Kicking the Kitchen Up a Notch

Things have been busy, busy, busy ’round these parts as of late. Work has been unrelentingly busy, all leading up to Annual Busy Time, which starts in less than 30 days.

And, in my attempt to be “less lame,” I’ve been spending more time with a circle of friends I haven’t spent a lot of time with lately. My long-dormant social butterfly is waking back up. I’m loving it.

And least you think I haven’t been knitting, let me assure you I have been. I finished Multnomah (Simon was *very* helpful with the blocking process) and a pair of simple socks, that I gifted to Jenni because I apparently can’t remember how big my feet are on any given day.

Then I whipped out my very first pair of handspun socks, and cast on a pair of Pointelles in one of my favoritest yarns, String Theory Caper Sock, which I think are destined to be my mom’s birthday present. And I started (and dang-near finished) a Super Secret Xmas Project for one of my favoritest faves. More on that way later.

And all that is from stash. Yup, Operation Stash Containment is going fantastically thus far. I’m doing great. What I’m not doing, clearly, is taking pictures of anything.

A good part of this past weekend was devoted to another recent project: Making my apartment my own. I love my apartment, but when I moved in, I never intended to stay very long. Then everything blew up and my life kind of fell apart for a while. I’m getting back to a good place, and a big part of that has been making my 700-or-so square feet all my own. The first project was the kitten-room re-do. This weekend was all about the kitchen.

Mark, putting on some molding Hard Hittin style, which means no miter box, just a skillsaw and a triangle. Can you dig it?

First and foremost, I’d be totally and completely remiss is I didn’t give madd props to my favorite spindlemaker. See, my apartment has no countertops. At all. For almost two years, my only counterspace has been a four-foot kitchen cart—not really convenient when you like to cook. When I mentioned my desire to put in some sort of counter, Mark didn’t just agree to help; he jumped in with both feet and built me an entire, custom, upcycled-wood cabinet that would color any woodworking hobbiest impressed.

Over the course of Saturday, Mark outfitted it with doors and, after a quick-ish trip to Home Depot, hardware. Then I got a five-minute lesson on laying tile, and we went at spiffing her up. A coat of primer and paint, and she got to looking really pretty.

How do ‘ya like them apples?

Course, I’m making light here. It was a ton of work, mostly on Mark’s part. I’m a lucky girl to have a friend like that, and I know it.

The tile still needs grout, but man, it looks awesome already.

I’m totally psyched for how it looks in my kitchen. The red tiles don’t exactly match the wall color, which is perfect. I had something completely different in mind when we walked into Home Depot, but this just screamed at me off the display. I think I made a good choice.

Awesome.

Yesterday I went crazy with three rolls of shelf liner. My mom ingrained in me the need to “do things the right way” as a child. Damask-ish print shelf liner is totally “the right way.”

Have I mentioned my kitchen is huge? This is just half of it. It’s spectacular.

So, there it is, my fabulous kitchen, now even fabulous-er. My steal-of-the-century kitchen cart now serves as an island, and my cooking mojo is about to go sky-high. And a zillion-and-a-half thanks to Mark for being so ridiculously awesome its not even funny.

Next up: The closet known as my bathroom. My landlord has promised me a new ceiling and a new bathtub/shower in the near future. Rock on.

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The Not-So-Little Fiber Festival that Could

Saturday was the first-ever New England Fiber Festival at the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield. I gotta say, I was impressed.

So impressed that the only pic I took was this slightly blurry one of cute little Shetland sheep butts.

There were a large number of vendors in attendance with a variety of wares to peruse, lots of pretty things. But my favorite part of the whole deal was the feeling of the festival. It was so…relaxed. The aisles were wide, the vendors were cheerful and, though it was busy, that feeling of crowded stress that you get at some events was notably lacking. I wore my Herbivore and have never gotten so many questions and compliments on a handknit before. It was really a great time, and I’m already looking forward to seeing how it grows into its second year.

While I did engage in some dirty, dirty enabling (because that’s how I roll), I was exceedingly well behaved. All I got was some funky wrapping paper (because I *love* gift wrap), a large semi-precious stone pendant that was immediately handed over to Tracy for pretty jewelry construction, and four ounces of Spunky Eclectic targhee top.

