I’m going to need more polyfil

I’ve learned that if I want to be productive at all, that I just need to go with whatever fancy is catching my attention at the moment. And currently, the bright shiny object that is captivating me is the Pointy Kitty.

Japanese Lantern Pointy Kitty

I’ve made 6 so far (you can see the others here). They are the equivalent of sewing crack. They use a tiny amount of fabric – less than a 1/4 yard – and can be sewn and assembled relatively quickly. After the success of the Japanese Lantern Kitty, I decided to make some more in assembly line fashion. I cut all the pieces at once, then sewed them all on the machine in a group, etc. I got the next 5 done in maybe about 6 or 7 hours worth of time, and I could have gotten it done more quickly, if I didn’t have to hand-sew the one kitty entirely (blerg). Anyway, I can’t stop making them. It’s a sickness, and I think Travis is afraid to come home from work because of the Great Pointy Kitty Invasion.

I think part of the reason I keep cranking them out so fast is because I am absolutely enamored of my craft room. It went for so long being basically just a storage area in our house (it’s actually supposed to be the master bedroom) that it’s pretty ridiculous to think that all if took was 4 little things to make it a usable and happy place again. After I spent a few hours organizing, Travis got our funky 70s lamp down from the attic and put up, and after that, all I did was hang up the instant happiness LED Christmas lights and bring in a little boombox, and now it’s a place where I can happily spend all day doing things. I feel a lot better now that we’re actually using this big area in our house as a living space again. Of course, Ellie is confused, because she’s used to that being her room. Every once in a while we fight over who gets the ironing board (she likes to hang out on it), but besides that, I think she rather enjoys the company.

Here’s how much I love my cat. Also, Iowa afterglow!

Yesterday Travis and I were in the drive through line at Wendy’s, and when Travis pulled up to the order thing, we realized that our windows were frozen shut and we couldn’t roll them down. So we went across the street and wound up getting this:

Timbits!

Yep, we now have a Tim Horton’s.

This morning I got done weaving the piece of fabric I’m going to make Ellie’s bed out of. I used up a bunch of small skeins of handspun that Travis and I have accumulated, so it was pretty nice to be able to stashbust. I only got to take one photo before she was all over it. And let me tell you, I wouldn’t waste my time weaving something like this for someone who doesn’t appreciate it. Just look at her – she loves handspun!

Seal of approval

I folded it up and set it by the window in the craft room so she can use it until I actually get to the part where I need to sew it.

Ellie loves her fabric

Kitty paws in love

The next time Travis is around to help me warp, I’m going to get another warp on the loom to start working on the other piece of fabric I’ll need for Ellie’s kitty bed. I’ve got to do some math though, first, which is going to be a hoot. I heart math!!! (not really)

I can’t remember if I mentioned this before Christmas or not, but one of the things I gave my mom is a ton of fabric that I had accumulated. I went through my quilt fabric stash, which is mighty, and pulled out a bunch of fabric that I didn’t really see myself using anytime soon. My mom is going to start quilting again this year, so she’ll probably use at least a little bit of it.

I gave my mom 4 Whole Food’s bags worth of fabric (many, many pounds! Fabric is heavy!), and I still have a ton left here. The nice thing about doing this is that now I have a pretty good idea of what I have, since I haven’t been working with fabric for about 3 or 4 years, really. It turns out that I have some really awesome fabric. Actually, it turns out that I have a lot of really awesome fabric. I need to get to a mental place where I’m not freaking out because I don’t want to use up the really nice fabric I have, so instead I’ll just use crap fabric. There’s no point in having nice stuff if you’re not going to use it.

Some random thoughts on Iowa’s Raucous Caucus:

