Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Craftsy: Foundations in Double Knitting with Lucy Neatby

Earlier this year, I was knitting many washcloths for a charity, and as I looked for patterns, I came across the Inflammable Hotpad which looked fun to make. A problem: I've never used the double knitting technique before. This technique allows you to knit the front and back of a piece at the same time. If you use one color yarn, you'll end up with a tube. Using two colors opens up a range of patterns where motifs pop due to contrasting colors.
Cell Phone Cozy Knit by Aimee Dars Ellis (design by Lucy Neatby)
Cell Phone Cozy
Pattern by Lucy Neatby
Since I wasn't confident trying a project with the free instructions and videos I found online, I signed up with Craftsy to take Foundations of Double Knitting with Lucy Neatby. She provided clear instructions and helpful explanations, and after watching a few lessons, I knit one of the patterns that came with the course: the cell phone cozy. Having had such great preparation, I found completing this project was fun and easy. I still need to finish some of the lessons, though, and I haven't worked on the other projects because they just aren't to my taste.

When I purchased my Craftsy course, the site was running a sale, so I also enrolled in Adventures in Double Knitting. I am excited about this since Alasdair Post-Quinn seems to use many innovative techniques with interesting designs. I love cowls created with the double knitting technique, but I am hesitant to tackle double knitting in the round.

Craftsy classes don't expire, so in several months, if I need a refresher, I can return to the courses to review a technique. The classes I've previewed have had excellent production values with valuable material presented in an organized and intuitive sequence. Many of the topics are not usually covered by classes offered at local knitting stores, and they are ideal for people who are visual learners.

If you are a knitter or crocheter on Ravelry, you can join the Craftsy group to share projects and reviews of classes.

Friday, June 6, 2014

National Donut Day

Often, these national recognition days are established by industry groups promoting a product category. When I looked up the origin of National Donut Day, I was surprised to find that the day was first recognized in 1938 by the Salvation Army to commemorate the volunteers ("doughgirls") who distributed donuts to soldiers on the front lines (Fagan, 2009), although another source (Shanoon, 2014) refers to the volunteers as "donut lassies." One blog recounts a story in which a POW in Hanoi during the Vietnam War convinced his captors that the Marine Corps birthday was known as National Donut Day (Dolbow, 2009). The guards were moved to serve sticky buns to the prisoners during November 1968.

Big Honking Donut at VooDoo DoughnutsNational Donut Day or not, I love donuts. I remember them from quick stops at the E-Z Shop convenience store before school and as a treat on Saturday mornings after sleepovers with my best friend from sixth grade, Betsy R. When I lived in Oklahoma and had a long commute to work, I occasionally stoped for locally made treats.

Since I became vegan, though, I haven't eaten donuts so much (which is perhaps a blessing). If I have the opportunity, though, I don't pass it by. I had a delicious vegan glazed donut at Rise Above in St. Catheriene's Ontario a few years ago. When a particular strong and unyielding craving struck about two years ago, I ordered a dozen through Vegan Essentials.

Last summer, visiting Portland, Oregon, I nearly cried with joy to learn that the famous Voodoo Doughnut offered a wide variety of vegan pastries. (Why no bakery in Ithaca offers vegan donuts is a mystery to me. Another instance of ITH being overrated, though I digress.) Apparently, the bakery has been featured on a number of foodie shows and publications. Consequently, during the day, the line extended down the block and doubled back amounting to an hour or so wait. The line did not deter me. I ate nearly 300 it seems, so it's probably good that I was only there a week. The flavors I tried were as good if not better than non-vegan donuts. I can still smell the shop and taste the frosting! If I could teleport there right this minute, I would. They're right, the donuts are magic. Nom nom nom.

Variety of Vegan Donuts at Voodoo Doughnuts

Store front Voodoo Doughnuts

Store front Voodoo Doughnuts


Thursday, June 5, 2014

Job Helmet

It's Aways Sunny in Philadelphia makes me laugh, hysterically, with snorting. When George and I first watched this season three episode, I could hardly hear Charlie's speech, I was guffawing so loudly. Current events have brought the scene back to mind. If it were only as easy as strapping on a job helmet and visiting jobland for jobbies.

My second favorite scene about job searches comes from Seinfeld, season 2. George Costanza certainly could use a trip to jobland! (Can you believe this aired in 1991?) Whenever I think of jobs, I tend to have the same stumbling blocks as George. Oh, those jobbies.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Pinterest: Happiness Project

I love Pinterest! If you are on the site, please follow me! If I had two wishes for Pinterest, I would want to be able to pin pages without images using a customizable default image and to be able to group boards into collections. Alas, I do not work for Pinterest nor do I have programming skills.

As of today, I have 118 boards with more than 9,000 pins. My boards are well-organized, and you can pick certain boards to follow or select "Follow All." Currently, my most pinned item is "Pit Bulls Are Just About the Nicest Dogs There Are." My favorite of my boards is "Happiness Project" with quotes, strategies, and images related to happiness, meaningfulness, compassion, empathy, and positive psychology.

