Weekly Roundup: Life Gets in the Way of the Blog

Sometimes I feel like I don’t really “get going” until the middle of the week. This was one of those weeks. I haven’t done or seen anything that is “blog worthly” and I don’t have the time to write up the blog ideas I have in my notebook. A good, informative blog post easily takes 4-5 hours from start to finish.  So instead of just being strangely silent or publishing something mediocre I decided to give you all a peek at what has been keeping me so busy.

My biggest project/pain-in-the-butt is this baby quilt. Like any good crafter I waited till the last minute to begin working on it. Also, this is the first quilt I have ever made. I always seem to give myself a challenge when I have a deadline. (I do NOT recommend this.) I finally have all the squares cut out but I am fully aware that sewing them together isn’t going to be a quick project either. Wish me luck.

Hundreds of squares. Not sure if I will ever do this again.

Hundreds of squares. Not sure if I will ever do this again.

Keeping in the world of ‘craft’ I have three yarn-based projects keeping me busy. The teal one is an easy project I made up to use up that yarn and I need some new items for my Etsy shop.  I am almost done with it. The red and grey cowl is a pattern I am working on. I have several patterns that are waiting in the wings to get published. The brown is a Valentines gift. It was supposed to be a Christmas gift but that didn’t happen. Some people may wonder why I have so many projects going on at once but if you are at all crafty you probably understand me completely.

 

Thank God these are portable projects.

Thank God these are portable projects.

I spent most of yesterday baking or cleaning up from baking. My husband has a tendency to skip breakfast unless there is something quick to grab as he is going out the door. Of course there are store-bought granola bars but we both wanted something homemade to cut down on the “unknown ingredients factor” and cost.

The first recipe I decided to try was Healthy Avocado Chocolate Cookies. Basically you are using the avocado as a substitute for butter. Even though it sounds weird I could see how, in theory, that makes sense. I followed the recipe exactly except I used honey instead of coconut sugar; I didn’t have any coconut sugar and honey was the recommended substitution. Also I used regular chocolate chips instead of dark chocolate chunks.

My first problem with these was my own fault; my avocado was too ripe so my batter was too thin. I knew this wouldn’t work for cookies so I threw in a hand full of all purpose flour so the batter would have the right amount of stiffness. Also, when I tasted the batter I could totally taste avocado. Kinda grossed me out.

They LOOK good.

They LOOK good.

Fortunately my husband really liked the finished product. To me they just aren’t sweet enough. But I kind of have an aversion to “healthy” baked goods. My feeling is if you want a cookie have a COOKIE. Just don’t have ten. I find healthier versions to be much less satisfying so then I want to eat more.

My second baking adventure turned out much better. Flourless Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies sounded like it might make us both happy.

Batter ready to go on the cookie sheets.

Batter ready to go on the cookie sheets.

This recipe was easy to follow and turned out great. I used a half cup of brown sugar instead of the 2/3 cup the recipe calls for but otherwise followed all the instructions. Once again my batter seemed a little thin but once I folded in the oats and chocolate chips it seemed to have the right consistency. I would make these again.

The finished product.

The finished product.

I think we are going to buck tradition this year and go out the night before Valentine’s day instead of Saturday night. Every place that is worth going to is either already booked up or will have hour long waits. I am not sure where we will go tomorrow night – my husband is supposed to have it all figured out. Saturday we are going to have a little celebration at home; grill some brats, get some good craft beer, and watch Netflix. Sometimes simple is best.

Have a great Valentine’s Day!

-Christy

Wooly Wednesday: LYS in Review

I love their mascot.

I love their mascot.

LYS in Review: Bazaar Girls Yarn Shop

126 Quincy St.

Port Townsend, WA 98368

(360)379-9273

www.bazaargirls.com

When we started on this “traveling RN adventure” our first stop was near Seattle. We had an amazing time exploring all of the Pacific Northwest. One of our favourite towns we discovered was Port Townsend.

Port Townsend is located on the Olympic Peninsula. It has a rugged beauty with Victorian houses and a vibrant downtown. One of my best discoveries there is the Bazaar Girls Yarn Shop and Fiber Emporium.

