You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2013.

Ok, ok I am obsessed with TARDISes. I’ve made a couple of different versions with needle felting. These babies are 100% solid wool, sculpted with a barbed needle into TARDIS shapes.

Large TARDISWhimscal TARDISThe reason I love the TARDIS and find myself always coming up with a new way to make them is because to me it is a symbol of infinite possibility. You can push a button and go anywhere, anytime you like. Or you can put it on random and just let her take you where you need to go. It’s a beautiful thing.

That being said, this is my most recent TARDIS creation:

TARDIS PendantBehold a tiny portable vessel of infinite possibility! I am making them to order for your lovely open minded pleasure.

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Carrot Cake for Breakfast

Since it’s almost time to make more. I opened up my last jar of Carrot Confit Jam. It is made with cardamom and lemon juice. On toast with cream cheese it tasted like carrot cake! Yum! In the Spring it will make it’s reappearance on Etsy.

Different YarnsI am fascinated by felting. There are so many ways the process can be used as well. Typically I make felted sculptures with raw wool. I have been intending to felt some knitted projects. I was unsure of the specifics of the process and how different fibers matte together so I knitted up some patches.

Swatches

The light gray is a hand spun 100% alpaca I found in a little herb shop here in Galena, The Great Galena Peddlery. The red is a 70% wool/30% mohair blend from Peace Fleece and the dark grey is actually a wool/acrylic blend that I did not expect would felt at all.

I threw them all in the washer with dish soap, a hot wash, and a cold rinse.  Then I put them in the dryer. I did the whole process twice and this is what happened.

Felted Swatches

The alpaca felted beautifully. It is now a luxuriously soft swatch. I’ll have to figure out what to do with it. The acrylic blend of course did nothing. When you read in books about felting that acrylic doesn’t felt it is true. The red Peace Fleece swatch hardly did anything and washed it an extra time.I think it would felt if I kept washing it down, but three is my limit for using all the water it takes to run it through the washer. I think the swatch would make a good pot holder.

I checked the Peace Fleece website to see if maybe the yarn was treated to be washable, but I couldn’t find anything. It seems to just be one of those yarns that takes a lot of coaxing. I could of course try to wash it down by hand or dry felt it with a felting needle.

I am doing more experimenting in felting . . . Coming soon: Re-purposing a Wool Sweater

A few months ago a coworker dropped a humungous jade tree off on my front porch, saying something about how it probably needed repotted. I scratched my head in puzzlement how I would accomplish such a feat. Honestly, this thing was HUGE. I should have taken pictures of it. It seemed to be fine in it’s current pot so after much deliberation I hauled the thing upstairs to keep it out of the direct sun.

A few months later the poor guy seems to be dying from the outside in. I thought, crap now I’m going to have to figure out how to repot this. I had a large pot on reserve for whatever needed it so I did some research and ordered a couple of bags of bonsai soil.

In the meantime the tree’s health rapidly declined. Half of it was dead. The inside of the branches was a slimy and brown instead of crisp and green. This was quickly becoming an emergency room situation. I found myself begging the tree to hold on just a few more days.

Then last night the soil arrived!

Bonsai Soil LabelBonsai Soil Texture

It has a very course texture made up of volcanic rock and tree barks so it has good drainage. I began repotting by pulling the dead side of the tree out of the pot. It broke right off at the root and the roots were all dried out. I know I watered this thing.

On the dead side, I found some living jade so I planted them in their own little pots.

Baby Jade Plants

The Babiest of the Jade Babies

Succulents like jade are awesome because you can break a piece off, put in some moist dirt, and it will root.

While I was digging around in the pot trying to get the good side of the jade out safely, I found all sorts of clumps of clay and other debris suggesting my coworker simply dug soil out of her garden to repot this tree. I’m not sure that was such a good idea. Succulents (and all potted plants) need good drainage. This garden soil was all compacted in the pot making it hard for the moisture to escape. I think this is what was happening and causing the roots to rot and then shrivel.

Anyway I pulled the good side out in tact and repotted it with the bonsai soil and a bit of potting soil to give it a nutrients boost. And here he is! I’m going to keep a close eye on him and all the babies for a long while.

Repotted Jade

Salvaged PieceThis is another salvaged piece of the dead side. t was still green and has tiny leaves growing from the top. I’m hoping I can coerce it into become a tree. It’s planted in the clay pot to my VitaClay slow cooker that cracked. An example of reusing something that most people might throw away.

Not all of these books were published in 2012. This is my list of favorite reads.

