Sunday, April 19, 2015

Chain 344 - Ep 2 - Minnesota Yarn Shop Hop

Exciting news! Last week's episode finally got posted after about a jillion set backs. Watch it! Because we are doing a giveaway that you will want to be a part of. Amazing magical miracle yarn!! #unicorntears

Monday, April 13, 2015

Real fast: Some One of a Kind Project Bags

If you watched Chain 344's first episode last week you know that I had a crazy weekend this past weekend Minnesota Yarn Shop Hop'ing. It was insane, and sosososo fun. But I'm going to spare you the details until Ch344 Episode 2 goes live, because we'll pretty much break it all down on there for ya.

Today I'm spending the day recovering.

Doing laundry, dishes, and some odds and ends that seem to have gotten forgotten in the anticipation of the Shop Hop. One of those odds and ends: posting these lovely bags on Etsy!

I've been kind of addicted to making these project bags. No two are alike! They all feature weird, wild, funky, thrifted fabrics. Well, not all the fabric is thrifted, but both of these bags have thrifty stuffs making up their parts!

Just going to leave these here for you to oogle over while I dash away to switch the laundry and do my other "real life" stuff. Be prepared for more bags! They're a-coming!

You can purchase one of these at LastinLineShop on Etsy.

Happy Monday, home dogs!!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Chain 344: a New Weekly Podcast

Three days ago, my friend Kait messaged me on Facebook. We chat frequently, so this was not crazy. She mentioned that she had been watching a lot of knitting podcasts lately. She sent me a link to one she had been watching and I was kind of entranced. Watching some stranger talk about their projects for 45 minutes? I loved it. Why had I never watched a knitting podcast before???

"WE COULD MAKE ONE." I messaged Kait, enthralled in the moment.

Being the amazing go-getter she is, Kait was like, "DUDE YES."

So we did! After a bit of trial and error and some technical difficulty, here is the flagship episode of Chain 344, our knitting/crafting podcast.

What's the story with the name? Well. We had two names we decided we loved, and right before we started filming we did the super adult thing and flipped a coin and ended up with Chain 344. We live three hundred forty-four miles apart, so the distance between us is a chain of 344 miles. Of friendship and love. Cute and giggly.

So enjoy! Our first episode of Chain 344. Look for a fun update after our adventure at the Minnesota Yarn Shop Hop this weekend!!

Happy Monday!!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Frog it or Forget it?

We're asking the tough questions today.

A recent adventure in "Failure to Read the Pattern Closely" resulted in me being fifteen rows into Briquette by Two Little Plums and finding myself with a bunch more stitches than required. Not like, "Oh, I did one extra row of increases, oops!" No. This was more, "Oh. I increased eight more stitches than required each row for the last seven right-side rows." A major boo boo. One that there was no doubt that I had to frog and restart.

As I was pulling the work off my needles, I got to thinking about where I draw the line between frogging a mistake and just forgetting about it. (For those who don't know, frogging means ripping your work out. Because frogs go, "rip-it, rip-it." Yes I know. Puns. But still. That's what people call it.) For me, a project has to be pretty much nonredeemable to inspire me to frog. If I have up to four stitches too many/too few, I just adjust my work in the next round. Sometimes I can put up with a larger margin for error, depending on the project. I am not a Frogger, for the most part. I am a Forgetter.

I have two very crafty and meticulous Grandmothers who don't do things half way, an aunt whose sewing skills are magazine worthy, a sister who enjoys making photo-realistic paintings and doilies with sewing thread, and a mom whose recent major crafting achievement was making an evening gown out of 1" strips of silk from ties. Let's not even talk about my friends who craft. Suffice it to say, precision is all around me.

But for some reason, I ended up in the Forgetter camp. I ended up feeling alright with myself for pushing past imperfections in my work and just loving the finished object. I'm not saying it's wrong to want to "have it right." I'm just saying there are primarily two camps in the crafting world: People who Frog, and People who Forget.

When I look back at early work I've done, be it sewing, crocheting, painting, or knitting, the mistakes stare back at me blatantly. Sometimes, I see the mistakes nobody else sees. We are always our own worse critics. But, I kind of like the little errors.

Maybe it makes me weird, but I like to be reminded that I'm constantly learning. When I see the gap in the first lace I knit I think, "There's a mistake I now know how to avoid!" When I see the missed stitches on the first scarf I crochet I think, "Now I know how to make sure I'm at the end of the row!" Sometimes the mistakes irk me, but for the most part I like them.

