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Grand Finale

I am still recovering from my overload of yarn this past weekend.  My dining room table holds all of my treasures, and my goal is to get it organized and put away this weekend before I go enjoy Easter dinner with some friends on Sunday.

While reviewing my purchases and thinking about all of my new projects I assembled the counting bracelet from the Hop.  Yes, we made it to all 17 stores, so we collected 17 glass beads which were to be strung onto a cord.  I personally have no intention of using it as a bracelet, but will attach it to my knitting bag.

It turned out remarkably cute.  I was quite skeptical as we collected our beads, since on their own they were rather….blah.  But the finished product is very cool!  A great non-fiber memento of the 2014 MN Yarn Shop Hop.

Some of the beads were translucent (very pretty) and some were opaque (not as pretty by themselves).  The finished result was a beautiful rainbow that has a purpose!  I was documenting all of this after dark (a big photography no-no) but tried to capture how pretty it is in the “sun” (the light in my family room).

 

I was only semi-successful.  The counter, however, works very well.  The beads slide so easily and stay in place…..so it is pretty AND functional!

Since I started this post with my final result…..kind of like starting dinner with dessert.  I will now go back to the salad course.

Saturday started bright and early and our list of stores was long:  Knit’n From the Heart, Darn Knit Anyway, Lila & Claudine’s, A Sheepy Yarn Shoppe, Crafty Planet, All About Yarn, and Amazing Threads.

Knit’n From the Heart was the 2nd shop that was new to the Hop this year.  It is kind of on the other side of the “world” from where I live, and after going there I wish it was closer!  The staff was all so helpful and they have a great selection of yarn.  They also had fabulous wooden yarn bowls that are made locally by a gentleman that recovers wood after storms and turns it into beautiful pieces of art.  I, of course, had to have one.  As I was purchasing it I was told how the gentleman’s mom was appalled at the fact that he had stained the wood red.  Since I am not a wood purist that insists on wood being it’s natural color, the red is exactly what drew me to it.  I absolutely love it!!

And I hate an empty yarn bowl!  So I needed some goodness to fill it…..maybe a hat in my future.

Store #2:  Darn Knit Anyway is one of my favorite stores in the city.  It has a nice layout and fun swag….

It’s also in Stillwater where there is shopping and food galore!  Once again the staff is great, and this time there were 2 regulars having a little sit-and-knit who were so friendly and encouraging with our selections.

“That would make a great cowl.”  

“I have one I’m working on right here that would be great made with that yarn!”

Any kind of affirmation and encouragement to buy yarn from a friendly source adds to the experience.

Yes, shockingly, some yarn was purchased.  Another chemo cap for my Mom…..she just reported she has started to lose her hair.  :(

And don’t just see a swirl of yarn in blah green below, instead picture a lovely cowl to go with the hat from the last store.

But my favorite purchase was actually not photographed.  There were some perfectly adorable buttons that I just put on a finished project!  Hallelujah there is a finished item coming!

Store #3 is also a huge favorite on the east side of town:  Lila & Claudine’s.  Typically I leave there with non-yarn related gear (they have great gift items), but managed to restrain myself this year!

On the way to The Sheepy Yarn Shoppe we stopped in town for a margarita and tacos for lunch….so nummy!

Once fortified with food and drink we were energized for the last half of our day.  the Sheepy Yarn Shoppe has one of the nicest owners.  She is a very helpful lady that is sincere and honest with her input in making selections.  I found the perfect Christmas gift for one of the ladies that I volunteer with.  She wears a scarf nearly every day of the year and this one has just the right amount of razmataz for her.

For the first time we drove right to Crafty Planet with no wrong turns.  They have a very fun supply of novelty fabrics and their Hop pattern honored the local breweries in their neighborhood….a tote to carry your Growler.  Very fun!

Next stop, All About Yarn.  Here we met Diane Augustin who was showing off her gorgeous beaded Happy Hoppin Cowl.  She gave me a 2 minute explanation on how to bead and I was hooked!  I am checking class schedules to see when I could take a class from her, but in the meantime I have supplies.  The crystal beads will look so pretty on the dark blue/purple background!

Our last stop for the day was Amazing Threads.  This is my knitting buddy’s LYS and I am also in there pretty frequently.  But I think we had lost our focus.  We drooled over some yarn, and decided we were done for the day and went for Cucumber-Pear margaritas.

Whew!  Shopping is a lot of work!  But our tradition has been to enjoy a cocktail and recap the favorite stores of the day and all of our plans for our treasures.  Truly fun!  Then home to rest because we were hard at it again on Sunday.

