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Hand Made Book

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Thank you to everyone for all of your well wishes for us and for the baby. Even my dad messaged me to say how lovely he thought it was that so many people wanted to send their happy feelings our way. We are very touched. Certainly there will be updates on Miss Z and our preparations for her arrival. In the next couple of days, I will also share the backstory. Since it's not all happy stuff, I didn't want make it a part of our baby's introduction. But it is an important story, at least to me, and I would like to tell it.

It's kind of hard to follow up the baby's introduction with a craft project, but at leat this project does have a baby connection. Over the weekend, Julie and I took a class at the Paper Source in Lincoln Park called "Limited Edition Binding". In it, we created a beautiful book, where we sewed the folios together, picked the cover papers and the book tape. Our teacher was lovely and the whole day went by so quickly while we were learning and putting it all together.

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Hand Bound Book

One thing that was very interesting was connecting the paper folios to create the page section. If you've done some needlework before in your life, there were many things that would remind you of embroidery and knitting and crochet. And it was easier than you might think it would be.

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I love this top down view of the book because you can see the detail in the spine (I think the teacher called it a free floating spine, because the part of the book that is the pages doesn't actually adhere to the back of the spine). It's this view that really gives me the "wow! I made a real book" feeling.

So what I am I going to do with this book? How does it tie into Baby Z? Well, I've decided that I'm going to use it as a journal for her. It will be the place where we (I'm trying to convince John to do it to, but he's not sure it's his medium) write down important (at least important to us) things about what is going on with her. A place to write about firsts, to save pictures or other little mementos. Something that when she's older she can look through and find out a little more about herself and her parents. It's definitely not going to be as formal as some of those baby journal books that you can buy in the store, but hopefully it will be just as meaningful. I'm just hoping now to find something with an embossed "Z" on it that I can put on the cover.

As a final note, unrelated to books, but still related to the baby, some of you asked if I was going to make her a quilt. In fact, Serenity is going to be her quilt and I am building her nursery around the blues, greens and purples in the quilt. My mother is making some lovely pillows that use some similar fabrics for her nursery and I am thinking of making a few more of those blocks from the Serenity quilt to assemble and use as a crib bumper. So never fear, the baby will definitely have hand-made things from her mom!

Bobs and Bits

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I'm afraid this week, much of what I am going to post is going to be incremental improvements on previous projects that you have already seen. However, in order to sweeten the process, I am also going to show off some fun things that I have discovered recently that I thought would be fun to share. So the bobs are my current projects and the bits are the interesting finds.

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And Then There Were 2: Getting Closer to Plying my Moorit CVM

I have now finished spinning 2 bobbins of the moorit CVM roving. I'm now 2/3 of the way to getting to ply up my first mondo skein of 3 ply, which I hope will end up being somewhere between a DK and worsted weight yarn when all is said and done. In the process of spinning the singles for this project, I came to realize that it would be impossible for me to get sidetracked into any new projects if I didn't get some more bobbins for my WooLee Winder. How boring would that be? So now I have 3 new bobbins (for a total of 6) in my collection. This means that I can work on my CVM, but that I can also get started on the sock yarn I want to make for John for Christmas.

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The Ball is Still Large

And just for the record, I thought you might want to compare the current state of the CVM ball to the last picture I took. I tried to take it in the same location so that you could see the size relative to the post on my table on the balcony. Clearly Mr. Fiber Ball is still quite large. I would estimate that I have spun somewhere between 9 and 10 ounces at this point.

And as for the "bits" in this post:

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Paper Goods: Greeting Cards (top left) Knitting Print (bottom center) and a Redwood Datebook (top right)

I headed out to the Renegade Craft Fair, that is held in Wicker Park every September. Wicker Park is less than a mile north of where I live, so it's a nice walk from my house. It's always fun to see what crafty people who have other crafty passions besides fiber are up to. In particular, I like to see the paper artists. I discovered a new one that I love and revisited an "old" one that I had to get a little more goodness from.

The new one is Katie Muth, an artist from Toronto. The box of cards contains 8 cards, 4 of which are that lovely ball of yarn and 4 of which are the knitting hands (bottom center). I loved the Knitting Hands so much that I also bought an individual signed print that I am going to frame and hang in my fiber room or some other place that I like to sit and work.

