My Ball of Fluff

Tiger - Portrait

I’ve been distracted lately by a ball of fluff. No, it isn’t a new skein of angora or merino yarn or fiber for spinning – it’s Tiger, our new puppy!

Tiger - In Backyard

It has been many years since I had a dog. After my last dog died, I simply couldn’t go through that heartbreak again. Also, my son had mild episodes of asthma and I didn’t want to complicate things for him. So the years went by until we became empty-nesters. Then the obsession for a dog intensified.

At first, I causally perused pictures of puppies online. Then I started “liking” all those I ❤️ Dogs posts and heart-wrenching dog survival stories on Facebook. I started dropping in at our local SPCA. Then I started earnestly searching for dogs on Pet Finder and online rescue organizations and on Craigslist. That’s how I found Tiger. One day after work, I took a detour and visited a litter of four male Maltishipoos (part Maltese, Shih Tzu and Poodle). And there was Tiger.

We call him Tiger because he pounces on everything. He pounces on his squeaky toys, my slippers and the light bugs when he’s outside at night. But mostly, he likes to sit at my feet while I’m on the computer. If I shift over a few inches, eventually he does too. And he loves tummy rubs.

Now, I venture into pet shops looking for knit and crochet puppy toys like these:Crochet Seahorse

Crochet Donuts

Of course, I had to knit something for him. I went through my stash and gathered enough leftover yarn for a small blanket.

Tiger's Blanket - Blocking

It’s a simple stockinette stitch pattern using doubled up yarn for thickness and a seed stitch border.

Tiger & Blanket

I think he likes it.

My Blanket

Now to start on knit doggie sweaters and crochet toys. Any pattern suggestions?

Austin Yarn Shops

One of my favorite cities in Texas is none other than Austin. Austin is our state capitol and home to the University of Texas Longhorns. Austin hosts the Austin City Limits music festival (just ACL for the locals) and the South by Southwest (sxsw) music and film extravaganza. For the young – and young at heart – there’s the nightlife on 6th Street. Go antiquing on South Congress (SoCo) and watch the bats come out at dusk from underneath the South Congress Avenue bridge. There is no end to the things that Keep Austin Weird!

A place as groovy as Austin is bound to have some awesome yarn stores. Here are three that are sure to please.

Gauge logo
5406 Parkcrest Drive, Austin, Texas 78731, Tel. 512.371.9300

(Source)

At Gauge, I ran into a fellow knitting enthusiast who showed me around the shop. She didn’t even work there! As soon as you walk in, you are greeted by this pompom mobile.

Gauge 2

The shop has all the expected cubbies full of colorful yarn.

Gauge 3

I liked this crocheted cacti!

Gauge 4

Gauge has a nice back room where you can sit and knit. A class was in session so I quietly perused the sock yarn options.

Gauge 5

This display featured hand-dyed yarns from nearby Georgetown, Texas. The colors just popped!

Gauge 1

The next stop was Me & Ewe, a combination yarn and fabric store.

4903 Woodrow Ave., Austin, Texas 78756, Tel. 512.220.9592
4903 Woodrow Ave., Austin, Texas 78756, Tel. 512.220.9592

(Source)

Me & Ewe is located in a cute cottage with bright yellow and aqua trim – very Austin. The front room is full of lovely yarn.

Me & Ewe 1

Me & Ewe 2

Adjoining the main room is a smaller alcove where you ring up your purchases. Hanging along the entryway were these adorable, handmade Barbie clothes. It turns out that when a customer found out she was having a baby, she began meticulously hand-knitting a closet full of dress-up clothes for her future daughter to play with. Alas, the daughter never quite got into dolls and the wardrobe was mostly unused. It is now lovingly in display at the shop.

Me & Ewe 3

There are two more rooms in the cottage dedicated to fabrics – lots and lots of fabrics. I loved the modern prints.

Me & Ewe 4

Me & Ewe 5

The third yarn store is not actually in Austin, but about 40 miles east in Paige, Texas. It is absolutely worth the side-trip.

logo
130 Gonzales Street, Paige, TX 78659, Tel. 512.253.0100

(Source)

Yarnorama is a fiber-enthusiast’s dream. They carry looms and threads for weaving, …

Yarnorama 3

Yarnorama 2

…wheels and fiber for spinning, …

Yarnorama 1

…and plenty of yarn for knitting and crocheting.

