Knitting Updates, but not the ones you’re looking for, probably. (Comfort for Critters Blanket and Spectacular Single Skein Scarf)

I’m going to show you some lovely pictures of yarn and gorgeous new needles to distract you from the fact that I don’t have any Hamilton hat updates yet.

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I KNOW.

(Yarn is Malabrigo Rios and needles are the new Knit Picks Majestic set, by the by, but we’ll get back to that in a second.)

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First things first, I made a very loopy and squishy blanket for Comfort for Critters, a charity that works to provide comfort blankets for animals in shelters waiting to be adopted, all over the US. They not only help to make and distribute blankets, but they also provide free yarn for people willing to volunteer and make pet blankets, which is just awesome. I have the feeling that when I am a little old lady, I’ll still be sitting around and knitting as long as I can, making little blankets for Comfort for Critters and Project Linus, since everyone else around me will be completely sick of handknit socks by then.

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I knitted this up out of some mystery acrylic bouclé that my friend Rebecca gave to me an eternity ago. My cats bee-lined for it every single time that they illegally invaded my office and yarn stash, so I figured it would make a really great comfortable blanket, perfect for kneading.

This squishy wonder is headed off to Friends Underwriting Rescues, the only Louisiana-based shelter affiliated with Comfort for Critters, which surprised me, frankly. We need more of these types of things.

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Second thing second, I made this gloriously textured single-row scarf for Dan’s mom, and it’s on its way to her in New Hampshire today, just in time for it to be waaaay too warm for her to wear it. I got the new Knit Picks Majestic interchangeable set as a special present for myself this Christmas, and this was the first project that I broke them out for.

People…these needles are so smooth and silky that it kind of makes me mad. The joins are nearly seamless. The cables are bouncy and flexible. The perfect glossy finish makes everything slide so nicely. I was angry that I waited so long to buy any of these interchangeable sets and really was upset when the scarf was finished because I wanted to keep going forever.

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Also, pairing these dark purple needles up with dark purple yarn? Dumb. But fun.

We all know that I am a big fan of Malabrigo Rios (see it knitted up into my Stone Molly hat), and this color Purpuras is an almost identical match for the Cascade Pacific Chunky that I used to make mukluks for Dan’s mom a few years ago. She’s a big purple fan, and you can’t get much more purple than this.

(My medical/nursing brain has a little bit of a problem with the name of the color, being that in medical-speak purpura describes the purple/red spots made when you bleed under your skin, but I’m imagining that in Spanish this isn’t the immediate association, right?)

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The pattern is the extremely clever Spectacular Single Skein Scarf by Jo Haward. I’m not normally a fan of single-row projects, but this one for some reason shows off the color variation so beautifully. It almost functions like a slip stitch, breaking up each row without obliterating the ombré effect. If you stretched it out when blocking, you’d see that it’s a net-mesh-lace thing in the execution.

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Collapsed on itself, it’s a really plush and squishy texture, inexplicably tilting in the same direction on both sides.

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I’m also a big fan of the slip stitch borders that make everything so tidy and wonderful.

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This is probably the most true-to-color picture, because dark purple is a problematic color to photograph. I have an extra skein left over, since this only took one skein of Rios to make a decently long scarf, and I’m seriously considering making a second one just for myself. It’s that good.

Hopefully by the time I collect my thoughts enough for a New York round-up, I’ll have some sort of update on the Hamilton hats, especially since Mr. Miranda is leaving the show soon.  Let’s all hope that they got them and that they aren’t sitting in the trash right now.  Fingers crossed.

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Thankful for Pie (somehow pie-less, yet still awesome) 2015 Edition

I guess this recurring post is just the year in review now, instead of a declaration of love for pie, due to the fact that I can’t get my act together around Thanksgiving anymore. (Want to see previous years? 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.) Nevertheless, you can be thankful for things anytime during the year, right? Right.

Also, even though I know for a fact that Dan and I ate a whole ton of pie this year, there are absolutely zero pictures of pie! I know, right, but my crust game was just seriously lacking this year. Have no fear, no matter what, pie is always right up there on the list of things that I am most grateful for.

Here we go.

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January was a bit of a blur, as I was starting my last semester of nursing school. Pancakes and beignets were enjoyed at every available opportunity.

