Dec 31, 2010

Safe journeys into the new year

New Year's Eve is always a time of reflection for me.

There are those who say this is a forced time to do this, and there are those who refuse to participate in the symbolism of the changing of the calendar year. To them, I say: Do what you will for yourselves. But pooh-poohing the efforts that others make to inspire themselves is pointlessly negative. It makes no difference what day of the year, or what specific moment, people choose to be inspired and begin anew. I commend people for doing it at any time, and if people choose to do it in the company of others on a date that has cultural significance, then so be it! Power to them, and more power to them for trying to draw inspiration from the world and the people around them. I like to take my inspiration where I can get it, and if others do that, too, then cheers to that. The effort is the important part, not the date, and that's true whether people are on a bandwagon or not.

This year has been pretty tough for me, but — of course! — I did accomplish some things worth appreciating, too. I'm probably going to do my yearly review tomorrow, after this year is officially over ... After all, there are still a few more hours of 2010, and who knows what they'll bring? ;)

One thing this year has taught me is that there's no shame in taking baby steps — they aren't merely small steps, they're also new steps, steps of exploration, of growth, each one a beginning, an experience. I don't have to run to progress (even if I want to run, faster than the speed of light), and I don't have to leap to grow (even if I want to leap — no, to fly!). To move at all is still to move. To do what I can is better than to do nothing.

A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step. — Lao Tzu

I wish you all a safe journey into your new year, or just into tomorrow, whether you celebrate the changing of the calendar year or not. Peace!

Sun falling to the horizon on Christmas daySunset on December 25, 2010 from Madeira Beach, Florida.

Dec 26, 2010

Craft or Bust Week 51 Check-In and Roundup (Dec 19-25)

Hope all the applicable crafty Christmases out there were lovely. ;D

Roundup of Week 50: What We Crafted From Dec 19-25

Last time, on Craft or Bust:

  • Linda made some jewelry, added another store to her "jewelry conquest" (sounds scary ;)), and made spices and bath salts and such at (I assume) Sweetwater Farm.
  • Jessica knit three out of four sock monkey limbs ;), made dinner on Wednesday, made two batches of bake sale cookies and a batch of party cheesy bread (at least it wasn't a cheesy party ... or maybe it was, and that's a good thing!) — except that it got eaten by the dog (dude!).

Check-in for Week 50: What Have You Done Lately? (December 12-18)

My week went like this:

Socks!Sunday, I knit some of the unending size 12 socks and made miso soup with CSA vegetables. Monday, more sock. Tuesday — guess! — more sock. Finished the first one of the pair. Wednesday, I knit an obscene amount of the second sock. Thursday, I baked some beer bread (which I don't think I got any photos of, at all ... ack) using a bottle of pumpkin beer left over from Octoberish, finished the second sock!, and knit on an old abandoned capelet UFO just to do something other than knit socks. Friday, I knit an entire cloche, to cleanse more of the sockiness from my system. ;) I also made an embroidered soap sack for the first mate, and did the first part of making sparkly pomegranate cranberries. Sunday was Christmas, on which I managed not to do any crafting, although I almost knit some of my Wisp. Oh, well. It was a good day anyway.

Sunday, my computer also stopped turning on. Oops. I took it to the shop and they had to send it away for repairs ... but I managed to get it back on Christmas Eve. Yayyy! ;)

So what did you do? Share your own crafty accomplishments from the past week in the comments here. Don't forget to use the standard check-in format on the rules page, and you can also add your photos to the Craft or Bust Flickr pool!

And as always, if you're new to Craft or Bust, check out the CoB rules page and sign up if you like — it's easy!

Dec 19, 2010

Craft or Bust Week 50 Check-In and Roundup (Dec 12-18)

Can you believe there are only two weeks left in the year? The end of CoB 2010 is in sight. Scaaaary. ;)

Roundup of Week 49: What We Crafted From Dec 5-11

Last time, on Craft or Bust:

  • Jessica, my stalwart companion in CoBing, finished the first mitten of a pair except for the thumb, wrapped all the presents she currently had to wrap, and applied to three graduate schools. (Oh, that makes me feel kind of like a slacker. Maybe next year I should start "Get into Grad School or Bust"...)

Check-in for Week 49: What Have You Done Lately? (December 5-11)

This past week for me:

Wisp swatchSunday, I bought yarn for the uberscarf I'm knitting for a friend in NYC and knit on said scarf for about an hour. I also knit on a secret gift project for the first mate (who doesn't read this blog, but I'm going to be secretive anyway — if I don't, he'll start reading it, because my luck works that way ;)). Monday, I swatched for a Wisp with some commercial cashmere singles and killed it just doing that. Yeah. That's why on Tuesday I plied the singles, washed the skein, and, when the skein was finally dry, I cast on the Wisp and knit for several hours. I also made some jury-rigged coat-hanger sock blockers and blocked the Lighthouse Gansey socks. Oh, and I made another batch of wheat noodles for ramen. Nom. Wednesday, I knit more of the Wisp, and then went to the party that I meant to have it finished for, although not with the unfinished Wisp. ;) Thursday, I knit yet more of the Wisp while waiting on the delivery of some yarn for an Insanely Fast Sock-Knitting Quest. Friday, I received said yarn in a clandestine exchange at the local Lush store, and that evening cast on the socks and knit 2 inches of the cuff of sock one. Saturday, I knit all but one inch of the rest of the sock cuff.

So what did you do? Share your own crafty accomplishments from the past week in the comments here. Don't forget to use the standard check-in format on the rules page, and you can also add your photos to the Craft or Bust Flickr pool!

And as always, if you're new to Craft or Bust, check out the CoB rules page and sign up if you like — it's easy!

Dec 17, 2010

Cashmere, multicolored marshmallows, a pin cushion and bread

(Not that those things are really related, except that I have photos of them all from fairly recently. ;))

It's finally winter here in Florida — it's been cold for the past couple of weeks, enough that we've sometimes covered our soft Florida-loving plants with sheets overnight for fear the freeze will get them. ;) (Bet the condo association lady who hates porch decorations loves that!)

That also means it's time for winter foods! Nom nom nom! Here's some awesome bread I baked a while ago and stuck in the freezer while we ate the more sandwich-bread-shaped loaf first:

Round wheat loaf

Round wheat loaf
Look, you can still seed part of the cute "X" I put in the top of the round loaf...

