Project Knitting: Izzie’s Workshop

One of the goals I set at the beginning of the year was tackling an ambitious knitting project. Considering I’ve been leveling-up with the garter stitch over the past year (and made my first baby blanket), it only made sense to challenge myself.

What I had in mind at the time: learning to purl and completing a pattern requiring purl and knit stitches.

What I actually did: opened an Etsy shop for my knitting, Izzie’s Workshop.

My stash of completed hats and headbands have come in handy, and so the shop is stocked at the moment. But it still looks pretty bare, which means I’m already raiding my yarn trunk to find anything pretty while also trying to figure out what to knit. I want to have an eclectic mix of items for sale and not just hats and headbands. I’m thinking scarves and baby blankets and shawls and cowls. Maybe cardigans and sweaters eventually.

The challenge now is avoiding Michaels and AC Moore until I put a significant dent in my yarn stash. Like can see the wood bottom of the trunk-sized dent. If I knit as much as I plan to, that should happen sooner rather than later.

I’d appreciate it if you’d check out Izzie’s Workshop and give us a follow on Instagram and Twitter. Those second two will feature new items and sales in addition to cute dog pictures and knitting updates.

Project Adventure: Alpacas

Project Adventure: Visit somewhere new (ideally) once a month.
Adventures completed: 1

I found out about the Carolina Alpaca Celebration through Facebook; one of the local interest pages posted the event info. I’ve become fascinated with fiber-producing animals (alpacas and sheep) as I’ve been knitting more, so I jumped at the chance to see alpacas up close.

The Cabarrus Arena & Events Center is about thirty-minutes from my apartment. It took me about that to get there, and I walked inside and into a massive open room that smelled of hay and manure. The front half contained a handful of vendors dispersed among three rows, and in the back stood a dozen chest-high pens with fans attached to the bars.

The alpacas ranged in color from beige to gray to brown to black and looked like over-sized, super-fluffy stuffed animals. A few of them hummed.

A couple industrial, roll-up doors were partially open, making me regret my decision not to wear a winter coat. The show area, located inside the arena-portion of the building, was slightly warmer. It also housed a handful of adorable baby alpacas.

I took lots of pictures and browsed the vendor booths for the better part of an hour. Long enough to see everything (and to justify the trip up). I bought a ball of alpaca yarn; I haven’t figured out what I’ll make from it though I’m leaning in the direction of fingerless gloves.

What kinds of new places or experiences have you had so far this year? Do you have any planned?

Me with an alpaca

Project Serial: First Draft

I’ve been working on the short story for what I’m dubbing Project Serial since the beginning of December, kind of sorta intending for it to be a serial and having in the back of my mind that I might one day post it on this blog. And I probably would still be tinkering on it with a few words here and a few words there until summer. But Project Serial gives me a deadline. More or less.

Apparently even a more or less deadline motivated me enough to get me to where I’m DONE with the first draft. Not DONE as in I’ve written The End; DONE in that I finally figured how I want the story to go and am ready to start revising so it starts looking like the one in my head.

Which is a good thing. It leaves me the position of having to throw out an entire plot-line; I’ll be able to reuse descriptions and hopefully a character. Focusing on only one plot gives me the opportunity to expand on the characters and hopefully make the whole thing scarier. I’m excited.

So what’s this story actually about? It’s a about teenage paranormal investigators and a cave with a creepy history. The placeholder title is Cedar Creek Cavern. I’m aiming to start posting  in June.

How do you feel about serial fiction? Are you a fan? Or do you prefer the opportunity to read the whole story at once?

Project Quilt: Two Steps Forward & One Step Back

Quilting is like any other big project: you really should prepare before jumping in with both feet. That means buying and preparing the fabric, learning to use my sewing machine, figuring out the parts of a quilt and how to put one together. (And holy crap, putting together even a throw-size quilt is going to be a project and a half.)

Since this is my first quilt project ever, I decided not to spend a lot of money on fabric. A yard of fabric at a craft store is at least $7; meanwhile, I can pick up a set of three sheets for no more than $10 at Goodwill. And those three sheets will be more than enough for the majority of the quilt. I may need a couple pillowcases or another sheet eventually, but those are easy enough to pick up.

Learning how to assemble a quilt has been eye-opening. On some level, I recognized that quilting is a project. However the realization of having to cut HOW MANY squares and all the measuring and probably getting stabbed with LOTS of pins hit me hard. I’m still going to make this quilt. I’m actually glad that I know how much work will be involved, so I won’t become disheartened when I’m not making progress as quickly as I’d like.