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Mardi Gras and Valentine’s Day nearly collided in February. Let me tell you, if you want to see some really unflattering pictures, look through about 100 pictures of me screaming at a parade. I get so serious about absolutely needing some useless pieces of plastic, and I look completely deranged. Anyway, Endymion is one of my favorite parades, so it was great to take some out-of-town friends and act like a maniac just to get a frisbee.

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Ha! I lied! Of course, there has to be pie for Pi Day in March! (Seriously, I completely forgot about this amazing pie until just this moment. Bad, bad baker.) My friend Amanda came up with possibly the greatest pie name ever, Chocolate and Cream and Berries? Oh My! Any pie that has punctuation in its title automatically has my vote.

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April brought with it a lovely scarf with beautiful silver beads, of which I still have approximately 8000 and no ideas for how to use them.

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Also, my last nursing school exam! I had a much-needed old fashioned at the St. Roch Market and resisted the urge to run around dancing in the streets.

May? Oh man, May was busy.

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Graduation Day!

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Valedictorian!

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Party planning!

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Rumchata Ribbon Ice Cream! Let’s be honest. The ice cream was the most important. That, and that lemon and blueberry bundt cake up there was pretty amazing, too.

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I designed and made a pretty cowl, Cowl Before the Storm, and it might just actually be cool enough to wear it today when I go see Star Wars.

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We went to see the Rentals! I got to chat with Matt Sharpe a little bit after the show, and I told him that I played through my cassette tape of Return of the Rentals so many times since age 13 that the ribbon snapped.

Yes, that is a Stay-Puft marshmallow man dancing up there during the show. It’s best left unexplained.

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Also, I dressed up like Fox in Socks at some point. Bright red scrub pants are the bomb.

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Dan and I tried to take June as easy as possible.

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I came home from work after midnight on my birthday to find a chocolate cake surprise from my love, plus new vinyl records!

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We did all kinds of coloring. (Yes, I am aware it is super trendy. No, I do not care. Coloring is awesome.)

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I made these awesome alcohol-drenched cupcakes.

In July, I started my new real-world job.

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I never would have predicted that I could simultaneously experience so many different emotions at one job, in even one hour at one job. My previous job life has been mostly retail and management-type stuff, and the feelings range from frustration to accomplishment, but mostly you just want to hurry up and finish things so you can go home.

Working with these kids has been so different and so eye-opening for me. I get to celebrate their victories, sing along to their favorite movies, comfort them and dry their tears, make crazy faces and make them laugh, be the bad guy with the medicine so that their parents can continue to be their heroes…in the short time that I’ve been there, I’ve experienced profound loss and unmitigated joy side-by-side with these children and their families, and even though I come home from night shift exhausted and generally don’t have any idea what time it is anymore, I can definitely say that I made the right decision to work in pediatrics.

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Plus, the hospital is close to my very favorite snoball stand, so that’s a plus. There are no shortcuts to quality.

At the end of July, my grandmother passed away. I actually found out about this the day before I took my NCLEX nursing license test while simultaneously battling terrible food poisoning brought about by Chinese food shrimp. There was a big mess in my brain for a fairly long time.

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She loved Christmas, and I felt her absence from our table this year strongly.

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Making pretty scarves helps you get through these things, even though it’s August and way too hot outside.

September?

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A trip to Los Angeles to deliver a very special scarf

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…to a very special person.

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I met the love of my life at the wax museum. It was hard to let go.

And then, the Emmys? What?

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I was just as surprised as you, Jamie Lee.

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Such a crazy trip, courtesy of my brother and sister-in-law, who seem to have created a habit of making opportunities for me to get to go do amazing things. You guys are great.

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In October, my baby Bowie had his 8th birthday. Here are some more adorable cat pictures, just because.

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Dang, those cats are cute.

November started with more alcoholic cupcakes.

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There’s still a lot of winter left to make your own RumChata cupcakes, so you should get on that.

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In December, so much blanket knitting (which you all just read about yesterday, right?), plus carouselfies…

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…more beignets and coffee…

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…and a large pack of angry cranes that followed Dan for about 10 minutes, thinking he would share his beignets.

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Plus, super secret work on a super secret project that I am terrible at keeping secrets about. Let’s just say, it involves a certain Avenger with a propensity for wearing patriotic colors, plus his troubled half-robotic-armed friend. That’s pretty vague, right?

—–

It’s been a year of ups and downs, that’s for sure, and as I looked through all of my pictures, I was struck by how much I didn’t really document things much this year. It just felt like a whirlwind to finally finish school and start a new life in nursing, or perhaps I am also lazy and attracted more to sleep than to putting my life back together again after school.

