Sunday, November 29, 2009

Ruby Slipper Reverie

Thanksgiving dinner turned out pretty good, but I may not want to go through all that work again next year. It surely made a shambles out of the kitchen. Fortunately Mr. ChaCha was a big help with the cleanup detail. The leftovers are great, though. Hmmm . . . let you know next year whether it will happen again chez nous.

While cooking the turkey, I lapsed into a little musing about Thanksgivings and other family traditions of the past. That naturally led to remembering annual childhood TV viewings of the Wizard of Oz, which always was featured on television between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

My sisters and I would be so excited and would sit close together to keep from getting scared when the wicked witch cackled on screen. We sometimes brought our favorite dolls along to the showing and even the dolls would get mightily frightened seeing the flying monkeys and hearing that witch.

There were so many fun things about the Wizard of Oz. The Cowardly Lion was a favorite because we all were very shy and felt great empathy for his stuttering speech. The Lollipop Guild with their singing and dancing ways were enchanting, and Glinda, the good witch, was so pretty!

Two more things stand out for me:
  1. I just loved those ruby slippers that Dorothy wore and seeing them and all the glorious costumes in the film may have helped to start my love of accessories.
  2. I first started imagining leaving my home town after seeing this film, and kept imagining it fervently until it finally happened.
This Thanksgiving Day reverie led me later to do a little search on for "Ruby Slippers." There were so many wonderful items. Here are some of my favorites:

As a child, spinning was a favorite thing to do, and as a dancer today, who still loves spinning, this print of an imaginative painting really captures my heart.

You can get these exact replica shoes from Cybertosh, a film student and costumer, and you may want to wear them to go out dancing, but I think the intention may be more for them to be displayed.

redbloodedwoman by WolandandMay

If you're getting a little older, but still want to dance in style, these great ruby oxfords are the way to go!

And if you want to take the grandchild along to the dance, these cute as can be booties are the way to go.

After you click on the red slipper items, you might want to check out this irreverent YouTube video. For us adults, a late night television skit on an alternate ending to the Wizard of Oz was aired by MadTV. (Click on the link only if you love sick humor.)

Dear readers what affect did the Wizard of Oz have on you? What were your favorite parts? Did you ever desire ruby red shoes?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Knit a Turkey?

Fourteen years ago I had a post-holiday meltdown after cooking my last turkey. Total Thanksgiving burn-out was achieved. It's not what you think--the dinner turned out great, the guests were happy, and the conversation was good. So what was the problem?

Well, I had been making and hosting our family Thanksgiving dinners for a lot of years. Me, the perfectionist with ADD tendencies.

That evening, after everyone had gone and the final cleanup was in process in the kitchen of my apartment, the tears just wouldn't stop flowing. I was ...
  • tired because life had been sending me curve balls for several years.
  • nervous because I had just met and fallen in love with Mr. Cha-Cha.
  • just plain uninterested in spending long hours cooking meals that got eaten so fast and created such a mess to clean up.
The vow was made--that was the LAST turkey. I'd rather knit one than roast one!

Now, you might feel the same way, so I've put together some links for those of you who would rather craft than cook. Here are some ideas:

  1. Make a turkey from a glove for Thanksgiving.
  2. Knit a free turkey hat pattern.
  3. Here's another hat pattern (no longer available, but trust me, you want to see this photo!)
  4. Knit a turkey knitting.
  5. Knit a naked raw hanging turkey.
  6. Knit and felt a turkey--free pattern.
  7. Crochet a whole turkey meal. (pattern currently for sale)

Really, the whole turkey knitting business didn't interest me either, but for sure the not-cooking-turkey commitment stuck. For all these fourteen years Mr. ChaCha and I have either eaten salmon at home or have gone out for one of those huge restaurant holiday buffets.

Here's the kicker: this year I feel like cooking a turkey again. Wish me luck!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Tesori "Millefiori, Molti Colori"

Fantasic color!