The colorway is “Got Wood?” This makes my inner 14-year-old boy giggle everytime.

I’ve never spun targhee before, and I’ve heard nothing but good things about it, so I’m psyched to give it a try.

And that’s it! See? Very well behaved. Which is good, because I’m about to start a major stash overhauling adventure, the deets of which will be announced here shortly.

For the rest of the weekend, I was a lazy unwashed couch bum. But given the stress of last week, I felt like I deserved a lazy weekend. I finished Multnomah, which is now blocking on the living room floor. Simon is enjoying sleeping on it, but at least he doesn’t steal my T-pins like his joker of a brother used to do. And I also finished spinning the singles of the Corgi Hill merino/cashmere I’ve been working on for a while.

4.8 ounces of “Dutch Tulip” on two extra capacity Mark-made bobbins, all ready for plying

I haven’t spent any quality time with Evelyn since before Rhinebeck, so it felt good to sit down and get her humming again. I tested a couple other wheels at the festival—a Matchless and a Spinolution Bee—and while they were really nice (especially the Matchless), my heart still firmly belongs to Evelyn.

Rhinebeck 2010: Epic Post of Awesomeness

I thought about breaking this post up, but decided to go for one epic huge post instead. Enjoy!

Autumn was in the air! Saturday was chilly and windy, but Sunday was downright toasty!

 

We stayed in a nice Days Inn in Poughkeepsie. On Saturday morning, some of us got up early and met Kris, Paula and Suzanne at Pete’s Famous in downtown Rhinebeck for breakfast.

 

Ummm…stick-to-your-ribs goodness, perfect for a chilly morning!

Our first stop of the day was the Bosworth booth. This pretty canarywood Midi (shown here on another Rhinebeck goodie, some tussah top from Shadeyside Farm) found its way into my bag.

Our next stop was the competition barn. Sharon took home a few ribbons for her photos! And Kate got a 4th for her Evenstar shawl! And Emilee got a second in Novice Skein for her handspun! As for myself, I got a few ribbons, too, like this 6th for my Gail shawl!

And this crappy pic is of my Shetland Triangle, which took 3rd place in its class! That yarn won a second last year.

And, while none of my skeins placed, Valeria took 1st place!!!!! WOOOHOOO!!!! (Damn, squirrel....)

After checking out our winnings, we started visiting the vendor barns. Tracy stumbled across some beautiful alpaca/silk blend from Gale's Art.

There were critters, of course, like this mohair on the hoof.

These adorable Aussie puppies totally made me squee. There were border collie puppies too...just as adorable.

This sheepie looked silky and soft.

And this one was getting a nice little trim.

These guys were dressed for the weather.

And this horny guy is so cute!

Jenni was totally a knitting rockstar. She knit a whole pair of Malabrigo fetchings while we walked around.

The Artichokes French were all I had hoped for. Delish! (Also tried the apple crisp this year, with ice cream, and chowed a fabulous beef gyro while watching some pumpkin chuckin' on Sunday. I love food.)

We stumbled across the Windy Valley booth, where Tracy and Jenni may have molested this quivit scarf for a little while.

It was gorgeous, but just slightly out of our budgets...

Around 2:00 on Saturday, we made our way back to the competition barn. Jenni and I had entered the drop spindle competiton. Here we are, psyching ourselves up.

Mary handed out chunks of wool for us to spin. This wool sucked. Seriously. Full of lanolin, coarse and super sticky, making the competition all the more difficult.

And we're off! Quite a crowd gathered around us. I was kind of surprised at how big the crowd was.

We all spun for 15 minutes. The most yardage won. The wheels were in a different competition, but we all spun at the same time.

Jenni spun on her little Two Tails purpleheart top whorl...

...while I used my Two Tails laminate. Team Two Tails represented!! Jenni won third place in the contest...

...and I won first!! Woot!! I spun 40 yards in 15 minutes. I got a pretty blue ribbon, the 2011 Spin-off calendar and a gift certificate to Amazing Threads...