Who doesn't like a wall of yarn?!

Who doesn’t like a wall of yarn?!

The shop is well stocked with a variety of yarn, most of which I would classify as higher-end. Be Sweet, Sublime, and Debbie Bliss are just a few that come to mind. They also carried locally made yarn and gorgeous fiber for spinning. If you need to brush up on your skills they have an extensive class schedule and everyone in the shop was very welcoming and friendly.

Beautiful sock weight yarn. Love the colors.

Beautiful sock weight yarn. Love the colors.

For those traveling with non knitters they do have other locally made items such as jewelry, buttons, etc. If nothing else, they can sit outside and look out on the beautiful view from the shop’s seating area. I very much wanted to come back and knit there but sadly I was only able to make it to the shop once.

Imagine this being your view while knitting.

Imagine this being your view while knitting.

Even if you aren’t into yarn Port Townsend is worth the drive. There are beautiful beaches, hand crafted beer, a history museum, and live music. It is a fun stop.

Local beer.

Local beer.

Have any of you been to this shop? What Christmas gifts are you working on right now?

-Christy

 

Wooly Wednesday: We have a Winner!!

cascade yarn giveaway winner

A big THANK YOU to all of you who took the time to enter my contest. I really enjoyed hearing about your favorite local yarn shops, looking them up online, and planning road trips to visit them! (Don’t tell my husband!)

Congratulations Catherine! I will be sending out your yarn tomorrow. It will be like getting an early Christmas gift!

I plan on holding other giveaways in the future so if you didn’t win this time don’t give up hope! I know this was a short post but next week I will have another amazing LYS to share with you all.

Happy Crafting,

-Christy

Wooly Wednesday: Cascade Yarn Giveaway

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Its finally here! Yarn Giveaway time. When I announced the start of Wooly Wednesdays I promised some free yarn to one lucky person. Sadly my following Wooly Wednesday post ended up being very long and I didn’t want the giveaway to be hidden at the end. I decided it deserved a blog post of its own.

I choose this specific yarn because it is what I used to make my Crochet Christmas Cowl. This way the winner has the option of making the cowl. If you are more of a knitter this yarn would be beautiful knitted up into a simple cowl, scarf, or a matching hat and fingerless mitt set. Two skeins gives you plenty of yardage to work with!

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This yarn is from Cascades Cloud line of yarns. The chainette construction of the yarn allows it to be warm without being too heavy. The yarn I am giving away is clarified as being “Eco” Cloud because it is made from undyed merino and alpaca fibers. The result is lovely natural and neutral colors. You can see the rest of the color options here.  Their regular Cloud yarn comes in a wide range of colors if you need a bit more variety.

THE GIVEAWAY:

I will send the winner, chosen at random, two skeins of the Eco Cloud yarn by Cascade in the Charcoal (1810) colorway. I will also cover the cost of shipping. This yarn normally retails at $15-$17 a skein.

HOW TO ENTER:

Tell me in a comment below your favorite place to shop for yarn, why it is your favorite, and where it is. I love to support local yarn shops and sometimes they can be hard to find. This way I can have a list at my disposal to check whenever I am traveling.

You can also enter by sending me an email at wildflowerweston@hotmail.com.

*Make sure you include a way I can reach you (email, etc) if you are the winner.

*The LAST DAY to enter is November 30.

THE DRAWING:

Everyone who has commented or emailed will be entered and I will randomly pick a name Dec 1. The winner will be personally notified and mentioned in the following Wooly Wednesday post. I will ship the yarn as soon as I receive a response from the winner. If no response is received within a week, a new winner will be chosen.

*PLEASE NOTE*

This contest is only open to residents of the CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES. The cost of shipping to other locations is too prohibitive.

