Tea Tuesday: Ginger Peach

This Steeped Ginger Peach tea was a Christmas gift from my mother. She had hosted a Steeped Tea party. They are like tupperware parties but with tea goods.

I actually wasn't sure if I would like this blend or not as ginger is not a flavor that I would generally gravitate towards. But as it turns out I actually quite love it! Goo job Mother.

The fruity floral notes are really the base of this blend. Before writing this review I would have said it was the peach. But somewhat strangely when I was typing out the "Ingredients" list of the blend there's no peach! How strange. But whatever they put in there it does taste delicious.

The tea flavors aren't very present and really serve more to round things out than to feature.

The real feature of Ginger Peach tea is of course the ginger. It adds a delicious zing to the cup. But it doesn't overpower things at all.

I would definitely recommend this blend. I couldn't find it on steepedtea.com. So it's possible the flavor is seasonal or even discontinued. But I found the blend listed in plenty of other tea shops so give it a try!

Steeped Tea Ginger Peach:

"Luxury black tea, ginger, sunflower and calendula petals, dried papaya, blackberry leaves.

Organizing my tools

Over the years that I have been crafting I have amassed quite a collection of needles and hooks. My most often used and most prized "item" is a set of knit picks interchangeable needles.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="177"] Not my photo but this is exactly what I'm describing[/caption]

Received as a Christmas gift maybe six years back from my parents (who are pretty awesome btw). For quite a long time I "lovingly" kept them in the original plastic case and kept them organized by returning them to the cardboard sheet with bits of elastic. I also added quite a few other tools, various crochet hooks, DPNS (double pointed needles), extra cables, larger knitpicks needles, rulers, stitch markers, all kinds of good stuff. It wasn't exactly an elegant solution but it served its purpose well enough.

And then at some-point something happened. I really don't know exactly when what or how but there was something a bit sticky/oily that got into the pouch. It wasn't a complete disaster. The offending substance was easily dealt with using a tissue on whatever tool was needed. But by now the elastic was barely holding the needles in place and well things weren't that great anymore.

So I started looking up case options online. And when I say that I don't mean options to buy, I mean options to sew. I liked this tutorial but as I often do with sewing projects I intended to tweak things to my own specifications.

I decided to start off simple with a crochet hook case. The elements are all quite simple and it went together easily. Now despite being an occasional sewer who really isn't half bad (when I put my mind to it) I don't actually own a few basic items such as a fabric marker. And really I didn't want to have to wash off or deal with lines anyway. So I had the idea to mock up a pattern on the computer, print it off, and use that as my sewing guidelines. The ability to sew over regular computer paper may not be the best thing for ones needle but it really does work quite fine.

Having succeeded at my first project and finding myself with some free time a few days later I decided to tackle my super awesome project - the interchangeable case. And not just a simple one it needed a zipper and pockets!

Before any sewing though one must always put together a plan and then tackle the tedious task of getting all of the pieces you need cut out. I'm finally learning to anticipate that this portion of the project will actually take the most time. I also stumbled upon the amazing revelation that I could mock up all of the needed pieces in word and then print my pattern so that I wasn't measuring and cutting things by hand. Its possible that this system really doesn't save much time but it does make things easier so I'm quite happy about it. And in the end after a good bit of improvising and general craftyness I had a finished case that I love!

After that success I still had it in mind to make a case for the last tools that I regularly use, DPNs, but it just didn't happen for quite a while. Then eventually two weekends ago I put it at the front of my to do list one Saturday. The drafting itself took a surprising bit of time. And I couldn't believe how many needles I had (cat added for scale).

I whittled away most of the day working on it and by that evening I had a finished case. Once again I ended up with some creative thinking in a few places where I should have assembled things in a different order or all together differently. But I made it work and am quite happy with the result.

If you are doing something similar however something I didn't think about until everything was completely done is the weight of the needles. For the crochet hook case I used plastic canvas (the plastic grid stuff you can do needlepoint on) because i have some in amongst my crafting stash. Its pretty sturdy stuff and my hook collection as it turns out is not quite so huge. For the second two projects however I upgraded to heavyweight interfacing (found two rolls on sale at JoAnns!). It works perfectly for the interchangables in part likely because of the way the needles are perpendicular and how I'm storing larger flat items. The DPN case however is pretty floppy. I think even plastic canvas may have had a difficult time standing up to all those metal (my preferred needle material) bits.

