Tuesday, May 31, 2011

More costumes

I signed up to make some costumes for the 2nd grade play. The play is about lifecycles and has lots of characters. I agreed to source 2 zookeeper vests/jackets, and 2 lab coats. The plan is to keep these costumes at school for future productions of the play.

The zookeeper jackets I got from Goodwill. The longer jacket had puffed sleeves so I removed those, the shorter jacket I left the sleeves on as I thought they were quite suitable for either a boy or girls. Someone else is providing hats.

The lab coats I adapted from a couple of white shirts that another parent provided. I just modified the collars, shortened the sleeves, and added the pocket. Someone else is providing round spectacles.

Hopefully these will work out. Of course, Fin declined a speaking, costumed part, and is part of the chorus.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Gold Rush!

Friday was the 4th Grade Gold Rush Day! It's a day of gold-rush themed activities such as panning for gold, playing with hoops and sticks, building clipper ships from tin foil, all intended to reinforce the history that the 4th grade have been studying.

Both the children and parent volunteers are encouraged to dress up, and you know that I never need asking twice to put on a costume. Actually I think since I was a girl I have always wanted a "Little House on the Prarie" outfit so it was the ideal opportunity to make one.

This is McCalls pattern #9423 and is intended to be a wrapper or prarie dress - the sort of dress you would wear to do your housework rather than go into town. I used some lightweight cotton print for the dress and some Kaffe Fasset shot cotton for the bonnet.

I found wearing the bonnet all day rather a strange experience as I had almost no peripheral vision and felt like the children were suddenly appearing out of nowhere. I chickened out of making the petticoats and bloomers for fear that it would be too hot.

I spent the morning talking to the children about clipper ships and their role in the development of California, the whole of 4th grade rotated through each station so it was fun to see all Adam's friends show up in turn.

Of course I also made Adam a costume:

This tunic is Butterick Historic pattern number #B4486, although I simplified the sleeves to a simple t-shape rather than a gathered sleeve. I used the leftover cotton/linen mix from the study curtains - which seemed sufficiently rustic for the purpose.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Maker Faire 2011

We visited the Maker Faire again last weekend. This is our third year attending and we have yet to repeat any activity. There were the usual mechanical contraptions: this is a giraffe named Russell that 'talks' in response to touch.

There were lots of hands-on activities: this year the boys both had a go at turning wood on a lathe:

Fin also made himself a catapult at the Society for Creative Anacronism while Adam tried on armour.

We also got to design some metal pieces (although we didn't get to use the oxy-acetelene torch ourselves). We watched a whiskey barrel velodrome; and the Eepybird coke-and-mentos fountain.

There were both static and interactive sculpture:

I loved this dragon peeping out from a fence.

This sculpture played 'noises' based on either a kinetic hand-on component or when connected to this electric guitar -

Adam was playing "Smoke on the Water".

We had a super day - yet again I didn't visit any of the fiber arts, in fact we didn't go inside all day. We also didn't bump into any of the friends who also attended the same day. The boys are already looking forward to next year.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Collective cardigans

Is there a collective noun for one-button short-sleeved cardigans? If so, I need it since that seems to be what I'm knitting currently!

First up: Shalom cardigan by Meghan McFarlane. This is a free pattern that is made available in one-size, so I am adjusting the stitch counts based on other projects on Ravelry.

I'm knitting it in Rowan Cocoon which was a birthday present from Eileen.

Newest project: Silverbell Cardigan from the Classic Elite booklet "Magnolia". I saw this knitted as a sample at Bobbin's Nest on the 'field trip' that I made with Kerstin last weekend. It's a lovely yarn store with lots of samples - which I always like to see. They also have fabric and I bought some to make a dress.

The yarn is the Madeline Tosh Laceweight in Kelp that I bought at Imagiknit when Christina was visiting. I had planned to knit a whisper cardigan - but didn't like the knitted fabric so I frogged that project. I'm using the yarn held double to get gauge, which I don't usually like to do - but the yarn seems to be quite sticky and I'm not losing stitches as much as I thought I would. I'm really liking the knitted fabric and the colours are lovely and saturated.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Due to the recent posting on Kate Davis' blog Needled about the story of the hat, my blog has received a hitherto unprecedented flurry of action!

This chart shows the hits on my blog for the last 2 weeks - it just made me laugh that a load of people would visit Ferretworld because of a lost hat!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Stitches Scabbard

I finished my first project knitted from Stitches West 2011 yarn!

The pattern is Silken Scabbard from Stitch Diva, designed Jennifer Hansen. I knitted the summer neckline variation. The yarn is Kollage Yarns Riveting which is made from recycled blue jeans. I chose the colour Night Denim (7903). Surprisingly for a 100% cotton yarn it was pretty soft and flexible to work with and actually was a good choice for this pattern.

The design of the sweater is very nice - especially the details. Where the horseshoe cable morphs into a braided cable in the armpit - and where the braided/horseshoe cable creates some shaping in the side.