 

I can’t wait to hear about your favorite yarn shops and to see what the winner makes with their yarn. We have some lovely snow falling right now here in Vermont. Luckily we have no holiday traveling but if you are traveling I hope the snow isn’t getting in your way! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

-Christy

 

 

 

Wooly Wednesdays: LYS in Review

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LYS in Review: NIDO

(802) 881-0068

209 College Street

Suite 2e

Burlington, VT 05401

www.nidovt.com

 

I stumbled upon this little gem during one of our many excursions to downtown Burlington. Its located above the amazing café Stone Soup (I wrote about them recently here). There was a little hesitation when I wasn’t sure if I was opening the right door but once inside I could see the sign at the top of the stairs. There are several other businesses located on the upper floors of the building; its a pretty cool space.

Upon entering I immediately liked the warm, cozy feel of the place. Beautiful walls of fabric and well displayed trunks and bookcases of yarn were complimented by the hardwood floors and vintage fixtures.

Trunks filled with treasure!

Trunks filled with treasure!

It is a small space however I could tell everything has been carefully curated. The high-end fabrics and wools are joined by a small selection of patterns, books and notions that you do not see in your big box craft store.

I had the fortune to speak with the owner the last time I was there. Her name is Phiona and she could not have been nicer. She was full of information, she was helpful with my purchases and more than happy to answer my questions.

Originally from Seattle, the craft bug bit her when she was expecting her first child. After she relocated to Burlington she realized there was a need for a boutique style fabric and yarn shop; a place that carried items with a more modern aesthetic. Thus Nido, which means “nest”, was born.

Although Wooly Wednesdays center around all things yarn I have to mention the great fabric lines she carries. She had the latest from Alison Glass, April Rhodes, and the much sought after Cotton & Steel. She told me she likes to have the newest lines as soon as they come out. All of the great quilting cottons are joined by a rainbow of solid color cottons as well as some linens, knits, and heavier fabrics.

Love walls of beautiful fabrics.

Love walls of beautiful fabrics.

She likes to keep her yarn selection local; mostly stocking yarns that are made in the northeast. Swans Island, String Theory and Green Mountain Spinnery are a few of the local favorites. She also carries Madelinetosh which is just stunning in person.

She recently became a flag ship store for the Quince & Co yarn brand. It was great to see and feel all of their yarns, which I had not seen in person. In addition to having what seemed to be the entire range of colors, she also had quite a few samples so you can see how the yarn looks worked up.

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An entire wall of Quince & Co!

 

Every time I have been there the service has been excellent. Helpful but not pushy. They hold knitting and sewing classes, craft nights, and knitting help nights; you can check the website for more information.

Knit fabric, quilt fabric & a pattern! Can't wait to get to work.

Knit fabric, quilt fabric & a pattern! Can’t wait to get to work.

Unbelievably, I have not purchased any yarn yet but as you can see from the picture above, I did find some fabric. The April Rhodes knit fabric is a gift, the rest is for a quilt I am going to attempt. I am not a quilter at all so wish me luck!

I know I promised a yarn giveaway but this post is already pretty long so I think I will add it to next weeks post along with On the Needles.

Where do you go when you want something special for your next project? I would love to hear about some of your favorite shops!

-Christy

 

Wooly Wednesdays

I am excited to announce a new feature on my blog: Wooly Wednesdays. As you can probably tell from some of my past blog posts, I like to knit and crochet. Since my husband and I have been on the road, I have been able to dedicate a lot more time to my hobbies so I’ve decided to share that with you.

Every Wednesday I will cover one of the following topics: Designer Spotlight, LYS in Review and Yarns to Love.

Designer Spotlight is my chance to share with you pattern designers who have unique and easy-to-follow patterns that I have sampled in the past. It’s my way of promoting designers I like and appreciate.

My former LYS.

My former LYS.

Another topic will be LYS in Review. For those of you who don’t know, “LYS” stands for Local Yarn Shop. It is important to support local independent businesses so I am always seeking out LYS’s wherever I go. As a former LYS owner myself, I appreciate the commitment and love involved in running a small business.  And I know how hard it is to complete with the big box craft stores. If I can help drive even a few people to the shops I chose to profile, I will feel like I have accomplished something.

One of my favorite yarns- Maxima by Manos del Uruguay.