  • Chuck Norris has a colossal head. I was watching Huckabee’s speech, and Chuck Norris was standing a few feet behind him, and his head was still bigger than Huckabee’s. Chuck Norris defies the laws of perspective! Fear him!
  • John McCain just seemed really pissy in his speech. Um… way to surge, John?
  • Edwards did the first big Democratic speech of the night, and I thought his was the best. I was kind of half paying attention at first, but then he really grabbed my attention about a 1/3 of the way through and maintained it throughout the speech. Anyway, good speech, available to watch here, if you’re interested.
  • Clinton’s speech was okay, but there was one line in it that I thought was kind of shitty. She was thanking people for their votes and she said something like, “Democrats, Independents…, Republicans who have seen the light…” and everyone laughed. That just seemed really smug and condescending to me. You know, if someone decides to give you their vote, don’t turn around and use them as a punch line, regardless of who they are. Anyway, the rest of her speech seemed okay, but it certainly didn’t grab me like Edwards’ did.
  • Although I was hoping for a 2 or 3 way tie for first place,I think it’s pretty remarkable that Obama won with the margin that he did. I’m with Howard Dean (YEAARHGH!!) though, in thinking that the biggest story last night was the insane turn-out. Check out this post from the Group News Blog for a quick little stat break down of the turn out. Pretty encouraging.
  • According to MSNBC, Mitt Romny decided to give his speech at the same time as Huckabee. As a result, the network played the entirety of Huckabee’s speech, and then later on, played about 30 seconds of Romeny’s. Smooth move, Willard.
  • I know Giuliani said he wasn’t contesting Iowa, but his finish was an absolute embarrassment. We’ll see how well that “Skip Iowa and New Hampshire and go directly to Florida” strategy works out for you.
  • I’m not a huge Joe Biden supporter, but on a personal level he seems like a decent guy, and I always liked his presence in the debates, so I’m a bit sad to see him drop out so soon. Ditto Chris Dodd, except Dodd was a candidate I was actually considering voting for. Anyway, hopefully he’ll continue to kick butt in the Senate, and if I was Harry Reid, I wouldn’t think my Senate majority leader job was so safe.

I’ll leave you with the groovy mood lighting I have in my craft room. Have a great weekend!

Craft Room Ambience

Congrats, Obama!

Of course, I reserve the right to yank that should the results change, but MSNBC just called it for Obama. I’m totally cool with that, mainly because it gives me an excuse to post this again…

Does it get any better than this? I think not.

Turnout is supposedly crazy-huge for a caucus in Iowa, which bodes well for the general election. Also, so far John McCain has come the closest to saying “Joe-mentum,” by saying the words “Joe Lieberman” and “momentum” within a sentence of each other.

Wake up and smell the caucus!

Caucus night tonight! Wooo! C-Span madness awaits!

Over Christmas, I started knitting Travis a pair of socks out of the handspun he had made. The yarn is the thickest I’ve ever used for socks (about worsted weight) so I’m knitting them on size 6 needles, which is kind of crazy. I got the first sock done last night, and thankfully, it fits.

Travis' handspun sock

Also got around to taking pictures of the mystery yarn of forgetfulness. I honestly have no idea what the heck is in this yarn. This is not my beautiful house! You are not my beautiful wife! How did I get here?

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The pictures make the yarn look prettier than it actually is. In real life, it’s a little more gray and sad. Regardless, I’m calling it Bertie Bott’s Everyflavor Yarn, because it looks like a little bit of every color got thrown into the mix. It’s 156 yards and weighs 4 3/8 oz.

The other yarn that I got done spinning yesterday is Big Pink, so named because of its pinkness, which is strong, and its bigness, which is legendary. It wouldn’t even fit on the Louet jumbo uber-bobbin.

My bobbin overfloweth

I wound up with 2 skeins, Big Pink (126 yards; 6 1/2 oz) and Emergency Back-Up Pink (43 yards; 2 1/8 oz). I hadn’t initially planned on plying this, but was spinning the big fluffy ply with too much twist in it to be a soft and squishy single ply. Happily, I had just enough of the tussah silk (less than an ounce) left and was able to spin a thin plying yarn out of it.

Big Pink detail 2

It’s a very soft yarn, and also is very shiny, due to the touches of silk and tencel that are in it.

I’m plugging away on the Ellie bed woven fabric. Because the warp is so wide, the actual weaving motion is more awkward than what I’m used to, so I’m just trying to get a chunk done per day without killing myself.

Yeah, I’ve kind of got nothing today. Here’s another pretty yarn pic to make up for it.

Swirly Botts

Weaving angst and Worldwide Pants!

So, the first project that I started in 2008 began horribly. I had decided a few weeks ago, after Ellie had shown her good taste by loving up my scarf, to make her a kitty bed using fabric woven from some of mine and Travis’ handspun. I thought that this would be a good way to use up some of the small skeins of handspun we’ve accumulated – skeins that are too small to use for a project, junk skeins made from clearing off bobbins, experimental skeins, and some that are just hideously ugly. I also have a collection of commercial yarn that I have no plans for, or have no idea why I bought in the first place. This is what I decided to use for Ellie’s bed.

I warped across the entire width of my 32″ loom, but when I was winding the warp up on the paper (paper is used to create an even tension in between layers of warp), I realized my paper was about 1 1/2″ shorter than the width of the warp. I continued winding up the warp anyway, which was a big mistake. When I started weaving, I decided to just ignore the ends that had the wonky tension, and just weave the center bit. This was incredibly awkward, not to mention that for some reason, the tension on the wonky warp was not really loose, like I thought it would be – instead, the yarn was stretched so much I thought it was going to snap.

