Category Archives: Life

Where do you indulge?

KnitCroBlo Day 5: Where do you like to indulge in your craft?

Since I am generally designing while I knit, I must have at least a piece of paper and pencil handy….but often times my laptop, too. I’m hugely into charting when designing for visual simplicity and ease of error checking (via KnitVisualizer) so it’s nice to have the computer around for quick changes. Practically speaking, I always knit at home and I’m either sitting at my kitchen table or on my couch. I try to save the majority of my design time for when my kiddos are in bed. Theoretically this allows me to concentrate and make fewer mistakes. But it didn’t stop me from ripping out the instep of my newest (and still TOP SECRET) sock design 5 times last week.

I have knitting/designing/dyeing stuff in various places throughout the house, so you’ll find me doing yarn related things in the kitchen, spare bedroom/storage space and basement. These yarn related activities are usually not knitting, but generally dyeing, packaging, yarn prep, yarn washing, and business related etc.

It’s a good thing we have a pretty big house.


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New room, new style

Since work is moving right along in our old office space – soon to be the NewGuestBedroom/Office, I’m starting to get busy planning the decor. Now strictly speaking, I am not terribly good at interior decorating. Our house is pretty much cobbled together over the 6 years of our marriage. An odd assemblage of new furniture, mixed in with thrift store finds and hand me downs. We do have quite a nice art collection on the walls, and a stylish paint job throughout the house, but really we lack a firm hold on style. Plus, we’re kind of a cluttery family. Every spare surface is always covered with clutter. For instance, my very clean desk from a few posts below is now covered with the detritus of everyday life and the yarn business. I wish I could claim it was that well plotted, beautifully executed magazine photo type of clutter, but it’s not. On my desk right now are:

  • Two needle felted hedgehogs
  • My KnitPicks Options binder
  • Random assortment of ball bands and double sided tape
  • A few envelopes of random mail
  • A basket of pens, plus one or two across the desk surface
  • Three decorating magazines and my husband’s book
  • Two cups
  • A skein of Gaslight Dyeworks yarn
  • And an Xbox game box

Maybe someday I will start being a clutter free, organized person. But I don’t think it’s happening while my kiddos are little. Between the daily mess of yarn dyeing (Which I do clean up everyday so our kitchen isn’t simply a messy work area) and the childrens’ ability to tornado a room in .62557891 seconds there just aren’t enough hours in the day for creative pursuits and detailed cleaning/organizing. I guess the clutter is here to stay.

For now, the picture up above is my idea of a decorator accent. 1 lbs of superfine, sport weight merino, twisted into a ball. Clean, curvaceous, organic lines add a minimalist accent to my otherwise functionality dominated workspace. And it feels good. Just what you need to make your office/family room a little prettier.

Anyway, while looking through one of the three magazines on my desk, I found a photo shoot of a room that I absolutely fell in love with back in February when the magazine appeared. I think we’ll go with this theme, if I can get Nick to approve. We may have to make the walls cream, with an accent wall of blue. That will keep our space nice and airy and bright – there is only one window and the room is half under the ground. I love the use of light pink, light blue and chocolate brown in the photo. There’s also lots of texture via the floor and the pillows. Plus, the bird theme is just plain cool. Sigh. I wonder if I’ll be able to pull it off. I found the company that did the rug – it’s high quality carpet tiles, but they no longer have the bird carpet tiles. And a 4 x 4 rug runs between $200-250. Ouch. Maybe some other substitute would be good.

The yarn on top of the magazine is freshly arrived Superfly from Gaslight Dyeworks. I love this stuff. This is my second order this month from Gaslight and I’m hooked. Super fast shipping and amazing quality. You need some. Go now. Go quickly. You won’t be disappointed.

I’m off. I have yet another try at a new colorway. This will be attempt #3 and this colorway is kicking my butt. I can see it in my head, but it’s just not coming out right. Sigh. It had better make the fall line up or I’ll have invested a lot of time and effort on…well three skeins of not-quite-right dyed yarn. Such is the life of a dyer. At least I have my coffee and dreams of a spectacular room to keep me going.

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The week (or slightly more) in review.

Storm from my front yardIt’s been busy around the Franceschi ranch this week. Lots of partying, dyeing, and storms. We’ve had storms and rain off and on all week resulting in very humid, sticky and oppressive conditions. Welcome to the wettest summer I can remember folks. Let me tell you it’s not so great for the hairstyling. Luckily, I have a new flat iron that’s keeping my 3″ tresses in shape!

dYEing – roving!

