Monday, April 26, 2010


I have a new favorite yarn shop: Serendipity Yarn Shoppe in Muscatine, IA.

Reason #1 is that I walked in and the owner, Francy, said, " I was on your website this morning!" Yes! I was so excited that someone I'd never met read the blog. Serendipity opened in February, in the place of the former LYS in Muscatine. Which brings me to reason #2: the store's atmosphere is wonderful, with a huge table and comfy chairs that just beg you to sit down and knit for hours. Colleen, my knitting partner in crime, and I did just that. Reason #3 would be all of the events, classes, and knitting groups the store hosts. Their (full) calendar of events can be found here. Reason #4 would be that they loved the sewing organizer that I made on the quilt retreat I attended at the St. Columbkille Convent in Dubuque. So much that they asked me to make a sample in knitting themed fabric and I might sell some organizers there in the future! See the photos below to follow the making of my first official sewing project.

Step 1. Draw out plans, to scale of course, as any self-respecting Michigan Tech engineer would do.

Step 2.  Cut out tiny pieces of fabric and beg mom to place three zipper heads on one zipper. These is an amazing feat, and I'm forever grateful to my mom for sticking to her guns and figuring this one out. Place fabric according to drawn out plans.

Steps 3-25. Try to sew all the little pieces together in a logical way so that it actually looks like the plan. This is harder than it sounds, which is why I'm allotting 23 steps to this task.

Steps 26-35. Ask mom and aunts numerous times how to accomplish things such as sewing in plastic windows and adding bindings, zippers, etc. This is necessary because of course you didn't decide to make something with an actual pattern for your first sewing project.

Steps 36-50. Attempt to use some ridiculous plastic tool thing to make a perfectly sized binding. These are not separate steps so much as opportunities to get one simple step done correctly.

Step 51. Hand stitch binding to front of organizer.

Steps 52 & 53. Fill with sewing/ knitting notions and enjoy!!!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

I Caved...

On Friday, I did something I swore I would never do.  I was really determined not to do it.  I have been known to expound upon the abomination that is this act.

I bought Crocs.                                                                                                                                         

I actually spent my dad's own good money on Crocs.  Crocs: the reason Mario Batali's appearance so disturbs me (that and the fact that the hem of his apron goes past the hem of his shorts).  And I now own a pair (of Crocs, not Mario Batali's shorts).  Well, kind of...

So you see, I didn't buy clog Crocs.  And is it just me, or are these actually kind of cute?  And they were only $10 (at Big never know what you'll find at that place).  I almost put them back after the nice lady at the checkout asked, "Now, honey, do you have a place to wear these?" as if there is no appropriate place to wear Crocs flats. 

But I sucked up the embarrassment, ignored the flush I could feel coming to my cheeks, and paid for my new footwear.  Because there is a perfect place to wear the Malindi Flat Slingback.  And I will be lucky enough to work there this summer.  And get college credit for it (seriously, has there ever been a class as cool as "Fieldwork in Ethnobotany?").

Whew.  I feel like I've just been to confession.  I have to say, this was eating me up inside.  But man, do I feel better.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Flash-in-the-Pan Mob

Oh. My. God.

Seriously, who doesn't love a good flash mob? If you've never heard of one, it's when a bunch of people learn a dance, then go to a public place, disperse themselves amongst unsuspecting standers-by, pump up the music, and proceed to make the day of whoever's lucky enough to be standing around. Usually the dance grows progressively larger, with some of the people who previously acted surprised at the impromptu display turning out to actually be dancers themselves. I possess absolutely no dancing skills, but being part of a flash mob is on my bucket list nonetheless. Maybe you've heard of this one, where a group of dancers performed to a hip-hop remix of Do-Re-Mi from the Sound of Music. Or this one, involving thousands of people and featuring live music from the Black Eyed Peas, organized to kick off Oprah's 24th season.

But now, there is a flash mob involving, yes, choreographed dance, but also...choreographed cooking! As part of his new show, Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, the naked chef organized the flash mob along with students at Marshall University, located in Huntington, West Virginia. Huntington, billed as the unhealthiest city in the U.S., is the setting for the entire show. The premise is that Jamie will try to revolutionize the eating habits of America, using similar techniques to those he used in his homeland of Britain, and starting with the school system. So far, Jamie's received a lot of hostility from Huntington residents, and especially from a local radio host who, excuse the expression, has been a pompous ass completely ignorant of both the dangers of our current food system and Jamie's intentions. The flash mob came about as Jamie's attempt to raise awareness of a bet with that selfsame radio host that he could teach 1000 people to cook in 5 days. Check it out!