So after about 8″ of this, I was all, “Screw it,” and just cut the piece off of the loom. I wound up wasting a ton of yarn, but that’s all right – I wasn’t doing anything else with it anyway, and I learned something new. Travis helped me put a new, not as wide warp back on the loom, and I’m back weaving again. Of course, after I got the new warp on, I had an epiphany about how I want to try to actually construct the kitty bed – I was originally thinking it would be a big pillow, but now I think I may actually try to make it with foam walls around the edge of it. That’s going to make it more complicated, and I’ll probably wind up needing to weave another piece for the edge.

Here’s the crappy little piece of fabric from the aborted weave:

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I used it today to make a small stuff owl. Here’s an in-progress shot.

shaggyowl

It actually turned out to be a good thing that I made the weird piece of fabric, because I have never tried sewing with handwoven before. Of course, because my weft yarn is so thick, the cut piece was fraying like crazy. But now I have a little bit of experience with it, and I have a better idea what to expect when I actually get to constructing the kitty bed.

Two exciting things are coming up today and tomorrow (well, exciting if you’re a TV and politics geek like me). Tonight is the return of the late night talk shows! Dave Letterman’s production company, Worldwide Pants, actually did get the deal struck with the Writer’s Guild, so Dave and Colin Ferguson will be coming back on the air fully staffed, with their writers! Yay! Jay Leno, Conan O’ Brien, and Jimmy Kimmel are coming back sans writers. Boo! And, unfortunately, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are going to be coming back on the air too, without writers (boo!), although I’m not sure what date they’ll be back on the air. Anyway, I know I’m going to be watching Letterman tonight. Go, Dave, and Dave’s writers!

Tomorrow night kicks off the crazy 2008 presidential primaries, featuring Iowa and their kooky caucus system. So it looks like it’s going to be a C-SPAN evening for me! Iowa fascinates me. Their caucus system is so bizarrely unlike any sort of political process I’ve taken part in. It’s such a social event. You can bargain and coerce to try to get votes. You can go caucus without the slightest notion of who you’re going to end up voting for. It’s nutty! And since I’m in the happy position of being okay with the Democratic field (sure, there are candidates I’d prefer more than others, but on the whole, I kind of like all of the Democratic candidates), I’m going to be relatively stress-free while watching it. The Republican field is a hot mess, so I’ll be enjoying a little bit of schadenfreude watching them.

The polls are all over the place – I think I’ve seen polls with Clinton, Obama, and Edwards all in the lead, and Huckabee and Romney have both been in first place, with McCain starting to surge. Apparently, the deeper hole Giuliani digs, the better McCain does. And Ron Paul keeps pulling $20 million quarters out of nowhere. Who is giving this guy money?

It looks like tomorrow night is going to be fun. I only wish I can remember enough of 2004 Iowa’s Caucus night to come up with a drinking game. If I hear anything that even approaches “Joe-mentum,” I’m going to start doing multiple shots. Good times!

Update – Just found out that Hillary Clinton is going to make a surprise appearance on Letterman tonight.  Huckabee is going to be on Leno.  In case anyone besides me cared.  :)

Crafty New Year!

So, I’m a little bit behind. I’ve spent the last few days trying to get things organized for 2008. I think I’m finally there. If not, I’ll sort it out as I go.

I’m not really the type to make resolutions, because I know I inevitably break them in an embarrassingly short period of time. This year, though, I’m going to do thing a little bit differently. To that end, I’m going to try to keep the following three things in mind:

1. There’s absolutely no point whatsoever in spending your fun time on something that sucks. In life, there’s a lot of things you are obligated to do for a number of reasons. To stay healthy, you should probably go see a doctor once in a while, to get a shiny new car, you’ve got to figure out loan paperwork, etc. But in your spare time, in the time you set aside to do something for your own enjoyment, there is no reason why you should work on something that doesn’t make you happy. Start knitting something and discover you hate the pattern or the yarn? Stop working on it! Pick out a new pattern! Rip out the yarn and use it for something else! But don’t slog through doing something out of a sense of obligation when you really should be using this precious time that you have on making something that you actually enjoy.

2. Use what you have. I know I have a lot of craft-related crap. This year, I intend on using a lot of it. If I’m not using something after a while, I need to get rid of it, because otherwise, it’s just taking up space.