Yarnorama 4

There was so much to see and touch, I didn’t even know where to start!

I also stopped in at Hill Country Weavers, one of my fave yarn stores ever. Because I had been many times, I didn’t linger and do not have photos to share, except for this one.

All You Knit is Love - Hill Country Weavers

Need I say more?

Spring Blooms

For Easter weekend, our family congregated at my sister’s home in San Antonio, Texas. It is a three-hour monotonous drive between Houston and San Antonio on Interstate 10. As I was traveling alone, I decided to make the trip a bit more interesting. I took a detour north on State Highway 71 headed to La Grange, Texas – population just under 5,000 and home of the Texas Quilt Museum.

There were three exhibits on display that were particularly impressive. The first, “Modern Quilt Guild at the Texas Quilt Museum” showcased the guild’s first juried quilt show. Photography is not allowed inside the museum but you can see photos at the Modern Quilt Guild’s blog. Here is one sample.

img_0756
Source: MQG Blog

Also on display were the Magna Carta Quilts from the UK. There are a total of eight quilts. According to the Magna Carta Quilt website:

…four Medieval Quilts will tell the story of the Magna Carta in a graphic novel style… The story starts with the death of Richard the Lionheart, which lead to the ascension of his brother John to the throne of England, runs through the events leading up to the sealing of the Magna Carta at Runnymede… The Magna Carta was the first document ever imposed upon a King of England…by a group of his subjects, the feudal barons, in an attempt to limit his powers by law and protect their rights. The four Legacy Quilts…will be the shields of the 25 feudal barons who drew up the terms of the Magna Carta…

The detail of these quilts was mind-boggling. The figures depicted all had singular expressions, carried different items in their hands and wore varied medieval clothing according to their rank.

tn_Med4Cw
Medieval Quilt IV (Source: Magna Carta Quilt)

The third exhibit of note was called “Wild Fabrications” sponsored by the Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA). You can view the entire exhibit online at the SAQA website in a slide show format. I highly recommend viewing it in full screen mode. My favorite was the polar bear.

larrea-NowYouSeeHim-Full-2nd
Now You See Him by Cat Larrea (Source: SAQA)

Wild Fabrications celebrates a world of animals both real and fantastical. The theme not only lends itself particularly to bold colors and whimsical imagery, but also to beautiful realism, and humor that can be ebullient or dark.

On the exterior side wall of the building that houses The Quilt Museum is this stunning mural that depicts traditional 19th century quilts.

Quilt Museum Exterior

The mural serves as a backdrop to Grandmother’s Flower Garden.

Many quilt makers…are also gardeners, and many quilt patterns were inspired by flowers, plants, trees, and nature in general. We named the garden for a beloved Depression-era quilt pattern, “Grandmother’s Flower Garden.”

Grandmother's Flower Garden 1

Grandmother's Flower Garden 2

Grandmother's Flower Garden 3

And if that isn’t enough to tempt you to visit, next door to The Quilt Museum is a fabric and YARN store called The Quilted Skein.

The Quilted Skein

There were four rooms of fabrics in all colors and patterns. And WALLS OF YARN.

The Quilted Skein - Yarn Wall

The staff was busily climbing ladders to hang up beautiful new quilt displays. They were having a good time making sure no one toppled off ladders and took time to assist me as I perused the yarn and picked out some fabric squares.

The Quilted Skein - Sock Yarn

It was time to get back on I-10 and continue my trip to San Antonio. From La Grange, I took a leisurely drive on Farm to Market Road 609. The countryside was littered with bluebonnets and indian paintbrushes – picture-perfect scenery.

Bluebonnets on FM 609

Indian Paintbrushes on FM 609

Back on I-10, I made another stop in Seguin, Texas, the pecan capital of the world – so-called because of the large production of pecans in the area. Seguin has a quaint downtown historic district listed in the National Register of Historic Places. My destination was You’re So Crafty, a crafts store for making pottery, painting, beadwork, knitting and spinning. One could spend weeks here and not run out of crafty things to do.