Our day didn’t start as early (thank heaven) since the stores didn’t open until noon.  But our list would take us until 4 PM when they closed:  Linden Hills Yarn & Textile, Needlework Unlimited, StevenBe, The Yarnery, and 3 Kittens.

I think 17 stores in 4 days is a bit of overload for even me….and I love shopping and yarn more than most people.  I was enthused to get going again on Sunday, but was not as enthusiastic about purchasing as I had been on the previous days.  The temptations were just not as seductive and I maintained control which is good for my storage issues and my budget.

But don’t misunderstand…there was yarn purchased (in case you were worried).  They Yarnery has always been another of my favorite stores that is not close enough to my house.  I love the brands that they carry and their color selection within those brands is the widest that I have seen.  I absolutely love Malabrigo Rasta and think some kind of chunky cowl and hat combo will be in my future for next winter.

And as you can see I also managed to be tempted by non-yarn loot.  I always need another project bag and the little fabric catch-all basket/bag was too cute to resist.

Thinking of chunky wool projects for hats and cowls might seem odd in mid-April for people not living where I am.  Our spring has started, and stopped, and started, and stopped, and started, and stopped.

It just won’t quit snowing!

This was the beginning of what turned into about 3″ of the white stuff.  But the bright side is the temps have stopped dipping below 0 degrees.  Now if we could just stay above 32!

Baby steps!

 

 

 

I always return here to document my annual foray into looking, touching, and buying a lot of yarn in a short amount of time.

The rules are 17 shops in 4 days.  In addition to the anticipation of buying a lot of yarn, we had VIP passes which were attained by donating to the local food shelf chosen by our LYS.  The pass meant that we would receive a glass bead at each store to be assembled into a counting bracelet at the end.  And we’re off!

The 8th annual shop hop started on Thursday, April 10.  Since it was Thursday and my yarn buddy and I work to pay for our yarn addiction, we couldn’t hit the road until 5.  But hit it we did!  We managed to hit 3 stores before they closed at 8:  The Twisted Loop, Unwind, and The Yarn Garage.

The Twisted Loop was a new store to the hop this year and it was a great first stop!  It is located in the entryway of the public library.  I love the library and I love yarn!  How much better could it get?  We met the owner who was full of energy and help.  I have been checking out her class schedule because I want to go back.  A great first impression and I had to purchase the limited edition yarn that was dyed for her shop for the hop.  I have been wanting fingerless mitts for a long time and her yarn and pattern mean that they are finally in my queue!

This was our 2nd year visiting the Unwind Yarn Shop and their 2nd impression was as good as their first!  They are so friendly and have such a good selection of yarn.

I’m pretty sure I will be saying that a lot, but it is sooooo true!

My birthday is in October and I show incredible restraint and save all of my birthday money and any other gift money I get and use it during this weekend.  So as a birthday to myself, funded by my Mom, I picked up the most amazingly soft and gorgeous yarn I have ever had the pleasure to meet!

Despite my amateur photography skills you can still see the hints of green, maroon, and blue in the dark grey.  It’s a very subtle color, but the feel is indescribable.  Artyarns just might be my new favorite silk.  No, I don’t have a plan for it, but whatever it turns into will be wonderful!

Our final stop of the day was The Yarn Garage.  This store is a bit of sensory overload in all of the best ways!  The colors and textures of the yarn are the most varied that I have experienced in one place (well….StevenBe but that space is larger so not so intensified).  In addition to all of the unique yarn options they have a staff that is the definition of helpful, and they are all passionate about being there.  There is knowledge, help, designs, and ideas flowing the entire time you are there.

My hopping buddy truly loves StevenBe creations, but didn’t think she could tackle the shop hop design.  So her love of the project meant that I now know what she will be getting for Christmas if I can get it done by then!

And it didn’t stop there.  My mom recently started chemo (cancer sucks) so I am going to work on a few caps for her for the summer.  This means some cotton was in order for the summer heat.

Isn’t the tag great?  I don’t know who’s gift it will on at Christmas…but it makes me laugh!

Can you believe all of that was only day 1??  Friday - day 2 was shorter since, once again, work got in the way of our fun time.  We escaped a little early at 4, but the shops were closing at 6.  So we hit the 2 that were closest to us:  Skeins and Lakeside Yarns.

Skeins always has the coolest limited edition hop yarn and wouldn’t you know there were already sold out by the time we got there!  And as we would learn….this was going to be a common theme with the shops.  This shop hop was VERY well attended. Great news for us knitters and hopefully great news for the shop owners.

