Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Soup Swap 2012

Maybe you weren't aware of it, but this past Saturday was a very important holiday in the United States. It was National Soup Swap Day!

I joined a vibrant group of women for a soup swapping and potluck party. The potluck contributions and the soups were plentiful, varied and homemade.

We snacked, chatted, imbibed a bit, even! I spent much of the night talking to these wonderful women, Melissa and Megan.

Holly was our hostess and she wowed us all with her scissor pizza cutting ways and with her truffle oil mushroom pizza. More, please.

Holly's daughter Lydia was in charge of the number selection process we used to determine our soup swapping order.

Fourteen of us brought soup, with most people bringing 6 quarts each. Some people brought 2 or 3 kinds to make up their 6 quarts. That is roughly 84 quarts of soup with around 17-20 different soups!

It was important to browse the soups and recipes, so you could make your selection wisely when it came to your turn.

Before making our selections, we took turns pimping our soups by explaining what we made and boasting about anything that made it special.

Everyone listened very intently.

I took these pictures, which meant I forgot to pay close attention to what people brought. It turns out that enough people brought vegetarian options, that I had no problem coming away with a wonderful variety of vegetarian soups.

A lot of the people at this event know each other from a mothers' group, so there were a few tiny cuties at the party. This mom is a good multi-tasker!

More soup pimping...

And....Holly in her domain!

What a wonderful swap! Thanks to Holly for hosting us and to all of the attendees for the soup that I will get to eat throughout the next few months of the winter.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Nobody is Safe

It is winter here in Minnesota, which means when the sun is out, it is bright white. But, the days are short this time of year and not all of them are sunny. When it comes to taking pictures, natural light is pretty universally praised. So, what can you do when you don't have the natural light you'd like? You adjust! I've heard having the right lens can help. After a bit of research, I decided on the Canon 50mm f/1.8. I brought one home this weekend and from that moment on, nobody is my house was spared from the camera.

Not Tchazo.

Not Fanny.

Nor Jack.

Not even Paul, who was the only one whose objections had any chance of being heard. Although, it did help my case that I snuck up on him while he was cooking so he didn't have much time or attention to spare.

So far I am having a great time playing with it and am trying to relearn how close I need to stand to my subject. I guess I had grown really used to having a zoom function!

What about you? Do you have any favorite camera lenses? What does your favorite do well?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Further Lovely Connections

Remember when I told you about the Beckoning of Lovely event? Well, the video of that day is now available! It is great fun to relive the day in this 11 minute and 11 second format. And, of course, now it means you can share the experience, too!

You can see me cast on the red scarf while Amy talks about the project at 3:40.

I have been waiting for this video to be available so that I could share it with Gale Zucker. If you are a knitter, you may know Gale by her sheepy photos in Shear Spirit: Ten Fiber Farms, Twenty Patterns, and Miles of Yarn. In 2009, I met Gale when I took one of her knitting focused photography workshops. Through the wonderful world of the internet, we have crossed virtual paths many times since then. It was from Gale that I learned about the Red Scarf Project. I knew I needed to let her know what a wonderful trickle down effect her suggestion caused.

The red scarf that you see me casting on in the video is currently on its journey. We knit it that day at the bean, I knit on it a bit when I brought it home and now it is out there in the world. A series of lovely knitters are each taking their turn knitting a part of the scarf and then mailing it on to the next knitter. Our goal is to have it finished and to the Red Scarf Project organization by 12/12/12. I contacted Gale to thank her for her part in providing my little bit of Beckoning of Lovely with a fitting end.

So, what did Gale have to say about the project? She was excited and, to add another delightful happenstance to the mix, Gale's newest book is called Craft Activism: People, Ideas, and Projects from the New Community of Handmade and How You Can Join In . I had no idea that the timing would match up so wonderfully! Gale shared my letter to her on the Craft Activism blog.

The number of links in this post is representative of the wonderful connections, virtual and physical, I felt surrounding my involvement with this project. A little bit of reaching out to connect has ended up circling back in a most smile-inducing way. Serendipity is a wonderful thing and I am so grateful I was open to letting it work its magic.

You know, if you feel like it, you can honor the spirit of Beckoning of Lovely by doing something to bring a little lovely to someone's day. After I shared this project with her, my sister went to the supermarket and bought a few bouquets of flowers. She and a friend headed to a city sidewalk and offered them to strangers along with a wish to have a good day. She said the reactions she got and knowing that she helped make a part of that person's day out of the ordinary were well worth the money she spent on the flowers. So, go ahead! Be playful!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

FO: Bit by Bit Rug

Exactly 2 years ago, I cast on for what I thought was going to be a blanket. My plan was to knit strips in different color families and then seam them together for a blanket. After working on it for a bit, in a bit-by-bit fashion, I realized the fringe was going to be too much for the overlapping join I had envisioned. I also recognized that it was a great width and color for a spot in my house that needed a rug.

After many, many, many hours of linen stitch, I recently bound off the Bit by Bit Rug!

It was a really fun knit that allowed me to use random balls of yarn and leftovers from projects. I chose yarn that was in the blue/green arena and randomly switched colors on each row leaving a tail of yarn on each side. Every 2 rows, I would tie the fringed edged together to secure them.

I was able to make it the exact length I needed it to be to fit the spot. I hope the pets don't find the fringe too alluring! I still need to get to the store to buy one of those rubbery mats that go under rugs to prevent them from slipping around.

I knew from the start of this project that it was going to take a really long time. A ridiculously long time. I made peace with that. However, what I didn't know is how addictive this project would become. The basket full of yarn and the work in progress has accompanied me through 2 years. This project regularly filled in when I was craving a stress-free knit. It often provided a much needed contrast to a long expanse of stockinette in a solid color. As it went on, it was slowly eating through my stash while reminding me of past projects, past knitting excursions and my first attempt at hand dying.

Someone at my LYS was shocked to hear that this project was destined to catch the mud, snow and salt from the boots and shoes that come into my house. I see her point. But, personally I am happy to have all the bits of yarn come together with a purpose other than sitting uselessly in my yarn cabinet. I think I may just cast on something similar soon. I have already been missing my basket of random bits!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Crafting in the New Year

May you relish 2012!

Crafting, chatting and sharing delicious food has become my favorite way to welcome in a new year. Luckily for me, I have a great group of crafting friends who are willing to celebrate with me! I didn't capture any pictures this year, but I do have the memories of a great brunch filled with interesting conversation that spanned from religion to health to crafting with children to pet personalities. Thank you to Jill, Mary Margaret, Casey and Jessica for helping me start the year as I mean to go on.

We also welcomed in 2010 and 2011 in this same fashion.
Jars of relish are the Cucumber Relish from Canning for a New Generation.
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