.:My Grown Up Christmas List:.

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So this title may be a little misleading.  While peace on earth and an end to poverty and all that fuzzy stuff is indeed wonderful and, of course, something I think we all wish for, this list is slightly (heavy on the emphasis there) more realistic. 

If I were to sit down and think of what I want for Christmas this year, I would have to really think.  As I am about to move into an itsy bitsy studio, there aren’t a lot of “things” that I need, or want.  I really, really, really dislike clutter, as it seems to encourage my tendency to be messy, so I’ve been desperately trying to scale down as it is. 

This grown-up Christmas list includes a couple of must-haves, and a couple of absolute not-gonna-happens.  I’m a dreamer.  And as they say, go big or go home.

1) Ministry of Magic Toilet Decal

To be perfectly honest, I almost crapped my pants when I found this on Etsy, which is perfectly ironic.  So, now that I will be living alone, I can completely nerd out and make this a part of my decor.  I can’t wait until it freaks out a guest.  Like my mom.

2) Kitchenaid Stand Mixer

I baked 4 dozen scones on Tuesday.  By hand.  My hands and arms are killing me.  Balls.

3) More Counter Space

Itsy-bitsy studio apartments are not very conducive to refining mad baking skills.  In fact, I don’t even think this new apartment will have enough room for my microwave….  So yeah.  That sucks.

4) Drop Spindle

I feel like the next step in my quest toward knitterary domination is to spin my own yarn.  I have this image of me, some day, shearing my own alpaca, dyeing the wool, spinning it into various weights, and then knitting it into personally designed masterpeices that will sell in my little knit shop/bakery.  Although, as the only alpaca farm I’ve ever been to was in Massachusetts, that fantasy also takes place in a quaint little New England town.  I may have buckles on my shoes.

5) A Cleaning Fairy

Because working 45 hours a week as a personal banker and trying to develop my own business wasn’t enough to do, I went back to school this fall to get my MBA.  Full time.  Which means my apartment gets cleaned on a less than part time schedule because, at the end of an incredibly long day, I really just don’t care.  I need a cleaning fairy.  Or, as Button always says, a really nice husband. 

6) A Herd of Alpacas

I’m pretty sure this one is actually pretty self-explanatory.  How can my knitting dreams come true without a flock of these big beautiful animals to sheer.  Although, I’m not sure they’ll fit on my patio.  And they’ll probably smell….  So maybe I’ll wait on these guys.  Although I’m already imagining names.  Like Emperor Kuzco and Kronk and Yzma….

This year my Christmas gift to myself, and to you, will be to dedicate more time to this little corner of my life.  Happy Holidays everyone!

.:Pay Day Pipe Dreams:.

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I’ve missed my weekly perusals through Etsy and the rest of the crafty marketplace to find little treats that would make life so lovely.  It’s time to bring this back, even if I am a day late and a dollar short.

As I work on developing the prototypes for the Alpaca.Rae line that should be launching after the first of the year, I am on the hunt for ways to help me stay organized and streamline the process from the original designing to the eventual *hoping* mass production.

Knit Buddies Moleskine from shoofly on etsy.com; for jotting down ideas and inspirations

Yarn Ball Winder from Craftiness on Etsy.com

Firm Blocking Wires by NovaSteel on etsy.com

Compact Portable Solid Black Walnut Yarn Swift from ScottsMountainCrafts on etsy.com

And just for fun:

Knitting Art Print from Vintagraphy on etsy.com

.:Deck the Halls – With a Crap Ton of Yarn and Frantic Knitting:.

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Fa la-la la-la, la-la la la…..

I can’t believe that all of October has gone by and we’re a week and a half into November and I haven’t blogged.  I heard Christmas music on the radio for the first time on Thursday.  Christmas music.  It was November 10th.  It’s bad enough that retailers start the holiday stress madness before Halloween has even passed, but I always thought I could count on all the radio DJs to give us until after Thanksgiving before striking the fear of god into us.

So where does this leave the knitters?  My own project list is certainly not shrinking at the pace I would prefer.  I’ve got about a quarter of the crochet zoo for the Little Monster done – well maybe a third.  This particular project has been one of my favorites so far.  It’s going to be really tough to give these little guys up to their new home on The Big Day.  I’ve got about a quarter of Mama’s project done.  It’s a little tedious, but it will be one of the most beautiful projects I’ve worked on to date.  And it’s all thanks to Button’s mad project-seeking skills.  My Alpaca.Rae prototypes are turning out wonderfully, in fact Amanda Jeanette (my very first piece) is about 95% done.  I won’t have my catalog out by the new year like I had thought – but hopefully shortly thereafter.