And lately I've been drinking my exceedingly amusing instant hot chocolate with multicolored marshmallows — not as yummy as the not-so-instant stuff, but luxury cocoa has never made me laugh in the grocery store aisle.

Multicolored marshmallows

At this time of year the sunlight comes in from the side windows a lot more than it seems to during the summer, so when I spotted this pin cushion looking like it wanted to be photographed, I had to be obliging:

Pin cushion
Yes, it has fuzz on it, probably from getting too close to something fiber-related. One of the dangers of living in the craft room.

Finally, I had this holiday season's spastic moment of "I wonder if I can knit an entire [insert knit object here] in [obscenely short amount of time]?" which of course takes on ridiculous proportions when my stash includes yarn and fiber objects that aren't even ready to knit. This time I tried to knit a Wisp in about two days, but I spent one of those days waiting for my freshly-plied cashmere yarn to dry. See, I bought this cone of cashmere singles and my spinning mojo has not been strong enough for me to ply it successfully until apparently right before the latest holiday party. But then my drying mojo was not strong enough — alas, the Fan of Stubbornness refused again to be fixed, and so I was relegated to hanging the skein from a ceiling lamp and waiting for it to dry ... until I got impatient enough to stick it by the fire. (Ha-HA! Because we have a fireplace that contains actual fire sometimes at this time of year!)

So anyway, this is what the yarn looks like:

Cashmere 2-ply
There are as yet no photos of the Wisp that are not blurry due to being taken impatiently in low light without a tripod. Speaking of the Wisp, however, I really should go knit some more of it. Otherwise it will slide into that nefarious category of Stuff I Started For a Specific Event and No Longer Have Motivation to Finish Because the Event is Past.

So the knitting needles call. Ta! ;D

Dec 12, 2010

Craft or Bust Week 49 Check-In and Roundup (Dec 5-11)

How are the holiday preparations going with you guys? I'm ... behind but busy. Which is not only probably reflective of where tons of other people are, but sadly, describes my life as well ... ;) But send positive vibes. I'm stewing over a new way to do Craft or Bust next year, and I hope everyone will like it ... but first I have to, you know. Finish it.

Roundup of Week 48: What We Crafted From November 28-Dec 4

Last time, on Craft or Bust:

  • Jessica finished Leah's socks, cast on some mittens, cast on some baby booties and knit one, redid the edge of Markell's hat and received a box of yarn from said Markell (sounds like a good trade-off ;)), finished more than half her headband, and danced to "Dancing Queen," which we'll call creative. ;) Wooo! Have you caught up with your Christas knitting yet? ;D
  • Susie graced us with her divine presence last week, to let us know she made a test design for a skirt made of recycled shirts and is continuing to improve it, made an art quilt, worked on some Christmas cards for a swap, and knit some "possibly the most unattractive slippers in the world," a designation too amusing to not quote verbatim. ;)

Check-in for Week 49: What Have You Done Lately? (December 5-11)

This week was primarily a week of Sock for me. Or maybe a week of S — soap sack, soup and socks? Just ... not all at once.

Impromptu pastrySunday, I made a soap sack, knit some of the second Lighthouse Gansey sock, baked a small strawberry pastry using leftover pie crust dough, and put away some random stuff in the chaotic vortex that is the craft room. ;) Monday, I unsuccessfully hunted for yarn for an uberscarf for a friend in NYC, and knit some more of the sock. Tuesday, I made egg drop soup for the first. Time. Ever!, organized some photos on my hard drive, and knit yet more of the sock. Wednesday, I knit more of the sock (pant pant pant) and made, yes, another bowl of egg drop soup. Different broth this time, though. ;) Thursday was apparently a No Craft Zone. Friday, I made wheat noodles for ramen and dough for two pie crusts. Saturday, I finally finished the Lighthouse Gansey socks. Yayyyyyyy!

So what did you do? Share your own crafty accomplishments from the past week in the comments here. Don't forget to use the standard check-in format on the rules page, and you can also add your photos to the Craft or Bust Flickr pool!

And as always, if you're new to Craft or Bust, check out the CoB rules page and sign up if you like — it's easy!

Dec 5, 2010

Craft or Bust Week 48 Check-In and Roundup (November 28-Dec 4)

Okay, it's December, so I officially declare this the Redemption Round! It doesn't mean much, except that anyone who's done less this year involving CoB goals than they wanted to — as the magical CoB head wizard, I absolve of your CoB laxness! Feel free to come on back and try to keep your goals (or meet new ones) during this, the busiest time of the year. Hey, if you can do it now, you should be able to do it any time, right? ;D


Roundup of Week 47: What We Crafted From November 21-27

Last time, on Craft or Bust...

  • Jessica finished Markell's hat, started knitting a beaded, cabled headband that's her original pattern, got to two inches away from toe decreases in Leah's socks, and helped cook Thanksgiving dinner. Nom nom. ;)

Check-in for Week 48: What Have You Done Lately? (November 28-Dec 4)

What I did this week:

Brian's cup cozySunday, the most actively craft-related thing I did was putting together graphics and the listings for my shawl pin clubs. Monday, I wrote a buttload for NaNoWriMo, though not a big enough buttload to win. Hmph. I also cast on and knit most of Brian's cup cozy. Tuesday was Brian's birthday. I finished the cozy and didn't do much else that was crafty. Wednesday, I apparently did a bunch of admin-type stuff that isn't crafty. ;) Thursday, I edited the templates for the S&C newsletter in MailChimp. That counts, right? Friday, I made a new graphic for the S&C site and made hot and sour soup. Saturday, I published the free cup cozy pattern and added it to Ravelry.

That was an odd week. Looking at my personal list of accomplishments, I did a ton of stuff. But not a lot of it was directly crafty. Hmm.

So what did you do? Share your own crafty accomplishments from the past week in the comments here. Don't forget to use the standard check-in format on the rules page, and you can also add your photos to the Craft or Bust Flickr pool!

And as always, if you're new to Craft or Bust, check out the CoB rules page and sign up if you like — it's easy!

