February 22, 2011

World of Geekcraft!

I just want to take a minute to tell you how incredibly excited I am about this awesome book that’s coming out in May!  I know, that’s awhile away still, but I just have to show you a peek!  World of Geekcraft:

Geekcraft!

Update 6/4: Just a belated note that the book ended up coming out earlier than I’d thought, so it’s been on shelves for a couple months now!  My pattern is now listed on ravelry, so add it as a project if you make a geeky sleeve!

My buddy Susan put together the most nerd-tastic amazing collection of geekery inspired craft projects, and I am so lucky to get to be a part of it!  I designed this simple coffee cup sleeve knitting pattern that can be customized and embellished to show off whatever geeky obsession you might have:

geek sleeves!

My three chosen themes are: a Trivial Pursuit sleeve to display my board game geekery…

geek sleeves!

…a Jayne hat striped sleeve for the Joss Whedon nerd in me, and a Dr. Mario sleeve to show off my most favorite video game:

geek sleeves! geek sleeves!

I got the opportunity to flip through the book a few days ago, and my project’s spread looks so good!!

Geekcraft!

The book has tons of different types of craft projects represented, and so many awesome contributors – see the list here on the book’s site.  Two more super duper exciting things about this book – Pete wrote a page for a Geek Speak segment!

Geekcraft!

And, my project made it onto the back cover!!  Woooo so awesome!  Ok, so I’m sorry to tease you with how great this is, and you’ll have to wait to see more projects from it, but now you have it to look forward to!  It really is a fabulous book – I would be totally excited about it even if I had nothing to do with it, for reals!  So, follow the book’s blog and/or Susan’s blog to stay up-to-date, and I’ll definitely be posting more details about my design and the book in general when it’s released!

Oh, and be sure to check with Susan’s post for ways to pre-order and other book related links!

Geekcraft! (back cover)

And yes, that is Oregon Trail cross stitch.

Filed under: books,general crafts,knitting — leethal @ 5:08 pm

February 21, 2011

Spinning, knit-a-long, fiber retreat, and what’s to come!

Life has been busy and exciting and I have a bunch of things to show you and tell you about!  There is a Betiko knit-a-long about to get started, hosted by awesome spinner Blonde Chicken!  She has even spun up a bunch of yarn kits made especially for Betiko shawls!  How cool is that?!  Of course, you can join in the knit-a-long fun with any yarn you want to use, but handspun is definitely encouraged!

spun by me!

These photos are some of my handspun I’ve made recently… I might have to use one of them for a Betiko once I start seeing all the sure to be gorgeous handspun versions popping up.  I love looking through the Betiko projects, because the shawls can all look so different from each other – this stripey one on Michelynntires blog is beautiful!  And for this one blogged on OtterWise, she came with her own custom outer edging!  Ohdessa Knits also designed her own lacy edging, which she shares on her blog – it’s so pretty!

spun by me!

And in other handspun-related news… I’ve been going through a spinning phase!  I hadn’t really spun in the last year or so, just a couple of single skeins here and there.  I think it was because I was doing the recycled spun yarn every month for my old club and it made me not want to spin anything besides that (because recycled spinning for the club quantity was really tedious).  But then I decided to pick up the wheel again a few weeks ago and have been really into it!  Above is some 2-ply spun from Spunky Eclectic‘s BFL wool dyed in the Aspen colorway, love it so much!  And below is some bulky art yarn, spun to be fuzzy and full of big slubby bits, striping from all these colors of merino I got from Black Sheep fiber festival a couple years ago.  (I haven’t washed/blocked either yet, I was just too excited to photograph them and show you!)

spun by me!

Sort of related to spinning, I took a spontaneous trip on the train last Thursday to Madrona fiber arts retreat in Tacoma!

Madrona trip Madrona trip

I found out my buddies Star, Vivian, and Sorren has decided to go on Wednesday night, and I was leaving for the train station at 7am the next morning!  It was a whirlwind of fibery goodness, I’m so glad I went for it!

