Well, as promised, here are more photos from the egg dying weekend.  To me, the whole thing was about the stages the egg goes through.  As you can see, the egg starts white, and as you cover various parts of your design with wax, dying after each application of wax, the whole thing gets very dark and muddy looking.  At the end, using the heat from the candle flame, the wax is melted off revealing what you hope is a perfectly executed design, but there is a lot of suspense!  The wax is regular beeswax.  It starts out lightly colored, but becomes black due to the carbonization from the candle flame.  (Does that make sense?  There are lots of good tutorials on how you actually dye eggs this way.  Here is a good one.)  
I've got two "beginning to end" galleries set up here with two of the traditional style eggs that I dyed.  
This egg, made following directions from one of the pattern books, is pretty simple as far as these eggs go.  The first photo is of the pencil lines, then the first wax, then with the yellow dye and the second wax layer, then the light green dye and third layer, then the dark green dye, and then with all the wax melted off.  
This egg is a lot more complicated than the others I did, and was by far the most fun.  It took hours, but I totally didn't notice. Picture here are the first wax layer, then with the yellow dye and the second wax layer, then using a cotton swab to add green dye just to select places and then a third wax layer, then the orange dye and a fourth wax layer, also a photo of the bottom, the top looked the same, then after the red dye and fifth wax layer, then after the blue dye, and then with all the wax melted off.  
A few educational shots, here are photos of the kistky, the wax being melted off an egg, and what a partially clean egg looks like.
Here is a shot of an egg that one of the other little egg dyers did:
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And here is the one I did for my husband the fisherman.  It actually only took about two hours, the blink of an eye compared to the other one. 
At some point I am supposed to varnish these eggs, but I'm waiting to do that right now until they have dried out a little bit (because we didn't empty them before dying).  One website I read discussed emptying the egg, putting a little water inside of it so it won't float in the dye, and then sealing up the hole with wax.  I'm not sure how that would work, but I think I might try it the next time I dye eggs just to see how the experience differs.   In truth, I also feel a little mixed about the whole craft, because I definitely like the look of the designs I copied out of the book better than  my own free hand ones, that that seems a little false or something.  I'm not sure how copying a pattern on an egg differs from following a pattern for a blanket or cross-stitch, except that for some reason I just feel like drawing should be more personally unique, not just rote copying.  I did play around with the colors a little, and I would expect that with more experience I would also get more comfortable making up my own designs, or at least riffing more on the traditional designs, and that might make me feel better about it.  I'm also interested in the bleaching method, where you use bleach as the last step, taking what ever isn't covered in wax back down to the original white, so I would expect that you might see more egg photos here sometime in the future. 
PS: While running today I was dreaming of an egg with a rocket ship on it, so I'm certainly not finished. 
 
I always end up delaying posts trying to include updates for all my different projects, but I don't work on all my projects every week, so it takes weeks and weeks to build a post that has pictures of all the various projects.  There will be a longer post (someday) with other photos in it, but for now, a few tidbits. 
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My finished Tinysaurus.  It took me about one hour to put it together, but I was so excited I rushed through it.  I certainly could have taken more time on it.  Also I didn't end up using the tweezers because I found them to be more of a burden than a help. 
And just a taste of some Ukrainian Easter eggs that I dyed this weekend.  While not technically a needle art, Ukrainian egg dying does use a kistka which has a needle like point, so I'm going to let that slide.  Here is one I did in desert colors with an Ocotillo on the front and back and Brittle Bush flowers around the side.  The second one has some starfish and jellyfish on it, and a sand dollar on the bottom.  The rest of the photos of the process are being held captive in the internal memory of my camera and I'll post them when I can. The process of making the eggs was a little unnerving to me because I'm not comfortable with free form, but the color mixing/layer part was right up my alley.  I plan to dye more tomorrow, so we'll see what happens.
 
