Bonjour. Je m’appelle M. Croque

Liz at Highland Heffalump suggested I get a wee pond to possibly attract a frog to eat our plethora of slugs. I thought that was worth a try, so I picked up a small pond from the home improvement store and installed it yesterday. While digging the hole in the garden, I disturbed a frog already in residence! Luckily, it came back. Meet Monsieur Croque!

No, this is not a joke about the French being frogs. I love the French, and French Canadians! I took French for six years in my youth. This is a joke about the dish Croque Monsieur.

Anyway, here’s hoping Monsieur (or Madame) Croque finds the new habitat to its liking. I’m watching for mosquito larvae but hoping those will get eaten as well. If not, I’ll have to clean it regularly, or install a small circulator. I ordered a toad house, and the pond is sheltered in the shade of the Elderberry bush.

I love toads and frogs. I thought I was going to have to go tadpole hunting like I did when I was a kid. I love that M. Croque (to be known simply as Croque going forward) was already enjoying the slug buffet.

I’m not sure what type of frog Croque is. What do you think? Maybe a Cricket Frog?

Saturday Start: A New Venture!

One of my favorite things to do is curate gifts and collections. I once worked as a personal shopper, and walking around with customers and helping them select items was an absolute favorite activity. With this in mind, I have decided I want to combine my love of knitting and fiber arts, handmade items, natural fibers, and curating collections by starting my own yarn mystery box company: Chestnut Hills Farm and Fiber! This will be a part time enterprise. I’m planning to curate a mystery box seasonally, so just four times per year, at least at first.

The first box is called Spring Thaw, and is inspired by my original photo below:

I’m very excited to be including yarn from Cornbread and Honey, along with her fabulous lotion bars. I’ve always loved her color aesthetic, and she will be dyeing on non-superwash merino wool in a special colorway just for this box! There will be stitch markers by MAB Elements, who I recently discovered, and I am in love with her work. (Look for a shawl pin in a future box!) And for those who want a little more mystery, the Cultivate Box will include a special flower pot made by Megs Levesseur, also inspired by the theme! I will be including some seeds from my garden to plant in the pot, along with information about the seeds and season.

In future boxes, I hope to include original patterns, some of my own hand dyed yarn, and other goodies made by regional artisans I admire. I hope you’ll consider supporting me on this new endeavor! There are a limited number of boxes available for purchase, and you can also support by sharing this link on your blog, or resharing on social media. Thank you! This has been a long time coming, and I’m very excited about the possibilities of this enterprise.

Happy Blogversary to Me!

Today is my 4 year blogversary on WordPress! This photo has nothing to do with that, but I got dressed up today and wanted to share. It’s also Friday Eve and it’s been a really long week. I’m sitting next to a fire with a glass of wine and a cat on my lap. I also might have rearranged the furniture so I could be closer to the fire. One more day, then it’s going to be a PJriffic weekend with lots of stitching.

Musings on Fixing Dumb Mistakes

I believe in the mantra Know Thyself, and I know I would be annoyed every time I wore a sweater with a dumb mistake on it. I decided to follow kayak2016’s advice and try to drop the stitches back to fix it. I figured, if I fail at this, I can frog it, and I will have learned something.

First thing I learned is: don’t do this. Not unless the mistake is only a few rows deep and simple to fix. I know I can fix things like that. This was over 20 stitches dropped and a similar number of rows. I was having trouble with tension and identifying which stitches were from increase rounds. And! It was a beginning of round, so increases weren’t symmetrical to begin with. Thine own self was confused for a good while.

By the time I finally figured out which round I was on and where I should be increasing, and that I should be using smaller needles, I was developing some pretty dreadful ladders.

Aforesaid dreadful ladders

So I called it a learning experience (I now know what I’m not capable of) and frogged back to the neat and tidy round before the dumb mistake happened.

Yes, that’s a lot of knitting to be redone, but I will be much happier with the finished product. I was careful to put the stitch markers in the correct places and I will be eagle eyeing my increases for several rows.

Well, wasn’t that fun! At least I feel a little smarter now, or dumber. I’m not sure.

If you are able to successfully achieve what I attempted and failed, I hope you will share it with me so I can learn from your wisdom. Thank you for encouraging me to get off the fence!

Happy Places

Liz posted a wee quiz about happy places.

  1. Where are your happy place locations?
  2. Is there a memory you go to in your mind as a happy place?
  3. Is there one particular happy place location in the world you can’t wait to return to (once you are able to)?
  4. What are your happy place hobbies/interests that help you escape the outside world?

1. My most happiest place is in my comfy chair in front of a fire knitting. I’ve cast on my Turtledove! My second most happiest place is probably my front porch.

Two of my babies at my grandparents’ farm many years ago. I love this photo.

2. Sometimes when I need to go to a happy place in my mind, I imagine I’m at my grandparents’ farm.

Iona, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

3. I’m not sure if there is one particular happy location in the world for me I can’t wait to return to. My grandparents’ farm isn’t the same without them there. Maybe Nova Scotia, but I’ve only been there once. We’ll have to try that again and see.