I’ve been dyeing my rear off this week. I managed to pull together a 20 pound roving order – which granted New Semi solid Yarn Love Colorsis a smaller order poundage wise, but considering it takes 3-4 times as long to dye roving as yarn means that I’m a genius of a workaholic. And it’s only Thursday. Not only that, but I’ve also been working up new semi-solid colorways for the Fall 2008 line. And I’m not talking one or two semi-solids, I’m talking a whole range. Right now, I have 9 colors that I’m happy with and are definitely in, but there are more colors that need attending to. Like red. And purple. And black. Red and purple and black are completely absent from the line up.

The nice thing about these semi solids is that their component colors are made up of colors that exactly match one or more multi-color colorways already in the line. So let’s say you want to knit a pair of socks for Aunt Marge – but she’s not so into the wild colors – and you happen to have 20 grams of Bloom leftover from a previous pair of socks. We’ll you’re in luck – you can either choose the melon colored semi solid or the light, spring green semi solid and tuck that leftover multi-color in for the toes and heels. Aunt Marge will love it so much you’ll make her will.  


ceLeBratIOn – our 4th

Katie on the 4thWe had a fun 4th. We started the day by taking all three kiddos to see Wall E. They really liked it – especially X. He’s into robots, currently. Yes, the last 30 minutes of the film, myself, my husband and all the seats in between us were his jungle gym, but all in all, it was a good outing. Promptly after the film, we adjourned to my parents for a very decadent lunch, followed by slip and sliding. I was in my suit because pushing three toddlers down the slip and slide water sprinkled slide for 3 hours tends to result in wet clothing. I even went down one of the slip and slides myself. (Don’t tell!) After the slip and sliding, it was home for a nap (only X slept) and then we did fireworks over at the cousin’s house. By the time we got to bed we were pretty well exhausted. It only took us three days to recover from the revelry.


X on the 4th

The Girlies on the 4th

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No more homely hair!

My version of short hairThere is a point, where once reached, my hair turns from something decent into untractable Homely Hair. The critical mass of Homely Hair was reached within the past two weeks, directly coinciding with a staph infection in my left eye which forces me to wear my glasses instead of my usual contacts. So in the throws of Homely Hair and Forced Glasses Wearing, I had a slight fit. I just couldn’t take it. So I made an emergency hair appointment and promptly chopped off 60% of the length of my hair. Of course, this meant that I did lose the pink ends, but it’s so nice not to be tethered to Homely Hair anymore….and my glasses look nearly trendy again.

I have new makeup, too. It’s mineral makeup and very fun to use. I got the majority of it from MicaBella in our local mall, and a couple from my citric acid supplier – Coastal Scents. Coastal Scents is a general soap supplier and they have pretty mica makeup as well. Their pink handled brushes are very nice, too. Full, easy to use and at a really good price. Since applying mineral makeup can be done wet or dry, it’s like painting and it’s easy to blend colors. I highly recommend mineral makeup if you’re so inclined.

Not much knitting was done over the weekend. Instead, there was much office packing and reorganization for the impending remodel. Then there was the yard work to be done. We’ve recently planted 5 new hydrangeas under our large, established lilac bushes. We also dug out the roots of a volunteer maple tree. All the nearby excavation has caused the lilacs to get leaf scorch and our excess of rain enabled powdery mildew to take hold. So I spent three hours yesterday hacking mildewy branches off, packing them into our yarn waste receptacle and trying to fertilize our way out of the leaf scorch. Sigh. The bushes look terrible. They had a severe pruning in the spring, and now this…..hopefully they’ll recover. They’re over 9 feet tall and would be a pity to lose.

Now I’m off to pack up the latest Loopy Ewe order and start skeining for a WoolGirl order. Lots more YarnLove will be coming to a retailer near you!



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I’m leaning towards a career in moving!

The hole left by moving the old deskLast night, Nick had a meeting to attend and we decided before he left that I should prep the office (And when you see the word office, please insert a mental image of “junk room”) for the impending demolition. We’re going to be updating most of thelower level (600+ square feet of living space in bad need of a makeover!) of our house. This includes nearly a full remodel of the office – which was originally an unfinished room in the house. I hardly know why – it’s on the lower level of our split level and not the basement, and to make things more interesting the entire rest of that space was finished when the house was built….it’s a mystery. Anyway, whomever came in to finish the space did a crappy job. It’s got the thinnest, cheapest OUTDOOR carpeting in the world, which doesn’t even properly reach the walls. A drop ceiling – the kind with the metal grid and drop in tiles and fluorescent lights, and it was painted a horrible bright orange color when we moved in. Not trendy orange, but nearly hunter orange. Somewhere between Make You Want to Puke and Make You Go Blind orange.