Everything seemed to be progressing apace. I even pulled the sewing machine off the shelf in my closet, chiseled the Styrofoam off it, and poured over the instructions (which made close to no sense). A couple YouTube videos later, and I successfully threaded the needle and the bobbin. I even used it to sew a pair of rice-filled ice packs. Then I decided to make a pair of handkerchiefs. I pinned the seams in place rather than iron them flat, and the needle on the machine hit the head of a pin and that little plastic pinhead bent the needle. I’m still not even sure how plastic won i that battle.

I replaced the needle but couldn’t pick up the bobbin thread. So the sewing machine is sitting in my living room until I have the time to re-thread the machine with hopefully better thread tension (because I heard that might fix it?). Until I figure that out, this project isn’t exactly on hold. I can still measure and cut fabric squares; I can figure out how the pattern should look. The pause button has just been hit on assembling everything.

Project Salsa: the Beginning

Growing flowers requires pretty much no preparation. Got seeds? Got soil? Got a pot? Combine and then pop that sucker in sunlight (and remember to water it every couple days,) and it’s good to go.

Growing vegetables is a bit more complicated. At least it is when I’m looking to produce a usable amount of vegetables rather than having the occasional handful of cherry tomatoes to snack on. Vegetables require research and planning. What kinds of plants will do well on my patio? How much space do they need? And how many plants should I plant to get a usable yield (so I can actually make salsa)?

My research has given me an idea of what I should be doing, and I’ve come up with a list of what I want to plant. The next step is figuring out planter sizes and how to best utilize my patio space. Other than the garlic (which probably should’ve been planted in the fall), nothing needs to be planted until late March, which means I have time to figure those things out. And that’s good because I’ll be planting a lot of different seeds.

Here’s a rough list of what I’ll be planting this spring:

  • Onions
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Jalapenos
  • Basil
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Carrots
  • Strawberries
  • Pumpkins
  • Watermelon
  • Cantilope
  • Marigolds
  • Red Sunflowers
  • Wildflowers
  • Forget-Me-Nots

And all of that will hopefully fit on my itty, bitty patio. It’s … going to be an adventure.

Screw Resolutions. Here are My Goals for 2019

I’m changing things up for 2019: I’m not making resolutions; I’m making goals. This is part of my plan to get my shit together, writing and having-a-life-wise.

So what are my goals for the coming year? And why did I decide on them? I know you didn’t ask, but I’m going to tell you anyway.

Sew My First a Quilt
I inherited a sewing machine when my parents moved from Massachusetts to South Carolina. And up until about a couple weeks ago, it had sat in a box and on the shelf in my closet since August. The instructions make almost no sense and if not for YouTube, I would’ve never figured out how to thread the bobbin (or what the bobbin is even for). Searching for sewing projects on Pinterest led me to the magical world of quilting, and I decided that I had to make one. Even if it was just to say that I’d done it.

Write & Post Serial Fiction
The idea of posting a piece of serial fiction has been on my mind for years, but I’ve always talked myself out it for one reason or another. That’s going to change, though. I want to post more regularly on here, and this is a way to do that. At least for the duration of the serial. Plus I’m working on a short story that’ll lend itself to the format. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get into a groove and make serials a regular thing.

Make Salsa with Veggies from the Garden
Last year, I took a risk and planted vegetables on my patio. Certain ones–like tomatoes and carrots–did surprisingly well. That’s encouraged me to refine my container garden, improving on the plant spacing and growing more root vegetables. Plus I want to make a recipe using veggies that I’ve grown myself. I mean, there’re few things tastier than eating ripe tomatoes right off the vine. But there’s a level of self-sufficiency in cooking with vegetables that I’ve grown myself.

Finish the Voss 1st Draft
I didn’t write much during 2018: a couple short stories but no novels or novellas. That’s something I want to change. I want to get myself into a writing routine and to complete the first draft of a full-length novel. An idea–that I’ve dubbed Voss–has been floating around my head since I watched the first few seasons of The Curse of Oak Island over last summer. It’s basically a treasure-hunting story with a bit of Haunting of Hill House thrown in to amp up the creepiness.

Tackle an Ambitious Knitting Project
I got back into knitting last year, and the projects I’ve tackled have been confidence-boosters. My garter-stitch hats and the garter-stitch baby blanket for my SO’s new nephew have kept me busy. I want to step up my game, though, and knit a pattern that’s more difficult. Like something with purl stitches (I haven’t figured those out yet) or where I have to count rows.

Visit Somewhere New
This one is more of a tradition than a new goal. Every year since 2013, I’ve made it my mission to visit somewhere that I’d never been. It can be somewhere a plane ride away or as simple as checking out a new town. I already have a couple places in mind: Asheville, Carrowinds Amusement Park, and the beach at Myrtle Beach. It’ll ultimately come down to logistics. And to be honest, I might even go after this goal more than once.

Accountability is a big part of meeting goals, so I’ll be posting regularly about my progress on each of these. Do you have any goals for 2019? What are they?