Dec 4, 2010

A quick free knitting pattern: cup cozy, bottom up version

Free knitting pattern, anyone? Here's a quick little one for a cup cozy, knit from the bottom up. It's designed for a tall, handleless (handmade ... nom nom nom) cup because that's what my boyfriend uses all the time, so it won't work for a standard coffee mug — but hey, you could starch it and use it as a pencil cup? ;)

Simple Cup Cozy - Bottom Up Version
Design and pattern by Crystal Calhoun
A Star & Crossbones Knitting Pattern

Brian's cup cozy

This pattern is extremely adaptable to whatever yarn and needles you have, and to whatever cup you need to cover. Use whatever yarn and needle combo makes a fabric that you like; you could even use this project as a stashbuster, or to practice knitting in the round — whatever! It'll come out fine in the end, and if it doesn't, you can rip it out and start over without feeling too bad — it's a tiny project, after all. ;)

As you may have guessed from the name, I intend on knitting a top-down version of this cozy in a commercial yarn, which should help me figure out the real yardage. Stay tuned for that...


  • Worsted weight yarn - or whatever yarn you like
  • Size 5 dpns - or whatever size gives you a fabric you like
  • Yardage — This will vary depending on the weight of yarn, but I used probably less than 30 yds of approximately worsted weight, 2-ply, handspun alpaca/wool blend.


I didn't bother with a gauge swatch, since I was measuring my knitting as I went. In fact, you could use this project as a gauge swatch that actually does something functional at the end.


Measure the diameter of the bottom of your cup. Also measure how far up the cup you want your cozy to go (that is, take a height measurement). Follow the below instructions only as far as they apply to your desired measurements.

You might want to knit to a bottom cozy diameter that's slightly less than the diameter of the bottom of the cup, since the knitting will stretch, and it's better to have it be a bit too small than to have it be too big and fall off your cup, right?

Go forth and knit!

Cast on 4 sts. Divide over 3 or 4 dpns. Join in round without twisting cast-on.

Place a stitch marker to mark the beginning of the round, if you like. (I always cheat and use the yarn tail hanging out of the cast-on as my "marker." When the knitting gets longer and kind of "swallows" the yarn tail, you can pull the tail up between the last stitch of the round and the first stitch of the round, so that it sticks out of the knitting and you can check where the round starts.)

Increase in every stitch (kfb) for three rounds. (If you have trouble controlling the needles at this point — I know I did — you can lay the needles on a table and knit using the table for support until the needles stop flopping around so much.)

Knit 3 rnds plain (all knit stitches).

Inc rnd: Inc in every st.

Knit 2 rnds plain. (Designer's note: I stopped after these two rounds for a bottom diameter of 2.75 inches. Stop wherever you reach the desired diameter, as directed below.)

Knit inc rnd again. Knit 3 rnds plain.

Continue repeating the inc rnd and knitting plain in between each inc rnd, increasing the number of knit rnds after each inc rnd by 1, until you reach the desired size for the bottom of the cozy.

Then, count the number of stitches you have on your needles, and choose a rib pattern that will fit into the number of sts you have.

I ended up with 64 sts, so I could have chosen any rib pattern based on a multiple of 2 or a multiple of 4 sts, like 1x1 rib, 2x2 rib, 4x4 rib or 3x1 rib. I chose 3x1 (k3, p1, and repeat to end).

You can just start knitting away in your rib pattern, or you can work a "turning ridge" of purl stitches before starting the ribbing. I just went straight into the ribbing.

Knit in your ribbing pattern until you reach your desired cozy height. I knit for 3 inches, then knit another half-inch of 1x1 ribbing to create a tighter top edge, since the cup I was knitting for gets bigger as it gets taller. (You may want to try the cozy on your cup while knitting and adjust your target height as seems reasonable.)

Bind off using a stretchy cast-off. I bound off in pattern (k1, p1).

Weave in the yarn tails and enjoy your cup cozy. ;D You can embroider it, sew on it, and otherwise make it awesome, of course. And if you do, I'd love to see pics!

Brian's cup cozy

License/copyright: This pattern and items created from it are intended for personal, noncommercial use only. You're welcome to redistribute the pattern for noncommercial purposes as long as you leave the credits intact. :D If you're interested in using this pattern or the products of this pattern for commercial purposes, please contact the designer at

Dec 1, 2010

The Unguilted Crafter: fighting the urge to feel bad about old projects

Let's talk about abandoned project guilt, shall we? ;D

CJ asked me on a blog post in October if my UFOs (a.k.a. unfinished knitted objects) make me feel guilty. I answered, "They used to make me feel a bit guilty, though I tried to ignore it, because that wasn't really a useful kind of guilt." Then I explained: Now that I craft (including knitting) way more often, I've stopped feeling guilty about my UFOs, because I have reason to believe I'll get to them eventually.

But that doesn't mean unfinished stuff doesn't make me feel bad. What does weigh on me: The abandoned parts of my to-do list. That shadow part of the list that I keep ignoring (but that I refuse to take off the list) even though I rotate the active part. The things that have been sitting on the list so long that if they were knitting projects, they would be UFOs.

To-do list book.
Photo © Koalazymonkey

You know ... things like Like reorganizing the craft room, or cleaning the papers from the Debacle, or sending e-mails I promised to send but that have been languishing in the back of my head instead. Those things, I feel bad about. I wouldn't call it guilt, but they do make me feel antsy, pressured, and unhappy about my slackerdom. (Maybe that is what you would call guilt, but I usually think of guilt as a more distinct feeling, full of actively negative reproach. ;))

Anyway, the other day, when I wasn't looking for it, I stumbled across a way to stop feeling as bad about the Shadow To-Do List. I was doing an exercise to rebuild my belief in myself, and the instructions were basically:

Make a list of everything you've been putting off doing. Everything. Don't leave anything off. Now choose seven of those things — things you CAN realistically do within the span of one day, and they don't have to be difficult things, or even important things — and assign them, one a day, to the next week of your life. On those days, DO THEM. Don't let anything stop you. Don't go to sleep that night not having done your daily task. It doesn't matter what you have to do to accomplish them — do them. Not because you "should," because this isn't a traditional to-do list. Do them because you are rebuilding your ability to DO.