Now that life is starting to reassemble around my new job, I feel like I’m getting back into the swing of making things. Hopefully, 2016 will be full of pies (and I’ll actually remember to take pictures of them), knitting, hugs, and love, not just for me but for all of you out there. I’m just itching to get out there and make things already, and I can’t wait to show you when I do.

Butterfly in the sky, I can go twice as high! (Reading Rainbow Scarf Updates)

It was a little over a week ago when I got on a plane to Los Angeles, with a super special scarf in tow. More on the details of the trip later, let’s get to the Reading Rainbow goodness.

20150919_140422The Reading Rainbow Live! event was held at YouTube Space LA, a new venue for video-makers and collaborators, located conveniently in the middle of a whole bunch of construction that throws off everyone’s GPS in a bad way. Our poor Uber driver was so confused trying to get us into the space, and I didn’t help things along by getting super carsick along the way.

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, on my way to meet LeVar Burton, a childhood hero, I got so sick that I threw up in a paper bag inside our Uber car. Luckily, we were at a corner where I could run outside and compose myself like a decent human being (as well as take a little walk to throw away my…bag of vomit…I am still horrified at myself), but the stop-and-go traffic and the multiple winding turns around all that construction made my stomach flip. When we finally got there, most of us no worse for wear, they had little tents set up with water and snacks, and I was overjoyed to have a little time to calm down.

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They also gave us tiny LeVars to tag with our latest adventures in reading on Instagram. Cute.

20150919_143044All of my pictures from this are from behind 3 rows of seats, plus it wasn’t super bright in there, so do forgive any blurriness. While we waited for the event to start, we were treated to clips from older shows, plus an awesome auto-tuned song put together from old clips.

I am not ashamed to say that I was tearing up a little. There were colorful mats spread out all over the floor in front of the audience seating full of children, and it occurred to me that this might be the first time they were ever getting to experience Reading Rainbow and being in a room full of adults who love reading, and it made me a little emotional.

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Mark Wolfe, business partner and co-founder of RRKIDZ, started everything off by thanking the donors and telling them how successful the new Reading Rainbow app has been, as well as telling everyone about their new venture Skybrary, a huge collection of children’s books and video “field trips” (I never knew that’s what they called the live-actions parts. That’s adorable.) that are accessible from cloud storage to homes and classrooms all over the world. How cool. I wish there would have been something like that available when I was growing up, but then I doubt I would have ever come up for air if there were.

20150919_144648Then, Mr. Levardis Robert Martyn Burton, Jr. himself came out, to thunderous applause.

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He introduced two videos, the first being the old episode of Reading Rainbow where they visit the set of Star Trek: the Next Generation and get to see all of the behind-the-scenes action. The next one was the first “field trip” for the new series, all about the history of space travel and the MAVEN launch from the Kennedy Space Center.

Again, tears welled up. You guys, it was so good. And just like I remembered. Interesting facts, beautiful photography, all delivered with the skilled hands of master educators…people who know that the best way to get kids to learn is to not talk down to them or make things too simple. Just make it cool, and kids will follow.

After that, it was time for a story, which meant it was time for some celebrity storytellers.

20150919_145354Jonathan Frakes. If you didn’t have a crush on Riker, you’re just lying to yourself. Jennifer Hetrick (Vash, from TNG and Deep Space Nine) came out right after that, but I didn’t get a good picture of her.

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Armin Shimerman, the friendliest Ferengi you ever did see.

20150919_145512Jeri Ryan! So lovely.

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Michael Dorn, looking simultaneously exactly like and nothing at all like what I imagined under all of that Worf makeup.

20150919_145608Rosalind Chao, who I didn’t even know was involved with Star Trek at all, but I’ve seen the movie of The Joy Luck Club so many times that I don’t even care. Not pictured, Robert Picardo from Voyager because I was too short to ever see him over there on the side. Then, we got some video from someone who wished he could be there.

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Oh, Brent Spiner. Data was the best.

20150919_145840Oh wait.

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He came! Yay!

20150919_145951We were treated to a storytime featuring Miss Martin Is a Martian by Colleen Murray Fisher.

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20150919_150559They were all so fun and animated during the storytime, and the pages were projected onto the video screens so that everyone could see, not just the kids up front. It was such a wonderful idea. Then, we were treated to more videos from Star Trek cast members who wished they could attend.