4. I think we know the answer to this question: knitting, and felt fiber art are the hobbies that help me escape the outside world. I’m going to include some Nova Scotia pieces in my show. And maybe one of my grandparents’ farm.

Thankful Thursday Quiz: FOOD

A lobster roll from our trip to Nova Scotia last year.

In the spirit of thankfulness for this wonderful online knitting community, and in the context of Thanksgiving — the season of food — I am going to respond to Karen’s last two quizzes about food in one post!

Questions:

  • What is your favorite food?
  • Do you have a favorite dessert that you can’t pass up?
  • If you were on a deserted island and could have only one food besides the fish and coconuts on the island what would it be?
  • What is the best meal you’ve ever eaten?
  • Is there a food you wish you could make?
  • If you could go out to eat today, what restaurant would you go to? What would you order?
  • We already talked about the best meal we’ve ever eaten? What is the worst?
  • Do you have fond memories of a bygone restaurant? Did you have a favorite meal you miss?
  • When I was a kid it was a huge deal to go out to eat. What childhood restaurant memory do you have?
  • Fast food and casual dining restaurants are all the rage in the US. Do you have a favorite? How about one you avoid?

Answers:

  • My favorite food used to be pizza, but now that I can no longer eat gluten or mozzarella, it’s tacos.
  • My favorite dessert is creme brûlée.
  • If I were stranded on a deserted island, I would require chocolate.
  • I think I’m going to have to agree with Kathy B and say Cattleman’s Steakhouse in Oklahoma City: filet mignon, wedge salad with bleu cheese dressing, loaded baked potato, and coconut cream pie.
  • I wish I could make crepes. I would make chicken and mushroom crepes for dinner and strawberry crepes for dessert.
  • If I could go out to eat today I would go to Addi’s Ethiopian Restaurant and order a Veggie Lovers Platter. But we would have to call 24 hours ahead so they can make gluten-free Injera for us.
  • The worst meal I have ever eaten happened on the way home from Wisconsin in January this year. My colleague and I stopped off in a small town and went to an Asian restaurant. It was not only the worst Asian food I’ve ever eaten, it was the worst food I’ve ever eaten. It was a greasy pile of barely recognizable ingredients loaded with MSG. And we found out Dave may be allergic to shellfish. And the cashier was surly.
  • I miss Rubio’s Fish Tacos from when I lived in Southern California. I also miss seaside lobster dinners from Villa Ortega’s in Puerto Nuevo, Baja California, Mexico. Apparently I like lobster. Maybe I should make lobster crepes.
  • I took French when I was in junior high and high school, and we would sometimes have an “expérience culturelle” field trip, and the class would go to La Madeleine or The Magic Pan. This is why I want to make crepes.
  • I don’t eat fast food, mainly because I can’t eat most fast food. I did have a meal from Outback Steakhouse when I was traveling in August, and it wasn’t bad. I had it delivered to my hotel room. I’m not sure what qualifies as casual dining, but I get take out weekly from our local Mexican place Day Y Noche.
Addi’s Veggie Lovers Platter. Injera is kind of like a crepe.

Let us know if you will be joining in on the food quiz!

Fall Back Year of Projects Update

It’s November 1. Only two more months of 2020! Even though this year has been a dumpster fire, it’s been a productive year for me. Probably because I never leave my house.

Fiber Art

I started a new piece for the solo show next year. Here it is pre-felted. I’ve wet felted it now, but it’s drying. I have to make at least one piece every month until September 2021. In November, I’m going to concentrate on dying my own fleece as I’m finding purchased dyed roving doesn’t always felt as expected.

This week our group, Mother Artists at Work, had two interviews in local publications for our group show. I also had an interview for work with the Fair Trade Federation. Three interviews in one week! It was a lot, but it was good. This must be the year of doing all the things. I also won a yarn giveaway from Ramen Needles!

Knitting

I knit a bunch of Halloween things that weren’t on my YOP list and it was fun. I knit two colorwork cowls. I want to leave a note for myself right here. Don’t knit anymore colorwork cowls that don’t have shaping. When you wear them, all you see is the floats on the back. Maybe I need to learn how to wear them.

I think I figured it out! Maybe it was still too damp and floppy when I had it on at first.

Sewing

I feel really good about finishing my Halloween Rachel shirt. I’m going to finish sewing my fall advent bags and then I’d like to concentrate on our curtains before starting on any new apparel projects. I think I found my go to pants in the new Ottobre.

Design

I kind of forgot about this. Why design your own thing when there are so many awesome designs already out there?

Fiddle

I listen to fiddle music and daydream about playing the fiddle. Does that count?

This has been a Year of Projects Update. You can read my original list here. You can find out more about the group here.

Blogville Knitters Virtual Knit today at 1PM Eastern! Please message or email your Skype ID to me, Marilee, or Sarah if you are new and want to join in.

Saturday Sleeves and a Quiz

I sewed in the sleeves on my Halloween shirt today. I did a pretty good job, but if you look carefully, you can see a little puff on this one. I may take the seam in a bit, but I’m going to get the collar and front placket on first. If I can get it all sewn together tomorrow, maybe I will be able to make all the buttonholes this week and sew the buttons on so it’s ready to wear by Saturday!