While it bears the epitaph of the “office” it’s really a junk room. All the odds and ends of things that didn’t fit The new space as seen from my front door.elsewhere in the house have taken up residence making it an eyesore. And since the computer was there, we spend a lot of time in that room. We spent even more time in that room while my winding equipment was in there, but it’s been moved and now we simply spend  a lot of time and not most of our time there.  

Nick’s meeting ran long….and he was out for two hours. Since I was determined to be responsible, I had gotten to work tearing apart the computer and moving the various and sundry parts upstairs. With that finished, I decided it would be easier to carry the desk up the flight up steps if all the drawers were out. So I pulled out all 9 drawers and carted those upstairs. By this time, the love seat was covered with all the bits of the computer, minus the tower (it’s heavy!) and I was running out of things to do. But I didn’t want to wait. So I rolled up the area rug and moved the large couch from the wall under the pictures to the wall with the with windows. Then I decided to move the desk up the stairs by myself. Amazingly, it worked. I guess all those leg press excercises have been working. I put my shoulder in the opening, stood up and walked that baby upstairs. By the time hubby got home, not only had everything been moved, but all the parts had been cleaning with the appropriate cleaning solution and the room was whole again. Score.

Who says that a 5’3″ shrimp can’t be helpful?

The computer desk as seen from the couch

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Family Whirlwind

I am so tired. It’s a good tired, but life has been so busy for the past 10 days that it’s wearing me out. Allergy season is in full swing around here, which means we’re well into our annual trip to the Dr. for X’s inability to breathe without wheezing. That inevitably turns into a chest X ray and a very long time spent waiting for them to tell us that it’s ok and simply refill his nebulizer prescription. We did that the day before hubby’s family came into town. They live a couple states away, so it’s usually several months between visits. We’re all having fun, but when a group of 12-15 people tries to get together to eat, fraternize and sleep it’s bound to wear you out.

So I’ve been scarce. This trip is different from the usual – most of them are here for a full week. We all got together Wednesday – Friday. Then on Saturday, N’s parents flew to California for a retreat, and we’ve divided his siblings between ourselves and his sister & her family. (He’s the oldest of 7, and the youngest will be 8 in the fall.) My girls seem to be getting slightly better about having guests on their turf, but there are bouts of crabbiness.

I have been knitting a bit. I’m trying to get a belated pair of Mother’s Day socks done for hubby’s mom. This year we were really prepared for Mother’s Day and had great plans way in advance….until my mother’s present was backordered for a couple months, and hubby changed his mind unexpectedly about his mom’s gift. Instead, he got her a couple of DVDs off the $5 rack at WalMart. She was happy with them, but that seems way too cheap to let pass. So I cast on the day they left and I have 4 days to get an entire pair of socks knit, while my regular knitting time is cut by about 75%. I’ll let you know how it turns out. I’m using the Roundabout pattern and Crystal Palace’s bamboo/cotton/elastic sock yarn. I just finished turning the heel on the second sock, so I’m about halfway there. I did opt to knit them toe up, two at a time….so no second sock syndrome. I’d better finish them now, because her feet are two sizes smaller than mine, so I can’t wear them if I wimp out.

Off to make grilled chicken club sandwiches for dinner. And perhaps indulge in a beer. I know beer isn’t like caffeine, but man, is it tasty!


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Awakening Earth

The earth has finally awakened here in the great state of Iowa. We had a very long, extremely snowy winter. December – March were all exceptionally snowy months, and in February alone we received 4 times the normal amount of snowfall. But spring has finally arrived!

It looks like this year I will actually have blooming lilacs. This will be first blooming year, even though this is the 3rd spring we’ve been in the house. The bushes are mature – somewhere between 10 & 12″ tall. The first year, they were even taller than they are now and hadn’t been pruned in years. Therefore, there were very few blooms and they were very scraggly. Hubby pruned them quite liberally which has filled them out quite nicely, but a very late killing frost last spring prevented them (and all the other flowering trees and shrubs) from blooming. Right now the blossoms are there and will open in the next few days. I’m going to cut some and bring them in! I love lilacs. Lilacs and hydrangeas are two of my favorite flowers.

Here is one of three pink hydrangeas that we are adding to the backyard this year. We’ll be planting 7 hydrangea bushes just in front of the lilacs. 4 white and 3 pink – alternating colors. My hope is that the hydrangeas will fill in under the lilacs and fill out the back bed. Lilacs are just a bit sparse underneath for my tastes….especially come mid summer when they’re not blooming.

Hops are coming up!

