Thursday, June 30, 2011

Berry Picking

Today was another gorgeous summer day, perfect for berry picking!  So after storytime at the library, we picked up my mom and headed out to Spicer Orchards in Fenton.  We've been there on several fieldtrips picking apples, but this was our first time on our own.  I think we'll go back later this summer - the raspberries are already starting to ripen, and blueberries should follow!

DSC00947

Today we picked strawberries:

DSC00948

And cherries:

DSC00949

Spicer's also features a winery.  They have a little tasting room right in the market, and the wines this year are great!  It was a tough decision - all six I tasted were very nice.  I ended up with a bottle each of their Carriage House Red and White, as well as a bottle of the Hard Cider. 

I didn't get much knitting done today, but I'm working on a second pair of Duck socks for a friend due with a baby boy in August.  I have the first one finished and I'm adding a the i-cord to the second, hoping to finish it tonight, along with some of that tasty hard cider.  :o)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Lucky

I am a pretty bad photographer, but I love to take pictures.  Occasionally, I really luck out and catch a great shot.  Yesterday, I was on a roll, and out of the thirty-five or so photos I took, three turned out really well.

Peach roses in my garden:
IMGP5176

Benny:
IMGP5180

And my favorite of the afternoon, Gabby and Cookie:
IMGP5192

Someday I would love to take an actual photography class and learn how to use my camera on a setting other than "auto."  Until then, I'll just keep taking lots and lots of photos and hoping I get lucky again!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Stashdown

If you're reading this, it's pretty obvious:  I am addicted to knitting and crochet.  What may not be quite so obvious is that I also suffer from a pretty serious yarn addiction as well.  Photographic evidence may be helpful here:

DSCF2701

That's my stash.  Or it was, this was taken last October.  That's a LOT of yarn.  Something along the lines of 50 sweaters' worth, plus who knows how many smaller projects' worth.  And even as much as I knit, I was starting to get overwhelmed by it.

So, January first, I started a stashdown and a yarn diet on Ravelry.  It's been great!  I'm spending more time knitting and crocheting, and less time searching for good deals and new patterns.  I'm almost to the year's halfway point and I've knit more than a hundred balls of yarn, about 10 miles worth (that's more than 18,000 yards).  And the vast majority of that has been yarn I already had!  That's part of the reason why you'll continue to see projects featuring discontinued yarns... they've been there a while!  :o)

I did crumble on the yarn diet fairly early, though.  My LYS (Local Yarn Store) went out of the business and the 40% off was just too tempting.  Since then, I've probably bought about 20 balls of yarn, most of them last week.  I found out that my best friend is pregnant with a baby girl, and I went a bit off the deep end.  I *love* to knit for babies, and the best patterns are for little girls!  So I bought yarn for a dress and a sweater and a couple of blankets and and and... I got a little carried away.  But look!  So pretty!

DSC00919

This is a bunch of Knit Picks Shine Worsted (some of which I already had) that is slated for a Neat Ripple Blanket and a couple of Floral Hats with the leftovers.

Even though I haven't been as strong-willed as I had hoped, I am still working through my stash, and I have at least a few years' worth left.  But I am really looking forward to taking an "after" shot of my stash in December - hopefully the dent is visible!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Reset

I have been quite spoiled all week.  Tuesday marked another year's passing for me, and I got to celebrate most of the week!  My dad took me out for lunch on Tuesday, Andy and the kids took me out for dinner that evening, and my mom came by and bought me lunch on Friday.  The kids gave me flowers and cards, and Andy gave me a certificate for a (kid-free) day out, which I redeemed on Sunday.

And Sunday was perfect.  We dropped the kids off with my in-laws and took a ride on their Harley.  We just drove, with no particular destination in mind, just enjoying the warm sunshine and the wind on our faces, the earthy summer smells and the fresh green fields rolling by.  It's not something we get to do very often, and perhaps if we did it would lose some of its magic, but the soothing rhythm of the asphalt beneath the tires and being allowed time free from worry - it resets me.  

I didn't take any photos while we were out yesterday.  I was too busy indulging my senses to be distracted by the camera.  And really, the scenery was fairly monotonous - lots of farms and forests, punctuated by houses and three or four buildings that constitute a town in parts of north of here.  But I will share with you a photo from my last ride.  

Valley of Fire

This was taken in March near Las Vegas, in an area known as the Valley of Fire.  It was breathtaking, one of the prettiest rides I've even been on.  Someday I'll go back.  But until then, I will happily take a leisurely ride anywhere Andy is willing to drive. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Paper Organizers

A few weeks ago, I saw this project on Pinterest:

http://www.noodle-head.com/2010/05/mail-organizer-tutorial.html

And I fell in love.  My island counter has been covered with paper all year long.  Benny brings home at least three or four papers a week, and Gabby brings that many home EVERY DAY!  Most of the stuff is typical papers and schoolwork that get recycled at the end of every week.  But some things (field trip information, t-ball schedules, etc.) have to stick around for a bit longer.  Then there are the keepers, which spend some time on the fridge before they get filed away.  And on top of all that is the regular mail!  And it all lands on my counter, along with the toys and sweaters and keys and purse and sunglasses and and and...