Shout Out to Nikki Makes Scents

It's a pleasure to have my pink neckwarmer featured on Nikki's blog! What an exciting thing to see your work in someone's post.

Nikki, by the way, has lots of items in her store that would make great holiday gifts. I especially like the idea of a Firewood Scented Candle for those of us who do not have fireplaces. And for guys, who also like to smell good, her Male Box of goodies would be a treat.

Thanks, Nikki!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Favorite Places to Knit and Friday Floating Home

As the weather is turning colder and more hands are picking up knitting, I pondered what were the favorite places where people like to knit. A Google search and a journey through some knitting forums yielded the following information.

The usual places people like to knit:
  • Sunrooms and screenporches
  • Near fireplaces or windows
  • In one's favorite chair (one forum writer calls her beautiful chair the Knitting Throne)
  • Coffee shops, book stores, libraries, or yarn shops with comfy chairs
  • In cars, on trains, or on airplanes
  • In theatres, hotel lobbies, sports stadiums, or the local pub
  • Scenic or tranquil outdoor locations

Special events:
  • Sporting events
  • Business or church conferences
  • Business meetings
  • While stuck on the freeway in a traffic jam

Good to have nearby:
  • Spouses
  • Cats
  • Other knitters
  • Favorite beverage and/or non-sticky finger food
  • Knitting supplies and stash
  • TV, DVD Player, VCR, or computer
  • A waiter

Unusual places or situations:
  • One clever knitter taught herself to knit while also doing the grocery shopping.
  • The same woman knit while waiting in line for a carnival ride and also knit during the rides.
  • Quite a few people could knit while walking.
  • One woman like to knit in hotel lobbies, whether she was staying there or not.
  • One forum writer loved to knit while traveling around in the cab of her trucker husband's rig.
  • One dedicated woman knits in the swimming pool while sitting in a floating pool chair.
  • One curious writer said she liked to knit while sitting on the "coach". Now there's an untried idea.

All this research made me ask myself: If I could be knitting anywhere today, where would I want it to be? A houseboat came to mind immediately. (Probably because I've been so busy lately that I haven't much relaxed, and houseboats are so relaxing.)

My next thought was that I hadn't done a Friday Floating Home post for a while. So here's my fantasy for today: sitting and knitting on board a floating home on the Thames with a hot cup of chai tea and some classical music in the background. It's an overcast day with a chance of rain, but there's a fire in the woodstove.

What's would be your happy Friday?

Monday, November 16, 2009


Yes, I know. I'm a late adopter--it's the story of my life. Valerie and Amelie have been nagging me about getting onto Ravelry to meet some people and to learn how to use the site.

Of course there are always the standard excuses about why, since joining Ravelry two years ago, I've done nothing with my page except post a link to this blog. (Too busy. Too shy. Don't know how....)

It's pathetic, really. No friends. No projects. Only two posts in the Ravelry forums.

Well, at the Portland Knitter's Guild Meeting the other night, CraftyCraftyGrrl gave a great presentation about how to use Ravelry and it all seemed pretty user friendly. So I went home and signed on. It's not so bad. Pretty easy to use. I may be hooked, now.

So friend me over there. I'll friend you back.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Sweet Tart Scarf, Berry Cobbler Cowl, and Friend

First, an apology for not blogging as frequently this past month. Things in the studio have gotten intense in preparation for the holiday season on Etsy.

Valerie and I have been working hard to get things finished, priced, photographed, described, tagged, and listed on Etsy. Valerie's part is fairly easy. She just needs to sit around and look pretty while wearing things.

Well, that's not entirely true. She keeps me company and tells good jokes to keep me amused while I work.

Right now some things, like the items in this post, have had their photos taken and await descriptions to be written. I should also credit Valerie here for always having good suggestions about the written copy for product descriptions and being so good at coming up with names for things.

The first scarf is the Sweet Tart Scarf, so named because its colors are reminiscent of those yummy tart candies.