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Like Marina Sirtis!

20150919_151111And Gates McFadden, who really might be one of the most adorable people on Earth. Did you know she was a choreographer for Jim Henson Productions? Yep, she choreographed the beautiful waltz from Labyrinth and the stylized movements from the warring tribes in The Dark Crystal. That is so freaking cool. Then, one last guest arrived before the next storytime.

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Kate Mulgrew! The applause was ridiculous.

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She helped the gang read Watch Out for Wolfgang by Paul Carrick, a very weird and fun Three Little Pigs-esque story with robots.

After storytime and more clapping (so much clapping), it was time for something they called Star Trek Trivia, but was basically a big game of Taboo with Star Trek terms. The casts split up into two teams to duke it out.

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There was a lot of wild gesturing and arm flailing. And cheating! Jonathan Frakes really just likes to yell out the answers when it isn’t his turn.

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It was a lot of fun to see how much they still remembered from their shows. Q&A came next, and Kate Mulgrew had two of the greatest answers to really wonderful questions from the audience.

20150919_152946When asked how to encourage children to read from an early age, she said to read in front of them and to them all the time. Kids pick up on these behaviors and imitate them, so the best way for your kids to start reading is to be a reader yourself. Much applause. Then, when asked to comment on her experiences being a role model for young girls who wanted to become scientists, she declared that it was the whole reason why she took the role in the first place. She wanted to inspire others to follow those dreams, and the people at the event who were affected by her performance were all the validation that she’d ever need for taking the job.

Damn, that woman is amazing.

And anyway, that’s it.

…..

Just kidding. We all want to know what happened with the scarf, right? At least, I hope we do.

After the event, they cleared us all out of the space in order to rearrange some things and get set up for pictures. Unfortunately, Brent Spine and Kate Mulgrew had to leave early, so they couldn’t stay for the pictures. Then, we got lined up again and they let groups in a few at a time. YouTube used its own official camera for the event, and each group got their photo taken and then was shuffled out of the space.

I panicked a little. I had the scarf wrapped up in my purse with my cute little handwritten note. I didn’t realize I was only going to have 20 seconds of time to explain myself before the line had to move again.

When we got up to the front, I walked up to LeVar Burton (yes, I just wrote that sentence, which is crazy) and opened up the wrapping for him, handing him the card and telling him that I made him a present. He was a little confused at first because I think he didn’t realize that I was talking to him. He looked back at me and said, “This is for me? Thank you so much! Why don’t we go ahead and take the picture?”

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He’s wearing it! And look at all of their adorable smiling faces, along with me, my brother, and my sister-in-law! Everyone is so good-looking!

As I started to walk away, his assistant stopped me and said, “Did you make this?” When I said yes, Jeri Ryan called out, “Wait, you made that? It’s beautiful!” My brain short-circuited and all I could do was smile and nod. I watched as LeVar put my card in his pocket, and his assistant grabbed the scarf and folded it up. She said, “I’ll be sure that it goes in his office. I can’t believe you made this!” Again, more smiling and nodding. I thanked her profusely, and then it was over. We were shuffled out into the daylight, me with a big giant grin on my face.

Now, that seems like a lot to handle for one day(hell, for the whole trip), but stay tuned for another post on my LA trip that involves a whole ridiculous amount of celebrities, an astroturf carpet, and holding it together in a new dress and high heels, which I am not known to do.

Mr. Burton, I made you a scarf.

I wanted to start this post by talking about Reading Rainbow, but it’s honestly a difficult thing to put into words.

20150916_100300I have always been a reader for as long as I can remember. A voracious reader. According to my mom, I started reading by myself at age 3, thanks to the greatest Little Golden book ever, The Monster at the End of This Book. I made my mom read that book to me over and over again every night until I had memorized the entire thing, and then I started reading it to her instead.

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In either first or second grade, my class participated in some sort of Newbery-sponsored reading contest where you could record all of the books that you read during the school year, and the person who read the most in the class got a special medal. Much to my parents’ chagrin, I used my Scholastic book order to go off on a crazy self-inflicted reading binge, finishing over 40 books that year. The next highest number in my class was 10. This was probably the first time that I have approached a challenge in this way, competing all by myself for an award that no one else really gives a crap about, but it was certainly not the last.