As I made my list, I started to feel oddly better about the entire thing. My list was five typed pages long, but that was okay. Because I saw things on the list that I knew I could do. I could do some of them in five minutes. I could have chosen seven super-easy things — e-mail so-and-so back, put the books by the bed back on the shelf, dust off the tea cabinet — and done them, and it still would have gotten seven things off my back, seven weights off my conscience. Seven. Whole. Things! In a single week. This from a list full of things that have languished without progress for an indeterminate amount of time.

Looking at the list actually made me want to get started right away. But I didn't — because part of the point of the exercise was to do what I said I would do, and if I said I would do something on a specific day, I would do it that day, not a day early or a day late.

And I did it. :D I did one thing a day for seven days, on the days I said I would do them. At the end of it, I felt so encouraged about my ability to do things that I wanted to do it again. I mean — imagine if I did one item from that five-page list every day. I could burn through the entire list (which has been accumulating for years, even!) done in just about eight months. And every one of those days would be a relief.

But in reality, the exercise worked better than I'd hoped. :D Because I did more than seven things. I did the seven things I said I would do on the days I said I'd do them ... and I also snuck in some extra things that I hadn't said I would do. So I actually got eleven things done from the list in a week. If I kept doing that I could finish the entire list in less than six months.

Less than six months to catching up with my life! :D

Of course, the extra things every week would be optional, because adding too much pressure to myself is just transferring the Shadow To-Do List over to the daily to-do list, and that won't work. I've tried it. Doing it the way that works and waiting eight months until five pages of monkeys are off my back is perfectly fine with me.

And okay — I admit that's not exactly realistic, either. Some of the things on the Shadow To-Do List are multi-day tasks. Like reorganizing the craft room — that's not something I can do in one day. So I have to break it down into things I know I can do in one day. (Holy crappity, it's that old "break up larger projects into smaller chunks" thing I never had to consciously do before my productivity got all gunked up. ;))

But isn't it odd? Making a list that's basically a litany of my failures somehow freed me to be productive. I guess it's kind of like when they say the first step to fixing a problem is admitting you have a problem. And being able to see my put-off stuff in list form makes it look tackle-able. Then I can see that the list has an end. It is finite.

And because, while listing, I knew the next step was choosing easily-doable items to definitely do, I had no psychological urge to pressure myself into working on the list.

So, all around, making a list that highlights my slackerdom actually worked out to be a positive thing in the end, because I followed it up with definite and doable action.

It also not only gets stuff done so I can stop feeling bad about it, but it also helps me trust myself more. Because, like I mentioned at the beginning of the post, when I know that I can trust myself to eventually finish a project, I don't have to feel overly bad about putting that project on pause.

Craft or Bust has worked for me on that principle, and making this Shadow To-Do List has worked (so far) for the non-crafty stuff.

So, fellow crafters, maybe the list will work for you, too. Even if all you list is crafty stuff, and you promise to work just a little bit on one crafty project a day — or a week? Like in Craft or Bust? ;) — as long as you make absolutely sure you follow through, I bet it will help get those guilt-monkeys off your back, too. :D

Or maybe not! Everyone is different. And maybe you've tried something like this already? Maybe you've found your own way to refuse to feel bad about your unfinished projects and Shadow To-Do List?

Nov 28, 2010

Craft or Bust Week 47 Check-In and Roundup (November 21-27)

Hope everyone's Thanksgiving was lovely (assuming that you celebrate it, and if you don't, I hope your Thursday was lovely). I think I might do a Craft or Bust Redemption Round right at the end of the year for people who are feeling behind on their CoBing duties — as a reminder that CoB is about doing what you can, and being positive, and enjoying yourself. Any crafting is better than no crafting.

Roundup of Week 46: What We Crafted From November 14-20

Last time, on Craft or Bust...

  • Jessica cast on some self-striping socks for her friend Leah and knit about two inches, made it halfway through Markell's snake hat, and finished the toy elephant she started earlier this month. Woohoo!

Check-in for Week 47: What Have You Done Lately? (November 21-27)

What I did this week:

Homemade pie crustOn Sunday, I finally finished knitting the first Lightjouse Gansey sock, cast on the second one, and knit some of the original scarf pattern I've been working on. Monday, I made lemon poppy seed muffins (from a mix, boo ;)), finished the scarf (yay!), and knit a swatch to test edgings out on. Tuesday, I knit test edgings on the swatch, blocked the scarf, and knit more of the Lighthouse Gansey sock. Wednesday, I baked two loaves of white bread, made some whole wheat noodles from scratch, made two sweet potato pies, and made fried rice. (Guess it was food day...) Thursday, I scheduled an Etsy shop sale and had Thanksgiving. Isn't that enough? ;) Oh, I wrote for NaNoWriMo super-belatedly, too. Friday, I wove on the tails on the scarf and photographed it. Saturday, I wrote a cleaned-up draft of the scarf pattern and wrote for NaNoWriMo.

Your turn — share your own crafty accomplishments from the past week in the comments here. Don't forget to use the standard check-in format on the rules page, and you can also add your photos to the Craft or Bust Flickr pool!

And as always, if you're new to Craft or Bust, check out the CoB rules page and sign up if you like — it's easy!

Nov 25, 2010

A holiday gift for you! And happy Thanksgiving. :D

Happy Thanksgiving to my American brethren (and to anyone else who happens to be celebrating today ;)) — and happy Thursday to everyone else! Regardless of what holidays you celebrate, here's a gift to start them off right: Get 20% off all handwovens in my Etsy shop through the end of November!

On this day of gratitude and appreciation and yummy yummy noms, I wish you a crafty one. ;D Most of my crafting lately seems to have been food-related, but I guess it is that time of year.

Happy happy!

Thanksgiving baking
My Thanksgiving baking: Two sweet potato pies and two loaves of bread. 'Twas an epic baking day.

Nov 23, 2010

Will you help me do the impossible?

This month is National Novel Writing Month. If by chance the rumor-mill of the Internet hasn't bludgeoned you with that idea till you're sick, and if by chance you don't know what that means, it means this: Those of us who are crazy enough are trying to write 50,000 words of novelish fiction in the 30 days of November.

I've written 3,354. That leaves 46,646 words to go ... in seven days.

Sound crazy? It absolutely is.

But I have another goal — a less crazy one. And you can help me with this one AND with the crazy one at the same time.