The hops are starting to come up. I planted them 10 days ago – which is quite late, but it’s been unseasonably cold here – and they’re starting to come up. I planted them in this very sad bed along the back of our garage. Our garage has issues. As in it really needs replaced/rebuilt. When they updated the outside of our home with repairs and new siding, they opted to only side the front of the garage. The other three sides have old, particle board siding which is literally falling off. The cement is cracked and pools water inside the garage and the cement in the drive is probably 30 years old. Unfortunately, since the house also needs updating, the garag is on the waiting list. The best I can do right now is to grow hops up the side and camoflauge the disaster. This is a shot taken across the back of the garage – after I spent 2 1/2 hours hoeing and tilling the bed to get it into shape for hop planting. There’s still a few stray weeds and some debris, but I’m proceeding with the weed paper and mulch. A girl can only take so much. Eventually, I’d like to get rid of the railroad ties, but again, that’s going to have to wait. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

The grass you see along the base of the garage is pretty much impossible to get out. It’s right up along the cement foundation so tools are useless for getting it out….so I foresee a hands and knees grass pulling session in my future. Sigh. That’s going to be tons of fun. I love kneeling on rough, tar smelling rail ties.

Here is a Tettnanger hop coming up. It’s very green in color compared with the Fuggles. The Fuggles are comping up nearly white. We’ll see what their final colors turn out to be.


These are the Fuggles. The green stems are errant Lily of the Valley. Fuggles are the spindly white sprouts.

New Birks for Spring!

Last, but not least, I have new Birkenstocks for spring. They’re thong style and I ended up liking them – they’re perfectly comfy until you stub your toe. (IF you do, the plastic toe piece impacts the sensitive skin between your toes. Ouch!) I love the pattern on them….and they match my hair. Hair matching is now an important part of outfit coordination!



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I’m going to a sleep-over tonight!

After weeks of anticipation, the special day has finally arrived! While May 1st isn’t the actual date of our anniversary, this is when it worked out to celebrate it. So my sweetie and I will be celebrating 6 years together with a fun night out on the town! Ok, maybe “out on the town” isn’t quite the right phrase for it, but we’ll be having a lovely dinner at a trendy restaurant (and tasty!), picking up amazing Chocolaterie Stam and champagne on our way to The Butler House Bed and Breakfast. Then tomorrow we plan to catch a movie, have our wedding rings polished and wander around having fun and shopping. The kids are staying with Grandma and Grandpa….I couldn’t be more excited. The last time they were away was last year for our anniversary. It’s pretty much only once in a blue moon that they’re not at home. And since X decided he needed to get up and cry 5 times between 11:30 pm and 1 am this morning, I can’t say that I’m regretting a night to ourselves.

So I have the brand new dress that I’ll be wearing out to dinner, and that’s going to be lots and lots of fun. I’m trying to decide whether or not to take my knitting. I don’t think I’ll need it tonight, but doesn’t it sound romantic to get up in the morning and knit in the B&B? We’ll see if the sweetie thinks that would be ok. I wouldn’t want to hurt his feelings on our one romantic get away this year!

I’m off to squeal and pack. Plus Twisted seems to be opening a new shop in 5 minutes, and I’ve been wanting to try some self striping yarn! 


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Pink hair is making me vain.

Vainty, vanity and pink hairIt’s true. I keep looking in the mirror because it’s so much fun to see my hair pink. Then I keep taking pictures of myself to make sure it looks ok. I’m aiming for trendy, not trashy and a girl has to keep tabs on this sort of thing. Unremarkably, my hair remains pink every time I glance at it, and has not turned into a white trash, train wreck of a hairstyle.

Yesterday was a good day despite the return of frigid temperatures. The rain has let up a bit but temps for the past two weeks have been 10 – 20 degrees below average. It’s nearly May and we’re pushing to hit 50 during the day. Sigh. I managed to get the hops into the ground. It’s been so rainy that gardening has been nearly impossible. It felt good to get out there and dig in the dirt….even if I did have to wear a parka to keep warm. So I dug 8 holes for the hop rhizomes (roots). They were about 18″ wide and 18 – 24″ deep. The rhizomes aren’t huge, and don’t require a hole that big, but all the research advocated digging large holes so that you could mix a good amount of composted manure into the dirt. My shoulders and butt have not forgiven the hour and half of digging, hoeing and back filling from yesterday. The only decent thing about the cold weather is that hops love it. Even though this is quite late in the season for planting them, I don’t think they’ll suffer. That’s more than I can say for my aching shoulders.

