Procrastaknit

Everything else can wait until I finish this row…

Back to School #Sewpplies

Remember a few months ago when someone suggested that teachers should be armed and educators responded with the hashtag#suppliesnotguns ? Well, it’s back-to-school season and teachers are getting their classroom in order for the upcoming academic year. I have a friend who teaches first grade in a neighboring town and she asked me for help creating chair slipcovers with pockets for her classroom. In order to accommodate the mobility needs of her pupils in her incoming class. The students’ desks, which usually provides individual storage, are being replaced with tables to open up some floor space.

One down, two dozens more to go!

This was the trial run for the chair pockets, I used a kid’s chair I have at home

I thought that the sewing machine is what intimidated me from learning how to sew, but now I remember it was really my hate for ironing. Learning to love the process.

I am volunteering my limited sewing abilities to help her out and I am sure there is a teacher out there that could use yours crafty skills too. If you don’t personally know a teacher check out www.donorschoose.org it is a wonderful website that allows you to find teachers that really care about their pupils’ education but have very limited resources. I recommend doing a search with the filters “More than half of students from low income households” plus one or more of the following:

  • Warmth, Care and Hunger – often asks for winter accessories for classrooms with not heat
  • Special Needs – often needs sensory items for learning
  • Art Supplies – you’ve been meaning to clean out your craft closet, now you have a good reason
  • Projects With No Donations

Now, the website original intention is to get funding from donors, not the actual items requested. So if you’re willing to knit 30 hats or make 12 flexible seating or provide any of the requested items on a teacher’s wishlist, check the status of their request. If the project doesn’t get funded, the the classroom gets none of the items needed. Try finding a school in your state and reach out to that teacher that you are willing to contribute some handmade goods to enhance his/her learning environment. They might happily accept something made with so much care a lot more from a person in their community.

Or you can just make a donation directly through the website, at the time of this posting the lowest amount needed to complete a project is $7, but sadly the only donor is the teacher who posted the project, so I’ve fulfilled it. Teachers really shouldn’t have to pay out of pocket to do their job, but more than that, students should have a safe learning environment with the materials they need to succeed.

Now lets see if we can make this small post into a movement, use #sewpplies if you decide to make something for a teacher and share it widely in all social media outlets.

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Happy New Year!

Hello and Happy New Year to you!!

A lot has happened since last I posted.  Fall of 2016 was busy.  My family and I all submitted items to our local fair,  my husband in the baking category, my 3 year old did some general crafts,  and I entered my knitting.  We all came home with ribbons, my Christmas stocking even got best in show in its category!

I also went to two book signings at my LYS, Knit New Haven.  I had a total fangirl moment when I approached Jared Flood of Brooklyn Tweeds!  I got him to sign his new book, “Woolens” and one from my library “The Knitter’s List”.  The other book signing was from a regular to our weekly knit night, Gale Zucker, a very talented knitter and photographer.   The book is called “Drop Dead Easy Knits” and it has some beautiful designs.  I have already bookmarked some of the patterns in these books to start knitting them soon.

But first, I am sewing!  I’ve also taken a basic 101 class at a local studio that recently opened downtown called Sew Crafty.  The sewing machine no longer intimidates me and it’s not hidden in my craft closet either.  I have it out in corner of my living room and I’m using it regularly.  I am in the process of starting my own craft business and sewing is my medium.  I am working on the branding and marketing of it right now, once it’s ready I’ll debut it here.

Another use for my sewing machine is craftivism.  I think most of the knitting community in the US has now heard about the Pussy Hat Project.  I had every intention of knitting as many of these hats as I could manage, but turns out that wasn’t many.  Even with bulky yarn I was only able to make one hat a day, after I made two hats I turned to my sewing machine to mass produce them for the cause. I’ve made about 8 a day!  I’m planning on handing them out to people going to the Women’s March in Washington, DC or to any of the sister marches happening nationwide.  I’ve gotten requests from friends in California, Washington, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Massachussetts, New York and here in Connecticut.   If you want to help me in this cause, I can still use more materials, please check out: https://www.gofundme.com/378k9reg

The march is just days away and I have no time to spare – off to make more #pussyhats!!

 

September 12, 2016 Woolens book signing with J. Flood

September 12, 2016 Woolens book signing with J. Flood

Oct. 18, 2016 - Drop Dead Easy Knits Book Signing

Oct. 18, 2016 – Drop Dead Easy Knits Book Signing

January 4, 2017 - made my first knitted pussyhat in a day and then moved to sewing

January 4, 2017 – made my first knitted pussyhat in a day and then moved to sewing

January 2017 - the first round of sewn pussyhats

January 2017 – the first round of sewn pussyhats

 

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Hello, it’s me…

… I’m in Connecticut knitting, with new yarn very happily.

HA!  Nothing like a little Adele parody to start off the new year right?  I have so much to share too!

