Everything else can wait until I finish this row…

I’m Hooking

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned that I’m Bi; I knit and crochet. Well, knitting has taken a place at the back burner and my hook is flying!

I found the Mandala Madness pattern on Ravelry and joined their Facebook group for the crochet-a-long.  I didn’t start it with everyone else and as the weeks passed and people kept posting photos of their work I became both enchanted and intimidated. The projects were all breathtaking.  People did them in a solid color, in gradient hues, in repeats of three, or four, or five complimentary colors, and in colors from all over the spectrum that somehow come together beautifully.

I became more and more obsessed with each image that went up.  I decided that I needed to try it.  I wanted to make it in cotton and with (at most) four colors.  I imagined taking it to the beach or the park for play dates with my son and his little toddler friends.  It was a peaceful scene… and totally delusional, because toddlers would’ve brought chaos upon the Mandala.

Sadly, the cost of buying all new yarn for such a project was a little out of my budget.  Every week that I went to my LYS I would browse and pet the yarn on the shelf daydreaming of this project.  I knew my bank account wouldn’t be able to supply my Mandala, but my stash could.  So I decided to make it a destashing project and use up what I already have on hand.  I grabbed my hook and my little scraps and just went for it.

It’s going to be wild ‘n crazy colors.

It’s going to be wool.

It’s  going to be EPIC!!

(Cue music and fireworks)

But for now it’s just a baby mandala and this is all I have so far:



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Pig in the Woods

For a knitter, no trip is complete without finding a place to sit and knit.  I’m lucky to have a husband that understands this concept. We are currently in Tokyo visiting his family and he has found a knit café for us to spend the afternoon.

It’s called  Mori No Kobuta, which translates to Pig in the Woods.  It is not a yarn shop, but a café that is just as welcoming to knitters.  They serve some delicious treats, sell very few items and have the occasional craft workshop.  So don’t go there thinking to buy yarn, instead take a few hours to work on the many WIPs you likely overpacked.  There is nothing wrong with skipping some sightseeing and tourist attractions for an afternoon to enjoy your vacation doing what you  
love. over


Browsing through a Japanese crochet book while savoring some tea and chocolate cake


First I thought the lighting was excessive, but when then I realized I was able to see my dark yarn so much better


Husband got to enjoy a beer while I knitted. See how the lighting helps see my dark yarn?


There were cute little displays featuring pigs all around the cafe


Some of the yarn they were selling, that was pretty much it



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Off Topic: adult coloring books

Have you gotten on this bandwagon yet?  I have and I L♡VE it!  A few weeks ago I went to an coloring event at my local library –  I even skipped my weekly knit night to try it! ::gasp::  I remember being in a real funk that night, but coloring a really bizarre rabbit got me feeling much better.

I now have two coloring books – one on floral mandalas and one on animals – and a variety of coloring tools.  And yes, it is very likely that I might have snatched some of my toddler’s art supplies.  But only because I believe  the crayons and water colors are better used as intended as opposed to being eaten or shoved up a nostril.

Here is what I was working on today while waiting for a doctor’s appointment:


So fun!  I got a set of brush-like markers at Michael’s and this was a perfect image to try them out on since the tips are more flexible than my pens and pencils.  I’m excited to finish it.

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If I’m sitting, I’m SPINNING!

Hooray!   I have finally learned to spin!  For the past 5 years or so the spindle and wheel have intrigued me.  I was very reluctant at first to learn how to make my own yarn.  I always thought that I had enough projects to keep me busy knitting. Why should I bother making my own yarn when I can buy it at the store all ready made?  Then I realized that is what non-knitters say about socks and sweaters and everything else we enjoy creating.
So I gave it a try and failed. 
Bought a spindle kit with some fiber at a festival and failed. 
Sat in with some spinning guild members at a festival and failed.
Tried watching some tutorials on the Internet and failed.
Bought a few books on how to spin and still failed.
There was a lot of time passed between all of these attempt, and after each try I started to think it just wasn’t for me.  Then, a few weeks ago I got a newsletter from a LYS offering to teach a mini session on spinning.  I always wanted to sign up for a spinning class, but most often it is taught on a wheel and way out of my price range.  This was affordable and I was the only one that signed up, so I got the instructor’s undivided attention.
It was awesome!
I couldn’t believe that after two hours I was spinning – rather wobbly – and making my own yarn!  I guess all those failed attempts over the year helped to create a weak muscle memory on my fingertips.  And the reading, research and discussions helped me to become familiarized with some of the terms which made the class less intimidating.  Plus I got to walk away with a CD spinner and some merino fiber to keep practicing. It is surprising that it’s coming out so well, even if it is thick ‘N thin yarn.  Every spinner I’ve talked to says that the bumpiness of your first spun yarn is impossible to recreate so I should embrace it as art yarn.  I’m excited to finish it and figure out how to ply it so I can knit myself something with it.

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Nipple Hat

Don’t you love knitting a gift to someone with a good sense of humor?  Wednesday I went to my local yarn store and found the perfect yarn to make a Nipple hat for a friend’s newborn. Check it out:



The yarn is Quince & Co Chickadee in the Petal colorway,  the nipple part itself is just a little bit of scrap yarn from my stash.  I can’t wait to send this outfit to her!

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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; 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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Fresh off the Needles: Mystic Fish Hat

It’s been really hard to knit this summer without any air conditioning in the house.  So I haven’t made too much progress over the last few months.  I’m hoping to get more done (I’m almost done with my blue sweater!) as the weather cool.   However, I did manage to finish a quick fish hat (from 2008) to wear to the aquarium next time I take my son.  I am loving how it looks and can’t wait to debut it!




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Fairy Garden Fair Competition

Okay, so I’m trying out a new craft (shocked? You really shouldn’t be…) to submit into a local fair competition.  I’m working on my own Fairy Garden!  I’ve gathered my supplies from our yard and my craft closet, all that’s left is to buy the fairy figurine to go on it. I’m thinking either one that is stepping into the fairy ring or one that’s on top of some mushrooms that looks like she’s afraid to jump. And possibly one hanging from another “window” on the vase.  Inside the vase I’m going to have a light so that it shines through the windows.

But before I  do I would like some feedback on what I have so far.  So anyone with a fairy obsession let me know what you think.  Should I add an animal? Or flowers? Or mushrooms? Or a sign that says “faries welcome”? Or should I take out the rocks? Or the trees? Or the ladder?




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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.


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.

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



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


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


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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