This is how: My NaNoWriMo fundraising team needs $65 to reach our fundraising goal for the month. The money we raise goes toward free creative writing programs held all over the world by the people who run NaNoWriMo.

For every dollar donated through my page before December 1, I will absolutely commit to writing 100 more words before the end of the month. The more you donate, the more I write. And the more you donate, the more creative writing gets done out there somewhere in the world.

Your donation will be tax-deductible, because the Office of Letters and Light, NaNoWriMo's parent organization, is a registered nonprofit.

How about it? You can help me, my team, and other people all over the world who dream of being great writers — just make a donation, however small. To donate, go to my page and click the "Sponsor me!" button near the top right.

As a bonus, if you forward me a copy of your donation confirmation e-mail, I will send you a coupon code good toward anything in my Etsy shop. Send your donation confirmation e-mails to crystal at (replacing the "at" with the @ sign in your e-mail).

If we reach our fundraising goal — and we can raise $65 in a week, right? ;D That's just 13 people donating $5 each! — before December 1, I'll send an extra surprise to anyone who forwards me their donation confirmation.

So if you're a supporter of creative dreams, of great writing, of having fun, and of challenging limitations — please make a donation, even just a tiny one. Every dollar counts — for 100 words and quite a bit more. ;)

Thank you muchly! ;D

Nov 21, 2010

Craft or Bust Week 46 Check-In and Roundup (November 14-20)

Less than 10 weeks to go till the end of the year. Wow. What do you think — should we do CoB again next year? ;D

Roundup of Week 45: What We Crafted From November 7-13

Last time, on Craft or Bust...

  • Jessica got a box of yarn in the mail and started a hat with snakey cables for her friend Markell. She also worked on her Mom's socks all week and finished them on Saturday. Ooh, and she made bread! What kind of bread? Any recipes to share? ;)

Check-in for Week 46: What Have You Done Lately? (November 14-20)

Me? Well...

Noodles in progress, take 2On Sunday, I knit on the original-pattern scarf I've been working on. Monday, I worked on spinning a custom art yarn order, knit more of the scarf, and played with my slightly-abandoned Drupal test site. Tuesday, yet more scarf, and I also attempted to start a wild yeast sourdough culture, and baked two loaves of whole wheat bread. (Practicing for Thanksgiving, for which I have volunteered to contribute bread...) Wednesday, I made soup. Thursday, I spun some more of the custom yarn order and made ramen noodles from scratch. :D Friday, I knit a tiny bit on the scarf. Saturday, I finished the art yarn and knit more on the scarf. (End already, scarf!)

Your turn — share your own crafty accomplishments from the past week in the comments here. Don't forget to use the standard check-in format on the rules page, and you can also add your photos to the Craft or Bust Flickr pool!

And as always, if you're new to Craft or Bust, check out the CoB rules page and sign up if you like — it's easy!

Nov 18, 2010

Gratuitious noodle photography!

I admit it. I've been feeling down in the dumps lately, which is why I've been so quiet. But today I cheered myself up by making my very own ramen noodles, from scratch!

Some of you may be aware that this is my second attempt at homemade noodles. My first attempt was made of pie crust that had been sitting in the fridge for a while. I figured that it was dough, and noodles are made from dough — so I could probably turn it into some form of edible noodle, right? And if a little half-Asian girl is desperate enough for a noodle bowl that she turns to pie crust, who's to point fingers? This is what I made the first time:

Desperation noodles

...before I ruined them, or maybe they were born ruined, their tempting noodley appearance just a falsehood to lure me into trusting them. They tasted like soggy, sweet glue. (That's about on par with what happened when I tried to use nori sheets as a ramen additive. Yeah. Um. Unless you really like the taste of oceany oceany seaweed — like REALLY — I don't recommend doing that.) I have a suspicion that I may have neglected to actually get the water all the way to boiling before I threw them in ... or maybe there's just something in pie crust that makes it not work as pasta.

Anyway, I tried again from actual scratch tonight. You know. Like, I mixed flour and egg and water and salt, and kneaded it until I was sure I was going to pound it into mush. Then I flattened it out with a rolling pin, cut it up, and boiled it — harsh, I know, but it turned this:

Noodles in progress, take 2

...into this:

Noodles in progress, take 2

Which obviously has a couple of extra things in it. ;) And it was very nom.

I basically used these directions on Instructables, although my measurements weren't very precise. The only thing I bothered measuring was the flour; everything else, I just guessed at. Which meant I had kind of soggy dough to start with and I'm not sure if that's what supposed to happen, but I kept throwing flour at everything that wanted to stick, and kneaded and kneaded and kneaded, and eventually the dough looked kind of like a very small lump of rather elastic bread dough.

And while I did attempt to use parchment paper at first, it didn't get along well with the initially-super-sticky dough ... so suffice to say the kitchen counter now basically has swathes of dried glue on it.

But hey, it'll come off. And hey! I made pasta! Noodles. Same thing. Next time I need to figure out a way to boil the noodles IN the broth with the vegetables and tofu, because I miss the broth flavor being in the noodles. That might just amount to using an obscene amount of broth (so there's room for the noodles to move around in the pot AND room to fit the other ingredients), but someone who can make noodles from scratch should be able to find a use for some extra broth, right? ;D

I know what I want my next noodley leap forward to be ... but I'm not telling until I'm more certain I can actually do it. Wahahaha! The noodle-maker has a noodle mystery. ;)

Nov 14, 2010

Craft or Bust Week 45 Check-In and Roundup (November 7-13)

Oops. I had another quiet blog week, didn't I? Get on the ball, me!

Roundup of Week 44: What We Crafted From October 31-November 6

Last time, on Craft or Bust...

  • Jessica started to lose track of her days, and so did I ... Are we syncing our craft cycles? ;) She thinks, though that she knit the heels and started the gusset decreases of her Mom's socks; cast on a pink elephant toy for a friend's daughter; finished Karl's gloves, wrote up the pattern, and put it in her Ravelry store, and bought beads for a headband and wrote a pattern draft for it.

Check-in for Week 45: What Have You Done Lately? (November 7-13)

Last week...