All in all I am super happy with my new cases. They are each so different it adds to the fun. When I was showing them off to other yarny friends they were impressed and even commented it looked machine made. But I think that's just the zipper talking. Seriously people zippers aren't that hard (although I may only say that because my sewing machine has a zipper foot now).

I don't think I'd ever make these to sell. There's too much time and effort involved. But I could definitely see them working well as presents for fellow yarny folks. Or perhaps bartering for some other fibery goodness :-)

Sunday Status Report

This week I...

Added a few inches to the blue sweater. It feels like its just barely crawling along. But that's what I get for knitting a sweater from laceweight yarn:

Started a new spinning project:

Finished 1.5ish more hedgehogs. 3 down 3 to go. Alas I need to go shopping again as I can't find any eyes and have almost run out of fun fur:

Fixed a hole in my handspun handknit sweater. I'm not sure if the repair looks better here than it does in person or if I'm just being overly critical of my own work:

Finished knitting the gradient rectangle and "mounted" the knitting onto cardboard so that I can hang them as wall art. I like it quite a bit and want to make more:

Managed to needlefelt an alpaca from alpaca:

I also rode my bike outside for the first time this year. 20 miles around the greenbelt. This is not actually a craft but I took this pretty picture and really need to get out and exercise more.

Hedgehog Factory

Hedgehog Factory, that is what I should now turn my attention into becoming.

Upon completing and posting about the first hedgehog I knit as a baby gift Father suggested knitting some to sell at the Library. Specifically that I make up six by 5/15 to be sold at the Penn Dry Goods Market.

I was just looking atwww.schwenkfelder.com and totally didn’t realize the market was such a big deal. According to the website the Pen Dry Goodsis  Market is “An Antiques Show and Sale Featuring Antique and Vintage Textiles and Americana plus Textile History Lectures and Classes”.  They have a bunch of programs and workshops. So it’s more than just shopping! I guess I ought to pay more attention. And I’m not quite sure how my crafts fit in but hey added foot traffic to the gift shop is good.

Sp anyways, now my goal is to accomplish 6 hedgehogs by 5/10.

I've been knitting up my hedgies using this super excellent FREE pattern. It calls for some fancy yarns but I went with simply soft because I happened to have it in the right colors. The belly uses just one strand and knits up super fast and easy. The back/body originally was just a bulky yarn. But I like the extra excitement and prickle look at the fun fur gives it. And then two strands of simply soft round everything out. It is kinda dreadful to knit. I actually have to do it in small spurts because its a bit taxing on the hands.

But they really are so worth it.

Tea Tuesday: Mango Mist

The actual tea flavor of Mango Mist is quite subtle its fruity and flowery notes are the stars of this tea. When brewing your cup the first thing you notice is the sharp scent of mango. The theme continues with the strong mango presence as you drink. The various flowery components build up and around the flavor and make it taste quite robust for being so herbal heavy.

All in all I find this tea to be quite surprising. I’m not always in the mood for it but when I am it really can pack a punch.

Purchased from theteatable.com
"Combines high-grown Ceylon from the Nuwara Eilya, Dumbula, and Uva regions with natural dried mango, freeze-dried mango, lime leaves, calendula and sunflower petals, natural flavors"

Bunnies in Summary

It all began with the four bunnies that were made to send to the Gift Shop at the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center. Two of them sold before the package even arrived J The status of the remaining two rabbits is unknown (no guarantees but they could be yours visit the library today!).

After that I made two random bunnies just for the fun of it. When I displayed them at work I ended up selling one. And more notably the display led to 12 additional custom orders.

This picture is actually missing two rabbits that had already found new homes.

I really do love taking and making custom orders like these. One coworker took the bunny right home and before the day was out had shared an absolutely adorable photo of his daughter in a dress that matched her rabbit.

The only down side is that because I was still taking orders up until the day before they were needed I really did cut things far too close. Not much sleep was had Wednesday evening. I should probably charge more. Or perhaps charge more for “rush” orders.

In the end though, I’d still do it again. In fact I’m considering making a few more to send along with the hedgehogs for the Penn Dry Goods Market.

Sunday Status Report

This week I ...

