Monday, August 31, 2015

Herb-Infused Oil

So, after about 2 weeks of infusion (sorry, I forgot to write about this last week), you strain your oil through cheesecloth, weigh it, and add vitamin E at 1% solution to preserve it. Store in a cool, dark place until you're ready to make it into fun things. 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Craftsy Weekend Sale: Knitting in More Than One Color

Pssst, the end of August marks the end of summer (for those north of the equator). If you've been putting off learning how to make beautiful colorwork, now's the perfect time to try it. Patterns knit in more than one color are warmer than most single-color knitting and also open up a whole world of creative potential for your work.

This weekend, you can try any Colorwork Knitting class for $19.99 today with my affiliate link:

Friday, August 28, 2015

Wallace and Gromit

I am a Wallace and Gromit fan from way back.

A Close Shave is pretty much my favorite, perhaps for obvious reasons. (I am entirely too excited about Shaun the Sheep's new movie.)

So, when a package of Wallace and Gromit postcards arrived on the "take it, we're free" table at work, I snatched them up and decorated my cube with them. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

One-Year Birthday!

Sock Architecture was one year old yesterday, so I did what any proud parent would do. I made gluten-free brownies and took a picture of my book with one. As you do. 

The pirate cupcake topper had to stand in for the candle because, well, fire.

If you don't have it yet and want it, where's the best place to get it? You can buy it from my publisher (they're clearing out their warehouse, so it's 30% off at the moment), online from at least two places, and I'll happily sell you a signed copy from my Etsy store. A digital-only version is available on Ravelry, too.

Already have the book, but want more sock-knitting time with me? I  have a Craftsy class, and if you use this link, you can get it for 50% off.

Here's to many more years of happy sock knitting for all!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Monday, August 24, 2015

Whipped Shea Butter

I made whipped Shea butter! I kind of love it. The only thing I would do differently, next time, is use a smaller bowl. It was a little hard to whip it really well in my too-big bowl.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Biking to Downtown

I still can't believe that this is so close to my house, and all I have to do is take the bike path!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Math4Knitters: Episode 32

Show notes and more at

Download/Listen to Episode 32.

The original show notes for this show.

This is when it's going to get a bit strange. I re-ran old shows, then, attached to new shows. So, you might want to keep your finger on the "skip ahead" button, if you have one.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Lake of the Isles

I love it! It's such a pretty place to ride around!

Ed. note - CLEARLY, I didn't take this photo today. Rain, rain, go away, come back in the middle of the night so that I can go on a ride!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

More About Photo Stuff

Yesterday, I talked about blocking out that pesky daylight, so that you can get consistent results. Here's a little more information about the rest of my photo "stuff."

I could use softboxes, but I actually kind of prefer umbrellas for strobes. They're a little more portable, for if you are ever going to leave your house and work on location. I bought this set from Cowboy Studio and it's working really well for me.

The little squarish thing you see in the second photo is an optical flash trigger. This is not a fancy one. It's a cheap one ($12). In a darkened room, it works very, very well. In a bright room or outdoors - it may not. 

You can  buy really nice radio triggers, which will work every. single. time. I love them. They cost about $250 for a set and you need at least two, one for the camera and one for each flash you want to use. If you're in the market for those, I used PocketWizards for my entire photojournalism career and they were always wonderful. But, I'm not doing that sort of work anymore or trying to light up entire stadiums, so the price tag is keeping me away. 

Some flash units have triggers built in. These can be either radio or optical and they are usually pretty good. My newest flash has radio capability, but my camera's too told to use it! So, I'm totally fine with my $12 fix to keep everything working together. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Window Solution

Guest appearance by sleeping Boomer.

Let's say you want to set up a semi-permanent photo studio in your basement that has wonderfully-awesome windows. Now, windows are fantastic in a basement. I love them! But, if you want consistent results on your color balance/light levels, you've got to be able to block out light from said windows. Otherwise, you can only shoot at night, and where's the fun in that?

The solution: big ol' pieces of cardboard, custom-cut (sort of) to block off the windows.

Annoyed by my cardboard cutting, Boomer abandoned me.

Because NOTHING lets the neighbors know that you're normal and everything's fine like covering your windows with cardboard, I left mine removable. I pop them in when I need them and stash them under the futon when I don't need them. Spiderweb removal is a gross, but unavoidable simultaneous task.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Need a Little Help Finishing Your Knits?

No, I'm not offering to darn in ends for you. But, there is a sale going on at Craftsy on finishing classes. (If you use my affiliate link, it helps me, too.)

I have to admit, I have paid seamstresses to insert zippers for me. But, it would be pretty nice if I knew I could actually do it, for myself, if I wanted to.

Learn techniques for flawless finishing alongside the best instructors in the world! Shop the classes you need for $19.99 today (prices good through 8/17/15). Conquer skills for edge finishes, weaving in ends, blocking, seaming and much more.

