HLH product review

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I had the pleasure to be chosen as one of HLH Designs’ product reviewers. Hanna Lisa Haferkamp prides herself in producing sustainable, ethically produced project bags that supports her local economy. As someone who likes to support my local businesses, reviewing her products was something that appealed to me.

I received my parcel a couple of days ago and was happy to see that all the packaging was recyclable.

When I opened it, I found a medium-sized project bag and a small pair of scissors in its case. Hanna Lisa offered me the option of having the contents be a surprise, and I loved the idea. The project bag is the most vibrant shade of yellow gold, which is one of my favorite colors.

The entire process and materials source is detailed on the HLH designs website, so you are able to track exactly where every part of your product comes from.

As someone who is not the gentlest with her belongings, I was happy to see the fabrics are all very sturdy, the bag very well constructed, and the materials all of quality.

The project bag I received can fit a couple of skeins and the work-in-progress, like a hat, scarf, socks, or mittens. Something I really liked was the carabiner included to thread the yarn through, which comes in handy either with a single color project, or if you wish to do colorwork and keep your yarns from tangling.

There are two notions pockets as well, roomy enough for the pair of scissors as well as stitch markers, progress keepers, a measuring tape, or anything else you might need to take your project with you.

This is the first time I’ve used a project bag with a zipper and I was initially concerned that it would snag the yarn if I kept the bag up on my couch or at the table, but there was no problem. I’ve run sock yarn, pure wool, and heavier wool blends through with no snags.

This project bag is already in my rotation, roomy enough to carry my project but also small enough that I can toss in my tote bag to bring with me. The scissors are super sharp and keeping them in their case in the bag ensures I can dig around for them without fear of a sudden stab. I love the idea of the carabiner as I have, more than once, had to deal with tangled yarn while on the go.

I appreciate the thoughtfulness that has gone into the process of making these project bags, and the high quality of all the materials.

DISCLAIMER: I received these products for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced by the company providing the product.

January 2019 – round up

January is my selfish month – I’ve usually been knitting and making for others during the traditional holiday months, so on January 1 I usually cast on something for myself, and take the month to indulge in casting on various items on my list.

The first item I cast on was the Cabled Leaf Pullover by Alana Dakos. I meant to cast this on last year but I never got around to it, and I’ve had the yarn for it for a while.

The pattern is lovely and the yarn is in my color crush for the year – burgundy. I have finished the front and am halfway done with the back, but as usual, I cannot have just one project of my needles, which brings me to my second cast-on of the year, and my first finished object.

The Exploration Station shawl by Stephen West is one of the most well known shawl patterns on Ravelry. I named it Parisian Exploration – I lived in Paris for a while after Uni, and have visited several times since, and the colors were my interpretation of a delicious chocolat chaud from Angelina enjoyed during a Parisian morning.

This is another indulgence I am enjoying this year – I am naming my projects after whatever inspired me to make them, not just after the pattern name itself.

My LYS is hosting designer Marie Greene in March, and I decided to make one of her pieces to wear to the event. I had been eyeing the color Eel from Hedgehog Fibres for a long time and it was perfect for the accent color of Marie’s Brunswick Tee.

As I type this, I have just begun the bottom colorwork section using the Eel color, and I absolutely love it. I will have a lot of leftover from this color and I am thinking of how I can best use it. Maybe a cowl to wear with the Tee?

I discovered a very talented dyer, Onyx Fiber Arts, and I saw a sock weight skein she had in the most stunning shade of burgundy. I was looking to make a DK weight top, though, and she was kind enough to make a custom sweater-quantity in that same burgundy color, in the DK weight.

With January almost over, I am hoping to finish these projects in the next few weeks, and I will also begin working on a blanket that a friend asked me to finish for her.

I am sure I will be casting on a bunch more projects in February. I can’t help it, it makes me happy to start new pieces and it makes me just as happy to work on them and finish them. I wear what I make all the time, I love wearing my sweaters and my hats and mittens, and I am so lucky to work in a yarn shop with amazing coworkers who are so incredibly talented and generous in sharing their knowledge.

See you at the end of February!

The best laid plans . . .

It was about a year ago that I began thinking of what I would make the following year.

Yeah, I’m like that.

This is what I came up with:

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Let me sit back and laugh, heartily, at my attempt to control the fact that I have the attention span of a gnat, because I have finished a grand total of TWO of these projects.

TWO.