The "old" one (I put the old in quotes because I discovered the work of this artist a couple of months ago) is Jill Bliss. Something about her whimsical flowers and plants -- along with the fact that she puts them on quad-ruled papers -- just makes me smile. I purchased a copy of the Redwood Forest Datebook for next year. What makes it so nice is that there are no actual dates printed on the pages, just blank weekly entry pages so that you can number as you go. Not a bad thing for someone like me who might forget her datebook for weeks and then might have several weeks where she needs to write a bunch of things down.

Dragon Sock WPI

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So, I was out shopping this afternoon after getting my facial (convenient, because my aesthetician works out of this lovely little store called Willow not too far north of where I live on Damen). I'd been wanting to find a small notebook with quad-rule paper in it to sketch ideas in. Willow has all sorts of lovely off the beaten track sorts of things (everything from hand bags to jewelry to journals to candles to dishes to -- well, you get the picture), and not only did they have a little journale with graph paper, but it's quite the special little journal with graph paper.

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Jill Bliss Native Flowers Journal and Mix n' Match Stationery

I am now officially in love with Jill Bliss. I've always been a closet paper arts junkie, and her stuff is lovely and functional. I came home with her Native Flowers Journal and Native Flowers Mix n' Match Stationery Set (be sure to click on those links, there's much better stuff to look at than the picture I took!). If that little journal doesn't inspire creative thinking, I don't know what will! And it's the perfect size for me to carry in my bucket bag. And I couldn't resist the stationery. Nifty envelopes. Fun little stickers. Gorgeous floral prints. Prints that I think would be so wonderful in fabric as well.

I've had a couple of people ask me about what other yarns might work for the dragon socks besides the ones I made my models in. So I stole an idea from Bonne Marie and decided to go through my copious sock yarn stash and identify yarns with a similar "wraps per inch" as the Blue Moon Socks that Rock Light and the Blue Moon Sock Candy. Yarns with a similar WPI can generally be easily substituted for each other in terms of expected gauge. It seemed like an excellent little project for the first page of my new journal.

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Sock Yarn WPI in my New Journal

I know this isn't very readable (it's also not in any particular order) so here's my results:

Blue Moon Sock Candy (the "upscale" sock yarn): 17 WPI
Koigu PPM: 17 WPI
Mountain Colors Bearfoot: 17 WPI
"Old" Blue Moon Socks That Rock*: 18 WPI
Blue Moon Socks that Rock Medium: 18 WPI

Blue Moon Socks That Rock Light (the "downscale" sock yarn): 20 WPI
Elann "Sock it To Me" Esprit**: 21 WPI
Lana Grossa Cotton: 21 WPI

Regia: 22 WPI
Opal: 23 WPI
Trekking XXL: 23 WPI
Greenwood Fiberworks Handpainted Cotton Stretch: 24 WPI
Tess Designer Yarns Sock Yarn: 24 WPI
Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock: 24 WPI

To summarize, for the "upscale"s socks, you can likely substitute either Koigu, Bearfoot, Old Blue Moon STR or STR Medium weight and have no problem getting an equal size sock. I like this set because it gives you a nice range of fiber options. The Sock Candy is a cotton blend, Bearfoot has some mohair in it for a nice warm sock, and Koigu and STR give you that nice soft foot caress that only merino can do!

For "downscale" socks, I only found two yarns that are in the right range, the Elann stretch cotton yarn, Sock it To Me Esprit and Lana Grossa Cotton (this is a wool cotton blend that I like a great deal). That said, I have a sneaking suspicion that Vesper Sock Yarn might be a good replacement (I have a skein, but I didn't want to take it apart to measure WPI) as well. I'll be keeping my eyes open for other yarns that are like STR Light.

I've included Regia, Opal, Trekking, Greenwood, Tess' and Lorna's Laces for both completeness and to perhaps help provide an alternative for those of you who would like the "downscaled" socks in a smaller size. I suspect that if you were to knit any of these yarns on US Size 0 (2mm) you'd get a sock in a smaller size. I have not tried any of them, but if you make the socks and decide to try one of these yarns, I'd love to hear how it goes.

If you've got other kinds of sock yarn in your stash and you want to help me build my WPI list for sock yarns, please send me the info. I'll keep a running list and put it someplace where everyone can find it and reference it. It's so hard these days to keep track of all the great sock yarn options.

* By "old" I mean from before there was enough yardage in one skein for a pair of adult socks and before they had a "light", "medium" or "heavy" designation.

** Since this is a Cascade Fixation clone, I suspect that Cascade Fixation would give almost the same results.

City Scapes

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Lighting is everything. This morning, it's a grey, snowy day here in Chicago. The kind of day that makes a girl glad that she and her trusty computer are indoors with a nice cup of warm green tea and some entertaining toys. And this time, it's not just AddiTurbos and wool -- it's Exacto knives, paper and glue!