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The plums are coming along swimmingly.  Here is one of the sleeves.  It may or may not be too long, I guess we'll find out later.  The directions say to make the sleeve 19 1/2 inches before the decreases start, and I hate to futz with directions the first time around.  But with the cuff turned back, as pictured here, I think it will be fine.  Also there are supposed to be some shoulder pads in the finished product, so those should take up some extra arm fabric as well.  If there is no extra arm fabric then there will be no shoulder pads I guess.
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Also worthy of note: a friend sent me a link to Reknit, where, for thirty dollars, one mails an old sweater to them, the mother of the site designer unravels it and re-knits it into something else.  It appears to be some kind of mom sweat shop.  No, not really, but it does bring up some "serious" questions in my mind. [Ed. note: I added the quotation marks while I was re-reading this, I mean really, serious is when your circular needle breaks and all the stitches fall off, these are more musings.]  This re-knitting seems just fine on the surface, and there are many ladies out there who do this themselves, but those ladies are searching Goodwills for very specific sweaters.  Most commercially produced sweaters found at Goodwill are made by terrible corporations who think it is fine to just make bolts of knitted fabric, cut them into the shapes they need, serge the edges, and then sew it into a sweater shape (a shape that fits great and has none of those imperfections that spell out L-O-V-E).  When you unravel such a beast you end up with a lot of short pieces of yarn.  The mother daughter team of Reknit don't provide any direction on their site about what kinds of sweaters to send, which makes me wonder, is this magical little knitting mother splicing many short pieces of yarn together?  Weaving in innumerable ends?  If only knitters were sending items to be re-knit, then it might be more likely that they would send more easily unravelable items, but I can't imagine, via email, that it would be very easy to explain to a non-knitter what to look for in a sweater's insides to ensure that it was made of one continuous piece of yarn.  I think it is an interesting idea, and a nice service.  I'm a little surprised also that they don't play up the sentimental angle, you know, have your child's favorite sweater made into a scarf, something like that.  I guess people can make that leap on their own.  
The quilt hasn't grown enough for another pictures, and I've got other projects that are also in their infancy.  I'm awaiting the arrival of a non-needle related craft kit, which I think I will still post images of here, because, as a photo from the website will show, it is amazing.  
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UPDATE: My mom tells me she heard about Reknit on NPR and that it is a mother-SON team, not mother daughter.  Me and my sexist assumptions.  It would seem that children of any sex can put their moms to work.  After reading the NPR article, now I'm just outraged for this woman.  I mean, I understand that she is not being forced at gunpoint to knit scarves, but 7-8 hours of work for $30!  This is why I am always very polite but firm with people who suggest that I sell my stuff. 
 
  First off, a few little delicious tidbits from a few weeks ago.  The combination of knitting gifts and having this blog can be an awkward one.  I don’t want to post photos of gifts before they are given, and then by the time they are given, I’m too lazy to go back and post.  Here, however, are some photos of gifts.
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One is another little mouse.  This guy was also made with sock yarn, but with size 00 needles instead of 000.  The change in needle size made it much easier to make the little bobbles that are his feet and hands and don’t seem to actually have affected size all that much.  And the stuffing doesn’t come through the holes in the knitting or anything like that. 
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The second gift is a little nest pin cushion.  I have a friend who once told me how she thought the nest was a very nice symbol of home.  Ever since then when I see nests on necklaces or screen prints, I think of her, but my bank account doesn’t really allow for random silver nest purchase, nor, do I think, she would appreciate me filling up her house with nests.  However, when I saw this nest in Closely Knit by Hannah Fettig, and I probably saw it now about a year and a half ago, I thought of my friend and decided that some time, I would make it.  So, after a year and a half, the stars aligned, I had dark brown and egg blue in DK weight.  I couldn’t find all of my dp size 6 that the pattern call for, so I did try to make the nest on size 3 first (I’m sure if there is a way to use smaller needles and yarn then I will).  The nest itself is done in a pretty simple K2, cable 2, K2, cable 2 cable stitch.  You can’t really see it in the pictures, and you can’t even really see it on the nest, but it is ultimately worth it I guess.  Using the size 3s and doing the cables made the nest very tight and tense and hard, not quite the effect I was going for.  But then while doing a massive reorganization of my yarns, sorting by weight instead of date purchase J, I found the rest of my size 6 dpns, don’t ask me what they were doing away from their friends.  The next nest was much more successful.  I’ve seen on other blogs, that people felt the need to block the nest, but I did not feel such a need.  Mine had good structure (and I hate blocking anyway).  I used a little purchased bird as the directions suggested.  I did ponder making a knit bird, but in the end, I wanted to be able to send off the project and the little bought bird does give the nest somehow a more homey, thrift store type feel that I like. 
Also, no offence meant to the author, but I could not stand the directions for making the eggs.  I’m not sure if I’m just a sloppy provisional caster-oner, or if there is some other malfunction in my knitting, but casting on, and knitting in one direction, and then casting off and picking up the stitches in the middle and knitting in the other direction did not work for me.  If you want an easy egg, here  you go:
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Easy Egg

Materials: 4 size 6 dpns, a little stuffing, a little egg colored yarn

Onto 3 size 6 dpns, cast on 6 stitches, 2 on each needle.