Screenshot of happiness project board on Pinterest.

You can also search the millions of pins (over 30 million as of March 2014) for your personal interests. Once you've entered a search term, Pinterest gives you suggestions for limiting the search. You can also look for pins, boards, or pinners that include the search term as indicated in the figure below.

Tutorial for searching on pinterest

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Maya Angelou, 1928-2014

My two favorite Maya Angelou quotations:

"People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." 

"We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated."

Have you read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Metaphorical Death = Metaphorical Fertilizer

I have read and enjoyed "Free Will Astrology" since I was a college student in Chicago. Rob Brezny's horoscope for me for this week, beginning May 29, once again reflects my current circumstances. While the prediction may seem bleak, I am comforted by the thought of future growth.

I am going to try to concentrate on the flowers, not the cowpie.

Home Composting in Roubaix (Nord, France) by F Moreau Lille3

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Children of the World

When I was little, my mother took me to the First Christian Church of Ardmore. As churches in southern Oklahoma go, it was fairly liberal, and I am so grateful that the family's church home wasn't a Southern Baptist congregation.

Although I am no longer associated with the church, I have fond memories of the fellowship and the friends I had in my Sunday School classes and at church camp.

I also enjoy memories of the songs, which were a part of youth groups, church services, vacation bible school, and camp. Sometimes, one of these songs will pop into my head for no apparent reason.
First Christian Church Vacation Bible School
circa 1981

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Lazy Pugs

You'd think these pugs had been performing hard labor out in the high noon sun the way they are splayed out on the couch. They rarely cuddle together like this; Walter usually likes to keep his distance from the youngsters. It's a shame they have such a hard life!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Quotation of the Day: Books Edition

"I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves."

~Anna Quindlen, 
"Enough Bookshelves," 
New York Times, 7 August 1991

I am a voracious reader, and we have books everywhere in our house.

I must admit that most of my recent reading has been done on the Kindle app for the iPad. I feel like I'm betraying the gods of reading. Right now, though, I'm reading a paperback (Authority) which I bought instead of the Kindle version so that George can read it when I'm done. It's nice to have the weight and smell of the book in my hands. I will still be happy to go back to my eBooks. I like to be able to search and have a built-in dictionary.

How do you read books these days? And are there any books you'd recommend? 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Quotation of the Day

“Between the head and the heart is the voice, and our voice reflects our choices; the way we reconcile what we think and what we feel; what we know and what we desire. Our voice reaches the world through the manner in which we live -- sound is unnecessary; we show others who we are by the way we go through life, and touch everyone we meet with who we are in that moment.” 

 ~Shreve Stockton

Monday, March 3, 2014

Ravellenic Games: Part II

I knit two cat beds for the Tompkins County SPCA. The sides are floppy, but the beds themselves are cushy, so I hope some of the cats will enjoy them. For this, I received three medals - one in Free Dance (an open event), one in Charity Curling, and one in Stash Skeleton (for using yarn that has been in my stash for awhile).

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Ravellenic Games: Alpine Abode Enhancement

Every two years during the Olympic Games, Ravelry hosts a knitting challenge called the Ravellenics. I wanted to get as many badges as possible during the games. One of my "medals" came from the Alpine Abode Enhancement category (including washcloths, pillows, blankets, and ornaments or any other home decor) for which I made a hearts garland using the Heart Bunting pattern from Knit 1, Purl 1. Finished in time for Valentine's Day, I made 11 hearts in total, for the 10+ years George and I have been together.

Stay tuned for updates about my other Ravellenic Games accomplishments!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Vino Cowl

One of my Ravellenics Games projects... The Vino Cowl, published by Classic Elite  Yarns and designed by my friend Julia. The yarn is Lions Brand Cotton-Ease.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tretta Hat

From the Tretta Hat design by Grumpernia, available on Ravelry. Fun pattern. Might make another one, slightly bigger.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Quotation of the Day

Kindness in words creates confidence.
Kindness in thinking creates profoundness.
Kindness in giving creates love.

 ~Lao Tzu

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Goodbye, Pete

I enjoy Seeger's music and appreciate his commitment to equality and environmentalism, so I was sad to learn of his passing.

Be sure to watch "This Land is Your Land" from Obama's first Inaguration which Seeger performed with Bruce Springsteen and listen to this interview with him on Democracy Now.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sweet Mistakes

Ellis Paul always knows just what to say...
Bless your sweet mistakes
That crumble you down to your knees
That brought you to this place
Changing you by degrees
When change was just what you needed 
~Ellis Paul,
Sweet Mistakes

Friday, January 17, 2014

Some Days

My literature education was bereft of James Baldwin. Recently, I fortuitously saw his poem, Some Days, posted on a nondescript wall. While I find the entire poem comforting, my favorite line is:

I know that love is the only answer.

Go ahead, read the poem for yourself! I hope, like me, you were smiling by the end!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Polar Vortex

I saw a post on Facebook, I think, telling the polar vortex, "You're drunk. Go home." I agree!
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