Yes, I have been lacking on posting, but I was creating a Pinterest-worthy birthday party for my 2 year old; who proceeded to get sick with Coxsackie (aka hand-foot-and-mouth); which my husband got; then my brother-in-law got when we traveled to California (we thought we were over it when we boarded the plane) for Thanksgiving; followed by a few short weeks at home recuperating; then having a low-key Christmas; before getting on a plane to travel to the other side of the world so my son could meet his great-grandparents; before coming home just a few days ago to battle jetlag and a blizzard.  That would keep anyone busy, right?

I plan to write a separate post on the Under the Sea themed birthday party and our trip to Japan. For now, I’ll keep this post short just by showing you the photos of the knitted projects I have completed in the past three months, so that we can get back to our sharing our love of knitting.

I managed to do two Christmas Stockings – one for my husband and one for my son – by December 25th.  I have to finish two more by this December. The bottom left pattern is Foliage by Emilee Mooney from knitty.com; but I think I am going to have to frog it.   The Ecolã Hand Painted yarn I got from Brazil a few years ago isn’t a good match for this pattern, the thick and thin texture and the beautiful colors take away from the lace pattern.  The cowl on the bottom right is the Bee Keeper’s Cowl by Grace Ahkrem (free download on Ravelry) – with two bulky yarns it is really warm and perfect for New England winters.

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105 Cubic Feet

That is the space of my new craft closet in our sunroom.  I am excited to get that up in working order – Pinterest has shown me so many wonderful possibilities!  I don’t know if I’ll be able to pull off the look that I have pinned like this one from Craft Storage Ideas (how perfect is that little set up?!?) but I am going to try.

Essentially that is the space I have, but a lot of it is height.  So I am going to have to find a way to arrange it in an inspiring and functional manner.

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Lots of potential for crafty organization

 Besides my vast knitting stash and library, I’ve also acquired a sewing machine and table.  I haven’t even dipped my toe in that pool yet, because the machine is still in it’s box and the table is buried under moving boxes in the garage.  The challenge will be once I learn how to use it, is how to do I use it?  For my knitting I know what yarns I want to use on my next projects and which are just perfectly preserved for petting and which are just left overs for a provisional cast on.  I know what my tendencies are for that hobby, I don’t know how I will embrace sewing.

The next dilemma is the actual storage solutions.  I found an old library card catalog and a small drawer cabinet at a yard sale a few weekends ago.  I don’t know how I’ll use them, but I know they have a very specific purpose just waiting to be utilized in my future craft closet.  I have the shoe organizer that when I set it up in Virginia made me feel like I had my own personal little LYS – I should put that back to use.  I have the two bookcases that I used at our old apartment before moving here, which wasn’t very organized but it contained a lot of my supplies.  I know I want to get a peg board, because that seems like it would be useful.  I’m not sure about a chalk board, I feel like a cork board would be more practical for how I function.  And I should get a bookshelf for all my books and magazines and loose patterns.

Holy crap, there is a lot to get excited and/or overwhelmed about with all the necessities and possibilities of this space.  I am going to try and stay excited about this place, putting the rest of the house in order is overwhelming, but this is going to become my 105 Cubic Feet of Crafty Bliss.

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Off Topic: Peeling Wallpaper, Painting, Pulling Carpets and Putting Down Bamboo

It’s been a busy week here at the Ugly Duckling Ranch, but that’s to be expected with the kind of transformation we’re making here.

My war with wallpaper continues. In my excitement to start Operation Beautiful Swan, I made the rookie mistake of peeling a little bit here, a little bit there, a little bit in that corner, a little bit back at the beginning. It’s like when you’re in between manicures and you’re chipping away at your nail polish. You notice a little bit of the nail showing in one finger and then the cuticle is more noticeable on the other hand, and before you know it the beautiful manicure you had gotten over the weekend has been damaged in every single one of your fingers. And it just looks messy. That’s the status of my house right now. All the walls that have wallpaper on it have a little bit of it ripped up and it looks really messy.
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I had finished removing the wallpaper border that was in the Master bedroom a while ago and decided to focus my efforts on the dining room next. But I called for reinforcements and was happy when a friend of mine came through with her promise to come and help. When you ask for a guy friend to help you move, you offer beer and a pizza. When you ask a girl friend to help you remove wallpaper, you offer a homemade tempura dinner. My hubby, prepared a wonderful meal to get us energized and my friend stayed until image

11p

m!

There is still wallpaper to remove in the dining room, but relative to the kitchen, it’s not much since it only has three walls, three doorways, a window and the wallpaper is all above theimage

chair

rail. I had hoped to get it painted before our bamboo floors get installed tomorrow, because I don’t care much about dripping paint on this hideously filthy carpet, but that’s just not going to happen. Hopefully, it will be done by the end of the month, but if you’ve read some of my previous posts you know me and deadlines don’t mix very well.