The second item is the Berry Cobbler Cowl. (You saw the commerical eyelash yarn and my hand-spun yarn in the last post.)

Valerie really loved wearing this one because it's so soft and cushy.

The cowl is long enough to wrap around your neck twice for extra warmth.

The final item doesn't have a clever name yet. Neither Valerie nor I can think of a good one because we are almost brain dead right now. It's crocheted from my lavender hand spun.

If you have a name suggestion, we'd love to hear it!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

So Pretty, So Pink

For the last few years I've been attracted like crazy to Autumn colors: deep golds and oranges, magnificent greens and rich reds. Earlier this year I got a bug to work with some blues--that didn't last too long because all of the blue fibers I want for myself and I'm too busy making things for the store. Now, it the pinks that are calling.

I think it was because October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month and there were pink things everywhere, that the pink yarns just started saying "Pick me!"

First I found some lush lovely roving from Woolgatherings in yummy berry colors. I spun it into some bulky 2-ply. I'm going to pair some of it with a sweet eyelash yarn to make a OOAK scarf.

Then I found a lovely mohair sweater in a second hand store. It fit really weird, but the fiber begged to be incorporated into a cowl. I want to pair the fine mohair yarn with a worsted weight or bulky weight yarn for a contrast in textures, but I'm not sure yet if what I see n my head can really be done.

I want the lace to be like a collar on the cowl, but it has no body, so I may be dreaming.

Yesterday I finished this pretty pink neckwarmer that I can finish in two different ways. I think I'll show it on Etsy done like this:

and I'll show another photo with it finished like this:

Which way would you prefer to wear it?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Keeping an Organic Look After Washing Wild Knits

First off, a disclaimer: I am not an expert on this.

Secondly, this post will seem sacrilegious to those knitters who absolutely think that everything must be blocked. (For you non knitters, items being blocked are usually dampened or made entirely wet and then stretched out flat to dry.)

Most knit items need to be blocked. Otherwise they look funky. Sometimes, though, a design begs not to be. Take for example this organic-looking scarf design.

I just listed some knitting kits in my Etsy shop for this scarf that was a collaboration with the Knitting Mermaid. If you were reading my blog last year, you may remember the Knitting Mermaid who was taught to knit by an enamored sailer. This is her first scarf idea.

Imagine you're a mermaid who knits. Where in the heck would you lay something out to block it? And why would you want to? Even if you're not a mermaid but you want to keep this wild seaweed quality in your scarf, what would you do when you wash it and it stretches like crazy into a different style of scarf entirely?

Here's what I do:
  • Soak the scarf for 15-30 minutes in a bowl of cool water using a special product for fine woolens. Two great products are Eucalan and Soak because they do not require you to rinse the item after soaking.
  • Put the scarf in a colander as a big old wad and let it sit for a half hour. Most of the water will drain to the bottom. Then take it in your hands, still wadded up, and gently squeeze out more water.

  • Next find an old stocking or cut off one leg of a pair of pantyhose. Lay the scarf on a flat surface and bunch it in a manner that approximates it's original shape. Carefully fold it in half and then stuff it into the leg of the stocking. It should sort of resemble a sausage as in the next photo.

  • Pull the end of the stocking up to completely cover the scarf. Use a bread tie to close the top so the scarf won't come out. (For this step you can also use a small mesh bag used for laundering fine washables.) Throw the stocking sausage in the dryer for five minutes on a low heat setting. Note: if you are using a highly feltable fiber, skip this step.
  • Remove the scarf from the stocking and carefully lay it out on a bath towel. Scrunch it up a little. It might look something like this:

  • Now go away and leave the scarf alone for 12 hours or so. Then come back and pretty up the shape a little more. To get back to my original look, I added some soft pleats to the still damp scarf.

Once you wash the scarf it will never look completely the same as when you first knit it, but with a little effort you can keep that organic look and maybe even improve on it.