A full bobbinSunday, Monday, and Tuesday, I suffered from slackerdom. Uh-oh! But Wednesday, I jumped back on the ball and answered a Craigslist post about spinning some alpaca fleeces and bought wool yarn for a scarf pattern I'm writing. Thursday, I cast on the aforementioned scarf and knit about eight inches of it. Friday, I skeined two bobbins of singles and knit another eight inches or so of the scarf. Saturday, I acquired a new-to-me vintage sewing book from my friend Debby's estate sale, and bought some more baking yeast. ;D

Your turn — share your own crafty accomplishments from the past week in the comments here. Don't forget to use the standard check-in format on the rules page, and you can also add your photos to the Craft or Bust Flickr pool!

And as always, if you're new to Craft or Bust, check out the CoB rules page and sign up if you like — it's easy!

Nov 10, 2010

Semi-wordless Wednesday: two loaves and three knits

A pictorial tour of what I've been up to lately:

The swatch!
Swatched for a new knitting pattern. Can you guess what it'll be when it's done?

Lighthouse Gansey sock
Almost finished this Lighthouse Gansey sock. Must ... keep ... knitting...

UFO vest
Finally wove in the tails on this long-unfinished vest. Yayyy for finishing five-year-old projects!

Super-flat bread
Baked a super-flat but tasty loaf of bread. Note to self: Use fresh yeast.

English muffin bread
And then baked a less-flat but also slightly less tasty (though still good) loaf of bread. Fresh yeast = taller bread. Who'd've thought?

English muffin bread (the crumb)
Here's the inside. Nom nom nom.

I also read a book and went to a birthday party (thing), but those aren't crafty ... they're just things crafters do sometimes to be able to say they don't always have their heads in a pile of yarn or a box of beads. ;)

Nov 7, 2010

Craft or Bust Week 44 Check-In and Roundup (October 31-November 6)

Almost to the end of the year! How many days left till Christmas? ;)

Roundup of Week 43: What We Crafted From October 24-30

Last time, on Craft or Bust...

  • My stalwart CoB companion Jessica sewed together the pieces of her Fair Isle pillow, finished the soakers for Courtney's baby and knit a matching hat — this is a DUCK outfit! ;D — and retook the GRE with greater success. Yay!

Check-in for Week 42: What Have You Done Lately? (October 31-November 6)

And last week?

English muffin bread (the crumb)Well ... On Sunday, I knit on the Lighthouse Gansey sock. Monday, I listed some items in a new shop that maybe I'll unveil later. ;) Tuesday, I wrote for NaNoWriMo and finally registered for Vogue Knitting Live! Yay! Wednesday, I made some bread, swatched for and cast on a new pattern, and knit some more of the Lighthouse Gansey sock. Thursday's notes appear to have disappeared into oblivion. Friday, I knit some more on the new pattern, made English muffin bread, and made hot and sour soup with our new CSA veggies! Saturday, I knit some more of that darn sock.

Guess it's been a somewhat laid back week in the aftermath of the Hallogreen, huh?

Your turn — share your own crafty accomplishments from the past week in the comments here. Don't forget to use the standard check-in format on the rules page, and you can also add your photos to the Craft or Bust Flickr pool!

And as always, if you're new to Craft or Bust, check out the CoB rules page and sign up if you like — it's easy!

Nov 3, 2010

Are you one of October's giveaway winners?

Wristwarmers pattern sneak peek

In October, there was indeed a giveaway.

And yesterday, I did indeed generate random numbers using the ever-reliable generator at

So here, indeed, are the results:


But wait! If you didn't win the wish list giveaway, the crafty pirates still love you! Here's my gift to you: If you buy something from the Star and Crossbones Etsy shop before November 11, and include the message "I wish you would give me free shipping!" in the "message to seller" area when you check out, I'll refund your shipping cost. Or if you like, you can send me a convo with which item(s) you're going to buy and I'll take the shipping cost off the listing(s) for you.


What do you guys want to see in the next giveaway? ;D

Nov 1, 2010

Live at the Hallogreen

So this past weekend we did the Hallogreen in Daytona Beach, a Green Halloween event. It was a nice day, bright and sunny without being sweat-inducing, even if we didn't sell much. One of the hazards of doing craft shows is ending up in an odd place on the site, which we did this year, through the wonder of last-minute changes. Eh. It happens.

The event is done in the same location as the Saturday farmer's market — nom nom nom veggies. I didn't get a chance to wander around much, though. I was too busy spinning two whole bobbins of yarn. All in all, it's a fun event, even when I don't sell too much. (Le sigh.) I'll give it another year and we'll see what happens — the third time might just be the charm.

Here's the photo tour of the Hallogreen this year.

Handspun yarn on the table in the booth.

Another angle on the yarniness.

Shawl pins, up close
Shawl pins! On my first handwoven triloom shawl.

Handwoven stuffs
Handwoven thingies.

Glowy chain mail bracelets
The first mate's lovely chain mail glow bracelets.

Knit bracelets
And my knit bracelets.

Drop spindles
Drop spindles for spinning yarn...

A full bobbin
Or you could just watch me spin on my wheel instead. ;)

The booth
The booth, with the first mate in residence.

Tampa skyline on the drive home
And here's Tampa on the drive home. Nearly back!

It's always nice to get out of the house and meet new people, anyway.

Now ... to schedule the shows for November!

Oct 31, 2010

Craft or Bust Week 43 Check-In and Roundup (October 24-30)

Happy Halloween to all. :D

Roundup of Week 42: What We Crafted From October 17-23

Last time, on Craft or Bust...

  • Jessica finished Michelle's hat, knit four Karl glove fingers, knit about two inches of the Christmas socks for her mom, knit a coffee mug cozy, and started knitting some soakers for her coworker Courtney's son.

Check-in for Week 42: What Have You Done Lately? (October 24-30)

Last week...

Virginia's scarf...On Sunday, I skeined and washed the red/black Corriedale singles, picked up the neckline stitches on the vest UFO, photographed and frogged an old UFO scarf, wrote a quick little knitting pattern draft, and knit on the Lighthouse Gansey sock to the beginning of the gussets. Monday, I washed the frogged UFO yarn, made a new front page graphic for the S&C Web site, finished knitting the UFO vest neckline ribbing, and knit a little more of the sock. Tuesday, I knit the stem and vine for a UFO pumpkin, spun a skein of rainbow organic yarn and a skein of yellow variegated yarn, wove a triloom triangle, and almost finished knitting the Chichi tea towel. Wednesday, I wove, embroidered and sewed together a soap sack, wove another triloom triangle, spun and dyed a skein of wool (it ended up aqua), dyed some wool for a custom order, spun another skein of Corriedale, and finished knitting the body of the Chichi tea towel. Thursday, I crocheted aroun the edge of the Chichi tea towel, then went to Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream and rode roller coasters. ;D Friday, we packed up the car and went to Daytona for the Hallogreen craft show. Saturday, we did the show, and I spun two bobbins of variegated blue-green wool yarn.

