It is the Christmas season... so I have started creating things for my relatives. I've started with a pair of mittens for my husband. They aren't quite like ordinary mittens, they're a concept introduced to me by my mom: lobster mittens.
While I'm not a huge fan of them for myself, I either need all of my fingers in one place, or all separate. But my husband isn't quite that picky and likes the added flexibility of the separated index finger. The mitten does look pretty huge with my hand over it, but it is made for my husband!
I think these are turning out pretty great, and I love that I'm doing them in red. Since they technically are a prototype, I am making them in my standard way: They're done with moss stitch and have the ribbing surrounding the wrist. These are turning out a completely different style than what I would normally do, so the consistency makes them mine.
I am getting through them quite nicely, and I like that these are a reasonably fast pattern. I've perfected the techniques I use as well, which is making it much easier to minimize and eliminate any gaps between fingers or surrounding the thumb.
I absolutely love knitting in the round, and I am really excited to see how these and my upcoming projects will come in the next few weeks. I'm also very excited to get things going full steam ahead for Christmas and the holiday season.
I can't wait to see what else I come up with and with our lack of snow here, I may even get some other types of projects completed! Can't wait to see what the holidays will continue to bring through the pipeline!
Today is the big day in the Black Friday / Cyber Monday sandwich that focuses on promoting small and local businesses. I absolutely love Small Business Saturday! The idea of supporting small and local companies absolutely tickles me, and I try to do so in my regular life as much as possible.
With so many small and local places being bought out by large corporations, it is nice to have a day to celebrate the small businesses who have been able to survive - and in some cases thrive - through all of the hardship and uncertainty in recent years. So, I encourage everyone to support the small companies not just today, but whenever there is a need to find something special.
For my small business, I am adding another product today! I realized a couple things: I didn't currently have anything that integrated two colors in one pattern, and I love coffee!
Enter my coffee cozie! It's really cute, basically a chunky knit sweater, and has a taper that makes it fit cups a little better. I went with a classic snowflake pattern on this one. It's just the right size for knitting it in the round, and it fits with our chilly winter months (which is also great for Minnesotans who aren't so into oceanic conservation but still enjoy a steaming cup on the way to work).
It's a great way to go: it'll keep coffee warm, keep you from burning your hands, and is washable and reusable. But the big one for me is keeping the coffee warm. I'm planning to add a few other coffee related warmers and things over the next few days.
But no matter where you shop, search, and scrounge, remember to please buy local today! The deals might not be quite as grand, but the benefits to the community are huge!
And on a side note.... the next time I show that coffee pot I'm hoping it will be red. Appliance paint, here I come!
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I'll look at restaurants today!
- What is your favorite type of food? (i.e. Italian, Mexican, etc.)
If I had to pick: brinner. I love eating breakfast for dinner! Bacon, hashbrowns, sausage, etc. There is almost no brinner food that I don't love.
- What is the name of your favorite restaurant?
Not sure I can pick a single favorite, but we go to Mickey's Diner in St. Paul a lot (Willy's on West 7th, not the one in downtown). Great prices, and they make amazing hashbrowns. O'Brien's hashbrowns / O'Brien's Special: one of my favorite things to eat.
- Do you like fast-food?
I can't say I prefer it, but it really depends on where it is. Franchise fast food is so hit or miss, and I don't rule out an entire franchise based on one location (The McDonald's in Inver Grove Heights on the corner of 80th and Cahill is definitely the nicest fast food service in the Mpls/St. Paul area).
- Do you prefer to be alone or in a group when you eat out?
Well, not alone. That's a little weird. But I have a hard time conversing with everyone if it's more than probably 4 or 5 people. 6 is manageable.
- Do the waiters/waitresses at your favorite restaurant know you by name?
If not by name, by order. When we go to Mickey's, if Brian is working our Diet Cokes beat us to the table and he remembers that I like my hashbrowns extra crispy and my husband doesn't like lettuce on his Sputnik. He's forgot to nix it before, but Brian remembered. It was fantastic.
In the hopes that everyone had a great Thanksgiving, my husband and I have had the opportunity for a great day! It started off very casual: sleeping in and watching the parade. We had brunch with our AMAZING roommates: I made pancakes, and we were finally able to dip into some homemade syrups from my husband's aunt and uncle. It was fantastic.
We had a pretty relaxed afternoon, headed to my in-laws place, then we went to some relative's place. We had plenty of the traditional Thanksgiving foods: turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing...
We swung by my mom's place (new counters go in the kitchen in a few short hours!), and made another stop. All in all, we had a pretty nice day, a lot more relaxed than holidays past, and it was good to see some of the people we haven't been able to connect with in a while.
Anyway, I'm not just here to dictate about my day... Today is the big day! We're starting the Project AWARE sale today!