The bottom left and the bottom right.  That’s it.  C’est tout.  In my defense I did mean to make all these; in my defense I did start two others, the mittens in middle row right, and the sweater in top row left.  And in my defense, I did make two of the bottom right cardigans, one for me, and one for a friend.

That said, I can confirm my complete and utter failure to follow a plan.

However!  Check this out!

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I set a challenge on Ravelry to complete 30 items this year.  Technically, I have made more than 30 because I’ve made random hats here and there, but per the tally on Ravelry I have one more item to finish before I fulfill my self-set challenge.

Not bad, I would say.

The 29 items I have made include the most difficult knit I’ve completed, the Liguria brioche hat Alex requested when he visited me at work (I work part time at a . . . wait for it . . . yarn store) because the child just had to choose the hardest thing for mom to make.  Had it not been by my awesome coworker, there is no way I would have finished the hat, and I’ve discovered brioche knitting is not for me, I even attempted an easier style and failed at that as well, and as I prefer my knitting to be fun, I decided this is a technique I will not attempt again, at least not in the near future.

But look at him:

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He was so happy and that makes the frustration worth it.  That’s parenting in a nutshell.

So I will probably not make a plan for 2019 because let’s face it, mama ain’t gonna follow the plan so why fricking bother.  But for the rest of this year I do have a few must-makes, which include a cabled sweater for Steve, a super secret something also for Steve made out of the yummiest yarn EVER, a v-neck red sweater for me that is actually looking more and more like a project to cast on next year because OH YEAH my tradition, after months of knitting for others during the holidays, is to cast on something for me on January 1.

That alone tells you how much I party on December 31st.

So, despite my less than 50% success rate in making what I thought I would make last year, this has been a great year knitting wise.  I made a cowl as a sample for the store, tried a new and difficult technique, and have met lots of amazing knitty friends.

I’m on Ravelry as claudiaberry and on Instagram as casadeberry – I ‘gram almost daily and love seeing other people’s knits.  I hope to post again before the end of the year but who am I kidding?

Things I have made

My knitting and crocheting has been a constant this year, often with miss Cherry Bo by my side while I count rows and track patterns.  With autumn a week away (at least on the calendar, since we are gong to hit 80+ degrees this week) I started working on my family’s cold-weather accessories.

Despite my constant feeling that I need more hours in the day to work on my projects, I am pretty happy with the items I have been able to make so far this year.

What was supposed to be a Christmas 2016 present ended up being a January 2017 gift instead when the original was ruined due to being much too over sized and my own frustration – in the end, however, both Steve and I were happy with the results:

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This is a very comfortable sweater, in the squishiest yarn ever (Knit Picks City Tweed) and he’s worn it proudly several times.

For myself, I made a sweater by one of my favorite designers – I had bought the yarn at Michaels and the sweater is just lovely to wear, very cozy.

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However, I will say that two of my favorite pieces are the sweaters I’ve made for my boys in their beloved green.

I love the fact that living in Wisconsin as we do now, I can make them these sweaters that will actually get worn.

I’ve also made some lighter tops as layering pieces for myself:

as well as various hats, scarves, and mittens.

I’m currently working on a cardigan for myself and have made a couple of winter hats but I’d like to make a few more scarves and hats for the boys and Steve. I usually have three or four projects that I work on at any time, and wish for more hours in the day to finish them!

If you’d like to see all my projects and works in progress, I track them all on Ravelry.

 

A little Winter Wonderland

Now that we live north of the wall, I wanted to have one of our rooms full of sparkling, snowy adornments – and our library is small enough that I could put up a few things and not compete with the red and plaid madness of the rest of the Christmas decorations.

I mean, when your boys look like this while waiting for the school bus
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— aren’t they rocking those double layers?  ha — then you have to bring some of that snowy loveliness inside.  Just not literally.  We have a shoe brush thing my husband built so if you have snow on your shoes please leave that snowy loveliness outside.

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I bought the two glittery deer on the right last year, with the thought of adding some more this year.
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The dignified fellow on the left is from Target, and all three of them spend their days keeping an eye on the neighborhood.  Neighbors have left, new neighbors are moving in, they can tell you all about it.  The center candleholder we’ve had for years, and I got the white wreath at JoAnn’s to hang opposite the outdoor wreath we have on that window.

I don’t style my bookshelves because we actually read the books we have, but I did have this spot with a huge yellow vase in it.
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The vase got relocated and I stuffed some snowy greenery we had into a Target dollar spot galvanized vase.  FYI, those things are NOT waterproof, so my awesome husband had to seal it for me so I could put flowers and not end up with an indoor lake.  And then, of course, I went and stuck fake stuff in it for Christmas.