Your turn — share your own crafty accomplishments from the past week in the comments here. Don't forget to use the standard check-in format on the rules page, and you can also add your photos to the Craft or Bust Flickr pool!

And as always, if you're new to Craft or Bust, check out the CoB rules page and sign up if you like — it's easy!

Oct 28, 2010

Evidence of pre-show madness

I always go a little nuts right before a craft show, and start cramming lots of production time into the last few days before the event. Time creeps up on me now like it never did when I was young — younger? — and I'm always like, "Man, I meant to make 3,000 more things before this show! Now I only have time to make 300!" ;)

Here are pics of some of my most recent 300. There are actually more finished things than I have photos of right now, as most of the newly-finished stuff is in various states of drying. (I've actually spun more yarn in the past two days than I have in the past two months, I think.) Maybe my quicksilver side comes back in fits and starts ... that happen to coincide with the last three days before every craft show.

Rainbow yarn, in progress
Proto-yarn, waiting to be spun.

Rainbow yarn
Yarn in progress, still on the bobbin. (Pardon the blurriness. I didn't want to stop long enough to set up the tripod.)

Rainbow yarn
Finished rainbow yarn!

Embroidered soap sack
And my first embroidered soap sack. Embroidery depicts ... uh ... a free-form weird thing — but don't laugh too hard; it's not bad for a first try. ;)

There will definitely be photos of the other things I've made, but I'm not sure I'll manage to post them before the Hallogreen on Saturday. I may be totally absorbed by the pre-craft-show madness.

Oct 26, 2010

The UFOs are coming alive!

No, I'm not talking about the latest UFO scare in New York. I'm talking about all the unfinished objects in my knitting queue that have suddenly reared their heads and demanded to be worked on.

Just today, while I was rebelling against the idea of starting a large project I'll need to finish before the Daytona Hallogreen this weekend, I pulled an old knitted, felted pumpkin project out of the UFO pile, thinking I could motivate myself into a larger project if I finished something small — like one or two of the little wedge-type sections that are going to be the pumpkin's body.

(The pattern, by the way, is Jordana Paige's pumpkin pattern from Knitty.)

Felted pumpkin UFO
This color of orange is not the orange you're looking for. Move along.

But then I realized the pumpkin sections were all done. All that was left to knit were the stem and the vine. Well, sheesh. I knocked those out in well under an hour. Ta-da!

UFO pumpkin, now with stem and vine
Trust this orange more than the other. I remembered to switch the camera settings for this photo. Good orange. Good.

Now I just need to weave in the tails, sew the thing together, felt it, and stuff it. Maybe it'll even show up at the Hallogreen this weekend, so that I can justify having worked on it this week instead of making product. ;)

I also recently excavated an old knitted vest I tore through when I was originally knitting it, except that I got stuck on picking up and knitting the ribbing. See, I started knitting it back when I was first learning, and I had virtually no experience with pick-up-and-knit, and I'd decided I was going to do the main body of the vest in a completely different weight of yarn than the pattern called for. We did all the math so I could knit the body, and that came out fine, but then when I got to the ribbing, I had no clue how to pick up the right number of stitches to make sure the ribbing — which I was doing in the original weight of yarn that the pattern called for — came out right.

The other day I was staring at the remarkably cluttered craft room, in which said UFO vest was sitting underneath my spinning chair, and I realized I could just arbitrarily pick up stitches along the armholes and neckline however I wanted, and knit the ribbing, and if I didn't like the result, I could rip it out and redo it. Duhhh.

This tactic worked, and the vest is now sitting and waiting for the ends to be woven in. No pictures yet ... but send knitwear-photographing vibes, and maybe I'll take some soon.

Oct 24, 2010

Craft or Bust Week 42 Check-In and Roundup (October 17-23)

Next CoB check-in will be the last day of October — Halloween! What are you doing that day?

Roundup of Week 41: What We Crafted From October 10-16

Last time, on Craft or Bust...

  • Jessica got a big box of Knit Picks yarn in the mail — yay! Yarn! She also finished Kelsey's hat, started another hat for her friend Michelle and made it almost to the crown decreases, knit more of Karl's gloves and rechecked the math to make sure the fingers will be okay ;), and worked on her grad school application materials. Go Jessica! (How do you calculate whether you're behind in your Christmas knitting, anyway?)

Check-in for Week 42: What Have You Done Lately? (October 17-23)

Lighthouse Gansey socks, Day 1This week, on Sunday, I sorted some of the mess that is the craft room, spun a little bit of lumpy rescued Merino/silk fiber, and finished knitting the test-knitted sock. FINALLY. Monday, I sent comments to the designer of the test-knitted sock, knit some more of the tea towel, and knit more of the Argante shawl (still stuck in that second increase section). Tuesday, I spun a skein of (I think) Corriedale singles, and finally added the ribbing to one armhole of a long-abandoned UFO vest. Wednesday, I did some general shop maintenance stuff, tweaked the blog, etc., but nothing super-crafty. Thursday, I prettified the gallery page of the Web site, finished the ribbing on the second armhole of the UFO vest, got yarn in the mail for a Will Work for Yarn swap, cast on a Lighthouse Gansey sock for the WWFY swap, and knit almost to the end of the lighthouse chart. I also bought a new domain name, started playing with Drupal, and read an entire (young adult ;)) book. Friday, I replaced the photos on a shawl pin listing and wrote up a knitting pattern design schedule. Saturday, I knit a tiny bit of the Lighthouse Gansey sock and spent the afternoon and evening volunteering at the Sweetwater Farm Planter's Ball — chopping up salad vegetables and then taking entrance fees.

Your turn — share your own crafty accomplishments from the past week in the comments here. Don't forget to use the standard check-in format on the rules page, and you can also add your photos to the Craft or Bust Flickr pool!