I always think back to one statement someone made to me about twelve years ago. I took a beading class with my Girl Scout Troop and had messed up in the color pattern on my necklace. It was just a little goof up, and I was ready to rip the whole thing out. The instructor said, "I always leave my mistakes in. Nobody is perfect. If we were perfect, we'd be God."

Maybe I'm using it as an excuse to be a lazy crafter, but I think of that line every time my bias tape bundles up or I miss a ribbed stitch.

Unless of course, I have fifty six extra stitches. In that case, SO LONG YA NASTY MESSED UP SWEATER YOKE!!!


Where do you draw the line between frogging and forgetting?

Monday, March 30, 2015

Classy Cook Aprons: A Happy Ending

Remember the warning about unfolding fabric I gave you guys? Well, this "Ooops" has a happy ending: look at the spiffy new apron made from the fabric I sold!

Bev at Classy Cook Aprons purchased my fabric and made it into this very classy apron. Still not a fan of skulls, but I must say, the apron looks nice. Her work is all very cute! Lots of funky aprons in her shop. Check them out!

Happy Monday!!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Gluten Free Friday: Things I Stockpile #glutenfreefriday

Welcome back, Gluten Free Friday! I missed you. A lot. This week I'm going to chat a bit about the groceries that I stock up on to make cooking gluten free at home easy. Some of these things might be weird! Some might be predictable. And hardly any of them are specialty products. This isn't a foo foo list of fancy gluten free products: it's more of a survival-of-daily-life-list of naturally gluten free products. Once you can start including as many naturally GF things on your grocery list, you can start saving booku bucks.

Alright. Let's rock.

I buy my rice by the 25 lb bag at this cute little Asian market. Most grocery stores sell bulk rice, too. Some days I'll just pop a whole bunch of rice in the steamer and snack on it all day. I use it as a side, as a snack, as a main dish, as a boat for carrying other food. Don't want to boil gf pasta and regular pasta for stroganoff? Serve it on rice. It makes it easy to cook one meal for my whole fam. Less pans. Less crying. More eating. If you are going to start investing in that much rice (which, really, it's a lot cheaper in the long run) I'd suggest getting a rice steamer. Mine's awesome and I use it nearly daily.

Corn Tortillas
My cast iron skillet doesn't get put away. It just lives on my stovetop. Not only is it a handy, easy-access weapon against monsters, it's always ready to make me a quesadilla at a moment's notice. Corn tortillas have been another go-to snack for me. I make quesadillas like it's my job. They're a great, GF snack/meal you can make really fast. Here are my fave variations:
 Cheddar, paprika, onion powder, leftover chicken
Mozzerella, tomato paste, pepperoni, oregano
Peanut butter, banana, honey

Which brings me to my next item:

Peanut Butter
 I also am majorly in love with peanut butter. I just bought a mega tub of it last time I was at the store. I eat it by the spoonful when I start feeling wibbly wobbly. I make Peanut Butter Cookies when I want to pretend I'm eating a protein-packed snack. I put it in smooties. I dip apples in it. I put it on rice cakes. It's versatile and yummy.

Canned Beans
A problem some people with Celiac can run into is a lack of fiber. If you relied on bread products to make up most of your daily fiber count, you are going to have to adjust. I sure had to! One way I got more fiber back into my diet was with beans. I never used to like beans as a kid, but now I'm putting them in everything: soups and tacos especially. I try to always have a few cans in the house so I can quick add a bit of fiber into a meal if I see the potential for it. 
I pretty much always have apples in the house for packed lunches and snacking. I know you can't really stockpile apples unless you have a cold cellar, but I do try to keep them in the house.
Same as apples, you can't really stockpile produce (unless you get the dried kind, which I don't). But I do buy a box every time I'm at the store. I'm serious. File this in the weird pregnancy category, but I hated mushrooms until after Ernest was born. Now I eat them like crazy. I even made (and scarfed up) stuffed mushrooms on Sunday. Who knew?? Mushrooms are a great source of Vitamin D, another vitamin Celiacs frequently are deficient of. Mushrooms can find a place in almost every meal, so they are a great little supplement.