The beautiful houses on either side are part of a collection Steve has, he got them and the others he has from art festivals and renaissance faires, and they’re works of art.  They fit perfectly in that spot so I didn’t move them, just added an old little lantern and a fleur-de-lis I found at WalMart, and a glittery little house from Michaels.

Finally, the spot where I can wait for the school bus in the afternoon – our youngest is only let out of the bus if one of us is waiting for him and these days I’m not waiting outside, so I can hang out with our Cherry girl and knit while I wait.
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Although when I’m sitting there, it looks more like this
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The JOY and NOEL signs are from World Market, our Sussex sign is by LulaRue and purchased at Roost.  The blue throw, A.K.A. Everybody’s Favorite Blanket, is from ZGallerie, the white birdcage is Partylite and the delicious pear candle inside is from Rosy Rings.  The monogram mug is Target and the coffee inside is made in my beloved Nespresso.

We’re having our second annual FriendsGivingMas this weekend so I’ll be sharing some pics next week – have a wonderful weekend!

 

 

 

Our Halloween Bash

This is the first time we have a) thrown a Halloween party, and b) co-hosted an event with another couple.  Our friends J & H are pretty awesome people — and she knits, like me, so you know she’s cool — and we decided to combine our party lists and have a joint bash at our house.

If you follow me on Instagram you’ve seen several of the details Steve has made, and it was pretty cool to see our decor “in action” during the party.

Now, let us welcome you to our party:
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We chose a pretty iconic couple as our costumes:
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Our boys were Sans from Undertale and a (not so) terrifying T-Rex:
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Our guests ranged from Futurama characters to the villainous Joker, to Luigi and Diet Coke to Khal Drogo and his beloved Khaleesi. We also had Egyptian royalty, Indiana Jones, Nemo, Harry Potter, mad scientists, Frankenstein and his bride, groovy chicks, Miss Scarlet in the library with the rope, the Tardis, Walter Sobchak, Rosie the Riveter, and many other friends who made our party so much fun.
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Word has it that the mysterious Lord Stonehouse, ancient owner of our home, made an appearance at midnight, but it remains a rumor.

Steve worked super hard to transform our home and I think he did an amazing job, and H made delicious food for everyone to fill their bellies – thanks to everyone, friends old and new, for coming to our party!

Meet Cherry!

It took me a few months after we lost Foxy to even consider getting a new dog.  Oh, I was always torturing myself by looking at the Humane Society pages, but to actually get to the point where I would go in and look at the dogs . . . nope, that didn’t happen for a while.

Finally, at the end of this past winter, Aidan and I headed over – we’d seen a dog named Cherry (for her cherry eyes) on the website, and we wanted to meet her.  She was a Southern lady, one of the many dogs that have little chance for adoption in some Southern states and get sent up here in hopes of finding a forever family.

Cherry was very sweet from the first moment, we don’t know what her background was, but she has been a loving girl and constant companion.  She does have separation anxiety and when I got a part-time job during the summer, she made her feelings known every time I would leave, even though Steve and the boys were home.  Having made the commitment of being with her, I felt that I needed to honor that and I quit my job (where I spent more than I made, so probably not a bad thing) and she is much happier now.

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She puts up with modeling the dog sweater I made for her and keeps me company while I knit, do laundry, clean house, etc.  She just wants to be with her mama.

If you come visit us she will greet you with lots of barking until she sniffs you – she just wants to make sure you’re not a meanie and once she gets to know you, she’ll bring you her toy to play.

She was described as a puggle – a mix of beagle and pug – but some people with more dog knowledge believe she also has some Mountain Cur or Boxer in her makeup.

We are happy to have welcomed Cherry – her official name is Cherry Cherry Bo Berry – into our family and hope she knows how much she is loved.  She recently went through some surgery to remove some teeth and fix a little bump on her eyelid that kept irritating her eye – our local vet staff is amazing and our girl is more comfortable than ever, we hope.  We just want her to have a good life with us.

How Steve made the Gipsy Danger costume

A few of you have asked how Steve made our son’s costume from the movie Pacific Rim – I asked him to write down an overview of the process.

Disclaimer 1 – he’s not a newbie. He’s been making costumes for a few years now and while some of the techniques were new to him, he’s always been good at putting things together. There is no way I could make something like this. I can sew and knit and make jewelry, but I’ve never made stuff like this.