20150916_130532Whenever my brother and I got home from school, PBS was always the first thing on our minds. We would watch 3-2-1 Contact, Square One, and Reading Rainbow every single chance we got and revel in this world where the kids who liked math and science and reading were the norm. Reading Rainbow in particular was my favorite. I would write my own book summaries in the back of my school notebooks, hoping one day to deliver them professionally in the “You don’t have to take my word for it” section. I loved the extended storytimes where the book pages were animated on the screen and made the story come alive. And I especially loved it when LeVar Burton was on some sort of adventure that tied in with all of the featured books, like going to Space Camp or digging up dinosaur bones.

Last year, my brother and his wife told me that they were donating to the Kickstarter campaign to revive Reading Rainbow as an interactive app, and I thought that was a fantastic idea. Then, later, they told me that because of their donation, they were invited to go to a Reading Rainbow event in Los Angeles sometime this summer. Then, they told me that part of the cast of Star Trek: the Next Generation was going to be involved. Then, they asked me if I would like to go with them.

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Attentive readers will know where my brain went next. I decided that not only did I need to go to this event, but that I also needed to knit LeVar Burton a Reading Rainbow scarf. Because, of course.

20150912_18212320150914_170017 I wanted to make something reminiscent of the original Reading Rainbow logo (which I never noticed only has 5 colors in it! Did anyone else ever notice this?), so I headed down to McNeedles, an LYS that is becoming one of my favorite places to be, and told them my master plan. Not only were they on board, they helped me pick out exactly the bright, primary rainbow of colors that I wanted. Knitters understand these things.

20150915_172113It’s got a big color-blocked section on one side, with all of the accompanying ends to weave in. And then a big duplicate-stitched golden double-R on the other, like the original logo. 20150915_173703 I didn’t bother writing anything down for it, because if you can make a Harry Potter scarf like this one, you can just wing it and make it whatever size you want.

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This one is made out of Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Worsted and Nature Spun Worsted, with 50 stitches cast on in a tube and lots o’ blue fringe to close up the ends.

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Also, I’ve taken special steps to make sure that we don’t have another Jeff the Squirrel debacle, just in case.

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Cap definitely approves of the labeling. And the color scheme, too, I think. Primary red and blue all the way.

20150916_131047Here it is modeled by the lovely Michele, friend and coworker and extreme lover of books. She approves as well.

Now, I have absolutely no idea if this Reading Rainbow event will include any sort of Q&A or meet-and-greet or quick hand-shaking, but I do know that I’ve got to be more aggressive in getting this to Mr. Burton himself. So, I’m calling on you guys out there in Internetland. If you’ve got the means to let somebody know about this so that he knows about it, please do. Help me out. Take to the Twitters and Tumblrs and Facebooks and let LeVar Burton know how much you love him and appreciate him and let him know that one of us has a labor of love to give him at this event on Saturday the 19th.

Also, it would be great to make sure that I do not come across as the creepiest person ever.

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I’ll do my part, but I really need your help in making sure that this thing doesn’t end up in a trash can in some event hall after the show. I normally don’t ask for stuff like, but this one’s super important to me, guys.

I am so excited for Saturday that I can’t even come up with a good way to end this post. Oh man. Reading Rainbow is so awesome. Go watch it on Netflix right this second. You’ll be glad you did.

It’s Almost Too Hot for Knitting – Woodland Gyllis and a Great Rack

Because it is so freaking hot outside, I went and did the only sensible thing.

20150719_140115I made another scarf that is impossible to wear until it cools down outside. This is because I am a very sensible person who is in no way obsessed with sock yarn.

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Yep. Not crazy at all.

20150524_120249The pattern is Gyllis by the always amazing, beautiful, alien creature that is Stephen West. This man is a powerhouse of knitting design. His patterns are all about structural details and blocks of color, making each piece seem more like a work of architecture than something you’d wrap around your neck.

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I made his Herbivore pattern many years ago, and it is still my very favorite scarf in the wintertime, so I knew that when I found this beautiful yarn, Prism Saki in Woodlands (purchased at the absolutely delightful McNeedles, a store that I only recently discovered but will definitely be making my go-to LYS), that it was begging to be knitted up into something special.

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Something special enough that I would stand out in the 98-degree weather after sneaking onto Loyola’s campus with a bunch of merino wool on my body. It’s that good. Super soft and lovely while still retaining enough stitch definition to pop out all of those yarnovers and twisted stitches. I need a skein of every single color right this minute.