Row 1: Knit 1 round

Row 2: *k1, make 1, k1*, repeat twice more (9 total stitches)

Row 3: *k3, make 1*, repeat twice more (12 total stitches)

Rows 4-8: Knit 5 rounds

Row 9: *k2, k2tog*, repeat twice more (9 total stitches)

Rows 10-11: Knit 2 rounds

It is a good idea to go ahead and stuff the egg now, as the next two decrease rows would make it hard to do so afterward. 

Row 12: *k1, k2tog*, repeat twice more (6 stitches total)

Row 1: *k2tog*, repeat twice more (3 stitches total)

Cut yarn, draw cut end through remaining 6 stitches on needles and pull tight.  Use cast on end to sew any hole remaining at the bottom together. 
I’m not sure what else you could do with knitted eggs besides put them into little nests.  They seem to make great, if short lived, cat toys, though this was not discovered on purpose.  Also, I must say, the nest makes a great cat sized bowler hat. 
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Other updates include the quilt which grows when I grow board of plums
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And the plums, which grow when I get board of the fact that you can’t carry a quilt around with you and whip it out at social gatherings.   The back is all finished and I’m at present working on one of the arms, in order to feel like I’m making more progress, working with fewer stitches, and also to gauge the actual amount of yarn this project is going to take by working exactly half a sweater. 
 
Bring on the plums!
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Here are some pics of the first line of the pattern for my soon (I hope soon) to be too charming plum sweater.  The switching of colors leads to much twisted yarn, but at this point I still feel like it is worth it.  The original was meant to be cherries, but I think this color scheme of plums better suits my needs.  Just so we can all marvel at what I shall have soon, here is a pic of the original.
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I'm practicing this pose every day in the mirror just to be ready...
 
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This little buddy is also made with sock yarn and 000 needles.  I still have a strong desire to make a smaller one, but I'm going to have to discover smaller needles, which sounds like a bit of a task.
 
I was poking around today looking for a pattern for a knit bird and came across this total gem of a free pattern.  I will use the phrase "of course" now for those who know me.  Of couse I had to make it tonight, of course I had to make the beret, and of course I had to make it on my now favorite 000 needles with sock yarn.  Really, what isnt improved by making it with tiny needles and sock yarn?  He is 2 inches tall with his hat and is all set for a fancy night on the town.
 
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Here is a picture of a tiny sea seahorse I made recently.  He is the same size as some of the larger ones I saw at the aquarium, but he is by no means as tiny as I could wish.  I used sock yarn and 000 sized needles, and still he is like a giant. 
Also, as my husband’s fishing mittens are finally finished and he actually used them, here is an action shot.   They now smell like stream, which I guess is appropriate. 
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First, an update on the quilt, slow and steady.
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I have found that because I picked out these colors and combinations so long ago, as I build the rows I get to experience them all over again.  Also, little hexagons sewn together look much different from squares on a table. 

I don’t think I actually wrote about the process at all in earlier posts.  I’m doing the quilt traditional paper piecing style, except I’m using plastic forms for the inserts instead of paper inserts.  The hexagons are about the size of silver dollars, each side is one inch long.  I cut all my fabric into squares first, because I didn’t want to spend my life cutting out hexagons.  The process is as follows:

·         Pin the plastic hexagon form to the fabric

·         Snip off the corners of the square so it is more hexagon shaped

·         Fold over and base the edges of the fabric around the plastic form

·         Then, sew the based pieces together with whip stitch and when all six sides of a form have been surrounded, remove the insert

I’m working in rows because that uses the fewest amount of inserts at one time. 
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Next on the old agenda, another under the sea item.  A lovely crocheted conch shell.  I had the worst time figuring out the directions, especially for the point, but as you can see, I was finally successful.  Also, it makes a good home for another under the sea buddy. 
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Such a ridiculous time without posting merits an extra long “run-down” post.  So either sit back and get comfortable or plan to do this thing in phases.  One of the major barriers to posting (or at least I tell myself so) is that for a while I was working almost exclusively on Christmas presents.   And really, you can’t post pictures of Christmas presents, even on your blog that most people don’t read. 
Before I get down to the (k)nitty-gritty a few updates.  First is that that grey sweater from two posts down is toast again.  I got the whole thing totally done and it was looking super and then I sewed it together waaaay too tight, and then, for reasons that I can’t totally remember right now, instead of just cutting the seams, I took the whole thing apart and gave up on that darn sweater.  I’ve got other similar patterns in mind for the yarn, but part of me believes that perhaps I was just not meant to make a raglan sleeved sweater and should stick with yolk necks.  I can sew armpits together till the cows come home.  Shoulders, not so much. 

