Dec 30, 2009


The time has come again...

The sun is setting on another year...

My theme for 2010: "Begin as you mean to go on...".

Nov 29, 2009

Project Parade

Even though the writing here has been slow, the knitting continues!

I have recently joined some of the other members in the Stash and Burn Podcast group on Ravelry in an adventure we're calling "Going Cold Sheep" - like going cold turkey, but with yarn. This was an idea that one of the members brought to the group as a way to suggest more mindful use of, and less random buying of yarn. Essentially, a yarn diet - though that word is really not welcome chez BrownBerry for any "lifestyle" type activity.

Those of us who have made the cold sheep pledge (and recited the Cold Sheep Serenity Prayer) have chosen a time period within which we won't buy any yarn. My commitment began on September 1, 2009 and will end on September 1, 2010. Yep. One new yarn. Except....and of course there must be exceptions - all good habits must make room for moderation. My buying exceptions include yarn for my Etsy store items, yarn bought as a souvenir (2 trips max), yarn that is traded for stash or gifted to me without solicitation, and yarn for gifts that require specific yarn (due to allergies, or recipient's choice).

So far, I'm 3 months successful - I've been shopping from my PYS (Personal Yarn Shop) in the guest room, and working project to project. Here's what has come off the needles recently:

2 Thorpe Hats (and a partridge in a pear tree!):

Thorpe in Handspun BFL

This Thorpe was done in a thick-and-thin handspun gifted to me by my knit buddy Suse. I didn't realize that I would be such an instant fan of handspun yarn, but there is something about yarn in its near-to-original state that I really enjoy. The smell, the feel, the thought that someone put so much effort into making yarn that I can then convert into something cute and useful. A joy! Of course, without the benefit of the standard yarn ball band, I have no idea how many yards this used up, but I was thrilled to find just the right pattern to compliment it. I made the largest size (22") on size 9 needles, and then hand felted it in a sink full of hot water to make it more dense and snug. The burgundy trim is Kraemer's Mauch Chunky yarn in the color Bing Cherry.

My other Thorpe is done in 2 colors of Plymouth Encore (wool/acrylic blend):


This stash yarn is about as old as my knitting journey (5 years +), and is still one that I enjoy using for different types of projects. The pattern calls for a bulky yarn, so I used this held double throughout, and though I wasn't sure about the thickness at first, I know from experience that this will soften with washing. I made it as a gift for a friend who's mom recently passed away, and I felt very fortunate to be able to give it to him in person shortly after hearing about his loss. It was a late birthday gift that turned out to be right on time. I used size 9 needles for the body of this one as well, but I switched to size 7's for the garter stitch brim to pull it in a bit more. Top down hats are really ideal for getting better sizing. I would definitely knit this again - thank you Kristin Kapur!

And finally, my latest favorite FO:

Hypoteneuse, by Anne Hanson

Hypoteneuse Shawl

Hypoteneuse Shawl

I knit the garter borders on each end on size 7 needles and the body in size 9. This pattern is so rhythmic. Like all lace, you get this nifty sense of accomplishment every time you complete a repeat, and it wasn't long before the formula "clicked" and I no longer needed to refer to my pattern print out. I'll admit I don't buy patterns often, and this is only the 2nd shawl I have knit from a paid pattern, but just like the last time - it turned out exactly the way I had hoped, and I was ready to cast on for another one as soon as I finished! The yarn is Patons Classic Merino in Plum Heather - so perfectly named. I've raved about my love for Patons Classic before - it's durable, non-splitty, the colors are rich and come in a very useful variety. I find it knits up true to ball band gauge for me in most cases, and gains a significant drape when blocked.

Next in line - some cheerfully bright golf club covers from a pattern by my friend Sarah. Though the recipient bought this yarn, I still consider it stash and part of my cold sheep tally. I encourage you to join us if you want to start your new year a bit lighter in the yarn department!

Nov 3, 2009

The Hat

I started a hat for my friend today
Top down, in the round,
Navy blue
This yarn’s been in my stash for a while,
Just waiting to become something new.

I started a hat for my friend today
Just a quick travel project, nothing hard
I promised it to him some months ago
In lieu of a birthday card

I knit on this hat for my friend today
Every stitch helped in passing the time
I keep tugging the edges and fingering it
I think it will fit him just fine

So I’m knitting this hat for my friend today
Hoping it won’t be too wide
Then I get this short note from my friend today
It said, “Hey, my mother just died.”

So I’m knitting this hat for my friend today
Hoping now it will fit him quite snug
And that when he receives it, he’ll put it on
And feel that I’ve knit him a hug

Knitting: it's more than just a hobby.