Map of TimeThe Map of TimeFelix J. Palma
Palma is one of the greatest authors I have ever read. I know that seems a bit far reaching and possibly even naiive, I feel a bit childish saying it, but the truth cannot be denied. The story plays out over three acts, that interlace together with similar themes and the same characters, but the main character changes in each act. H.G. Wells is present throughout the book playing an important role to all the characters and plots.

Truly this book is a testament to H.G. Wells, science fiction and the Victorian world. The Victorians were fascinated by the changes occurring around them. Factories with mechanization sprung up and their imaginations ran with it. Wells’s “Time Machine” couldn’t have been printed at a better time. The public never read anything like it. Stuffy upper class men and women discussed the possibilities of time travel over tea and biscuits or brandy and cigars. Palma discusses the change in consciousness that occurred with the spontaneous arrival of “scientific romances,” how the imaginations of a whole generation went in directions give us the fantastic science fiction novels we have today.

WickedWicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
by Gregory McGuire
I know I’m late jumping on the bandwagon with this one. It was a happy accident that I ended up reading the series.

I love Elphaba! Her life is so full of misunderstandings and confusion. She never quite knows what’s going on or how to deal with it. The characters surrounding her range from talking Animals to evil head mistresses to preachers  and nuns to dwarves with mysterious motives to the Great and Good Glinda herself. I worried it wasn’t going to make sense with the original Wizard of Oz and I was mistaken. It works perfectly with Baum’s world of Oz. Whereas the original was written for children from a child’s POV, “Wicked” is the world of Oz from a grown up’s eyes It’s darker and more intense. We learn about the politics of the land and it is fascinating.

Casual VacancyCasual Vacancy
by J.K. Rowling
A lot of people are disappointed in this book. I am hearing horrible things from a large range of people and I have to those people I sadly shake my head. It’s true “Casual Vacancy” doesn’t really have a “plot” as some would think of it. This is not a fast paced murder mystery or a mystery at all. It’s very British, I think. The humor is dark and very dry.

There are about 20 characters in all and the POV shifts constantly between them all. This was confusing at first, but Rowling is so amazing at character development that shortly after starting the book, I grew used to each character’s individual voice.

The way these characters are toward each other and how they react to the events surrounding them is how real people react. Rowling lets the people be people. They think and do the things most of us never admit to think and doing. It is occasionally uncomfortable to read.

I hate to even mention Harry Potter in connection with this book as they are totally different, but I want say that I love HP and have read them multiple times. I banished all expectations when I read Casual Vacancy. I knew it was going to be something completely different and so it was. I let myself be ok with that and I’m so glad I did. I will read anything Rowling writes. She is a brilliant writer. I know the content of Vacancy was occasionally very dark and uncomfortable, but when reading a spectacular writer it is not necessarily the content, but the execution and overall reason for the content.

Notable Mentions:

Gone by Michael Grant
Lord of the Flies meets young adult dystopian fiction. It was really interesting and I would like to read the rest of the series.

Inheritance by Christopher Paolini
It’s hard to read a book where you don’t like the main character by a writer that at times is sub par, but I persevered because I had been reading the series since high school and I found likeable characters to latch onto. I have a love/hate relationship with Paolini, but I do think the series is worth the read. The world is well executed.

Under the Poppy by Kathe Koja
This book is totally unlike anything I have ever read. It’s in two parts and I was tempted to give up the first part. I fell in love with a couple of the characters, though, and couldn’t help finishing it. I’m so glad I did. The second part was much more my cup of tea. The entire  thing is fabulously written and I would read Kathe Koja again.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I have to admit I loved this trilogy. I think although I disliked Katniss and often wanted to punch her in the face, the story was well done. I read some of another series by Collins for younger readers, Gregor the Overlander, I enjoyed them as well. She is a great writer. Both series have similar themes of war. I find a lot of truth in her approach.

Eyes of Lightning by Erin Keyser Horn
A local author I really enjoyed. See my full review here.

Lord of the RIngsHappy Birthday J.R.R. Tolkien

One day, whilst browsing through an antique shop, I came across a treasure. Looking up, I noticed a box set with slightly faded spines. Upon closer inspection I realized I found a second edition box set of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Quickly I found a corner and inspected the set in secret as if someone was going to see and rip it out of my hands. I found it in wonderful condition with only slight flaws. I quietly slipped it back on the self behind several other books and slid out the shop.

Once home I found myself brooding over whether or not I should make the investment and whether or not someone was going to find it in my hiding place. Without much deliberation I grabbed my purse when back to buy it.

So here it is, in all its glory. 1965 Lord of the Rings Boxed Set with fold out maps intact and nothing but a tiny chip to one dust jacket, full appendices and Tolkien’s own introduction.

Happy birthday J.R.R. Tolkien!