One of my favorite yarns- Maxima by Manos del Uruguay.

The last topic I’ll be covering will be Yarns to Love. I love yarn. Yarn is why I decided to take knitting lessons. I saw some beautiful yarn and wanted to do something that would allow me to use it. Yarns to Love is where I will share with you yarns I have tried; their pros and cons and show you what it looks like made up. Sometimes it can be really hard to picture how a yarn will look like worked up or what it will be like to work with. Hopefully this feature will help increase your yarn knowledge and help you decide what yarn to use for your new projects.

Another weekly feature I’ll throw in will be On the Needles. I’ll let you know what projects I am working on and how they are going. Yes, I’ll even admit when I’m struggling!

Now here is where you come in. To celebrate the launch of this new feature, next week’s post will contain information on a yarn give away. Also, if you are a designer or maker of beautiful yarn(or if you know someone who is) and wish to be profiled, shoot me an email at wildflowerweston@hotmail.com and I will send you additional information.

Its starting to cool off here in Vermont! Thankful we aren’t in Kansas City right now though. We are actually warmer than they are!

-Christy

 

Favorite Five: A Handmade Christmas

Making those Christmas gifts.

Halloween is almost here, Thanksgiving menu planning is on my mind and preliminary gift giving lists are starting to make an appearance. Yes, Christmas will be here before you know it.

Since I have re-discovered my crafty side I have really tried to push the handmade gift envelope. However, like many others, I ended up staying up all hours of the night trying to finish something, or having to hand someone a card that says “hey your gift is coming…”. Being tired and stressed out or not having a real gift to give someone is not the best way to enjoy your holidays. Here are my five favorite tips for having a handmade Christmas

1. MAKE A LIST AND NARROW IT DOWN. Write out who you are planning on giving a gift to. Then think long and hard about who would appreciate a handmade gift and put them on a separate list.  Your time is precious- don’t waste it on someone who won’t completely love what you have made.

2. CHECK YOUR LIST TWICE. Just like Santa. After you initially narrow it down you might find that you still have a lot of people on your handmade gift list. Ask yourself some  more questions. Did you make them a handmade gift last year?  If yes then maybe they are off the handmade list this year. Did the person already indicate something specific they are hoping for? If someone asks for books or gift cards or whatever then that’s what you should get them. They will be happy and you will have more time.

3. BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF. I am guilty of violating this one. In the daze of Christmastime joy, fueled with too many peppermint mochas, I convince myself I can do it all!! Then, inevitably, there I am frantically knitting a scarf in a bar on our way to a New Years Eve party. Look at your calendar and honestly ask yourself what are your commitments? How much free time do you have in a normal week? How long does it normally take you to make whatever it is you are planning on making? And when you are done estimating give yourself even less time because things always come up during the holidays.

4. PICK YOUR PATTERN WISELY. Now is not the time to try that complicated pattern with the fancy stitches you have been eyeing. Nor is it time to knit your Aunt that lace-weight shawl she has asked for. If you create things often you probably some patterns you have done before that you know are fairly straight forward and quick. If you are looking a new pattern you need to read through the whole thing. Are there stitches or instructions you don’t understand? Is it calling for anything less than DK weight yarn? Do not pick something outside of your skill set or you will be frustrated and end up with an unfinished gift. Sometimes I’ve seen a pattern rated “easy” or “beginner” and knew for me it was more in the “advanced” area. You know what you can do better than anyone else.

5. HAVE FUN. I know, that sounds super dorky but often in the craziness of trying to make or find the perfect gift all of the fun gets sucked right out of Christmas. Maybe you have several small kids at home or a demanding job. Christmas craftiness might not be for you. You can always designate your handmade gifts for birthdays. A throw pillow or blanket would be a great wedding or anniversary gift for a couple. When a friend has a baby that would be a great time for to make something special for her since most gifts are geared towards the new infant. And if you don’t have the time but still want to give something handmade check out sites like Etsy or Zibbet.

I hope this list helps you make your Christmas gift giving go a bit smoother. Happy Halloween everyone!

-Christy