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City in Silhouette
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City in Full Sun

Initially, I wasn't going to post the silhouette shot, but it really is emblematic of so many December mornings in Chicago... quiet and grey with tall buildings reaching fingers into the sky. The flash shot shows off the results of my cutting and trimming and pasting and punching and gluing -- a nifty little city scape that will provide a little extra decoratation for our holiday party. This was a lot of fun, and hardly took any time at all, because Paper Source does all the hard work (i.e. cutting out the city form) and puts all the pieces (and I mean all the pieces --- including a glue stick and a punch for the snowflakes) into one little box. All I had to do was use my imagination and my scissors to get my own little version of Chicago in profile. (For a look at all the goodies that came in the kit, just click here.) How could I not love the cut out shape that looks like the Hancock Tower? Or the Prudential building tower spike?

Of course, art does imitate life in this case. Guess what you can see right outside my window:

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A Little Bit of Chicago in the Snow

Heading to the Source

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A Paper Lover's Selection: Metallic Stamp Pads, Sparkly Gel Pens in Holiday Colors, Holiday Flowers Kit, Star Making Kit, Postcards for Invitations, and an Accordian Cityscape Kit

When I am not thinking about fiber, I am often thinking about paper. While I don't do quite as much of it as I used to, some of my favorite crafty things to do involve paper. I've never been a scrapbooker (that has always seemed like it required a great deal of dedication that I don't usually have to any one thing), but I love rubber stamps, origami, and using paper to make interesting shapes and decorations. I consider myself fortunate that I live in a city that is the origin one of the best paper arts stores anywhere -- Paper Source. When I first got to Chicago they had one location in a hole in the wall near the brown line. Now not only have they expanded to a few other places in Chicago, they've also gone national and you can order online. But I still absolutely love making a little pilgrimage to the original store every now and again.

Every year, one of my favorite events is our holiday party. I love to fill my home with friends and cookies and holiday decorations. Last year, life got in the way of us pulling it together, so this year I am back with a vengeance. Last weekend we spent a few hours raiding Crate & Barrel for some of their lovely Christmas decorating items and today I headed out to Paper Source for supplies to put together my invitations. And of course, I found just a little bit more than I could leave in the store.

Lately I'm becoming more and more of a sucker for kits -- I love it when I can buy something that has all the pieces and all I need to do is cut and assemble. I don't end up with a lot of extra stuff I don't need and I get to enjoy the fun part without spending a lot of time hunting down all the component parts. Apparently, I'm not the only one, because Paper Source now has more of these wonderful sorts of things than I ever remember them having before. Basically, if you have a bone folder, an x-acto knife and some PVA adhesive, you're good to go on a variety of cool things. In fact, it was almost hard for me to limit myself to three...

1. Holiday Flower Kit -- also labelled as the Holiday Magnolia paper flower kit. This nifty little package is chock full of red and gold papers, floral wire and floral tape and instructions and templates for creating a whole boquet of winter magnolias. I think these will be perfect decorations for my holiday cookie table and as small accents for places that need a little extra color.

2. 3-D Star Kit. This kit is pretty simple -- 40 sheets of pre-cut square silver paper combined with templates and instructions for creating a multitude of heavenly objects. Since this makes 20-40 stars of varying shapes and forms, I'm thinking they'll be hanging from windows and over our mantlepiece once I find a little silver cording. Celestial origami! I just couldn't resist.

3. Holiday Accordian Cityscape Kit to complement the stars over my mantle piece, I'm going to make sure this nifty little city is living underneath them. With a glue stick and a snowflake punch included almost all I have to do is pull out the instructions and get started.

The rest of the goodies are for creating my party invitations. Inspired by a great new set of stamps from Julie (in addition to making all those fab felted bags, she also sells some awesome Hero Arts stamps from her Stamping Online store I decided that this year's invites will be a postcard format -- and will probably be this weekend's big craft project.

P.S. to folks asking about the cashmere scarf pattern -- the pattern was actually purchased from the Hunt Valley Cashmere folks, so I don't feel that I can share any of the pattern details on line. However, Hunt Valley's phone number is 410-298-8244 and the pattern is called the "Triangle Lace Scarf" by Marylin Merbach should you want to try to get a copy of your own. I have no idea if she will sell them without the cashmere, since I bought mine as a kit.

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