It has been driving me INSANE.

So I went to Jo-Ann's, dropped a wad of cash, and came home with the supplies to make two of these really cool organizers.

DSC00891

Aren't they pretty?  I am really, really happy with them.  Of course, by the time I got a day dry enough to use the spray adhesive, we were done with school, but next year!  It will be glorious!

DSC00909

As a side note, have you found Pinterest yet?  I am quite smitten with it.  Think of it as an electronic bulletin board - a way to organize anything you might want to reference in the future.  My boards reflect my hobbies and interests, but I've seen people use them for just about everything!  If you want an invite (it's still in the beta stage and adding members a few at a time to keep the servers working), just send me a tweet (@nkfoster21) and I'll be happy to share.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Outside!

Sunday was the first ever Springfield Township Farmer's Market!  I took Ben and Gabby up while Andy relaxed, and we had a really nice time.  They had a bounce house and a balloon artist for the kids, and about eight tents set up with fresh fruits and vegetables, plants, baked goods, soaps, dog treats, and fresh hot dogs.  It was warm and sunny, and we were all happy to be outside.  We saw some friends there as well!  I love to buy local goods and support my neighbors, so I'm thrilled that the township has started this market, and hope it continues to grow!  And next week when I go, I'll be sure to take some pictures!

Though the sky is overcast and threatening rain, it's still warm enough for shorts!  So today, after running all our errands, we went to Sorensen Park in Holly.  The play area was small and quite deserted, but the kids had a great time!  I sat on one of the benches and crocheted, while they climbed all over the jungle gym and swings.  Next time I think we'll try one of the hiking paths.

DSC00899

I finished my Radian Yoke on Friday and immediately started a Chevron Lace Cardigan in Elann Sonata (discontinued), Pecan colorway.  I bought a really pretty maxi dress a couple of weeks ago, and wanted something that I could throw on over it in the evenings.  I think it will work out perfectly!

DSC00904

I still have all those posts-in-progress, but I am very slow at getting finished photos.  Soon, hopefully!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Summer

It's official, summer has begun!

Gabby had her final day of kindergarten today.  I came a bit early to pick her up (and deliver her teachers' gifts), and as Ben and I walked up the sidewalk, all I could hear was clapping and cheering.  When I got closer, I realized what was happening:  the entire student body was lined up from the middle school building to the elementary building, and the "graduating" eighth graders were running past to give high fives.  I almost burst into tears!  They were all so happy, but what a bittersweet moment!

As I mentioned, the past two weeks have been filled with year-end activities.  And this time, I remembered *and* used my camera!

Last week, the kindergarteners had their celebration in the auditorium.  It was a lovely assembly, and included a photo slideshow, several songs sung by the kids, and a presentation of certificates.  Gabby did a great job, and posed with her teachers afterwards.

Gabby and her teachers

And yesterday we had a field trip to the Detroit Zoo.  We couldn't have asked for better weather, and we had a fabulous time.  My favorites are always the giraffes and the butterflies, but Gabby really enjoyed the reptile house.  She was disappointed that our zoo doesn't have any bats (she's got a huge bat-obsession going on right now), but turtles are right up there, and we saw lots of them!

DSC00839
(This is a pig-nosed turtle, native to Australia)

After school was over today, Gabby, Ben, and I ate at Jimmy John's (one of our favorite spots) and then headed out to the park.  We live in Michigan, and are surrounded by many beautiful parks.  I've decided that this summer we're going to try and visit all the ones that are local to us!  Today, we went to Bush Park in downtown Fenton.  This was our first visit, and I was pleasantly surprised.  The Shiawassee River runs along one side, and there's a gazebo, pavillion, and tons of playground equipment.  We had a great time!  Several families came and went as we played, and I am always amazed at how easily the kids play together and befriend each other.  It was so relaxed and drama-free that I even got quite a bit of knitting done on my Radian Yoke!  We'll definitely be visiting again.

DSC00881

Next on my list is Sorensen Park in Holly.  I can't wait!  I'm *so* glad summer is finally here!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Busy, Busy

The last couple of weeks have been a bit crazy around here.  End-of-the-year school activities, t-ball games, play dates, family visits, house painting, and summer barbecues have kept us running non-stop!  I have been enjoying it all, finally feeling like summer has arrived!  And, for the most part, the weather has been cooperating.  The only downside is that there hasn't been a lot of time for crafting.

I have been slowly making progress on my Radian Yoke top, though.  Quite shockingly (and thankfully!) my gauge has stayed consistent since my original swatch in 2009, and the fabric is lovely.  I am in-between sizes and chose the smaller one, so I hope it fits!  I was paid yesterday for a couple of recent projects, and am hoping to invest in a dress form for checking future projects as I go.