To kick off the sale for the holiday season, and to promote oceanic awareness, I am introducing a new product! He turned out SUPER FUN!! It's a Christmas-themed shark!So, for my crochet Santa shark, he is the two main Christmas colors: green and red. He has a the green body so he can have the traditional red Santa hat. All of the fins are still in the same places as before, but the color variation and the hat definitely make him unique. He is also not just crochet: I am a firm believer in anything stretch to be made in a knit, so I did the hat in a moss stitch knit pattern. Overall, it turned out fantastic! I do love this little guy. With the hat, he has both of my signature moves: moss stitch in the hat, and the same deep purple eyes.He is already available in the Marketplace, and is the perfect addition to kicking off the Project AWARE sale! Proceeds will be donated on all of the crochet animals starting now! I can't wait to see what these handmade trinkets and toys will help to provide to preserve the animals and habitats they are modeled for! Thank you to all who help me donate with a purchase!
Whew. Yesterday was quite a day! We got a lot of great progress done on the kitchen remodel! Since the cabinets are staying, the biggest challenge was getting the countertops out without damaging any of the cabinets.
One of the biggest obstacles was getting the sink out - aside from clearing the counters, this was definitely the first big step.
Water has been turned off to the kitchen, and the old faucet was disconnected. The sink was disconnected from the counters and lifted out. Sounds simple enough, but all of the plumbing does have to remain in tact for the new sink.
For the most part, the counters were just lifted out of their spaces: the old glue that previously held them on had dried in such a way that they could just be lifted right off. So, that part was made a little easier.
The biggest unexpected challenge was in removing the console to the security system. It was wired through two different panels and the phone line. So, the whole assembly was taken apart piece by piece. All of the wiring and installation was done behind the wall, so getting to it was extra challenging.
Once that was out, the holes in the wall were patched. Once dry, it'll be sanded, sealed, and backsplash ready! The real kicker to that: once dry. Hopefully, it will be dry enough soon!
The cabinets have been cleaned, and the kitchen is now shut down until Friday when the new counters come in!
The counters are coming in Silestone Mahogany. There is a decent enough picture here, otherwise, I'm sure I'll have some pictures of the whole project up by next week! Complete with the new faucet and sink configuration!
So, I've had my first order for the Project AWARE proceeds: they are two super cute octopuses! I've adjusted how I do the beak, and they are now completely perfect!
These are for a set of 4 year old twins: one boy and one girl. They turned out perfect! I made sure they were the same size and shape without adorning one over the other. On the whole, they turned out great! I refined how I did some of the details: the beaks and the legs, so they are a little more cohesive. Gotta love these little guys!
I'm also in the process of starting a brand new product that will be released this Friday: in the spirit of the holiday season, I'm adding something a bit more Christmas themed! But I'll have more to come on that one. So far, it's turning out very cute!
I also made some updates to the marketplace today: you'll notice drop down menus for color options, some formatting changes, and some price differences. I've changed the way I price for shipping in preparation for going international. Hopefully, it will be a smooth transition that makes the whole process easier on everyone.
Stay tuned, I"m sure to have plenty more coming!
For the last day of sister week, I thought I would celebrate a little bit about my sister on the Weekend Scavenger for a couple of reasons:
1) She hates scavenger posts because she thinks they are normally irrelevant.
2) We are both scavengers, and I want to show off a little bit of her work too!
Also, she has no idea that I'm featuring her secretary as the project today! I'm not going to delve too far into the details of this one, because the project can be pretty well understood if you click here.Still, it's a pretty cool project that starts not just with Mags, but with another pack-rat who seemed to have a little bit of everything: This secretary stand was originally our grandma's. And while I remember exactly where it was in her apartment kitchen before she died, I can't remember where it was in her house (but I'm sure my dad or sister will fill every one in through comments).Prior to its state in this picture, it was hideous 70s veneer with brushed brass knobs. The veneer was in poor condition, and almost anyone would have given up on it... But not people like me and Maggie! After priming, painting, waxing, and distressing, this little secretary turned into the perfect place to put keys and mail when you walk into her place. One of the great things about this kind of change is that the secretary stand was completely repurposed. It was a breadbox before it was a secretary, but with a good scavenge and a little imagination, some leftover paint in our mom's garage took a breadbox to the perfect landing strip!
For a very long time, I have been interested in underwater life. I've had a fascination with coral reefs, a longing to be in the sea, and a love of sharks. But as a society and as a species, human beings have done a lot of harm to these wonderful creatures.
Even thinking beyond the horrors of potential climate change, there are plastics and debris that consistently harm coral reefs, trap and poison animals and plants, and runoff that shelter underwater life from needed sunlight.
Shark populations have declined 90% in the past 10 years, but since these animals don't remain in one region or country, it is far more difficult for them to get the protection they need. The horrible process of shark finning continues to drive shark populations down, and the more coveted large specimens do not have the ability to reproduce quickly enough to recover.
So, here is where I come in: from now until the end of the year, every crochet animal purchased, I will send the proceeds on to Project AWARE. I also urge each and every person to sign their petition at right urging our world to better protect these species.
Some gains have already been made, here are some notable ones:
A Minnesota native is working in Mexico to turn blooming populations of invasive lionfish into food instead of the Caribbean's most destructive force.
Crews and teams work in the oceans to remove debris from humans.
Florida passed legislation on November 18 to ban any fishing of Tiger Sharks and Hammerhead Sharks.