What did get painted was the master bedroom aimage

nd bath!

We painted Soybean’s room ourselves and all I can say is that the couple that paints a room together … …. … is lucky to come out alive! Seriously, I am NOT a happy painter. For whatever reason, I become a Type A personality when painting, I can see all the brushstrokes, all the heavy globs dripping down, all the white marks that weren’t properly blended, all the spots on the ceiling, and many imaginary iimage

mperfections.

Props to my hubby for dealing with this unexpected side of me and coming through with his promise to have our bedroom professionally painted. Since it’s summer the painter we hired could only come on a rainy day since all of his current projects are outdoors, lucky for us, it rained four days after we reached this arrangement. Yay for rainy days! And a bigger YAY for hiring professional painters!

Once the room was painted and the smell of it aired out, I turned my attention to the closet. The same filthy carpet was in there covering the floor of my closet – the beautiful hardwood that runs down the hallway and the two smaller bedrooms. Sadly, that wood is not in my bedroom, that will have to be another day’s work of installation. So while Soybean took his morning nap I got busy pulling up the carpet, nails and staples. For that I needed some specialty tools including: a doohickey, a thingamabob, and a whatchamacallit image

The doohickey was to pry the staples from the floor, the thinkamabob was to actually pull it out, and the whatchamacallit was to pull up the nailed down trim. Pretty soon my closet had it’s beautiful floor and fresh coat of paint, all that is left to do is fill it up!

Now it’s late and I too excited about the prospect of having new floors in my living, dining and sun rooms! I cannot wait to be rid of all this carpet for good and actually start getting settled in our home. But before anything happens I have to navigate through breakfast tomorrow morning with a train table in front of the stove.
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I’M BACK! Back in a knitting groove!

Yes, I am back! The reason for my absence? We’ve moved … again. But this time, we’ve moved in-state, to our very own home!! That is the change that I hinted at in my last post, we’re homeowners now and things couldn’t be better, or scarier, or busier.

There was a lot of nerves and anxiety and excitement until the end of the winter when we finally put pen to paper and closed the deal on our new home. We are thrilled and there has been a lot happening as we transform our ugly duckling house into our beautiful swan home. The master bath got gutted, carpet was pulled, plants were trimmed, walls were painted, and a war between myself and 1970s wallpaper is in full swing. This means that my little blog here will expand a little bit more as well, as I hope to share with you some of the transformations (we attempt) to make our home.

Despite all of that I managed to get some knitting done. I finished knitting the colorwork purse and started the second sleeve of the blue sweater! I decided that I was going to keep those two WIPs out so when I needed a break from the stress of buying a house I would have one of those projects available to work on. Despite my jitters and twitches, this helped me complete the purse. Look at how beautifully it came out:
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Now, obviously I haven’t had a chance to block it or line it yet, but once I clear a few boxes and have some visable floor space, I’ll block it out. As for the lining of the purse, I plan to do it with my brand spanking new sewing machine! YEAH!! Because if anyone else needs another hobby, it’s me.

I received it in the mail a few weeks ago and it is still in its box. I still have no idea how to work it, I haven’t been properly taught to use one since 8th grade Home Economics when I made lopsided shorts. The plan is to sign up for a 101 class at JoAnn’s, have a little one-on-one time with a friend from my knit group, and maybe get a Craftsy Class too. But I do plan to be a little less selft-taught and a little bit more instructed with sewing than I was with knitting. I feel like I will need more guidance with a sewing machine than I did with the needles and hook. We shall see…

So lots more to come here at Procrastaknit. Maybe I’ll become more Procrastasew, or ProcrastaDIY Home Improvement Weekend Warrior! HA! We’ll see what happens.

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Container Gardening Fail, Canning Success

It finally started to snow here in Connecticut and I thought now would be the right time to see what progress my carrots made in their container. As you can see from the photos below, the answer is zilch.

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I didn’t have much luck with container gardening, except for some herbs and my little lemon tree. Just enough to grab a bottle of Dominican rum and make myself a delicious mojito. Not very cost effective, to tell you the truth, but I am still determined to make this work. I am going to clear out the dirt from my containers and when Spring comes I am going to try again. I just have to pick the right crop to plant.

Thankfully, my husband and I joined a CSA from a local farm and got a TON of winter vegetables. Comparing the carrots from the farm to the ones in my container gardening, is just pathetic and completely unfair. But essentially, that is my goal. I didn’t start out as a great knitter, I am not going to start out as a great gardener. So I get a learning curve for a few planting seasons, right?

What I am doing pretty well is canning. My husband gave me a canning book for my birthday and so I took the farm carrots and made them into Asian pickled carrots. They also became: carrot ginger soup, baby food, carrot cake, and part of a delicious vegetable ragu. I can’t wait to try some recipes with whatever vegetables we get in December!