DSC00820

I should have a couple more posts later this week.  I have several in the works that are just waiting for pictures.  Hopefully I'll get them taken this week so I can finally share all the other projects I've been working on!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Scattered

I've been feeling a bit scattered the last couple of days, unable to focus or really "dig in" to anything.  I've still been knitting (I'm telling you, it's an addiction), but not with my usual fervor.  Part of it is the heat.  I'm not complaining because there's actual bright SUNSHINE associated with it, but anything above 90F definitely effects my energy levels.  The other part is simply distraction.  I have a million thoughts running through my head at breakneck speeds, and I can't seem to slow down enough to process anything.  And counter-productively, I've been spending more time at the computer and less on the needles.  Knitting is like meditation for me.  Focusing on how my fingers need to move and the feel of the yarn in my hands allows my brain to relax a bit, open up, and the thoughts come and go a bit more slowly.  So when I finish this post, I'll put the computer down and spend the afternoon with my needles.

I finished my June Project Spectrum Monkey socks yesterday - they're gorgeous!  Originally, they were for me, and I do love them, but I think someone else will enjoy them more, so I'll tuck them away for Christmas.

IMGP4971

As soon as they were done, I cast on for another green project.  This one is a summery top from the latest Knitscene magazine, Radian Yoke by Wendy Bernard.  I am using another discontinued Elann yarn, Linus.  It's labeled as an aran weight in 100% linen, but when I swatched it in 2009, I found that it made quite a lovely fabric at 22st/4" as well.  So it's a bit of an experiment, but I think it will work out well.

DSCF1829

The color in this photo is not very accurate - it looks a lot more gold than it really is.  The colorway is named "Green Tea," and it's the perfect comparison.  It looks like a cup of well-steeped green tea.  Quite lovely!

My days are booked pretty solid for the next week or so, and then Gabby will be finished with school for the year and everything opens right up!  I'm looking forward to having both my munchkins home with me and not having a set schedule every day.  I am planning on sewing a couple of summery skirts for myself, but until then I have lots of projects already in the works to keep me busy!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

From the Bandwagon

On June 1st, I cast on for a new pair of socks to celebrate June's Project Spectrum color - green.  I used the yarn I mentioned here, Aslan Trends Santa Fe.  It is beautiful yarn, and I bought it (and five other colorways, whoops!) for a steal from Little Knits.  I bought it on a whim, with no plans in mind - something I rarely do.  As I began searching Ravelry for pattern ideas, I saw several pair of Monkey socks done in this particular color, all beautiful.  So I decided to hop on the bandwagon and make my first pair of Monkeys.

Now I get it.

I finished the first sock in two days.  

Here it is:
DSC00802
Gorgeous!  I always thought the pattern was pretty, but never really thought any more about it.  But now I realize that nearly fifteen THOUSAND knitters (with this project listed on Ravelry) know - they're not just pretty, they're addictive.

I spent Friday on other projects and today at t-ball games and in the lake, but I am really looking forward to casting on the second sock this evening!  

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Scarves

My aunt Sharon is an amazing woman and I adore her.  She is beautiful, talented, and genuinely kind with an off-beat sense of humor.  She is an artist, specializing in decorative painting - her landscapes are stunning!  I have had the pleasure of creating and maintaining her website, Sharon B's Originals.  I love that we get to work together on a regular basis.

Last year for her birthday, my mom and I worked together to make her gift.  My mom does amazing things with wire and metal and beads to create fantastic, unique jewelry.  So, I made my aunt a scarf and my mom made her a coordinating shawl pin.  Here she is modeling the set:

IMG_1493
Pattern:  Lacy Baktus by Tehri Montonen (a free pattern)
Yarn:  Berroco Sox Metallic in Guava

They turned out beautifully and she loves them.  In fact, she liked them so much that she asked me to make several more scarves and my mom to make coordinating jewelry!  I've finished three scarves, and will be giving them to her next week when she arrives for a visit.  Today, with my friend Claudia's help, I finally got some good photos of the finished projects:

IMGP4969
Pattern:  Holden Shawlette by Mindy Wilkes (a free Ravelry download!)
Yarn:  Knit Picks Stroll Tonal in Gypsy

IMGP4964
Pattern:  Spring Leaves by Katrin Vorbeck (also a free download!)
Yarn:  Knit Picks Stroll Tonal in Springtime

IMGP4966
Pattern:  Woodsmoke Scarf by Jared Flood from Brave New Knits
Yarn:  Knit Picks Stroll Tonal in Kindling

I can't wait to see the jewelry my mom and aunt come up with for these!  Holden is by far my favorite, but I am quite partial to red.  It was also the most fun to make - only three days!  I think I'll make one for me, eventually...