A quick list of things I made in this period of time that I didn’t take pictures of:

·         A charming green owl baby sweater
·         8 spherical knitted fair isle Christmas ornaments
·         A crochet Queen Ann scarf using handsome and inspiring home spun

 Onward to actual projects with pictures!
The Grandma's Flower Garden Quilt: I got lots of work done on my quilt, and then because I had put off Christmas knitting till the last moment, I had to stop.  Now I worry that my hands won’t know what to do once they get started again.  I did manage to take lots of pictures of the quilt though, in various phases, with which I will now favor you:
In these photos you can see the cutting table over which I labored with my hexagonal graph in the foreground; all my little square bundles laid out, because chance is for the insane; the morning the kitten found the scraps can; and finally about how far I got before Christmas descended like a craft time absorbing sponge.
One better documented Christmas project this year is the Santa’s Clothesline.  The pattern originally came from Mary Maxim, but Mary and I seem to have differing ideas about the correct sizing of clothing for a fireplace garland.  Or, more aptly, I have a skewed concept of how big a fireplace is and love a challenge.  I started to make the jacket and was horrified by the dimensions.  I sized down repeatedly until I ended up working with bedspread crochet thread and size 0 needles.  The results look something like this:
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In the end I made two medium sized garlands, one Mary Maxim sized one ,and one tiny one for personal use.  For those keeping score, that is 4 little jackets, pants, hats, scarves, and long johns, and 8 little mittens and socks.  Here is my husband with the finished MM sized and tiny sized, as you can see, the MM sized garland actually looks very cute:
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And finally, a Christmas gift that has been given and so can be posted about.  Mittens.  Two pair to be exact.  One for my father who favors deep blues (these are the only photos I have of them and were taken before the thumbs were finished.  In fact, they had complete and finished thumbs before they were given:
The second for my husband, who fly fishes, and requested convertible mittens with convertible thumbs so that he can tie flies, which apparently involves the thumb.  I used the same pattern as for my dad’s mittens, from Never Knit Your Man a Sweater, the unfortunately named and concepted book with some quite nice patterns.  Because I was using a thicker yarn than the recommended fingerling, a Rowan 4 ply soft,  I ended up having to use 00 sized needles to get the right gauge.  The ladies at knitting night said I was crazy, but really you get used to the tiny needles quickly, so that before you know it size 5 look like tree trunks.  Instead of doing the diamond pattern on the back, I wanted to make them more fish related.  Despite numerous drawings and graphs and consultations with real fisherman, I still ended up with something that looks like a dolphin.  Also, on the first mitten I made the design by doing pearl stitch on a sockinette ground, and after being dissatisfied with the detail definition, and because these are for my husband and he doesn’t mind such lack of symmetry, I did the second mitten’s design outlined in pearl stitches, but the design itself and the ground in sockinette.  One looks more like a salmon than a trout, and the other, as stated, looks like a dolphin.  Thankfully my husband loves me and is so thrilled about the thumb that he doesn’t care what is on the back.  The final mod I did was to do the palms in seed stitch, which seems to be everyone’s favorite detail.  My father in law was so taken with them at Christmas that there may be at least one final pair of mittens in my future. 
In non-Christmas related and exciting news, I was a finalist on the Mochimochi Land blog photo contest.  I made it to the final 10 with this charmer:
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I’m already planning my entry for next year. 
The icing on the cake is a wedding gift cross-stitch.  This is actually the most complex project I’ve ever designed myself.  Because I’m computer un-savvy, I used MS Paint zoomed all the way in the make the graph.  Changing Mario’s colors was the most challenging, and my favorite part is the shading in Peach’s bodice.   The finished product was framed in an oval of gold.  The happy couple’s names and the date were done below in block letters in dark blue.
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I think that is all.  In honor of the new year I will make attempts to post at least once a week, if not once a month.  We’ll see what happens.