20150719_140136The contrast color is Cascade Yarns Heritage Sock, another great merino and nylon blend. I still have some left over, as well as the Saki, so you might see an anklet that pairs the two together again. As I was knitting it, I kept going back and forth as to whether I liked the two colors together, but after seeing it in action in the sunlight, I’m more than sure that I made the right decision.

Now, I am not the only crazy person making crafts in the ridiculously hot weather.

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Dan made a wine rack out of pallets! Like, with his hands and stuff.

20150713_100529And by stuff, I mean tools. But, seriously, he saw a picture of something similar on Pinterest, and just decided to go out in the garage and make one, with no schematics or anything. Just made it up.

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It’s so perfect that I am simultaneously overjoyed and jealous. We all know already that Dan is the ultimate laid-back stealth crafter. He completely wings things all the time, and they come out exactly as planned.

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It’s infuriating.

Goddammit, that’s a good looking wine rack. Everytime I walk by it, I smile. And then I think we need to buy some more wine.

Cowl Before the Storm

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Attentive readers (there’s got to be at least one of you, right?) will know that I made some super plain, yet super awesome socks last summer out of Noro Taiyo, one of the more stunningly beautiful and weirdly rustic yarns out there. These socks have proven themselves to be hardwearing and more than game for sliding around on the kitchen floor while I’m making pancakes. I also recently made a lovely, delicate lace shawl out of Misti Alpaca, the softest, most wonderful stuff to ever hover near your face. It’s like sticking your face into a pile of baby rabbits. Or baby alpacas, I suppose.

These yarns couldn’t have less in common, except for the fact that they both involve shades of blue. Why not put them together?

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Hot damn.

Admit it, you did that in your head like Bruno Mars’s super hip entourage, didn’t you? Me too.

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Introducing, in all of its wooly, silky, alpaca-y glory, Cowl Before the Storm.

You guys know I love puns, so here’s the explanation. A friend of mine once dyed her hair a lovely shade of lilac, and another friend of hers said that it made her look like a beautiful storm cloud. Before I ever even put these yarns together, I could see exactly in my head the beauty that they’d create. I was totally not disappointed. They merged into a lovely, light fabric that is super soft, yet very warm and cozy. Something about the light blue alpaca tempered down the wild color variations of the Taiyo, turning it into a beautiful storm cloud of my own.

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Especially that bright turquoise bit right there. Gets me every time. In fact, when I was working on it, a co-worker told me that it looked like the sky right before a storm, hence the name.

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Want to make your own? Find two wildly disparate yarns, stick them together, and read on. (Or, go ahead and click here to get the easily printable version, complete with less pictures of my face!)

Cowl Before the Storm
a beautiful little storm cloud of your own…for your neck!

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This is a very simple lace project worked in the round, fantastic for lace beginners or for those who love to play with color and texture combinations. You end up using very little of each skein of yarn, so you can save this project for when you need to have some fun with leftovers from other projects. The Lacy Scallops pattern is adapted for knitting in the round from the fantastic stitch reference guide Big Book of Knitting Stitch Patterns published in 2005 by Sterling Publishing.

Yarn:
Noro Taiyo Sock Yarn (50% cotton, 17% wool, 17% polyamide, 16% silk blend, 462 yds. per skein)
Misti Alpaca Lace (100% baby alpaca, 437 yds. per skein)

Supplies:
US size 8 (5.0 mm) 16-inch circular needle
stitch marker (to mark beginning of round)
tapestry or yarn needle
scissors

Gauge:
approximately 5 sts per inch on US 8 (5.0 mm) needles in Lacy Scallop pattern (Gauge is not terribly important here, as long as you don’t end up with a cowl hanging to your knees. Unless that’s your style, then go right ahead.)

Pattern:
CO 108 sts with both strands of yarn held together on circular needle. Join into round, being careful not to twist. Knit 1 row.

Begin Lacy Scallops pattern (adapted from Big Book of Knitting Stitch Patterns):
Round 1: *k1, yo, k2, sl 1, k1, psso, k2tog, k2, yo* until end of round (12 repeats total)
Round 2: knit all sts
Round 3: *yo, k2, sl 1, k1, psso, k2tog, k2, yo, k1* until end of round
Round 4: knit all sts
Round 5: purl all sts
Round 6: knit all sts

Repeat Rounds 1-6 eight more times, for a total of 9 repeats, easily tracked by counting the purled rows.

Knit Rounds 1-4 once more.