You're So Crafty - Spinning Tools

This display was full of yarn spun from locally produced fibers. These skeins are from Windmill Crest Farms, a small alpaca farm of about 50 animals located in Seguin.

You're So Crafty Local Yarn

Content with the day’s discoveries, it was time to make the rest of the trip to my sister’s house. Both my brothers from back home and my mom and aunt were there, plus some neighbors. Between all of us, there were 25+ kids and adults hitting piñatas and cracking cascarones on each others’ heads – brightly colored confetti everywhere! After the meal, the older kids (teens and college students) gathered at the dining room table for a fierce game of Monopoly. As my siblings and I sat outside, we reminisced about how once upon a time, it was us running around the yard and competing at board games. Now we sat around comparing what medications and maladies we had in common. We had good laughs and good food surrounded by family. It was a glorious weekend full of spring blooms.

On-the-Go Project Bag (and a Giveaway!)

Giveaway message

When carrying my knitting around, I like to keep it in nice project bags. I used to drop works in progress (WIPs) into ziplock bags and throw them into my purse or tote bag. It was handy but not very attractive. I have a couple of large bags that I’ve acquired through the years that are my standbys. Those are better suited for large WIPs; one of them is currently holding a blanket that will ultimately fit a double-sized bed. Another is a tote bag with a witty phrase. For small projects – like socks – I use this little silk bag.

Silk Project Bag 1

The bag is 8.5″ tall, 8″ wide and about 2″ deep (21.5 cm x 20 cm x 5 cm). It fits the necessary yarn, needles, notions, and patterns for socks, hand warmers, a hat or other small projects.

Silk Project Bag 2

It is fully lined and cinches closed. And it’s pretty. It’s meant to be a nice evening bag but I repurposed it for knitting.

Silk Project Bag 3

I happen to have a couple of these in flowery peach and light blue colors so I thought I would have a giveaway in celebration of spring. I will randomly select one recipient for the silk bag (and perhaps a few other surprises) on or around the Spring Equinox.

The following actions will enter you into the drawing. Multiple entries are encouraged!

  • Follow Agujas blog (if you are already a follower, you are already entered!)
  • Reblog this post or blog about this giveaway with a link back to Agujas
  • Follow Agujas on Twitter
  • Like Agujas on Facebook
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  • Like this post
  • Comment on this post

Thank you for reading Agujas and enjoy the spring weather!

Crazy for Knitted Socks

Shortly after the holidays, I bound off a couple of pairs of knitted socks. Who thought making socks would be so exciting? For the first set, I used the popular Monkey Sock pattern by Cookie A. I understand why so many knitters use this sock pattern. It is easy and produces a sock with interesting undulations.

Monkey Socks - After Blocking

For the yarn, I used the skein I bought at Seaport Yarn in New York City. I really loved the purples and blues mingled together. When I was done, they badly needed some blocking.

Monkey Socks w. Aussie Sock by Oasis Yarn

I looked all over the web for a pair of sock blockers and found several good candidates, but frankly, didn’t want to spend the money. So I made my own! After perusing several “how-to” articles, I settled on How to Make Your Own Sock Blockers. The instructions were clearly laid out and the materials easy to find – placemats from the dollar store!

Sock Blocker Template

After cutting them to size, I used a hole puncher and some leftover yarn to tie a loop so I could hang them up to air dry. The tops of the blockers are a bit topsy-turvy but they did the trick.

Monkey Socks - Blocking

The pattern is more visible after blocking.

Monkey Socks - Folded

For the next pair, I wanted to use a self-striping yarn. This bright red, yellow and black yarn is from the Yarn Barn, which I posted about recently.

Heritage Prints by Cascade Yarns from Yarn Barn

Heritage Prints - Ball of Yarn

I wanted a simple stockinette stitch pattern to showcase the self-striping yarn and found Susan B. Anderson’s sock pattern.

Stockinette Socks in Progress

They are a perfect fit!

image

 

There’s a third pair of socks that I need to finish and another pair on the needles. I have gone sock raving mad!