10 Minute Jump Start Cardio Workout

I'm so enamored with YouTube right now - not for the videos of people pole jumping into a swimming pool of whip cream (though even those silly ones can sometimes be entertaining) but for the FREE exercise resources. Do a search for "SparkPeople" and see the wealth of short, manageable workout videos...Coach Nicole is my new workout buddy, and she can be yours too!

Oct 29, 2009

Lighten Up

(I'm just going to sneak right back in here with a post and we'll all pretend like I haven't been gone for absolutely AGES, ok? Great, thanks.)

I've been making small steps lately to lighten up my load in a few areas:

24lbs lighter...
Freecycle - my new favorite organization.
As tough as things have been in the last couple of years for many people, it feels good to make a small contribution by giving away things that I will no longer wear to someone who can really use them.

There are multiple 2-piece suits in there, a dress with the tag still on, and a pair of silk pants that would make any woman feel like a superstar on a workday. This kind of giving really benefits giver and receiver. When I walk into my closet now, I feel lighter!

13lbs lighter...
Since July, I've been doing regular exercise almost every day; biking with a great partner, walking, jogging, and at home strength training. I'm 5lbs from my ultimate goal weight (target was set early this year), and I don't miss a single ounce of what I have shed so far.

6lbs lighter...
We all have it. That mass of supplies that we bought when we were new to the craft, and didn't know better. Didn't know that squeaky acrylic is not well suited for most projects. That good color selection does, in fact, play a part in the final product, and that "cheap" and "good value" are usually mutually exclusive when it comes to your raw materials.

This yarn is headed for The Interim House.. My stash will not miss a single yard of this yarn, but I suspect it is off to do some good in another home.

What will you leave behind before the New Year rolls in?

Jul 28, 2009

Once More

My partner and I were chosen as vendors again this year!

Fair details at this link and samples of what we'll be selling can be found here

Phew! I have got to get busy folks. Come by and see us!!

Jul 22, 2009


We drove north to celebrate with my sister at her baby shower this weekend. So many of my favorite women all together in one place - my girls, my mom, my dearest friend, my sister, and my niece-on-the way. I felt very very lucky.

Baby Shower Decadence

My neice in a sweet sisterly package

Baby Shower guests

Of course, since we were already out and about, we thought some vacation style activity was completely warranted.

Poolside - July

Knitting Wool in July

Poolside - July 19

I hope you're finding time for some of the simpler pleasures too!

Jul 13, 2009

How I'll Spend My Summer Vacation

New Sewing Machine

I didn't realize how much I wanted a new sewing machine until the Perfect Storm of a July 4th coupon and in-store sale compelled me to ask hubby to get my b-day gift early. He graciously complied and didn't even blink when instead of waiting for it to come in special order, I drove a few (cough: several) extra miles to pick it up locally.

The real exercise in patience was waiting for a week to use it because I was away traveling. I took the opportunity to break it in though while the girls were at the sleepover party next door with our favorite Play Date mate (and new knitter!)

Here's what has come out from under the needle so far...

I finally attached some appliques I made many months ago to a jumper-turned-tank for Mizan
Handknit Appliques

I converted a pair of old PJ pants into a small, simple tote - great way to practice the measure/measure/cut technique, different stitch types, and applying buttons
After - Small Buttoned Tote

First Singer Sewing Projects - Button Tote First Singer Sewing Projects - Button Tote

Already my favorite project, and one I'll repeat for sure...
Sewing FO - Baby Boy Bib Sewing FO - Baby Boy Bib Modeled

This cutie patootie bib was created using the steps in the tutorial found here at Sew Funky. I used some cotton scraps I got in a crate at a yard sale about 4 years ago, some soft fleece fabric from a waaaay too large pair of old shorts, and an old towel for the middle. Upcycling at its best! The truck applique is a sooper sweet bonus from a going-out-of-business craft store sale.

Nancy if you're reading this - avert your eyes! I'm sure the boo boo coming next will make you cringe :) I goofed and didn't do my turning out section quite right, and found out quickly that zig zag stitch does not, in fact, fix everything.

Baby Boy Bib - rookie edges

I'll be much more attentive to this little (HUGE) detail next time.

I'm having such fun with all my crafty pursuits lately. Soon I'll be back here to catch you up on what's going on with my knitting needles. didn't think that having a fabric stash would put a dent in my verve for knitting now did you??! Not a chance!

Wishing you all a fantastic week!

Jul 9, 2009

Celebrate, Comment & Win

Please read this touching and important post over at earthchick's blog!

Think of the impact if we all spread the word about sandhole safety, each one reach one!

Jun 15, 2009

Try as they might...

...the vicious horses-with-wings we call mosquitos around here could not keep me and my long stick away from my harvest today.

Summer Fruit 002

Carrie Mangoes from my yard - worth every blood-sucking bite I had to endure to get them

Summer Fruit 001

I'm even considering sharing a small piece of one of these with someone else in the family. Then again, there are more on the tree.

Uh huh - what he said!