On October 7, California banned the practice of shark finning in total. Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii have similar bans. They were joined on October 25 by Canadians in Toronto.
But it is not enough.
Shark finning is one of the nastiest and most vile processes I have ever heard of: The shark is caught, its fins are sliced off, and the shark is thrown back into the water while it is still alive. Many sharks (depending on the species) cannot breathe without swimming and suffocate. Others are left for days or weeks without the ability to hunt or eat and eventually starve.
To see a little more of what shark finning looks like, check out this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zep7B1esW-M
I was going to link a video that actively showed sharks being finned, but it made me so upset, I cried. If you'd like to see that one, it's called "What Shark Finning Looks Like" by the DiscoveryNetworks. I didn't even make it halfway through the video.
So, to increase conservation and protection, I am taking a stand, and I am urging anyone to take it with me. Please sign the petition urging the governments and legislators of the world to help conserve shark populations and save our oceans.
For more information, please visit: http://www.projectaware.org
I have already talked a lot about my pets, but I'm going to throw a line out to them anyway, because I love them! They get into everything, can be quite destructive (we've had to install door locks), but the unconditional love makes them worth it. I call my tag-team dog and cat practice toddlers, since we've had to baby proof!
- What was your first pet's name?
I had a couple "first pets" from when I was born: a cat named Jake, he was a grey and white american short hair - basically a tuxedo cat with grey instead of black. He was kind of mean and bit me a lot. But I terrorized him and earned it. I'm amazed my current cat is so utterly tolerant of every one.
Then there was Shadow: she was a cocker spaniel, and an amazing dog. Very sweet, quiet, and loving toward me. She definitely influenced my decision to get a spaniel mix with Cody.
- What kind of animal was your first pet?
Cat and Dog. They weren't a tag-team though. When Shadow would be sleeping, Jake would wake her up. She'd chase him around the basement (keep in mind, Jake died when I was 5, so these are some old memories!).
- If you have a pet now, what kind of animal is it?
I have a dog, a cat, and a turtle. Currently, I also have a fish, but his existence is up to the turtle. I get feeders for a little variety in his diet. Plus, they give him a bit of exercise.
As for the dog and the cat, the cat is hilarious. He play fights with the dog, and he rubs against everyone (including the dog), is demanding about food when he's hungry, and makes a very effective alarm system. The dog is just full of love, life, and energy. He's always ready to go, but doesn't mind the days where he's just lounging around the house. Seriously, he's amazing. I might just stick with spaniel mixes.
- What is your favorite animal to have as a pet?
Definitely a dog. He honestly makes me more social than I have ever been. I take him out on super long walks, and I don't mind stopping and chatting with other dog owners. The socialization is great for both of us! And we have a play date tonight with our former roommates, so he's going to have another dog to romp around with. I'm pretty excited about that too!
- What animal have you always wanted to have as a pet?
It's a little strange, but I have always wanted a snake. They're really cool, and they're exciting to have around. I've worked with them before both at school and at work. They don't need a ton of food, grow slowly, and are super interesting. I was thinking a red-tail boa constrictor. They don't get too big, have long life spans, aren't poisonous, and they easily acclimate to being handled. But we decided on having one reptile at a time, and I am completely happy with my little turtle!
I decided today that since I didn't have any new animals lately, I should add at least one type for the Project Aware donations starting at the end of the month. I had a few ideas for what I should do... but I decided on doing a seahorse today! I'll probably keep adding different species, but he turned out pretty cute!
I'm absolutely loving the way he turned out, but this time, I didn't quite make him anatomically correct. Body shape is right, I did the crown, and I did the dorsal fin.
But after thinking about it, I decided to nix the pectoral fins. They're on the side of the head, and simply look awkward. So, I kept them out. I did the purple eyes, and I added a little bit of accent with it by trimming the crown and doing the ridges of the dorsal fin in dark green.
I really like the variegated yarn for it too. Seahorses are terrible swimmers, so they rely on camouflage for survival. I already added it to the marketplace, and I am so excited to see how these will integrate into the rest of my shop.
When scuba diving, seahorses are a real treat to find. We didn't find many as a group in Honduras until our last day when we found several in the weeds on our very last day (it was a great couple of dives, seahorses, a sunken boat, and our divemaster picking a stargazer out of the sand so we could watch it bury itself). It was very cool seeing so many little one grab onto the weeds (you can see our dive video by Brian Short here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lI9pXhd1HM8
When I was scuba diving a few years later in Curacao, I found things all the time. I had several more dives under my belt, and had been working for an aquarium for several months. Finding seahorses was in the job description, so the majority of the ones we found there I tracked down...
The downside, after working with them, they're not as fun to focus on! But they drew me toward a ton of other things to see: spiny lobsters, christmas tree worms and feather duster worms, and the super rare yellow ribbon eel.
Part of why species like seahorses, yellow ribbon eels, and feather duster worms are so hard to find is because of population decline. Very few seahorses live to adulthood: it's about 0.1% (or 1 in 1000). So, keeping coral reefs around and healthy is vital! I would love to see these species stay around so I can keep seeing them on dives.