And yesterday I got to do my very favorite thing in the whole world.  I got to do to my very favorite knit shop and sift through all the bins and touch all the lovely fibers and play with all the fancy notions – all in the name of picking the wool for the project for Daddy.  I picked out this wonderful wool in a heathered and slightly rugged green.  It’s just soft enough to feel wonderful against the skin while still being sturdy enough to be uber-manly.

So my list of started projects looks like this:

  • Mama
  • Daddy
  • Panda
  • Button
  • Little Monster

And I can think of at least four other people I’d like to knit for…..

So this is where the knitters are during the holidays, or at least where we fear and/or know we’ll end up:  Christmas Eve, knitting frantically in front of the fire until the wee hours of the morning, praying we don’t drop a stitch and bugger the whole thing up.  Never fear fellow knitters, because I’ll be right there with you.  And it’ll be 100% worth it when we get to see that special sparkle in the eyes of our loved ones when they open those gifts.

So between now and then, I’ll be dreaming of packaging and tagging concepts and nursing my blisters and repeating my holiday knitting mantra.

Please don’t let me bugger it up.

.:Caution: Knitter on Board:.

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We all need our moments.  Those little pockets of time that are just ours.  We can shut out the world, forget about work and the laundry and the fact that I have one too many beer bottles on my back porch that need to be returned…

*Ahem*

Peace is a commodity we take for granted, particularly in our personal lives.  We all need our moments, and I have found mine.

Every day I drive 30 – 40 minutes to work.  I purposefully take the long way, avoiding the freeway and looking for the heavily-trafficked streets.  This would drive most folks crazy.  And in fact, I see it in the faces of the drivers of the compact cars and midsize SUVs that are packed onto this road like sardines in a can.  They glare at me as I pass them and smile.  “Why is she so damn happy?”  I imagine them asking.  Because those 30-40 minutes are my moments, my little pockets of peace.

On that drive I typically do one of two things: Belt out super sappy country ballads loud enough that I’m sure the next car can hear me over their own radio, or I listen to an Audible book… and knit.

When traffic is at a stand still at this one particular point on the hill, I carefully reach into my bag and pull out my project, and I know a look of pure glee spreads across my face.  I make a couple of stitches tentatively and look around.  Yes, I’m checking for cops.  I think I’m in the clear…  And then I’m off and flying.  Making stitches like there’s no tomorrow.  I never get much done, a couple of rows at the most, but by the time I get to my office I’m genuinely ready to get down to business.

I’ve had my moment for the day.

If I’m lucky, maybe I’ll get another on my drive home.  But at least I can approach a full day of work, and then a fuller load of homework later, knowing that I’ll always have my very own pocket of peace.

(My little cubicle.  Wouldn’t be complete without knitting comic, funny animals, and Button!)

.:Pay Day Pipe Dreams:.

~An Extra Shot of Dreams~

Last week was so hectic that I ended up a day late and a dollar short when it came to my poor, neglected blog.  (But I got all my darn homework done!!)  So this week I’m making it up to all with an extra shot of dreams.

First and foremost, I found this little gem on the Purl Bee this week and could barely contain myself.

{Leese Design iPhone case on The Purl Bee}

Those of you who know me are also quite familiar with my utter obsession with my iPhone.  In the 3 or 4 months I’ve had the little guy, he has become an integral part of my life, like a third arm, or a second brain.  So you can imagine how this fabulously crafty accessory called to me.  In fact, I get to bribe myself again next week because, as of this next Sunday, I will have reached 4 weeks of not touching a single bit of nicotine.  I can’t wait to get my hands on this.

Okay, on to the extra shot.  I’ve been thinking about my January move in to my first place completely by myself, so I’ve got housewares on the brain.  Pardon me for the temporary lack of craftiness.

{Upcycled Beer Bottle Spoon Rest by c2design on etsy}

{Upcycled Dad’s Cream Soda Bottle Glass from YAVAGlass on etsy}

{Vintage Vera Floral Napkins from scoutandrescue on etsy}

{Just Bobbin Around necklace from luv4sams on etsy}

{Dandelion Wishes from studiojk on etsy}

{Sewing Machine table as seen on The Casabella Project}

{Typeset Jewelry Case by BlackForestCottage on etsy}

.:Ode to the Dirty Cheater:.