Disclaimer 2 – he’ll be traveling for work in the upcoming days and won’t be available for any further or more detailed explanation. There are a lot of good tutorials on YouTube for building armor like this out of foam, and some cosplayers are very good at sharing their techniques as well.

Here it goes:

I started the build using a program called pepakura that ‘unwraps’ 3D images into their component sections. There is an artist on http://www.therpf.com which is the Replica Props Forum – a home for cosplay and movie prop reproductions. He ‘built’ the model for Gypsy Danger and I used this to print out the helmet. I printed it on cardstock and assembly was pretty easy with hot glue.

Once I had a basic shape and size for the helmet, I then used EVA foam mats which are the anti-fatigue floor mats that you can buy at Home Depot or Lowes or other home-improvement stores. If you find these on sale, STOCK UP! They aren’t cheap and you will go through them… I cut the foam mats into parts and bits and used hot glue to bond them. Almost all of this was done by eye. I wasn’t going for an EXACT duplicate of the movie, but a close approximation.

Here is someone that did a complete screen-accurate build – http://www.therpf.com/showthread.php?t=191528&p=3267895&viewfull=1#post3267895

I followed many of the online tutorials for cosplay armor of Master Chef (Halo), Iron Man, and a few others. The real key is using a heat gun (not a blow dryer or embossing tool but the actual ~$30 one you buy at the hardware store) to heat mold parts into curves.

For the lights, I bought some very cheap book-lights from a Dollar Store. I glued these in place with hot-glue.

I sealed the foam with a glue wash (50% white glue / 50% water) for some sections and spray rubber (FlexiSeal or equivalent) for other spots that I needed to cover some bad seams with filler. Then I painted the entire thing in a base coat of exterior latex paint. This gives the armor a consistent and smooth coating. Over that, I used auto-body spray paint that had a slight metallic reflection. The movie Gypsy Danger was more of a naval battleship blue, but my son wanted it more metallic.

The visor was a bit of yellow plastic sheeting from the old-school notebook dividers that one uses in primary school – Like these – http://www.staples-3p.com/s7/is/image/Staples/s0204755_sc7?$splssku$

Under the entire suit, he wore a black turtleneck and black stretchpants that I picked up at the sporting goods store. While I was there, I spotted some Lacrosse gloves that were close to Gypsy Danger’s gauntlets, so I grabbed them (most expensive part of this build) and painted them the same way as the rest of the costume.

Also for the chest, I used an old CPU fan and powered it with a 9V battery so it would spin. 🙂

The build took me about 50 hours over the course of 2 weeks and I didn’t finish until the Halloween Morning. But I was learning through trial and error and that cost me a lot of time.

All the best!!!

Steve

A yarn-aissance in the making

I learned how to crochet and knit and embroider when I was very little, around four years old. I’ve gone through periods of making things and moved onto other crafts at times, but I gotta tell you that right now I am in a hardcore yarn-obsessed mode.

I made a few hats and scarves last year but have jumped headfirst into making larger garments – I made my first cable cardi and then vowed I would never do so many cables again. Ha.

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I’ve already had the chance to wear my cardi and it is so cozy that I’m sure it will be a staple this winter. Both the yarn and pattern were from KnitPicks, if you’re curious.

Since then, I have made a few shawls, but I do have another cardi in the queue for me, and am working on something for Steve. With lots of cables.

A New Milestone

Last night our youngest accomplished something for the first time in his ten years of life.  He went to the movie theater.

Because of his sensitivity to noise, he was never able to tolerate the loud sound of a movie theater and has had to wait until movies he wanted were out on DVD or available online to see them.

Only one giant, terrifying creature, the King of the Monsters himself, could get Alexander to try this new challenge:

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Alexander has been waiting for this new movie, a Japanese release called Godzilla Resurgence, or Shin Godzilla; has learned to write the title in Japanese, and has made his own video trailers in anticipation of the movie.  Needless to say, this was a big deal for him.

The four of us booked our tickets and got ready to support Alex through his first movie theater experience.  He was thrilled to see the poster inside the theater and had his picture taken, he kept looking at me and smiling, thrilled to be watching his favorite movie character, and he was polite and quiet during the whole movie.

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This morning, he was still raving about the experience, calling it “the best thing I’ve ever done.”

We’re proud of Alex, and of Aidan for being such a supportive brother, encouraging Alex and reassuring him so his little brother would have a good experience.

And yes, we will be getting the DVD when it comes out.