However, the actual pattern, while technically well written, is laid out in a rather confusing way. I think because it's a printed pattern, the layout tries to keep the pattern onto 2 A4 sides - but in my opinion, at the cost of clarity. I spent a lot of time flipping the pattern back and forth to follow the instructions, and some of the short-cuts in the explanation were not clear. I consider that I am an experienced knitter and pattern reader and some of the pattern sections took my multiple readings to understand. Which is a shame because this is a lovely pattern with enough clever detail to keep the knitting interesting, but quick enough that you get a sweater before too long.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Old skirt

I knitted this skirt last summer, I tried it on as I knitted it to ensure a good fit, but it was very unflattering somehow so I put it away and didn't think about it.

I found it in my sweater drawer recently and tried it on again - I think the running is making a difference to my shape because I think it looks a lot better now. I wore it on Friday and got Adam to take a photo for me.

It's knitted in Elann Limited Edition Cottone-Lin yarn in colour 4, I think I used 8 balls. The pattern is 118-14 skirt with lace pattern from Drops Designs Book 118. Link is here. I modified the pattern to knit a casing for a 1" elastic instead of using a drawstring. I also knitted 3 repeats of the lace pattern because I thought an odd number of repeats looks better.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Mothers Day

We spent Mothers day morning in Santa Cruz at the Marine Discovery Run. The run raises money for the Marine Discovery center and lab which we have visited with the boys in the past. It's an interesting place to visit, they rescue and study marine mammals, as well as a little museum/exhibition of other local marine life and issues.

The location of the run was lovely: around Natural Bridges State Park and along Westcliff Drive. The day was overcast with rain threatening - but most of all windy!

This photo was taken in front of the whale skeleton just before the start - we had left our sweatshirts and were waiting for the 5K to start. The boys were cold - but we soon warmed up. We all ran together - Adam encouraging us all - and finished the race in 37 minutes. My last 5K took me 39 minutes and so I was pleased it was faster - although not the 36 minutes I was aiming for! Fin sprinted the last 200 yards or so, so his time is slightly faster! Nigel, Adam, and I ran over the finish holding hands.

After the race there was fresh fruit, and an excellent goody bag, as well as flowers for the Mums running today.

It was a really well organized race, and pretty small - I think there were less than 100 doing the 5K. There was also a really cute kids 1K where everyone cheered the little ones along - some of them were really small!

We headed home - stopping for coffee and the doughnuts that Fin had been motivating himself with! Once we got home. I opened my lovely mothers day gifts: a home-made spoon rest, a pollock-inspired painting, and a home-made candle, then we repaired to the spa!

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

The hat: a story

Those of you who are not knitters are probably blissfully unaware of the Ravelry website. Its a huge Web 3.0 application: part database, part project/knitting diary, part facebook-for-knitters. I document most of my knitting projects on the website, with a photo or two, and links to the pattern and yarn used.

A couple of weeks ago I got a message via Ravelry from fellow knitter "Strikkelise" in Bergen in Norway asking whether I had lost a knitted tam with dolls on. My first thought was 'of course not' but then I remembered that my parents were in Norway on holiday and maybe the found hat was the tam I knitted for my mother. I called Gill who confirmed that my parents had stopped in Bergen at the beginning of their vacation - maybe they were there also at the end.

There are 40 projects on Ravelry for the Dollheid pattern, but only one with bright blue dolls. After a few more messages to Norway, and a photo, we confirmed that this was indeed the blue tam I gave to Mammie for Christmas.

Gill and I were not sure whether M&F were still in Bergen, but we obtained the hotel address and the intrepid "Strikkelise" confirmed that they had been staying in the same hotel, but checked out that morning.

She kindly took the hat back to her home in Oslo, and posted it to Mammie where it safely arrived last week. By the time M&F arrived back home the arrangements had already been made for the return of the hat before Mammie had even realized that it was lost. Thank you so much "Strikkelise" for tracking us down and returning the hat. She has documented her side of the story here (in Norwegian and English).

Some might say that this proves that no-matter-what, you can't get rid of an unwanted handknit - so let that be a lesson to all my family members who regularly receive handknit gifts!

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Spring racing

We made a final trip to Bear Valley last weekend. Our ski trip coincided with the first Bear Valley Snowboard Cross competition. If you have not seen it snowboard cross is an elimination contest between 4 boarders on a winding course with jumps. The competition was open and there was an under 12 category so Adam entered.

He had a great time - there were only 5 under-12s entered to it seemed like Adam just enjoyed hanging out with the other competitors (under and over 12). The field was entirely male, and I would guess under 25.

The competitors got a couple of practice runs, before the actual race - here is Adam at the top of the course just after leaving the gate.

Looking down the rather daunting course as Adam does his practice run.

Unfortunately at this point my camera battery died so I didn't get any photos of the actual competition. It was very exciting to watch - especially when it's your child hurtling through the snow at speed.

Edited to add that the Bear Valley Photographer, Jason, took some photos and kindly sent them to me. So we got this great action shot. The guy in the green won the contest.

Adam was thrilled to discover that he came second in the contest and even more thrilled to discover that there was an awards ceremony and prizes. He won a night at an Arnold hotel, as well as some food gift certificates, and even better, a snowboard sweatshirt and fancy headphones! We were very proud of him - not for winning (although clearly we were pleased for him) but proud that he would go for it and enter a competition without knowing anyone else in the contest or ever having done snowboard cross before!