Jun 1, 2009

A Blanket for Genesis

A Blanket for Genesis, originally uploaded by mamamarce

This project was a combination of right pattern, right yarn, right timing. How often does that happen??

Pattern: Around the Rosy baby blanket, free from Woodhill Designs
Yarn: Berroco Lullaby
Hook: J/10 (6.0mm)
Mods: I omitted the 5tr bobble rounds, added some simple striping to match the center motif, and I did some rounds without increasing the stitch count to avoid rippling (thanks Ravelry!)

Like many of you that are bi-crafty, I've often avoided certain crochet patterns because they don't offer the same movement and drape as most knitting. Not so with this gem - I was so pleased with the softness of the yarn in the ball, that I could only hope it would maintain that quality when stitched up.

My first go at this yarn was a knitted blanket pattern with simple lace, but the gauge was too dense and I frogged it. This second stab at it with the hook instead of needles was just what was called for. The yarn contains DuPont Tencel (I still find that sort of strange) and nylon. It feels like bunny fluff!! That's the only way I can describe it. I just love the way the petals of this "Rosy" lay out, and this is something I'd like to be wrapped in if I were a baby. Hmmm...I do have 4 balls of it left...


This pattern was blissfully repetitive, and surprisingly portable too. It is worked outward from the center, and even though the rounds got longer and longer as it grew, I still enjoyed every step. I even found myself relaxed enough to think some loving thoughts of the recipient. My niece is due to join her two little brothers (who I am just crazy about) later this summer.

Don't be surprised if you see another one of these posted out here before the year is out.


May 27, 2009

Brought to you by Mr. Greenthumbs

I constantly tease hubby that he's got a hand full of green thumbs; he is in no way clumsy with them either - that man can tend some land! Recently he told me that some corn had randomly started sprouting shoots from our discards, and I immediately had thoughts of hundreds of stalks swaying in the breeze. He's just that good.

Our latest triumph is the renewal of a tree that was whipped to smithereens by the hurricanes of a few years ago - our Lychee (/lee' chee/) tree blooms again.

Lychee Nuts - May 2009_2

I found some interesting info on this fruit at the usual place.

Lychee Nuts - May 2009_1

Though they are still a bit sour right now, we've ben noticing that some of them are ripening and then bursting open while still on the branch. With that and the inevitable "squirrel tax", you better believe we're devouring them as fast as we can!

Lychee - May 2009

The sweetest part? These are usually crazy expensive in the store! It has been very very satisfying to be able to pluck them for free just by stepping out into my own yard.

Lychee Nuts - May 2009_4 Lychee Nuts - May 2009_5


May 23, 2009

Bits and Bobs, Blankets and Babies

It feels good to be back to the fiber again. My back pain has prevented me from doing much stitching lately, but I'm combating that as much as I can with exercise, chiro visits, and sheer will. Here's a glimpse at what I'm working on...

Colorific crochet flowers - I intend to turn these into a "hippy" style belt, but for now I just find it very soothing to keep making them. My sister gifted me several of these gorgeous jewel tones of Caron Simply Soft; I'm happy to be able to finally use them.

And speaking of my sister - she's making this for me...

Mother's Day 2009

My Seesterberry

And I'm making this for her...

Around the Rosy Blanket WIP

Around the Rosy Blanket WIP_2

- a sooper soft blanket for the baby girl inside that belly. Click the photos for details...

I'm really enjoying having both of these projects on the go. I'm also looking forward to my knitting machine lesson coming up in 2 weeks - I hope to get rolling on that new path as soon as possible, the ideas that are brewing really make me smile...

May 2, 2009

Bonding Over Buns

Another Super Saturday - this time, a baking edition.

I went searching for a good recipe for cinnamon buns online and found this one. During my work travel this past week, one of our dinner conversations turned to the topic of making things from scratch and we all shared stories about which family member was brilliant (or awful) at specific dishes. When we got around to baking, biscuits made from scratch were a hot topic, and cinnamon buns too - mostly because the "magic" that is homemade bread dough still seems to mystify some people.

As a homeschooling lesson, making bread is a great way to teach math and fractions (for measuring ingredients), reading comprehension, science (yeast + warm liquid + flour = poof! fat dough), and the importance of following the order of specific directions. It's also a very tactile process - one that little hands will hopefully remember for many years to come. Mostly though, it is a great way to teach patience. If you are patient, and you take care with each step, the result is something very rewarding, and in this case - something wonderfully delicious (at least...that's what they told me :) ).

Super Saturday - Buns!

Fresh from the oven - bottom side

Super Saturday - Buns!
Flipped out of the pant to cool - Voila! Top side with caramel topping

Super Saturday - Buns! Super Saturday - Buns!

Super Saturday - Buns! Super Saturday - Buns!
Our trusty taste testers give signs of approval