Jelly and Time Travel

Ellipsis Pineapple Mango Pepper Jelly with cream cheese on homemade sour dough bread my sister-in-law made, Yogi tea in a TARDIS mug. What a way to start the day! Getting up before the baby sure has is advantages. Peace and quiet, hello I do believe we’ve met before.

Eyes of LIghtningIn my sudden spurt of blog activity, I decided to write book reviews. This is something I haven’t every done before so here it goes.

First a bit of boring detail.

Eyes of Lightning
The Thunderbird Legacy Book 1
By Erin Keyser Horn

Self Published
2012
9781480256583
Cover Design by: Rod Karmenzind
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal

My first review is for “Eyes of LIghtning” by Erin Keyser Horn. I am thrilled to report that Erin is a local to Galena and this book is great. To say I have been disappointed with many books by local authors, is an understatement. Again and again I tried. I even made Local Authors a topic for my book club, but finding something I truly enjoyed reading seemed like it wasn’t going to happen.

I was given “Eyes of Lightning” as a gift by my manager at the book store. Erin is lovely in that she signs every book personally to the recipient, not something that effects how good the book is but something I appreciated nonetheless. Looking at the book in my hands, I was pleasantly surprised to find the cover art so wonderful and intriguing. THe illustrator, another local by the name of Rod Karmenzind, did a fantastic job. It looks like something you would find on the self of a bookstore. What a novel idea!

My eyes gazed further down past the title and I noticed “Lightning” is the first book of a series, interesting . .. Book One of the Thunderbird Legacy. Hmmm . . . what is a Thunderbird? Come to find out it is a part of Native American Mythology, something I really have no idea about, nor every had any interest in learning. But the beautiful cover, combined with the fact that this was a gift caused to to crack it open and start reading.

And BAM! I was introduced to Ivy Nimiki, unsatisfied fifteen year old girl taking her life into her own hands. Slowly by surely more characters were introduced either in person or in Ivy’s mind’s eye. The first thing I noticed, gleefully, was the very clearly different voices of each character, even though they are all told from Ivy’s point of view. Erin did a superb job defining each character both from Ivy’s perspective and the reality of the person. I am a stickler for character development to the point where I would rather have inner monologue than plot and I came love Ivy and her friends.

About a quarter of the way through, I was hooked and couldn’t put it down. Ivy is her own character. She is sarcastic, intelligent, and fiercely prideful and independent. The reader watches her become somewhat humbled in her quest and realization of her heritage. She learns to accept friendship and guidance as well as to be more accepting of herself.

Reading a book that took place in Galena was a lot of fun as well. I recognized landmarks and will have to visit the Thunderbird Effigy at Casper Bluff (the location on which Erin based NImiki Bluff) I am even finding myself wanting to know more about the Thunderbird and the mythology surrounding it and of course I am anxiously awaiting to come out in the Fall.

Hello again! I am feeling very bloggy.

I realize it’s after Christmas, but knitting can take a long time and since I am (or was) inexperienced at knitting hats, it took a a while to finish the gifts for my parents. Now here they are and I am proud!

Hats for Mom and Dad

They are actually not knit in the round. I’m not really a fan of wresting with double pointed needles or trying to find the right length circular needle. These hats are knit on size 15 straight needles. I started with 60 stitches in 2×2 rib stitch, knit 25 to 30 rows, then started decreases by knitting two together.

The pattern would go something like this:

Yarn: Bulky (I used LIon Brand Wool Ease)
Size 15 straight needle

Cast on 60 stitches (or less for a smaller hat. 60 creates a hat that will stretch to comfortably fit a 22 inch head)
K2 P2 for 23 rows for a hat that does not fold or 30 rows for a hat that does fold or however big you want the hat.
After row 30 make sure you are on the RS or the side that starts with the two knit stitches. If you are on the side that starts with 2 purl stitches, then knit/purl that row and start with the next row.
Now you need to shape the crown. To do this you k2tog P2 until the end of of the row.
Next row you will K2tog P1 until the end of row.
Next two rows K1 P1
Last row K2tog to end.
Now what you want to do is cut a 20 inch tail and pull it through the remaining stitches, cinching them up.
Sew up the seam with your tail and weave the ends in.

Voila! How easy is that? If you sew up you seam nice and neat you won’t even notice it!

Needle Felted FlowerThe flower design on the gray hat is done with needle felting. I appliqued it using wool roving and a special barbed needle. The fibers in the yarn and the roving matte together causing it to stick to  the knitted fabric. This was the first time I appliqued to a knitted fabric and I’m thrilled about how it turned out.

Oh and Happy New Year! Wishing you a fantastic year.

Hat!

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