Tuesday, January 10, 2012


While William and I were visiting my Mom in Marina, CA last November, she and I took some time together for crafting. We sat down on my last evening there and she taught me how to tat. For those who don't know about tatting, it is one of the original methods for creating lace. It requires two shuttles of fine crochet thread, and nimble fingers. I started out using the heaviest (thickest) thread available, and by the end of our little training session I felt like a complete spaz. I couldn't make my fingers do what I wanted them to do, and everytime Mom said "make sure the knot is on the top," I had no idea what she was talking about....I couldn't see what she was saying.

The next morning, in between packing and preparing for our departure, I sat down and took another shot at it. As often happens, while I was sleeping my brain and body had a powow and figured out how to do what I was asking them to do, so in the morning I was inexplicably able to tat correctly. Yay sleep!

I did quite a bit of practicing on the flight home (mostly edgings from the book Mom lent me), and I continued my practicing at home, and while camping with Grace and her family. Then I started an actual "project". A snowflake from Mom's pattern book. Let's just say that aborted project is still sitting unfinished in my Crafting Drawer Of Shame. Honestly, considering it was my first "project", it was not going half bad, especially since I was still trying to read and decode what seems to be a pretty standard tatting pattern (I'm pretty sure it is written in some sort of ancient runic language).

Having determined that my Ultimate Tatting Sin was Lack of Consistent Tension, I moved on to another project, which I actually completed. I was a little concerned after finishing this one because it was not laying flat; it was quite a bit more "pucker-y" that I would have liked. But, once I wet it and ironed it, it flattened out quite nicely. I still see every flaw in this little snowflake (don't say a thing about the fact that it is green), but overall I was pretty pleased with the result.

Because of the pre-blocked puckery-ness of the green snowflake, I decided to try the same pattern again, this time with only five arms. It wasn't as pucker-y, but it does look a bit like the Hardy's star waving at one.

So, those are my first two finished tatting projects. Now that my Christmas knitting is ALMOST finished, I'm looking forward to starting a new tatting project, proably a bit more challenging this time. I know of a wedding coming up....perhaps a tatted doily or table topper would be perfect?

BTW, I have to give my thanks to the awesome community over at In Tatters. They were so helpful and supportive in helping me figure out a pretty basic tatting move. And, if you haven't already, you HAVE to drop by their site and take a look at the absolutely spectacular pieces that are showcased on their home page. So, go do it! Right now!

Monday, January 9, 2012


Once again this year I overbooked my Knitting Dance Card for Christmas, committing myself to knit far more projects than I could possibly manage. Unless of course I neglected all of my other responsibilities and just sat by the fireplace knitting all day for a few weeks. Which, actually doesn't sound bad...

But, I ended up knitting seven pairs of kids' mittens, the youngest getting stripes, two middlers (including a neighbor who had a birthday) got camo...

One middler and the oldest got blue with skull-and-crossbones...

But my favorite has to have been Williams. He wanted syringes on his mittens. Really. He was so excited...

There has been a flurry of fingerless glove knitting in our circle of friends, and I finally got on the bandwagon and worked up a few pair. My pattern called for a new technique, the provisional cast on, and kitchener stitch to seam. More work than I think was worth...

But, they made a nice mitt....

Next time around, I used a regular cast on and bind off, and the seaming went faster. I also for the first time have been working with "nice" yarn that I found at The Yarn Garden. Very lovely to work with, and something I'd like to continue to do as budget permits. These are a matched set I made for a mother and daughter.

There were a couple of men's winter hats in there, as well, which I don't have pictures of. But, I am told, they are very comfy.

My last "Christmas" project is now on the needles, probably the most compicated pattern I have attempted to date. I'm still not certain I'll be able to finish it as written, or even have it work out acceptably, but I'm giving it a shot. If I don't stab myself in the eye with a double pointed needle, these will eventually be fingerless gloves for KitMama.

Again with the lovely yarn from Yarn Garden. This pattern calls for two sets of DPN's, a cable needle, and several stitch markers. I'm using four markers, three row counters, and a stitch holder instead of the cable needle (plus another stitch holder once I get to the thumb). I've never done cables before, I took some time to watch a few You Tube videos, then did a swatch using the called-for pattern (yes, an actual swatch! me!). It took a few tries, but I eventually figured out how to read the recipe, and it's working out nicely. The cable pattern is counted out in rows separately from the thumb gusset (which increase every third row, six times...yeah, I know, what a pain in the arse to keep count).

Anyway, I am enjoying the challenge and learning new skills. I do, however to pay attention while knitting this project. Which isn't a bad thing. Taking my time might be kind of nice....

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Daily Pic

It was a lovely, drizzly, foggy day, but that didn't keep Michael from playing outside most of the day. Once it starting raining, he and LittleMan swiftly erected a fort to keep them dry, using boxes staged for recycling, contrator bags from the garage, a snow disk and other misc garage items.

Today's art was brought to us by Michael. Check out the plumbing in that toilet.

Best use of a Sharpie I've seen in a long time.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Angry Bird Birthday

Papa Bear's birthday just happens to be inconveniently located smack-dab right between Christmas and New Years. Every year. It doesn't move, ever. Birthdays are funny that way.

And this smack-dab-ness makes it really challenging to plan and pull off a birthday party for him. I mean, even if I have the mental bandwidth and time to actually plan a party during that time-frame, how many people to do you know have the bandwidth to attend?

So, this year someone in our household got unexpectedly brilliant (can't remember who, but I'm willing to take all the credit) and decided to push the "party" part back to the first week of January.

And we actually got people to show up ;)

But, the best parts of this birthday party (from my perspective, 'cause it wasn't actually my party), were:

#1 The Party Plates. Thomas got a bee in his bonnet and decided that it had to be an Angry Bird theme. Papa Bear was just recently introduced to Angry Birds because we got a Roku for his office TV. And he was immediately addicted. Can't fault him there. So, he was pretty much all over the Angry Bird Theme.

This is how the six kids implemented said theme:

#2 Best Part of The Party: KitMama's VEGAN triple chocolate cake, with frosting by Grace:

If you went completely overboard and added the granache that is sitting in the gravy boat to the rear, then it's a quadruple chocolate cake, but no longer vegan. Or kid-friendly, since it's dosed with a bit of bourbon. And oooooooooohhhh, soooooooo yummmmmy!

#3 Best Part of the Party: Our lovely friends. I can't say enough about the loveliness of our friends, and how I adore having them at our place and in our home and in our lives. So, 'nuff said.

Happy Birthday, baby! I love growin' old with you!