...which I cashed in at their booth at the festival for this pretty skein of Cat's Paw Yarn Hand-dyed sock, in "Green with Envy." Score!

Next up was the chopstick knitting contest. Aaron competed (damn, squirrel)...

...as did Tracy...

...and Jenni. The winners did an impressive job; just a couple stitches seperated 1st place and 2nd place. I think our crew will be back with a vengance next year!

Saturday night, we went to the Rav party. No pics of that, though. Instead, enjoy this shot of pygora on the hoof.

That pygora was a nice little goat, as Jenni and Tracy found out.

Emilee looked smashing in her handspun Shalom in the Orenburg lace booth.

And, of course, Tracy went home with some new alpaca yarn for her stash.

The theme for the whole weekend was "Do whatever you want (within reason)." And what I wanted was a fun time with great friends. That's exactly what I got!

But I wanted pretties, too. Which I got. Like this Into the Whirled polwarth in "Minotaur."

And these amazingly soft merino/tencel/angora batts.

And this merino/tencel from Ellen's 1/2 Pint Farm.

And this sunny, happy BFL from Fiber Optic.

And this dk-weight organic merino from The Sanguine Gryphon.

And, finally, perhaps my yarn-snobbiest purchase of the weekend, this skein of fingering cashmere/silk from Sanguine Gryphon. Gorgeous.

 Thanks, Rhinebeck!! See you next year!!

Most Productive Weekend Ever. Seriously.

Despite having some ridiculous lingering head cold all weekend, this past weekend was the most productive three days I’ve had in a while. For starters, two more kittens left for their wonderful new forever homes, leaving me with just a pair of mini furballs in my 700 square feet.

Simon and Franklin (formerly known as Bailey)

With the departure of their brothers, I let my two little boys loose on the rest of the apartment—a transition that went surprisingly well for all species involved—and set about undertaking a 24-hour room renovation.

By Saturday night, with some help from Jenni, my kitten room had been totally repurposed into a kitten room/guest room/den that I am totally and completely in love with.

Love.It.

I may have missed my calling in life. This was a super fun project, and the tiny little room is totally transformed.

I don’t want to work. I just want to paint interior decor all day.

The icky brown floor got a coat of primer and two coats of bright new gray paint, and all the trim, doors, and door and window frames got a fresh coat of white semi-gloss. We moved in a new little futon, and an old fish tank stand I had plus a $15 Target end table got a new shabby-chic facelift.

Crackle coating does it again!

Those two refinished  pieces are my absolute fave. A couple accent pieces from Bed Bath & Beyond, my beloved sheepskin rug on the floor and a relocated houseplant topped it off.

I’m a sucker for a good paisley.

Eventually, I plant to sew some damask-print pillow covers for some toss pillows on the futon. But I’m totally psyched with how much we got done in such a short period of time. And Tilly totally approves of the makeover.

She spends a lot of time in there…

She spends a lot of time on that futon. I’ve even caught her sleeping on the cat tree. She seems so happy now that the kittens are loose. She runs and plays with them like the kitten she actually is, and she seems so relaxed now.

Lazy Kitty + Sunny Windowsill = Bliss

It all makes me really happy.

Sunday was spent being all politicky. But Monday, I got to hang out with the girls. Kris made yummy beef stew in her crockpot and homemade bread, and we hopped in the car and went to the Cheesecake Factory for coffee and dessert after dinner. It was awesome.

And sometime amidst all that, I finished and blocked my mom’s mitts. And my Rhinebeck sweater. And Mark’s hat. Three WIPs done. Boo-yah.

But today, I’m home sick from work. I guess everything’s a tradeoff.

So, the next couple days will be devoted to getting better because this weekend is freaking RHINEBECK! And I refuse to be sick. We check into the hotel on Friday, then it’s three days of fiber fun. I have five skeins and three knit pieces in the Skein & Garment Competition, and Jenni and I are competing in the Drop Spindle Contest on Saturday. Wish us luck!!

And enjoy this last picture of Frankie.

Awwww, sleepy Frankie…

He likes my bed. A lot. And he blends in with the blanket. Very cute.