Lakeside Yarns had 4 limited edition hop yarns to represent the four seasons on the lake.  By the time we got there 2 of them were already sold out.  My favorite part of this shop is their book selection.  Once again I found a winner: Indigo by Kim Hargreaves.  She has the best patterns!  I can just sit and thumb through them on a Sunday afternoon…visually they make me happy!

AND I didn’t see it at any other shop we were in so I was very glad I picked it up when I did.

So you are aware that we were 2 days into the hop and had only covered 5 stores.  That means a big weekend with 12 more to go.

But since were are all about self-reward (and cocktails), we celebrated the successful start to another shop hop with cocktails and the best pizza around!  The momentum was rolling and we were ready to “giddy up” bright and early Saturday morning!

The best is yet to come!!!

More Crochet

Everything that I have read tells me that crochet is “faster and easier” than knitting.  Well, I’m still not convinced of the “easier” part.  But I did find a project that fulfilled the faster part.

In April one of the many treasures that I brought home from the Yarn Shop Hop was some ropey t-shirt yarn.

I was novelty kind of thing that I would normally not even look twice at.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not a yarn snob.  Well….unless it has the world silk in it.  And honestly.  Is there anything better than adding silk to yarn???  But I digress.

What got my attention at the store was the samples.  There were bright colored crocheted baskets.  I was in the midst of Grandma’s flowered afghan, so my crochet skills were flowing.  :)  I was already wondering if I should make myself my own granny square afghan and here is the perfect bright-colored, small project!  Much easier to tackle vs. a large color-filled afghan!  And “Tee Cakes”?  The name makes me smile and that is what anything yarn related does for me.  Makes me happy in my happy place.

So a bright “cake” of green came home with me.  I did not splurge on a designer hook.  Instead I went to the ever-trusted Michael’s and got a gigantic size N.   I was ready, but there were so many other things to do that came into my summer until about a month ago.

I streamed a classic Bing Crosby movie, Top o’ the Morning….which incidentally had knitting inspiration provided.  This lady looks all smug with herself.  :)

And while I enjoyed a little Bing, I started and finished my own crochet basket!

It was quick.  But I have not fully embraced the “easy”.  I had forgotten how to single crochet!  So back to all of my helpful blog resources for a refresher.  Then using this large of a hook made my hands cramp like you wouldn’t believe!  Most of that is due to the fact that I am a VERY tight hooker (I think people crochet because it’s so easy to sound dirty :) ).  But I was determined and persevered!

I tried to follow the pattern, and in fact tore it out after finishing it once because I didn’t think the dimensions were right.  But sure enough.  Doing it the second time resulted in the same dimensions.  It looks a little larger in diameter and shorter in height than the ones on Ravelry and in the pattern picture.  But I don’t care.  I eliminated the handles and it is perfect for my guest bathroom!

All of the toiletries that you might have forgotten to pack in your suitcase can now be pulled out of the drawer and set on the counter.  I love it!

Zucchini Wrapup

It’s hard to believe that it is the end of September.  The flowers are starting to show it.

And so are the trees.  Can you see the tinge of orangey fall color coming on to the tree on the left?

The sky is so blue and temps have been so perfect.  I was home at lunch yesterday and enjoyed the time and views from my deck.

I live in an older established neighborhood which has amazing trees and seeing the beginning of the color change is amazing.

But in looking at the end of summer, I start to look at cleaning up my yard.  I took my very tired zucchini plant out and realized it had been quite a workhorse this summer.  I benefitted greatly from its fruit, shared it abundantly with co-workers, and pretty much got my own little jolly from being able to go out into the yard and pick something to eat!  It’s hard to believe that since I grew up in a farming community that I still find the whole process fascinating.  But I do.

I tried to be more diligent about documenting some of my cooking experiments so that next year I would have a stash of tried and trued recipes.

I had some hits.

Because seriously….if you can mix a vegetable with chocolate and top it with frosting.  How could that go wrong?  The frosting is peanut butter based and so rich and creamy.  The recipe came from one of my Iowa State Fair cookbooks and I absolutely love it!

Then there was the non-sweet experiment.  Zucchini Cheddar Drop Biscuits.  These are so light and freeze really well.  So I can pull a couple of out and put in the oven for about 10-15 minutes and they are perfect to be dunked in tomato soup.  I made a double-batch and will enjoy them all fall!

Then I made a jump back to chocolate, since I tend to go with what has historically worked for me.  This double-chocolate zucchini bread is really good.  I like to make this kind of thing and take it to work.  The compliments are fun and let’s face it…..I don’t need to eat a whole loaf of dessert bread by myself!!

