sound without even acknowledging the man and his music; especially when it pulled me a block and a half out of my way. But maybe I am just obsessed with melodic and harmonic sounds...

Then I returned to Union Station and sat with... pumpkin cream cheese muffin and my Bach! 

So that is how to waste time in Chicago, or at least how I decided to do it today! I like when I have the time to follow my nose or ear because that is when new sights are seen, new friends are made, and exciting  adventures are had. 

What sort of wonders have you discovered when you succumbed to an enticing sight or smell along your daily routine? Let me know in the comments below!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Without Further Ado...

...a long overdue post containing some of the projects I have been working on lately:

I finally got around to using that lovely reversible fabric I purchased at Reenactor's Fest last February. I made a Regency Era Spencer Jacket to add to my Jane Austen costume. To see it in action, stay tuned for Halloween!
I really like the way the lapels flop over to reveal the other side of the reversible fabric. Although most of the seems were completed on the machine, all the buttonhole and the bottom seem are all hand-sewn. The buttons are made of wood to maintain historical accuracy.
When I was looking at the pattern, I was a little skeptical about the fullness of the sleeves being set so far back, but it does allow for a little more freedom for the arms to move and looks fine on.

Yarn Crafting:
I was really bored one morning, so I crocheted my cat a Rasta cap with dreadlocks! 

I crocheted it without a pattern, just guessing how big it ought to be. Instead of cutting each dreadlock, I pulled the yarn to break it. This gave them a more natural look I think.

Do not be fooled by his facial expression; he so loves it...

In case you have just recently joined me, this is the third hat Biscuit has had the pleasure of modelling. His previous hats were a beret and a fez:

I have been trying different international recipes lately, but my favorite has to be these tostones (twice fried plantains), which are popular in Puerto Rican cuisine.

First, cut them.
Then, fry them on both sides (my first time frying something!)

Next, drain them on paper towels.

Then, my favorite step: crush them flat! Cool people have special tostone presses. I, on the other hand, had to use wax paper and a spatula... but that's okay, it was still fun!

Return them to the oil for the second fry.

And serve 'em up warm with some seasoning! Yum!

And now the best for last...
County Fair:

This year I won 3 ribbons in the County Fair! My apple pie won first place, my pie crust (judged on appearance only) won second place, and my little gargoyle won first place! 

It was knitted in so many separate pieces, it took me 2 hours to sew all the little body parts together!

If you are interested in the pattern, you can find it here. I didn't have the right size needles (the ones I used were a little bigger) so he looks a little different than the original pattern, but I like him just fine!