Madrona trip

It was at this amazing hotel – Hotel Murano – and while we weren’t there for long, we did find a little time to sit and knit under that Chuck Close in the cozy fireplace area.  Such a great location for a fiber retreat, I just wish we were able to be there for the whole weekend instead of one day!  (Maybe next year…)

Madrona trip

In the overwhelmingly-full-of-cool-stuff marketplace, we got to try out these way too fun hand-built electric spinners, by Hansen Crafts.  It was really fun and easy to use and all of us agreed that someday when we win the lottery / sell out / have an extra $700 we just need to get rid of, we are totally getting one!  Another highlight was us talking Vivian into getting this best puppet ever!  And by the way, Vivian has some more excellent photos of our adventure on her fabulous blog here!

Madrona trip Madrona trip

I had a tiny budget for the day, but I did get one braid of spinning fiber since I realized I has never spun Targhee before – this gorgeously dyed wool is from Sweet Grass Wool, in the Arizona colorway.  (That reminds me, if you’re a lover of sheep, you must see the documentary Sweetgrass if you haven’t already!)

to be spun!

I also got a small silk hankie – just enough to try out the knitting technique in this blog post that I totally fell in love with (along with just about every knitter in the world!).  If I enjoy knitting with this little trial-sized hankie, I’ll go for one of the amazingly beautiful Blue Moon hankies!  And, speaking of Blue Moon, for my birthday I got a massive 8 ounces of this handpainted Polwarth roving (another type of wool I’ve never spun before!) in the River Rocked colorway – so huge and squishy and those colors and… yeah, it’s pretty much the best thing ever!  (Thanks Pete’s parents!!!!)

to be spun!

Aaaand, also for my birthday (thanks Star!!!!) I got this… ack I feel like I keep saying the words beautiful and gorgeous and amazing too much, but it’s all of those things… Black Trillium merino/bamboo blend in the Too Many Pumpkins colorway.  I love it so much!!  So, once I get really back into practice with spinning and I trust myself to do these fibers justice, you’ll be seeing yarns made from them!

to be spun!

And, mostly just for more eye candy… this is a yarn I spun a year ago, with Spunky Eclectic hand-dyed shetland, all big and squishy, which I hadn’t gotten around to photographing until now (except for the singles on the bobbins here).  Love it!

spun by me!

This one was spun with some various batts from fiber festivals (like these), in long striping sections in a kind of uneven single ply…

spun by me!

…which was then knit into this, yumyum handspun garter stitch!

handspun garter stitch

And that leads me to something else exciting I can tell you about… I am finally starting actual tangible work on my ebook, which I’ve been slowly planning for the last year!  It was originally going to be a recycled-yarn-making ebook, with patterns to go with all the different kinds of yarns, including recycled spun, hand-dyed, and more… Well, after months of planning, brainstorming, outlining, I decided that was just an unrealistically huge undertaking and I came up with the idea of splitting it into 2 volumes – the first will be recycled yarns with no dyeing (super detailed on how to recycled sweaters into new yarns, and recycled spun yarns in tons of different styles, etc)…

Wrapped Up In Books Coming Up Roses

So, that garter stitch project above is a first prototype of a pattern which isn’t ready to show you yet, and I’ve also started work on a hat pattern for the book.  Work on this book will not be a secret, so I’ll show you progress as I go, and once I have a couple actual items to show from it, I’ll start selling book pre-orders.  My plan is to release each pattern as it’s ready – so, if you pre-order the ebook, then you’ll get new patterns one at a time until the whole book is finished and released.  So that’s that plan.  I have a lot of other stuff going on too, so I’m not able to fully focus on it yet, but I’m pretty excited about it!

And I’ll leave you with one more handspun photo, because I love this one so much!

spun by me!

February 10, 2011

February quick knits ebook: Buttons!