Then we had the….just ok attempts.  Meaning that I liked them, but wasn’t wowed by them.  Could have been user error, or it just isn’t totally my taste.

This quiche was good and probably very healthy for me (compared to some things I eat), but it was slightly too much zucchini for my own personal preference.  But with that being said….it didn’t stop me from eating it!

And typically anything with lemon is a huge hit for me.  And then you call it “lemon loaf”……of course I am going to try it!  The result was a little bland.  The icing was a bigger hit than the bread for me and my co-worker audience.  But again….it didn’t go to waste!

And with all of the attempts you knew there had to be a failure or two.  I only documented one, and mostly because I really wanted to like it.  I really wanted it to be better than it was…..I even tried adding cheese…..isn’t everything better with cheese?  In the end.  Zucchini Fritters are not for me.  I should have know since they don’t even look that appealing (that’s not just bad photography….the subject should get some credit for the bad picture).

But when I look back at what my little zucchini plant did for me.  I am very happy.  I tried several things I wouldn’t have tried without it and I have broadened my vegetable eating horizons.  And I have learned that I prefer peeled zucchini in my baked goods….I don’t want the reminder that I’m eating a vegetable.  And I prefer un-peeled zucchini in my entrees….it evidently makes me feel healthier.  Or maybe it just gives me a mental queue that I might not like the taste.  :)

The March Crochet Update

Way back in March while I was watching the end of the college basketball season I started a crochet adventure.  My goal was to give my sister a cool birthday present while completing an afghan that my grandma had started many years ago.  My deadline was Mother’s Day when I would physically see my sister (2 months after her birthday) to give it to her as a birthday gift.

I got it done in time!!!!  And she loved it!

But for the recap and details……Let the Granny Square Afghan saga begin.

Grandma’s squares were the starting point.

And my plain white filler squares would give me the size needed for a blanket.

Them came the joining.  This was the most satisfying for me.  Actually seeing them come together and get some size was the most gratifying!

When I started joining them together I didn’t realize how much the join itself was going to increase the size of the overall project.  So I started with the thought that every other row was going to need to be solid white.  But after completing the first 3 rows I realized that instead of being 9 squares across, it only needed to be 7.  This resulted in more flowers to fill in the plain white rows.

Do you notice that the photo above still has one solid white row in it?  The explanation for that is simple….the deadline.  I simply didn’t want to waste precious time by taking out a whole row of joined sqares.  I thought I would wait and see how the timing progressed to see if I would have time to do it at the end.

I didn’t.

So my solution was that I would make it a “design feature” and do a solid white row on the second to last row of each end.  The entire thing did end up being longer than a throw, but is perfect for her over 6′ husband or to be used on a twin bed.

The random mix of colors goes against my rather symmetrical way of thinking.  But I really ended up loving it!

I edged it in a couple of rows of single stitch crochet to help keep it square.

And….voile!  It was done!!

My sister was stunned that I had completed it.  She evidently thought that I had forgotten that I even took the squares, so her surprise was genuine!

Yay!!!!  I love it when a plan comes together!  :)

 

OK, I know that we yarn shop hopped in April. I also know that our final day of the hop was Sunday, April 14. It is now the end of August. But I have not forgotten to finish the story! Partially because this is how I journal and keep track of things….yes, sporadic….and partially because it is forever on my mind that something is unfinished. Probably an issue I should talk to a qualified counselor about. :)

Today when it is over 90 and the humidity has my hydrangeas wilting as I look at them, I am going to take a look back in my memory to April when we were finishing the final day of hopping and it was snowing! No lie, the roads were a bit slick when we started out at about 1 PM and the snow was coming down. Granted, it had switched to rain by the time we were done. But for dramatic effect I like to think about the snowing and slick part.

We took a break on Saturday since my shopping buddy had a wedding and we needed to absorb all of our treasures that we had purchased.  So to finish things off we had two final stores to hit and these were our reminders/charms.

 

Our first stop was The Shepherdess in Anoka.  The first time we visited the shop it was called Shepherd’s Choice and that name is still referenced on the website, but whatever!  The sign says The Shepherdess and it still looks like the same cozy place.  There is a loft that is rented to weavers.  It gives them a space to keep their loom and work.  Some of their items are there for display and sale.  Absolutely amazing work!  Almost makes me want to take up weaving.  Almost.  They had the peace sign charm and the lady working was a little vague as to why it was their theme.  :)

Our final stop of the adventure was Amazing Threads.  This one is very close to my knitting pal’s house, so we have both been there freqently.  It has a great inventory and everyone working had fabulous knitted hats…..which ties into the top hat charm.