3. And going along with number 2, less is, actually, in most cases, more. The more you have to deal with, the less likely it is that things will receive the proper amount of attention. An analogy? Gardening. Travis and I always loved the idea of having a garden, but the last few years that we had one, it was completely out of control and wretched. So I was thinking about when we had the best garden of our lives, and it turned out to be the first year we tried having one. It was smallish, but in an area of our yard that we were in all of the time. It was manageable. And when we moved to our current house with our much bigger yard, we tried going a lot bigger for our garden – we had the space, so why not use it?

Well, I’ll tell you why. The garden was placed in a poor location. It needed a lot of watering, due to the fact that it got direct sunlight all day. The garden was placed away from a hose, so it was a complete pain in the butt to water. I planted a ton of different seeds, didn’t mark locations for anything, and had no idea what was coming up where. Lettuce bolted before I was even able to identify that they were lettuce plants, things like there. It was too much in too crappy of a spot.

So, this year, after a multi-year garden hiatus, I think Travis and I are going to give it another go. A smaller, more precise, better located go. Instead of getting 14 varieties of tomato seeds, we’ll probably go out and buy 1 tomato plant this spring. I want to grow only what I know we’ll eat (2 kohlrabis a week? Perfect!), and what we really enjoy growing (sunflowers and sorghum!). Hopefully, in severely scaling things back, we’ll have a lot better result.

Besides the above 3 rules that I hope will be constantly hovering around my head in the coming year, there’s another big new thing I’m going to try doing. I started a new blog, an annex to this one, called Craft! Bang! Boom!. Basically, I have very specific crafting goals that I want to accomplish this year, and I’m going to use Craft! Bang! Boom! as a way of keeping track of what I’ve done. It will have mainly pictures of FOs there, and not much commentary (at least, that’s the plan, but we’ll see how it evolves). After thinking about what I wanted to do this year, it just seemed to make sense for me to keep track of all of it in a separate place than this blog, mainly because Yarnzombie would get all cluttered up with daily sketchings of mice. So, if you’re interested, you can check out the Craft Annex and see, in frightening detail, what I’ve been doing.

Hop below the fold with me for the other half of this post, which unlike the first, has shiny pictures!

Continue reading Crafty New Year!

My edible Christmas

As I’ve said on here before, my family is all about the food. Besides our traditional Christmas Eve roast beef sandwiches and Zapp’s fest, we added a couple of new food related events to the agenda. The first was Waffle Night, hosted by Brian, Nikki, and Tyler. There were waffles with from-scratch fruit toppings:

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And there was the bacon buffet, featuring three different types of bacon:

Bacon buffet

Dad brought over his items for Luxury Food Night, since we were already going to be having a ton of food on Christmas Eve:

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These were some kind of odd, nougat-y Italian candies.

On Christmas Eve, we went over to my Grandpa’s house and had chili, some of Brian’s cheese ball, cookies, dip, and nut roll. After that we went back to my parents’ house for our roast beef sandwiches and the rest of our Luxury Food Night. Brian brought over cheese curds (mmm, squeaky!), and Travis had his small wheel of sheep’s milk Basque cheese to share:

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Everyone liked the cheese, even Tyler, who said it was the second best cheese he had ever tasted.

I wound up getting some of the peppermint marshmallows from Whole Foods as my luxury item. Tyler liked those. A lot.

Tyler loves marshmallows

My mom went all out and had ordered ice cream from Jeni’s in Columbus. Jeni’s is a small gourmet ice cream shop in North Market in downtown Columbus, and my mom and I had tried some of the Poached Pear Riesling Sorbet from there in September. It was the best frozen treat either of us had ever tasted in our lives. Anyway, I was completely overwhelmed that she had thought to pick that as her luxury food. We had five flavors to sample – the Pear Riesling, Belgian Milk Chocolate (pictured below)…

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…Forest Berry Sorbet, Dark Chocolate Cocoa Zinfandel, and Spiced Pecan Praline. I thought the Pear Riesling and the Forest Berry went especially well together.

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And the Belgian Milk Chocolate was quite good smeared on a peppermint marshmallow.

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Other food related goodness – Brian and Nikki got my parents and me and Travis big food gift baskets for Christmas. We love food baskets! And so do my parents.

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Tyler really likes foreign cookies, so Travis and I loaded up Tyler’s presents with a bunch of cookies we found at World Market. In addition to the cookies, we also got him a small, personal sized chorizo sausage. Tyler loves chorizo!

Christmas chorizo!

So, we had a lot of good food for Christmas. Seriously, I weighed myself before and after food on Christmas Eve and there was a difference of four pounds. Mmm, four pounds of really good food… Hope everyone else had a happy holiday filled with good eats!

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