Finished the bunny army for all of the requests at work:

Finished one hedgehog (except I forgot the ears) and completed most of a second. 1.5 down 3.5 to go:

Started a sweater. It's going quickly so far but that is likely because it starts at the neck with shorter rows:

Started knitting another rectangle with hand-spun yarn to use as wall art:

Sewed myself a DPN case:

Not bad at all.

Bunny Lineup

As I mentioned here my office bunnies are a bit of a hit. The initial order lead to one additional plus one on the fence.

At $10 a pop perhaps I should start earmarking these newly earned riches for the upcoming visit to MD Sheep and Wool.

Tea Tuesday: Twinnings English Breakfast

For a while I was being particularly snobbish about my loose leaf tea. However over the last few months I have become quite the daily tea drinker at work and for that situation tea bags are so much easier.

The English Breakfast blend from Twinnings has a good solid tea flavor that is robust but not overpowering. Even though I rarely add sugar I can taste a welcome hint of sweet from the tea. I do however have to be a bit careful as it can get a bit bitter if left to brew for too long.

According to Wikipedia "the black teas included in the blend vary, with Assam, Ceylon and Kenyan teas predominating." Rather amusingly "he practice of referring to such a blend as 'English breakfast tea' appears to have originated not in England but America, as far back as Colonial times."

For me it is a tea that is less about enjoying wonderful flavors than it is about waking up and preparing to take on the day. Perhaps not the most magical cuppa but definitely a good solid choice. And you can't beat the convenience!

A tale of two squares.

Amidst all of the gift and tosell crafting that I've been doing lately I had quite the itch to start something new and probably big for myself as well. And at the top of the list of the projects I could tackle sat a sweater.

Over the past few months I have actually accumulated a few different "sweater quantities" of yarn. Most of them however are big thick yarns. Yarns like those are quite excellent for making sweaters that knit up quickly and are super amazing comfy. But they are also super warm. And while I could still probably wear such things year round sometimes I pretend to be a normal human and dress appropriately.

That left me with some awesome hand-dyed blue alpaca. The yarn was given to me when I was still working at the symphony. One of the violists is also a knitter and apparently she had dyed up this yarn by request but the recipient wasn't happy with the colors. No matter the reasoning I pretty much found this to be the most amazing generous thing ever. She actually gave me two different batches of yarn the first was a dusty purple and I've made a sweater and shawl from it. But I hadn't touched the brighter blue.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="170"] Previously knit sweater[/caption]

I considered a few different sweater patterns but have decided upon a pattern I've knit up before:http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/featherweight-cardigan. It's a great pattern because its simple yet beautiful and will definitely show off the yarn and hopefully be able to be worn quite a bit. As much as I love the first cardi I knit however I did want to make some adjustments.

The last Featherweight that I knit fits, but only just barely. The main problem seems to be in the shoulders/arms. I'm not entirely sure what went wrong but I have some suspicions. The knitting was done a few years back and I suspect I did as I often do and just knit the smallest size. This time I took out a store bought sweater that I think fits quite well and measured it. Then I matched those measurements to the pattern size 2. Additionally over the past few years one of the things I have learned is the importance of gauge. I have often been guilty of fudging things quite a bit but I'm now pretty adamant about knitting, washing and blocking, and THEN finally measuring and determining gauge.

And that brings me to where I stand now:

#3 is on the needles now....

Choosing Colors

I am rather short on time and energy this week. So instead of a proper post I give you yesterday's fun:



Let the cuteness continue

It seems I was right about these bunnies being on trend. Or well at least on trend enough to be going over quite well for me.

Of the batch I sent to be sold at the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage center 2 more or less sold before the package had even arrived. (The purchaser knew of their awesomeness from my Created By Carlin Facebook Page, bonus points to all who “like” it.)

In my office at work our little 4 person cubicle-land department has been adding slight touches of festivity for the seasons. Wanting to join in on the fun I made and brought 2 new bunnies to display. Alas I forgot to take pictures but at least 3 random coworkers commented on them. PLUS I got a new super fun order for 5 more bunnies.

Let the cuteness continue!

I did it

A slightly revised version of the gift crafting was accomplished with approximately 2 hours to spare:

First came the bunny blanket:

I don't have a pattern for these animal blankets but I've made enough now that the pattern is pretty well established in my head. I may write it up and share it but really there are lots of the same thing already available so perhaps not. The bunnies really are my favorites.

Next came the hedgehog.