Our final day resulted in one final purchase for me.

I have many things swirling through my mind that I should document.  Some of them are even finished objects from the Hop yarn that I purchased.  But that will be for another day.

I am currently enjoying the air conditioning and cooking dinner in the cropckpot…..I love the cropckpot.  The house smells good and there is not too much additional heat.  It’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed the buffalo shredded chicken that I’m making, and it will be a great way to use up some of my homegrown cucumbers….the chicken has some kick that cucumbers and ranch dressing will cool off nicely.

 

 

Day #2 of Hopping

We covered 7 of the 16 stores in the Yarn Shop Hop on the first day.  On day #2 we made it a long weekend and took Friday off of work!  This worked out particularly well since all of the stores made a last minute change and decided to open at 9 AM (instead of 10 AM) to make up for the crappy morning weather on Thursday.

At 9 AM I was picked up at my house and we were on our way!

Our first stop was Crafty Planet.  They were handing out a very cute Garden charm for where iKnit@.  In addition to Amy Butler yarn they have a great selection of fabric!  And for those talented people with more patience than me….they have very cute embroidery patterns.  I shared with my friend that the vintage hot rods would “make a very good gift” embroidered onto tea towels…..so guess what I am getting for my birthday!  Yay!

Next came the fabulous StevenBe.  We spent the most time there just because it is sensory overload.  Fun people, fibers, and inspiration!  And since his signature seemed to be the chandelier in the center of the store….that was their charm!  This is my knitting pal’s favorite store and she always picks up some fabulously fuzzy yarn to make into something fun!

The next three stores are probably my favorite stops.  They are such nice shops and I wish that I lived closer so that I could go there over and over and over!

The Yarnery in St Paul is in an old house and just has nice atmosphere.   It’s not cluttery and overwhelming, it is just like going to grandma’s house with yarn on every wall!  Their charm was the airplane, which is where I person Knit@.  They had the most divine green yarn as their exclusive Hop yarn.  I seemed to be picking up only green fibers this year…so it, of course, had to come home with me!  If I use their hat pattern it should go well with the cowl I will be making from my Needlework Unlimited purchase.

Aaaaah!  A plan coming together!

Next was Darn.Knit.{Anyway} in Stillwater.  Stillwater is such a fun town with all kinds of shops lining the street down by the river.  So, of course, their charm was the fishing boat for iKnit@ the river.  I have thought about their handmade wide-mouth bag since I saw them last year and didn’t buy one.  Well, I wasn’t making that mistake twice!  AND to go along with my newly acquired crochet skills, I splurged and got Addi crochet hooks.  The ladies in that store are so unbelievably nice and pretty close to my age which makes it feel like hanging out with friends!

Then came Lila & Claudine’s.  Not only does this place have an amazing amount of yarn, but they have a wide selection of truly unique gifts.  They are located right by the lake, so their charm was also a boat.  They have 2 huge human figures (Lila and Claudine) which were out front in a boat.  I think it is something about the gigantic size  and realistic nature of these two “ladies” that is a little creepy to me.  :)  There was some green yarn there calling my name and a very unique shawl pin/hair stick that had to come home with me!

We were discovering that with the time remaining we were probably not going to be able to make the remaining 4 stores.  I guess we took a little too long enjoying our ultimate margaritas at Applebee’s  :)  But we forged ahead!

The Sheepy Yarn Shoppe has the friendliest staff and knitting group ladies.  There are also so many cute stores around them that I really must make a trip back up there and check out the area.  But, not during the Yarn Hop!  They are also not far from the beach of White Bear Lake…so they put us in the mood for spring with a palm tree charm.  iKnit@ the beach!  We oohed and aahed over the Swarovski crystal Addi needles, but they were not in either of our budgets for the day!  So instead, we both “settled” for some yarn.  :)

Our last stop of the day was All About Yarn in Coon Rapids.  That seemed to be one of the busiest stops of the day.  Their charm was a wine glass, and both of us would have been ecstatic to have had a glass about then!  They had fun tee cakes that you make into little baskets….guess what is going to be in my guest bathroom!

As you can see, there was not a shortage of Day 2 treasures.  The weather cooperated and only flurried on us, instead of spitting rain & flurrying as it had on Day 1.  And we wrapped up as things were closing down at 6 PM.

2 more stores to go in order to be entered into the big grand prize drawing!!

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