February is a month full of love, and I love buttons… well ok, that’s not why I chose the theme… it just kind of developed… anyway, this month’s club:

Buttons! ebook cover

Five different button-filled projects!  The first, a knitting pattern for Shoggoth, the pin cushion demon!

Buttons!

HP Lovecraft monster that knits up in approximately 20 yards of worsted weight leftovers, gets stuffed and covered in button eyes, then functions as an awesome pin cushion!

Buttons! Buttons!

One tentacle curls around, with my intent being that you can store your scissors in there… but it’s not really structurally sound enough to stay up without the scissors balancing on the table.  The curled tentacle looks cool though, even if it’s not super useful.  Also, you could attach googly eyes instead of buttons if you prefer!

Buttons!

The other knitting pattern is called Buttontastic, and it’s a strip of buttons and eyelet holes which can be twisted and worn as a headband, necklace, bracelet, or probably more!

Buttons!

To make it long enough for a headband, you actually need a bit more than 20 yards (I think this one, in Knitted Wit merino yarn, used around 25 yards), but you could totally stripe with different yarn leftovers of the same weight (worsted weight is recommended).  The brown example (in Malabrigo worsted) used around 17 yards, and makes for a fun necklace or bracelet:

Buttons! Buttons!

The linen stitch looks super great in variegated yarns, as you can see…

Buttons! Buttons!

While making these pieces, I came up with a way to attach the buttons into the knitting as you knit – no sewing on oh-so-many buttons afterwards, yay!  The pattern includes instructions for how I did that, but I also plan to do a blog post on it sometime in the near future, for all to see, since it’s an easy process that would be super useful for lots of button-y patterns!  (I’m sure it’s something that many have done before, I’d just never seen it – anyone know of an online how-to for putting buttons into your knit fabric as you knit?)

Buttons!

For my tutorial/extras this month, I actually just did 3 short tutorials for different kinds of fun, simple-ish button craft projects.  The first is an easy clothing embellishment project, which I did on a thrifted skirt – LOVE the finished look!

Buttons! Buttons!

And then a home decor project – a button-covered branch light:

Buttons!

It’s a whole different look during the day, and turned on at night!

Buttons! Buttons!

I am totally in love with how this project turned out, as well!  I think it would also look awesome with just the buttons and no lights… I’ll probably be trying that out soon!

Buttons!

And lastly, a simple little jewelry project – pile of buttons pendant.  A fun way to use up some coordinating buttons… or you could make it with just one extra special small button framed inside the larger button, to show it off.

Buttons!

There are only 4 months left of the club – you can get a subscription starting with this ebook, lasting through the end of the club, which is 5 months for $17.  Or, as usual, you can grab just this ebook alone for $5.

It’s been a weird week, and my computer is in the Apple store getting its fan replaced, so I’m writing this on Pete’s computer… my point being, I haven’t been doing much computery stuff at all this week.  Things should be back to normal soon though, and I’ll have some fun blog posts, and hopefully another mystery knit-a-long very soon!

(One extra thing, you may want to check out my twitter, as I might be having a secret-ish sale this week that I’ve been announcing through twitter only, and that ends tomorrow…)

Filed under: clothing,general crafts,knitting,quick knits — leethal @ 4:13 pm

February 4, 2011

Making milk liqueurs!

I decided to try out a new thing for fun this year: liqueur-making!  Thanks to pinterest, I read how easy it is to make a basic milk liqueur (on Lottie + Doof)… I thought, hmm, maybe I’ll try that someday… and then I came across 2 more recipes and just couldn’t get the idea out of my head!  So I bought the ingredients (milk, sugar, vodka, lemon, and chocolate for the recipe I decided to try), got a big mason jar, and tried making a half-batch to see how it would turn out.  The final liqueur is delicious!!

homemade chocolate liqueur!

It uses almost all things I already had, making it cheap and easy enough even for me, someone who does not spend much free time in the kitchen…

homemade chocolate liqueur!