Made from this free Purl Soho pattern it really is super simple and amazing. Although it did remind me how much I loath fun-fur. Luckily the prickles are well worth it.

And finally my attempt at a Koala:

I'm a bit afraid his koala-ness could be a bit in doubt. Luckily the cute factor is still there. And I'm loving the fun colors (which hopefully match the nursery). I totally ran out of grey yarn or the blanket may have been bigger. Except that would have been a problem because I'm totally out of time.

The original plan did include one more item but I'm not at all upset that it didn't happen. A rather disproportional amount of this crafting happened in the last two days. I think what I managed is quite good enough. Yay.

Someone remind me next week not to be quite as ambitious please.

PS: Looking for a baby gift for someone you know? I have some animal blankets in my etsy shop and/or I'd be happy to make something just for you! Send me an email to talk about custom designs :-)

Time Flies

Having finished and shipped the bunnies to the library it is now time to turn my crafting attention to the gifts that I am planning to give to family this weekend.

Umm wait a minute that is only 4 days from now. And that’s if I could both today and Saturday.

I’m fairly certain my plans are overly ambitious at this point. But here they are:

1.       Bunny Blanket. This project is totally done. I finished the border and even wove in the ends last night at my knitting group.

2.       Koala Blanket. I got some info on the nursery d├ęcor and learned of a bit of an Australian theme, plus these super fun colors. So now I just need to figure out how to make one of my blanket animals be a Koala. And well make the whole thing.

3.       Hedgehog. At some point while taking a break from making bunnies I ran a search for “hedgehog” in ravelrys pattern searcher. There was a super adorable baby appropriate pattern that shouldn’t be too difficult (famous last words). So the plan is to abandon the little decorative hedgie and go that route.

4.       Sports something. I just never quite got completely behind my football hat idea. It didn’t work seasonally and then I was questioning football vs basketball. So I may just crochet up some soft versions of both balls instead. Alas I actually started the football hat (and had sizing issues) so I’ve already wasted time. Oops.

An overly ambitious list for certain. But I’m still thinking with some focus it could be doable. I ought to just work on one project at a time and run down the list. Buuuutttt the temptation to start everything at once is just too strong.

And they're off

So I “may” have become a bit obsessed with the making of the bunnies.

Final count: 4 colorful crochet rabbits. 3 knit rabbits with sweaters, 2 knit rabbits without sweaters.

I was actually quite on the cusp of making more but really I should already have mailed them yesterday and then I hit somewhat of an exhaustion wall during last night’s crafting time anyway. After taking this photo the most that happened was adding some duplicate stitch flowers on one of the sweaters. And even that was a bit of a stretch.

But the critters were thrown into a box. Box was wrapped and taped up. And this morning I left it out to be picked up. Using the super fun electronic tracking data I was able to tell that it was retrieved from my porch early this afternoon. It is due to arrive at the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center by Friday. USPS really is quite an amazing (albeit flawed in some ways) organization.

Having now completed this task and even taking into consideration aforementioned wall of exhaustion I am now really itching to keep making bunnies this time to keep for myself and then some to give to friends and family.

Except that I'm running up against the next deadlines already. Ooops. More on that tomorrow.


Tea Tuesday: Strawberry Green

Welcome back to Tea Tuesday!

Today I'm featuring another one of my absolute favorites: Strawberry Green.

I haven't actually been drinking this tea very much lately for a few reasons. Firstly it is such a summer taste I couldn't quite bear to be drinking it in the midst of the dreadful winter we had this year. And secondly I only ordered a small amount since I had never tried it before. And now that I am in love with it I tend to hoard.

One of the first things I notice about this tea is how different the dry loose leaf looks. You can actually see the whole little leaves all dried and cured. Especially after one gets used to the practically ground tea that is commonly found in teabags its quite amazing to see this.

When brewed using my favorite French Press method the leaves have plenty of room to expand out and look extra cool again. Although when I went to take this picture I also realized it looks kinda like seaweed which some of you may not find appealing. If you are one of those folks ignore this please ;-)

Being a green tea it has a very light and refreshing flavor. The tea taste is particularly earthy and grounded. And the strawberry is like a bright flavor above it. It is sweet, but not too sweet.

10 out of 10 teacups - would recommend for everyone :-)

Purchased from theteatable.com
"Green Ceylon (Sri Lanka) tea flavored with fresh strawberries and safflower petals."