Tortilla Chips
I love Snyder's of Hanover's GF pretzels, but they are pricey when you end up eating the whole bag in one sitting. Heh. So I try to only buy them once every two weeks, and instead go for tortilla chips. Almost all tortilla chips are gluten free, but my faves are Milagros or Mission. Personal preference, I'm not getting paid or anything. I wish. ANYWAYS. I eat these buggers with hummus like nobody's business. That makes them a healthy snack, right? Hummus is healthy. And they make a good snack that you can share/take to parties and not make everyone feel awkward about eating the stuff you brought because it's "gluten free so only you should eat it." Been there. Done that. Ended up eating a whole plate of cheese dip with my own sad rice crackers because nobody else would touch it. 

Corn Flour
I pretty much always have a big bag of this on hand in case the mood strikes me and I want to make corn bread. When this mood does strike me, it strikes hard and we have about forty pounds of corn bread on our hands. 
Corn Starch
Recipe calls for a sauce to be thickened? Send in the corn starch. If we run out of corn starch, it is guarunteed that I will need it within the next 24 hours. Better to stock up than have runny, sad sauce. Or worse, sauce that is nice because you gave in a thickened it with flour but now that means you have to watch sadly as everyone else enjoys the sauce. Except you. Been there, my friends, I have been there.
That wraps up GFF for this week. What do you stock up on in your house? What items make managing Celiac at home easier for you?

Have a lovely weekend!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Drawstring Project Bag Pattern

Last in Line Shop: Drawstring Project Bag Sewing Pattern

For some odd reason, I got tired of shoving my project into the diaper bag I now carry in place of a purse. And though my amazing Aunt custom made the diaper bag for me, there were only so many pockets she could include. A project quadrant just wasn't going to happen.

So the big question became: Do I tangle the project by shoving it into the diaper bag, or do I take another large bag out with me? I, for some reason, own zero small, manageable bags.

Guess what? I decided to make some.

Last in Line Shop: Drawstring Project Bag Sewing Pattern

And this one is the first! I scored the blue floral fabric at an epic thrift store score back in Utah and have been planning on bag-ifying it since I saw it. I trolled and trolled Pinterest for the right bag pattern (and the right cookie recipe and the right homemade cleaning product and the right know how it is) and came across this pattern from Sew Serendipity. It's a lunch bag pattern that was being offered for free by Sew Mama Sew and I knew it was right.

Last in Line Shop: Drawstring Project Bag Sewing Pattern
I did a few minor adjustments (namely to the handle) but for the most part kept the bag as it was. The pattern makes a very very nice, roomy project bag without being hugemonsterous.

Last in Line Shop: Drawstring Project Bag Sewing Pattern

I opted for a single sided handle in order to make the bag more clip-to-the-diaper-bag friendly, but you can do whatever you want. I don't care. I'm not the boss of you.

Last in Line Shop: Drawstring Project Bag Sewing Pattern

I feel kinda fancy with the wooden beads on the draw ties. I was thinking about NOT putting them on because for some reason I was feeling particularly anti-hardware at the time, but I'm so glad Other-Side-of-My-Brain convinced me otherwise. The look so nice! And professional. And stuff. Unlike those last few sentences.

Last in Line Shop: Drawstring Project Bag Sewing Pattern

Yeah, I don't actually use those knitting needles, they are more for show. Big long wooden needles look better in pictures than my tangley circulars I enlist for every project. More rustic.

Straight needles are rustic?

Hush. Agree with me. You know I'm right.

Last in Line Shop: Drawstring Project Bag Sewing Pattern

My thoughts on the pattern:
-Go with a med-light Peltex on the outer body of the bag if you are using thick fabric like me.
-The strap is very customizable. I could even see this as having two straps for a weirdy cute little backpack!
-Gathering the drawstring segment made that part a bit unmanageable to sew. In the end, I measured (read: completely guessed on) some pleats to ease the top into the bag.
-It's AMAZING that all the seams are enclosed. Nothing is more lovely in a pattern to me than a project that effortlessly encloses all the seams.
-Also, you don't have to turn the draw strings. Because, why should you be subject to that torture? I just ironed them out like bias tape and sewed them shut with some edge stitching.
-Oh, and I didn't include interfacing on the lining. Because I'm a rebel and believe that if you can leave out interfacing, do.

I'm going to be making quite a few more of these, I think. They are quite quick once you get all the pieces cut out! I've actually already finished one other one!

Happy Tuesday!!