I used cheap vodka – the recipe said to use grappa, which I’ve never even seen and read is expensive… but more research into liqueur making told me that most people recommend using something cheap because the difference in flavor in the final liqueur is not noticeable.  So, some $7 Oregon Springs vodka, and a bar of Ghiradelli bittersweet baking chocolate were what I chose:

homemade chocolate liqueur!

I followed the instructions, shaking up the ingredients in the jar (I used 1 cup each of vodka, milk, sugar, 1/4 of a lemon, and 1 ounce of chocolate – grating that chocolate was by far the hardest part of the whole process!).  It didn’t really look “curdled” like they said it would, but the next morning it had separated quite a bit, before I shook it up – I didn’t photograph it then, but the following morning it was separated only a little on the bottom.  On the left, you can see how it looked pre-shaking, then after shaking:

homemade chocolate liqueur! homemade chocolate liqueur!

So, I gave it the 10 days, shaking every day, then came the filtering!  Pouring it through the cheesecloth was much easier said than done, but I managed to do that, then filtered it through coffee filters.  Even just for my half-batch, I used 3 filters to get through it all – it leaves a thick layer of the milk/chocolate behind in the filter, so you have to keep changing it:

homemade chocolate liqueur! homemade chocolate liqueur!

And then, the recipe said “You can repeat this step once or twice to clarify it as much as possible. (I didn’t)” and I was waiting for my bottles in the dishwasher, so I figured this trial batch would be a good time to try filtering it through twice to see if it would make a difference.  Well, the second time went super quickly, since all the solids were already filtered out – only 1 filter was needed for that:

homemade chocolate liqueur!

I left a bit of the once-filtered, so I could see/taste the difference.  Below, you can see how the twice-filtered (left) is more golden and less milky than the once-filtered.  And the taste really is noticeably better!  The chocolate flavor is stronger and the whole taste has more depth, I think, in the twice-filtered.  So, I definitely recommend running it through a filter once more!

homemade chocolate liqueur!

After that little test batch went so well, I wanted to try more!  So, using the concept of this recipe from SF Weekly (which is not exactly an actual recipe – “equal parts vodka, milk, and sugar… oranges and lemons and a spoonful of vanilla” but with no ratios of how much orange/lemon/vanilla), I made a few batches of orange liqueur…

making orange milk liqueurs!

I still have a few weeks before I can tell you how they turn out, but if they are a success, I will tell you exactly what I did!  I basically made 2 identical batches of 1 cup each milk/vodka/sugar, mandarin oranges, some lemon, and a little vanilla…

making orange milk liqueurs! making orange milk liqueurs!

…with my plan being to finish off the 2 batches at different times.  The chocolate milk liqueur I made only needed to sit for 10 days, but the orange liqueur “recipe” which is very similar, says to leave it for 3 weeks.  Anyone know why this might be??  So, I plan to filter one after 2 weeks, and the other after 3 weeks, and see if there’s a difference.

making orange milk liqueurs!

Then I made a 3rd experimental batch of an orange spiced version!  And, with the little bit (less than 1 cup) of vodka I had left, I’m trying out some orange infused vodka as well:

making orange milk liqueurs!

For the spiced version, I skipped the vanilla, and added some cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.  It might be a total failure, since I don’t know what I’m doing yet, but I’m excited to find out!  It might be delicious!

making orange milk liqueurs!

Here they are on the next morning – see how much they separate at first.  By the 3rd or 4th day, that separating pretty much stops and they stay blended, as long as you shake/mix them every day.  If any of these is a success, I’ll be giving you actual recipes!  I’m hoping for the best!

making orange milk liqueurs!

Anyone out there have experience with making liqueurs?  My birthday is next week, and I want to get a book or two and maybe some new supplies and/or fun ingredients since I’m having a lot of fun with this!  I’d love any book recommendations, advice, or anything else you might have!

Filed under: drinks,recipes — leethal @ 2:56 pm
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