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Things don’t always work out as planned

Doesn’t that suck? You get so excited about trying different things and then you realize that your attempt, while a valiant one, was just a waste of time. Or, if you’re the optimistic type, it’s “a learning experience”.

First, my container garden: I was able to harvest some beans! Great!! Hurray!!! … except that I only got 1 ounce from all the plants and all the weeks that I invested in it. That’s not even enough to make a meal for my baby boy!
Can you get beans from container gardening?
Yes.
Should you bother with it?
Not unless you are willing to fill a bedroom with many, many containers.
Lesson learned – wait until you have a yard
Resolution – planted carrots after I pulled up all of dried out bean plants. I figured it’s a root vegetable, it will grow down, so I might actually be able to get enough to add to a salad

Second, my submission to the craft fair: met the on-line entry deadline! Great!! Hurray!! …except that I thought I would have to take the shawl in a day or two before the actual fair started. The reality is that I had to hand in the knitted garment a week before the fair so that it could be judged in its category. D’oh!
Have I submitted an item into a craft competition?
Technically yes.
Should I bother taking the shawl to be displayed even if it can’t be judged?
It’s better than nothing
Lesson learned – put deadlines on your Google calendar with reminders
Resolution – called the person in charge of the committee and was told that I was too late, items were judged the following day, but that I should enter again next year

Sucks! Oh well, got no one to blame but myself.

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Trial and Error Gardening

I was so surprised to see some beans growing in my old cooler!  Truth be told, I wasn’t sure it was going to work and am really happy that it has.  Now the question remains, when do I harvest the beans?  I did a web search and found a lot of information about planting and drying them, but no real descriptive instructions on when to pull the pods.  Some YouTube videos showed the gardener pulling up the entire plants by its roots and drying it, but I only have a dozen plants in my container, not a whole field to test it out.  On Wednesday,I pulled pulled a handful of pods, some green and some dark, to try drying them out.  I left most of the pods on the plants in case my little experiment fails.

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My feijoada plant


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Beans!


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Drying experiment

My herb gardens started out well, but now I’m not sure if they will continue to thrive.  OK, well the mint I’m not worried about – that’s a weed that even my baby can’t mess up.  But my cilantro started out with so much promise and now the stems dried out and I am left with a very pathetic pot.  Similarly, the chives grew and we ate them with eggs, but once I trimmed them, they didn’t regrow.  My basil looks like it has had its growth stunted.  Luckily, I moved some of my original seedlings to my friend’s shared garden, and they are doing much better there.  I haven’t harvested the oregano yet, but it doesn’t seem like it’s going to grow much more than what it is now.

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My row of basil in the back, my mojito plant to the left, and two more bean sprouts

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My cilantro is all sad and gone

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The oregano and chives that have stopped growing

The latest addition to my container garden is a Meyer Lemon Dwarf Tree.  I dreamed about having one for weeks and weeks after finding so many growing tutorials on Pinterest.  So I went to a local nursery and bought the last one they had in stock.  I think I’m failing there too. The three fruits on the branches were already there when I bought it and I think I’ve lost more leaves.

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My lity little caipirinha tree

Even my beautiful calla lilies that I got for Mother’s Day seem sadder.   I was able to give some of them away to a friend that is moving and ever since then it seems as though the rest of the plant is mourning the loss of its fellow flowers that were clipped.  I plan to repot them onto a prettier and larger container, hopefully that will help them bloom again.

That’s what’s happening in my little balcony, thankfully we are helping friends maintain their raised bed gardens and so we are getting quite a lot of delicious vegetables from them.  We’ve had radishes, peas and green beans before and this week we got beets, carrots and Swiss chard!  I found a recipe on Pinterest for pickled Swiss Chard stems and did two cans – one for us, one for our friends.   I’m excited to try more new recipes for all the delicious foods we are growing!

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Fresh carrots!


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The three garden beds before things really started to grow.

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My Crafty Evolution

I am evolving as a crafter, I am no longer limiting myself to the fiber arts.  I am getting a taste of sewing and gardening and other miscellaneous hobbies (how have I gone so long without knowing the wonders of Mod Podge!?).  Having created a Pinterest account in the last few months might have something to do with it, but I have also made new friends who are just as eager to try different things and so we are exploring these new creative outlets together. I’ve already shown off the off centered bib and I don’t know what will be my next sewing project but I look forward to it.  My new friends and I have started a little vegetable garden in one of their yards.  Since I am restricted to apartment living I have started an urban garden that includes: black beans, raspberries, some flowers and herbs.  I never thought I would enjoy playing in the dirt so much, but it is exciting to see the little seeds sprout!  Here is how they are this morning, and since I am a mom now I couldn’t help adding the garden decor  (forget the gnomes):

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