Yesterday I received my huge box of goodies from akasha, my Beer & Fiber swap partner. The idea was to get paired up with a friend, and buy them some yarn and beer that isn’t commonly available in their area. akasha went all out, sending me double the amount of beer specified, plus extra needles and a cute sweater key chain. It was an amazing package. See the pictures below for more details. If I hadn’t been out of the house for the season opening bikini wax, we would have started tasting them after dinner. It’s been cold enough that they were all about 45 degrees from sitting in the delivery truck all day. Sigh. It’s like a Belgian beer dream. There are four imports plus a few more American brewed Belgian styles. Oh, and don’t forget the IPA, stouts, and wheat beers. They’re all over 5% alcohol, which means that I can’t buy any of these beers in the great state of Iowa due to our stupid beer laws. I feel like a little kid on Beer Christmas. Thanks, akasha! You are so generous and thoughtful!!! Sit back and get comfy….here comes the beer parade:

The whole lot

Beer with pink or red labels: Stoudt’s Fat Dog, Dogfish Head 90 minute IPA, and Southern Tier’s Raspberry Wheat:

Red and pink beer

Yellow Beer: Imported Saison, and American brewed double wit and saison. Yummy! I’ve never had a Saison yet. I’m so excited!

Beers with yellow labels

Beers with blue labels: Old Heathen, Golden Monkey and a chocolate cream homebrew! Sigh. So tempting.

Blue label beers

The Imported Belgians: I don’t know a lot about these, but look at the funky Belgian bottles! yay! A Dubbel, A tripel and Pirate beer!

Belgian beer

And a little yarny goodness to finish off the parade. It’s the AquaTide colorway, hand dyed by Ellyn Cooper. (Ellyn Cooper’s Yarn Sonnets) A brand new kind of sock yarn to knit up – in colors that blend beautifully with my wardrobe.

Aquatide Ellyn Cooper's Yarn Sonnets


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Pink is the new blonde

Katie with hot pink hairI couldn’t help myself. I’ve had a dream for years. It started out as a vague notion in high school and took shape as I got older. Some years it was blurred and pushed into the background by moving, having children and lack of sleep….but the dream never died. It waited for the day of fulfillment. Absolute refusals from my family and friends weren’t even enough to deter me.

I was always destined to have brightly colored hair.

Now at the age of 27 I have it. It’s hot pink – which I love – but was actually a concession to my rather reserved sweetie who thought pink would look more classy than purple or blue. Frankly, it was an idea of brilliance. Given my light brown/ sandy blond hair color the pink was a really good choice. Right now my hair is as dark as it ever gets. Long, cold, dark winters turn it almost a medium shade of warm brown. The minute sunlight hits, I get golden highlights through out. The pink and blond really fell in love with each other in my hair.

Only the lower 3″ of the under layer of my hair is pink. I had the top highlighted normally, and then we pulled that up, revealing the underneath layer. The ends were bleached platinum blond and then over dyed with bright pink. It is a semi permanent, but with the bleach, it will have to be cut out in order for it to go away. Bring on summer – I’m ready!

Bye Bye Bad Day!

My bad day of the last post turned out to be due to PMS. My mom was not mad at me in any way and Nick was perfectly  happy upon coming home. That didn’t stop me from having a late afternoon cry; which is completely uncharacteristic of me, and then I realized what was really the problem. Hormones. Ugh. Sometimes I wish they weren’t around. I could seriously do without random crying sessions on busy days.

Hello Shopping!

Last night I went shopping at my favorite department store – Von Maur. I was really there for some new underpinnings. Our anniversary is coming up, and it’s going to warrant wearing a halter dress that hasn’t looked good on me since we had the girls. (Thank-you Anytime Fitness!) I wanted a decent strapless bra to go underneath, even though it isn’t strictly necessary. Instead I found the perfect Little Black Dress.

It started out innocently enough – I came in on the upper level and the lingerie is on the bottom. So I breezed through Juniors on my way through. Nothing special, only the sale rack – looking for some cute new summer shirts. I’m in bad need of summer shirts. I saw the dresses and pulled about 6 off the sale rack. The first fit like a dream, despite my chest being 2 cup sizes larger than the Junior sizes are based on. But it did have a rather plunging neckline so I put it down. Then I tried on the Little Black Dress. It was perfect. I put the others away and ran straight for the sales desk. Who can quibble with a beautiful dress that was marked down to $32 from $165.

I then bought matching shoes and underpinnings. I can’t remember ever buying an entire outfit in one go like that. It felt good. I giggled and twirled in my dress for a half an hour after I got home. Nick laughed at me, but was very pleased. It’s going to be a nice anniversary.

It will look more polished when I’m not so sunburned and have makeup on. I can pull off black, but do it better when I have some foundation and eyeshadow to help out.

Black Dress & Shoes

Black dress back



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