The premise of this show is already right up my alley. But a flash mob makes anything better. Waaaay better.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Local Fare Fair

So those of you who have been in college and lived in a residence hall know that in such a situation, there generally isn't much to get excited about when it comes to food. This last week I've forgone the cafeteria and it's grease-laden faux-mestibles in favor of fruit, granola bars, and whatever I can manage to make with my two saucepans, small cutting board, and single knife (I've pared down a lot since last year). Surprisingly, it's quite a lot: tons of soups; multiple permutations of stir-fry-like concoctions using brown rice, lentils, or quinoa; and my all-time favorite breakfast of pinhead oats mixed with whatever fruit's lying around.

But as exciting as brown rice and lentils are, the week's real excitement came Thursday evening at the Stevens Point Local Food Fair. Held at a local high school, the event featured exhibits from local farms and businesses, a free baked potato bar and desserts, and even an original multimedia presentation about the future of local food in the Stevens Point area. All that emphasis on locavorism brought me back to my days at Quad Cities Buy Fresh Buy Local, and that can only be a good thing. Plus, my mom took me...and it's always good to spend time with Mom! (P.S. thanks for the you!)

Overall, the fair was pretty awesome. The multimedia presentation was a little odd--long story short, it focused on a group of farmers in the future who genetically modify a "future-loom" seed which contains a breathing, speaking messenger, which they send back in time to warn people about their dangerous farming practices...anyone else see a flaw in logic with genetically modifying a seed and sending it back in time to warn people against genetic modification? But really, the overall message of the fair was good, and it was heartening to see how many people showed. I love seeing people with a vested interest in the origins of their food.

I also love getting new books. My mom (she really is awesome) bought me a new one at the fair as well. Your Eco-Friendly Yard: Sustainable Ideas to Save You Time, Money, and the Earth is chock-full of sweet ideas for the backyard of your dreams. I swear, someday I'll live in a place where a backyard is usable more than three months of the year. Plus, my mom went to college with the author...right here in Stevens Point! Pretty cool. Only problem is I think she took the book back with her when she returned to my hometown 150 miles away...

So, check out Your Eco-Friendly Yard. And get involved in the local food economy of your hometown! I'm not saying you should be a die-hard about it. There is a continuum. Just check out your local farmers' market. You can't beat the atmosphere, and it's usually not just fruits and veggies (although those are great too). Many markets also offer local eggs, meats, baked goods, preserves, and sometimes even handicrafts and housewares. And they're not as expensive as you might think!

The Big Jump

I have recently embarked on a new knitting challenge; I am going to knit a sweater, for myself, out of sock yarn! Hand-painted sock yarn, to be exact. I saw this yarn almost a year ago in a yarn shop in Davenport, and it immediately made me think of a favorite book from my childhood. Can you see the resemblance? I also found the title of the book fitting for the name of this sweater. Designing a sock yarn sweater is surely a big jump from my previous knitting endeavors :)

This project is to be a celebration of knitting. It will be simple in design, to show off the yarn and to demonstrate how beautiful a sweater in stockinette stitch can be. There is no pattern, I'm making it up as I go, and I'm sure a fair amount of frogging will be taking place. But even so, I can't describe how this project excites me! After swatching in the round last week, I finally casted on a few days ago.

The sweater is knit from the top down, and I've casted on for a 28" boatneck opening. After researching other patterns, I decided to follow the raglan set-up method used in the Candy Stripe Noro Raglan. Thank you, Jenn! From this pattern, I set up for the raglan sleeve increases by setting aside 1/6 of the total number of stitches for each sleeve. I decided to do paired raised, or lifted, increases for the sleeves, leaving two stitches of stockinette between the increases. I love how it looks so far! For more specific details, check out my Ravelry listing for this project.

P.S. I have to confess I already had my first frogging episode. The yarn started to pool a little strangely after awhile, so I ripped out a few rows and started alternating rows from two skeins. It totally worked, and I consider the frogged rows to be "practice"!