Friday, August 14, 2015

State Fair Knitting Prep

You can't see the pills in this photo, and they weren't horrible, but they were there.

This weekend, I will do something I have never done before. I will enter a state fair. This one.

I'm a little terrified and very excited to see what the judges say! I looked over what I've made in the last year and decided that my Paris Wallpaper Socks were my favorite. But, they've been worn a few times and had some pills on them. So, I washed and blocked them, then brought out the razors.

This should only be attempted under good lighting when you are not tired and are entirely sober. To remove each pill, grab it with your non-dominant hand, then use the razor to cut the pill away from the underlying fabric. My set of 10 blades came with a way to store used blades, and I simply start with a fresh one every single time. I only do this once or twice a year, so it's pretty cheap to just start with a new razor.

If you just pull the pills off, without a razor, they will only re-emerge. This is a  more permanent solution, and it's easier on your knits.

The operation was a complete success! Wish me luck!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Math4Knitters: Episode 31

Show notes and more at

Download/Listen to Episode 31.

The original show notes for this show.

The big dry spell in shows was for a good reason - I met the wonderful woman who became my wife in late May, 2007. Podcasting had to take a back seat!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Boomer Bear

He's taken to resting his feet and head on my foot when I'm on the couch. So cute!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Beehive Fireplace

Just a quick jaunt down the bike trail brings me to a small park near Nordic Ware and this strange-looking...thing.

It's a beehive-shaped oven/grill that was originally built in 1939 as part of Lilac Way (Highway 100) in St. Louis Park.

For anyone interested in history or lilacs, it's a must-see!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Herb-Infused Oil, Step 1

I'm  not making soap or candles (but I know better to declare that I NEVER will, because that's exactly how I got into spinning, by saying that over and over.)

But, I'm really enjoying exploring the rest of Beeswax Alchemy. I'm trying out making infused oil, which I can then turn into a salve just by melting it with a bit of beeswax.

Petra's recipe for "all-purpose" salve for cuts and scrapes looks great! I'm leaving out the plantain leaf. Since I'm allergic to bananas and plantains are basically bananas, I just think it's better safe than sorry. So, I'm packing equal amounts of calendula blossoms, lavender blossoms, comfrey leaves and chickweed leaves into a jar. I'm going to cover them with an equal mix of olive oil and grape seed oil and then wait/watch for a few weeks.

I'll let you know how it goes!

Friday, August 07, 2015

Try Something New (for Less!)

2015 has turned out to be the Year that Lara Tries New Things.

1) Of course, still knitting! (LOVE IT)

2) Tried painting stuff. (LOVE IT)

3) Tried making all-natural bath and body stuff. (LOVE IT)

4) Am in the process of showing how little I know about sewing. (LOVE IT/ HATE IT depending on how many threads I have snapped that day.) I haven't written any blog posts about that, yet, since I'm still mostly jamming my machine and cursing.

5) Kicking up my biking game. (LOVE IT)

6) Studying French. I've done this before, but I'm trying a lot harder this time. (LOVE IT)

Starting today and running through Sunday, get up to 50% off classes that launched in the past year - including mine! Sewing, cooking, woodwork, knitting, the world is your oyster!

Check out the sale here.

(When you use my affiliate link, it helps ME, too!)

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Register Now for St. Louis Park Community Ed!

I never get tired of teaching this class! So far, my students have included "true" beginners, knitters who are learning to knit (again) and one memorable mom who had a great time taking the class with her knitter daughter. 

If you're not a beginner, but want to take a class with me, check out my list of where I'm planning to teach

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Weaving at 5 EPI

5 epi. FIVE!!!!!!

I bought the variable dent reed for my Schacht flip loom a little while ago.

The reed is designed to allow you to create a warp with different thicknesses of yarn and weaving across the width of your project. I haven't used it that way, yet. But, I have had a LOT of fun taking advantage of the 5 ends per inch reeds and using up leftovers from my Aran afghan project.

I was worried that the yarn would be too soft to use as a warp, but I looked around on Ravelry and more than one person has used it, so I went ahead and did it. It's weaving up very well. I just have to keep an eye on myself so that I don't pack the weft in too tightly. My little needle gauge rests on the table next to me and I check it every once in a while with that.

It's Cascade 128 in a deep, dark blue. I can't wait to see how it looks when it's finished!

Monday, August 03, 2015

Fresh Air

One of my first bath bombs really...melted? Anyway, I popped it into a Goodwill wine glass and it works quite well as an air freshener. :)

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Happy Hands, Happy Feet, Happy Dance: BIG Sale This Weekend!

Those are all MY socks! Cool!

ALL of the sock knitting classes from Craftsy are on sale this weekend for only $19.99!

(If you use my affiliate link, it helps ME, too!)