Bind off all sts purlwise. Break yarn and weave in ends.

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Block lightly, enough to open up the pattern and smooth out the scallops on the edges, but not so much so as to stretch or distort the shape.

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If you’re totally awesome like me, this is how much yarn you’ll have left over. And you’ll feel pretty smug.

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You earned it.

Azure Waves of Grain

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I haven’t gotten to knit much so far this year, mostly due to the fact that I am in my very last semester of nursing school, which entails a whole lot of paper- and journal-writing, preceptorship-ing, and NCLEX-reviewing. I actually graduate (YAY!) in the middle of May, and I am saddened to think that I will soon have to find new things to complain about, one of which, if you can judge me by what my priorities were during this last week of Spring Break, will certainly not be “not knitting.” I went on a rampage this past week and finished up a very fiddly and fancy-pants project that I’ve been working on for waaaay too long.

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I mean, look at all that lace! Miles and miles of lace-weight alpaca with perfectly lined-up columns of yarnovers. Looking at it all pinned out…I even impressed myself a little bit.

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The pattern is the simple and lovely Waves of Grain by Rosemary Hill, in the Fall 2008 issue of Knitty. In the pattern, she has these beautiful poetic musings about the amber waves of grain from “America the Beautiful,” but since I went with the blue and silver thing here, I think that Azure Waves of Grain is a delightful play on words. Just try to talk me out of a good pun. I dare you.

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With a project like this, where the lace itself is relatively simple and full of long runs of straight lines, blocking wires are a truly amazing thing.

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You can buy your own set here at KnitPicks, like I did. (Oh, and get those blocking mats, too, while you’re at it! They will also save your life over and over again.) You weave them carefully in and out of the yarnovers on the ends of the rows and pin them back, and voila!

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When it’s totally dry and you pull out those pins, you see these glorious super-straight rows that make you weep a little bit. For those unfamiliar with lace knitting, the piece that you end up with after the knitting is complete looks a bit like ramen noodles. No matter what kind of master knitter you are, the yarnovers are a million different sizes, the edges are wobbly, and everything is just a big mess.

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Blocking makes everything beautiful again. And blocking wires in particular prevent any weird scalloping or yanked-out corners and edges that destroy all of that hard work.

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This was also the very first time that I attempted knitting beads into anything, and this was definitely a good project to start with. In this particular pattern, the beads are not pre-strung onto the yarn, but they are threaded onto the individual stitch itself with a teeny-tiny crochet hook, right before the stitch is worked into the pattern.

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Toothless approves.

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I got these particular clear glass and silver-foil beads at Michael’s, and I waaaay overbought them, so someone needs to find me another project to use them up (or let me know if you have a dire need for them as well). Having the beads on the end of the shawl gives it a nice little weight and swing, plus the beads make a wonderful little clicking sound when you’re moving around with it.

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Lace in the sunlight always makes me weak in the knees.

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Now, I need to find an occasion to wear this, other than traipsing around the house and pretending that I am an International Woman of Mystery, but I think that it’ll be perfection for any sort of dressy occasion. And I’m graduating soon…hmm.

Mischief Managed

There is a special kind of joy in making something that you know that someone is going to love.

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My friend Bailee (introduced earlier on the blog by taking some super awesome pictures while I made pie) is the biggest Harry Potter fan that I have met. Possibly the biggest one ever.

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Those in the know now know that she is not messing around.

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She loves all of the best things in all of the best ways. I’m talking about that kind of unabashed, un-self-conscious, super-hardcore-fan love that gives artists a reason for making more beautiful art. She loves things out loud, and makes sure that everyone else knows about all of the awesome things that they might have missed out on because they were too busy trying to look cool and pretend that they wouldn’t really rather spend any day of their lives drinking wine and watching Sherlock instead of anything else.

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What do you give to someone like that?

Well, first, you know that accuracy is key. You do some research and you find the Harry Potter scarf pattern to end all Harry Potter scarf patterns, Atypically Knit’s Prisoner of Azkaban scarf.

This thing is a beast. 521 rounds of pure stripy stockinette wooliness. Plus casting on, then binding off. And weaving in all those ends!

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Not to mention all that fringe.

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This thing is an undertaking that is only worthy of the most deserving. Those people who will indulge you on your Tom Hiddleston obsession. Those people who will always take the time to listen to your problems and give you their respect by telling you theirs. Those people who know how to rock a crazy woolen scarf in New Orleans weather.