And as always, if you're new to Craft or Bust, check out the CoB rules page and sign up if you like — it's easy!

Oct 20, 2010

Help us get famous!

Or at least featured. ;)

Want to help me fight off the evil encroaching poverty-monster? You can help us get featured on the Florida Etsy Street Team's blog for all of next month — the big huge holiday shopping month! — by going and voting for my shawl pin in the current monthly challenge contest. It's even the top item, so you don't have to scroll at all. How convenient is that?

Just go here and click "Copper shawl pin" in the voting box at the top right, in the sidebar. My shawl pin looks like this:

Shawl pin

And yes, that is a new style of shawl pin that I've been making lately! Thanks so much for asking! ;) I need to restock the shop with a few more colors, so if you have a favorite semiprecious gemstone or a favorite color, leave me a comment here and let me know what it is ... and maybe you'll see it in the shop soon!

And don't forget there's a giveaway going on right now, too. Check out the knitting pattern wish list giveaway details here if you haven't already entered!

Oct 17, 2010

Craft or Bust Week 41 Check-In and Roundup (October 10-16)

Anyone else out there have the sniffly-coughy bug that's going around? For once, the first mate and I both have it. Oh, for some elderberry syrup...

Roundup of Week 40: What We Crafted From October 3-9

Last time, on Craft or Bust...

  • Jessica cast on a Brambles hat for a friend named Kelsey, and knit about half; finished the cuffs of her mom's socks and started the lacy legs; and made it through the gussets of Karl's gloves and almost ot the base of the fingers. And even though she thought she did more than that, that sounds like a lot to me! ;)

Check-in for Week 41: What Have You Done Lately? (October 10-16)

Shawl pinSunday, I did the SaSS Bash with the Disco Dolls, at which I spun a whole bobbin of fattish red yarn. Yay! I also knit one more repeat of the second increase section of the Argante shawl. Monday, I transferred my semi-abandoned test-knitted hooded shrug off the broken circular needle cable and onto a new circular needle, then finished the ribbed edging. Which I am probably going to have to rip out and re-do because it looks ruffly. HMPH. Oh, well. Tuesday, I wove a triloom triangle with the red yarn from the SaSS Bash, and discovered that lo, it is fuzzy like mohair and likes to stick to itself. Oy. I also made a new Project Wonderful ad, made three shawl pins, and knit two reps of the leg pattern on a test-knit sock. Wednesday, I made another new PW ad, knitted on the Argante, and finally got out of the test-knit sock's leg and into the heel flap. Thursday, I picked up copper wire and beads at Jo-Ann, knit through the heel flap, turned the heel and made it into the gussets of that sock, and cast on a ChiChi tea towel. Friday, I knit more of the tea towel, made a new shawl pin, entered the Etsy FEST monthly challenge, finished another shawl pin and a charm pin, and spun some black BFL singles. Saturday, I knit yet more of the tea towel, finished another shawl pin and two charm pins, got out of the gussets in That Sock and into the foot, knit on the Argante shawl, and skeined, measured yardage, and center-pull-balled the black BFL. Whew.

Your turn — share your own crafty accomplishments from the past week in the comments here. Don't forget to use the standard check-in format on the rules page, and you can also add your photos to the Craft or Bust Flickr pool!

And as always, if you're new to Craft or Bust, check out the CoB rules page and sign up if you like — it's easy!

Oct 15, 2010

Wholesome knitting for the home

There's something refreshing about knitting a simple, straightforward, pretty item that's going to get used in a practical way. It's sort of — wholesome and nourishing, and re-energizing in a not-overstimulated way, like a knitter's Master Cleanse. ;) (Of course, I've never done the Master Cleanse, but it reminds me of what people have said about it. Moving on...)

I call it the Palate Cleanser because it's helping me get my taste for my larger, more complicated projects back, but it's really a ChiChi Tea Towel from Yarnplay at Home.

ChiChi Tea Towel

A super-simple knit in what They like to call "dishcloth cotton," and it's strangely addictive. I may end up knitting a whole drawer full of these.

Oct 12, 2010

And the bash was a blast

It's inevitable: Every time I have a craft event coming up, I end up doing it on virtually no sleep. It's not nerves, either; it's cats. I don't know how they know there's going to be an event the next day (sure, I move boxes around before an event, but I move boxes at other times, too), but they invariably go nuts the night before a craft show or other vendy event where I'll need my wits about me. This time the upstairs neighbor's cat even got into the act by climbing up our window screen at six a.m. I guess it's like when I was in high school, and every time an audition was coming up, I'd get sick just in time for it — even when I didn't know there was one coming up, I swear. I'll just have to accept that when I am doing any event as a vendor, I will always be slightly crazier than usual and more than slightly sleep-deprived.

Other than the apparently compulsory lack of sleep, the SaSS Bash went reasonably well. Sales were slow, but socializing was not, and I met a ton of great people, listened to good music, and ate my first pear champagne cupcake and my first red velvet cupcake (courtesy of Frostings, Inc.). As I told the organizers: It was probably the most fun I've ever had making that little money. ;)

We set up in the old 1910 streetcar barn on the river while it was still sunny outside. Have to say, I loved the lighting in there in the afternoon. Wish I could have that lighting all the time for my product photography.

The booth setup
The first mate crafted away on his chain mail stuff while I wrapped up the last of booth setup. Oh, yeah, and took his picture.

The spinning wheel got some exercise.

Fiber + spinning wheel

Fiber + spinning wheel
Yes. This is my lap. Plus fiber.

Then the wheel got tricked out with glow sticks, and let me tell you, I've been wanting to do that for a while, but this is the first nighttime event we've done. Finally.

Spinning wheel has glow-bling!
Is this a little disco-esque? If so, it's appropriate, considering the event was organized by the Disco Dolls.

And with that red fiber up there, I spun an entire bobbin of yarn without even trying (which is officially the first time I've done that at any event). Here's the yarn after I got it home:

The SaSS Bash Yarn

I even made a sale on Etsy while I was away, which was pretty amusing (and luckily, I didn't sell something out of the shop that I also sold at the event ... though that would have served me right for forgetting, in my sleep-deprived state, to put the shop on vacation ;)).

So all in all, it was a pretty productive time. Woo to that.

On to the next!
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