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I feel like a dirty whore.

As I was strolling through Fred Meyer yesterday evening, on the prowl for a good steak and a good rub… for the steak, I casually took a glimpse down the crafty aisle.

And that is where I found this:

I couldn’t help but think of watching my almost three year old nephew open a box on Christmas morning and have it be filled with his very own stuffed zoo, made by his Auntie Achoes.  (Since he can’t pronounce my name and has already realized that a plural really is necessary to describe me.)  So I bought the damn book.  And a crochet hook.  And some recycled cotton in a pretty marl to kick off the hippo.

I’m cheating on knitting.  And yes, I dabbled in crochet before.  To test the waters more than anything else.  But it was frustrating.  And felt all wrong.

I spent a couple of hours trying to get the hang of crochet in miniature, since I don’t have the hang of crochet in normal size this turned out to be a feat.  However, after several failed attempts and frustrated chuckings of my yarn across the room, I realized that I’ve been doing it all wrong.  Go figure.  I’ve been using tutorials I found online on one of my trusted blogs but i must have missed something because it simply didn’t look like crochet.  But I found, in the back of this little Vanna White book, the Eldorado og crochet instruction.  Never in my life did I think I would be thanking Vanna White, but here I am.  Thank you Vanna.  You can, in fact, do more that push buttons in evening dresses.

Presenting:  One Hippo Butt.

And it looks like real crochet!  It’s not perfect, but I’m as proud of this little hippo butt as I am of a hell of a lot of my advanced knitting projects.  And yes, I’ll be sure to post the whole zoo when it’s finished.  And yes, I do indeed know that hippos are not this color.

P.S.     I still feel like a dirty whore.

.:Creativity in a Hectic World:.

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Grad school has officially taken over my life.  Week One is finishing up and I am staring down the barrel of the next nine with a little bit of fear, a lot of excitement, and maybe a bit of nausea as well.  I seem to thrive in high stress environments, even as I tear my hair out, so I have faith that I will make it through.  But what scares me the most is the distinct lack of creative output that is characterizing this first week.

I have found time to do little more than work on half an art piece for a series I want to hang in my future new studio, cast on the little something I’m knitting for my mama for Christmas, and dream about all the blogging I wish I was doing.

I think I am going to have to turn into that shameless crafter that you see knitting at potentially awkward moments.  Like in waiting rooms, at bars, in the car at stop lights, during my break between classes…

Somewhere out there, Button is reading this and thinking to herself “Silly Rae, you already do all those things.”  And she is completely right.

.:It is Fall:.

It is fall.

Leaves are changing. Soon they will be ready for crunching under foot. The air is changing too. There is a crisp behind the slightly distant sunlit breeze. It smells like harvest. Like fresh apple cider that somehow always tastes barely fermented. But it’s better that way.

I regret the passing of summer, as I do every year.  But it is Autumn now, and she deserves to be celebrated.  I am imagining chilly nights spent curled up with textbooks and thicker fibers, listening to the rain on the pond behind my apartment as I rationalize putting off this week’s reading to knit one more row.  I am imagining a weekend wardrobe of green and yellow and fleece and socks, and tailgating with my closest friends and favorite beers.  I am imagining hot soups and Mom’s pot roast and steaming chai tea.  Pumpkin patches, my nephew’s smile as he shows off his halloween costume, muddy boots and glittering city streets.  And plenty of reasons to munch on candy corn.

Best of all, I celebrate that it is time to pull out all the knitting books and log on to Ravelry to start planning out a fall full of Holiday knitting.  There will be no tacky Santa Clauses or bunches of holly leaves here, although I do have my eye on a very snarky reindeer chart….  I am planning on soft alpacas, warm merinos, cozy cotton/wool blends.  Laces kissed with metallic threads, light enough that you only catch a hint of sparkle.  Chunky cabled mitts so soft you want to live in them and never take them off.

This is what I look forward to you all year long.  All year, while I watch new bulbs sprout and bloom in the Spring, while I sit by the pool with a gin and tonic in the summer, while I crunch leaves under foot in the fall, this is what I dream of.