Sleeves have always been a challenge for me in tailoring. I usually try to avoid setting them in after sewing the side seams, but sometimes you don’t have much of a choice — like with this pattern. I had to sew the underarm seams before sewing the sleeve plackets and cuffs.

Which rolls me right into Karen’s latest quiz!

1. What craft skill are you most proud of? Not an entire craft, just a little skill that you feel makes you a practicer of your craft with a capital C.
2. Do you have a secret mistake that you made for ages and when you learned you were doing it wrong you wondered how you managed for so long?
3. Is there an item that you’ve made so many times you feel like an expert? Is there one that even though you’ve done it over and over you feel like an amateur?
4. Would you like to teach your craft? Have you? Do you feel like you’re giving someone a special gift when you do?

1. I’m always proud when I can make a garment I can actually wear, and do wear. I’m proud when something fits and suits me.

2. I still get turned around on slip slip knit (SSK): Do I slip knitwise or purlwise? What is the default? Also, the first time I sewed a tailored blouse, I had the sleeves in backward. I never made that mistake again, though.

3. I don’t feel like an expert on anything, but I do feel like I’m intermediate to advanced on most sewing and knitting. There are some things I have done several times but I don’t do often enough to feel skilled. There are also some things that I do a lot of, but materials can vary a lot so the results also vary. That’s something I just go with.

4. I have taught knitting, sewing, and felting to children and adults. I’ve always enjoyed it and I think students have always learned something, as have I. Even if that something is, “Break the rules. Trust yourself. Make lots of mistakes and learn from them!” I don’t have the headspace to teach right now, though.

I hope you will join in on the quiz!

I was driving home after a storm and pulled over to get a photo of this rainbow.

Last Day of Staycation: A List and some Pics

  1. I framed my felt piece and I love it. Thanks to everyone who left kind comments and bolstered my confidence. My friend Sharon said (in our Mother Artists at Work private group to everyone) “Be proud of your work!” She’s right. We should all be proud of our work.

2. I’m going to try to make 2-3 more pieces before the end of the year. This will help me gauge if a solo show next September is something I can manage.

3. I mended my favorite thrift store cardigan with the help of a Katrinkles’ Darning Loom. It accidentally? came out in the shape of Ohio. When Hannah told me she liked visible mending, I didn’t think I would like it. I was wrong. I like it! The gold is my turmeric dyed Cotswold. Also, elbow patch.

4. Bob and I hiked a total of 20 miles while we were on vacation. I will be applying these to my Move 4 Fair Trade mileage.

5. I voted by mail. I followed all of the instructions and took it in person to the post office. That was on October 7. I have been tracking my ballot, and it still hasn’t been marked as received. If my vote hasn’t been registered as counted by November 2, I guess I will be voting in person on November 3.

These are my anniversary gifts from Bob: a silly shirt that reflects my philosophy of life and the new Bill Callahan album.

Here is our Halloween watched list so far:

I will continue to add to this list and post it again at the end of the month.

Are you watching any spooky or spoopy stuff for Halloween?

A Quiz about Craft Project Management and Low Key F2020

All my projects fit in a corner, and I feel ok about that.

Karen has a new quiz and I’m on it!

Questions:

1. Are you a one project at a time crafter or do you like a variety to suit your mood?

2. Do you reward yourself along the way with a new project after reaching a certain goal?

3. How do you decide which project to work on? Do you require that you work on a less loved project before you work on the one that is really firing you up?

4. How do you know you have too many things going at one time? If you had to chose between a project that is nearly done and a new exciting one which would you pick? Are you a process crafter or a project crafter?

Here are my answers:

1. No limits here. I always have a variety of projects going. But I have to have at least one or two mindless stockinette projects at hand.

2. Occasionally I feel overwhelmed or guilty about the number of my works in progress (WIPs – I’m throwing in explanations for readers who don’t get the knitting lingo) and I might try to finish something and reward myself. But most of the time I just ignore the number of my WIPs, because it’s my hobby, not my job. I said it’s my hobby, not my job. (I can’t hear you!) I said hobby not job! Is this thing on?

3. No requirements about what I have to work on other than I should enjoy myself.

4a. I always have too many projects on the needles. It’s my MO.

4b. I almost always pick the new exciting project rather than resentfully finishing something that isn’t bringing me joy.

4c. I’m a combination of product and process crafter. The finished object (FO) is definitely motivation, but if I’m not going to enjoy the knitting, I’d better not cast on. I have decided to knit the Arrowhead Cardigan (Ravelry link) which is colorwork with steeks (when you cut the knitting to add finishing, in this case the front bands), and it’s rated advanced. Now I’m wondering where I’m going to get the head space to make it.

But look at it. It will be worth it. Right?

Feel free to answer in the comments or if you’re answering on your blog leave a link so we can all read your thoughts on project management.

A friend of mine posted this (YouTube link) and it made me smile so I’m sharing it here. Warning: adult language and ear worm, but pleasurable ear worm, especially right now.

Boo!

Tomorrow is our Blogville Knitters Virtual Knit on Skype. We are having such a good time. I hope you will join us. DM me on Ravelry or Instagram if you need details.