Long Weekends Are For…

…taking a breath—a deep, long breath—and letting the stress melt away. I had a pretty horrific week last week, so the extra day this weekend was really welcome.

Long weekends are also for doing awesome things with your faves. On Saturday, the girls and I went and tooled around in Massachusetts on an absolutely beautiful day. Our first stop was the Yankee Candle flagship store, which is an event and a  half if you’ve never experienced it. Votives were a dollar (score!) and I got a pretty new double wick candle for the apartment. But there’s so much crap to check out in that place, that I didn’t even remember to get a photo of the actual candles.

For instance, you get attacked by Lego robot monsters…

AHHHHHHH!!!!!

…and you get to model the latest in pirate fashions.

Argh…

You get to interact with wildlife in its native habitat…

Tracy makes a friend.

…and, of course, there’s cocktails!

What happens when you give the doctor the camera? Your mini ‘rita Xmas ornament pic comes out all blurry.

The entertainment did leave something to be desired…

Animatronic rednecks. WHY??

…and I’m really not sure what this is all about.

Yup, that right there is a giant cow catching a Frisbee. I don’t really get it…

They did have a fabulous kitchen and cooking area, complete with tasty samples of dips and salsas and barbeque and cheese-filled crepes…

Sampling the salsa

…and I was sorely tempted to buy a pastry blender, but resisted. Ah, a brief flash of willpower!

They had these really comfy hammock chairs to try out…

Ahhh, the relaxation….

…and a whole Halloween section. I love Halloween…

The Rolling Bones…hehe…

…and Tracy was literally a kid in a candy store when she found a chocolate and candy coated pretzel.

Love the lighting

Kris found this appropriate and giggle-inducing sign for her apartment door…

Kitten tested, Yoda approved

…and we decided to let Tracy drive, but she didn’t get too far.

All my friends drive the low rider…

After Yankee Candle, we drove down to Northampton and had lunch at Fitzwilly’s, complete with a round of Arnold Palmers and, of course, a seafood pie for Tracy.

Then we hit up WEBS and WEBS Beads. As per usual, I forgot to take pics. Something about yarn fumes makes it impossible for me to remember to pull out the camera while in there. But I was exceedingly well-behaved. I scored another US 6 Addi Lace, since the one I already have is laden with a scrappy scarf for an indefinite time period and I have a couple projects on the horizon that call for a US 6.

I also scored a skein of Madelinetosh Lace in “Oxblood,” which is way darker in person than on the Web site, for a Geodesic Cardi (Rav link).

And I picked up a copy of the Austin Hoodie pattern (Rav link), because I completely fell in love with the sample they had in the store. They didn’t have enough of the Tosh Merino Light in the colorway I wanted, though, so I’ll pick it up at a later date.

Clearly, I have a thing for Connie Chang Chinchio patterns. I’m not afraid to admit it. I love her design style.

And that’s all I bought. See how good I was!

On the way back home, we made a layover in Longmeadow for a harrowing and hilarious gelato stop.

A dairy fix to end the day. Fab!

Massachusetts is really the poster child for how not to design rotaries on your local roads. For serious. But the gelato was delicious.

I had a quiet day on Sunday with Madori and the kitties and my 4! Ounce! Challenge! design, topped off by a long walk at the park and a visit to the spindlemaker’s house to walk his puppies . No pics yet, but I’m actually to the edging already. Go me! And I think I’ve got my edging issues all worked out, too. Woot! 

If I can get through the last few, extremely long rows without incident, I should be ready to take photos and start laying out my pattern by early next week. Get your fancy camera ready, Kris!

Yesterday, Madori and I visited with my mom for a few hours, then returned home to find that Tilly had ripped into the sealed bag of Cascade 220 reserved for Girasole (Rav link) and had skattered the skeins around the house, completely mutilating one of them. Thanks, Til. Glad to see she’s back to her old, lovey, non-aggressive, yarn-sucking self.

Busy week this week because next week is VACATION! And I desperately need it. Lots of writing to get done at work before then, though.

And my favorite-ist fave is coming for a visit next weekend!! Yay!!