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Which sometimes means wearing it right next to a stone lion right where Brad Pitt sat on a park bench in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, even if only the photographer loves that movie.

Down to brass tacks, then we’ll get back to the modeling, I promise.

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This was stitched up over countless hours in Brown Sheep’s Nature Spun Worsted (link is to Paradise Fibers, where I ordered this yarn and had a lovely yarn shopping experience, in general), a fantastic workhorse worsted wool, perfect for projects that need to look absolutely perfect and last for a good long time. It’s got some fantastic stitch definition, something you don’t often see in the 100% wool universe.

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I went with the colors Blue Knight and Gray Heather, trying to get the most accurate Ravenclaw scarf that I could. There’s plenty more suggestions for yarn types and colors in the pattern, but I think that these in particular look beautiful together.

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And can we talk about that fringe?

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I know that fringe can be a major pain sometimes, especially after you’ve done so much knitting and yet you are still not done. In order to get this fringe looking its best, I flat-blocked the whole scarf first, being sure to keep the stripe jog along one side seam. After it was dry, I attached the fringe one tiny bundle at a time to the open ends of the scarf, closing them up by working through both sides of the fabric. I feel like this left a much cleaner seam that would have resulted if I had chosen to sew things up first.  Then the fringe got steam-pressed and trimmed up a bit, just to make things more evened-out, but not too severe.

Back to the modeling? Yes!

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Mardi Gras is actually the perfect time of year for scarves, because the New Orleans weather just cannot figure itself out. It can be simultaneously windy, sunny, and freezing, all during the same 3 hours that you are standing and waiting for a parade. This scarf actually made its first official public appearance while Bailee, Dan, and I went to Nyx, Bailee’s first ever Mardi Gras parade.

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It works well as a babushka, whenever needed.

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But, in all actuality, and I am quoting here, you could wrap it around your entire head and still have enough left to keep your neck warm.

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(I know that I just heard collective groans from Gryffindors everywhere. There are just no stone ravens out here, I swear.)

It’s huge and warm and ridiculous, with just enough class to go everywhere. Just more reasons why everyone needs to have an excessively long double-sided woolen scarf.

But not this one. It’s already taken.  And loved.

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Dan made a scarf. And then he made it look cool.

I have no idea how long ago it was now, at least 4 years ago probably, but one day Dan decided that he wanted for me to cast on some stitches for him so that he could make a scarf. He had been attending my knitting-and-socializing-while-eating-ice-cream-and-sandwiches group every week for months without a project of his own, and since he had already been taught how to knit, and could surely be taught how to purl, then he could definitely make himself a scarf.

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On Tuesday, that scarf officially became a reality.

During this past week, New Orleans…shut down. There was snow and ice in the forecast, and we apparently have absolutely no idea how to handle such things, so we were stuck inside with just our cats, our Scrabble board, our extensive collection of ridiculous movies, and our knitting to entertain us for two whole days.

I don’t know how we survived.

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(Look at that lovely even tension! Can any of us say that our first scarves looked anything as nice as this? I certainly can’t, that’s for sure.)

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In true Dan fashion, he just took whatever random balls of yarn I had left over from a project and made them into something effortlessly cool. Remember his freehand pumpkin masterpiece? It was something like that, just spread out over several years’ time.  He doesn’t really ever have a plan, and he doesn’t really ever care. He just makes cool stuff. Those of us who have to try really hard to be cool (and fail most of the time) will always be in awe of this talent.

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He decided that it should be 1×1 ribbing.  I taught him how to purl.  He decided at some point that it should have some big color block stripes. Just on the side. For no good reason.  We made it happen.

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And it’s genius. It reminds me of racing stripes in the best way possible.

We took the scarf out today in the now mid-60 degree weather (it makes absolutely no sense to me how 62 degrees is possible two days after 20 degrees, but thinking about it too hard will make my brain hurt), and pretended that it was cold enough to wear.

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I think I’ll call this one, “Dan with Bird House.” He’s such a great model.

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No, seriously, he really is. And I can tell that he’s really pleased with his work (even though, let’s all be fair, this is about 3% Jinger since I did cast on, bind off, and block this for him, plus teach him how to knit in the first place…maybe let’s even call it 5%), even though he’d never admit it.

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He just looks super cool.

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And helps the rest of us look cool by default.

Good job, babe. I’m proud of you. Now make me one, or I’m going to steal it.