When Joanne Conklin visited me in Colorado last summer, she gifted me with a Mardi Gras Ball that she knit! This very special treat takes a prominent place in my “all things Mardi Gras” collection. It is such a nice reminder of our time together.
Joanne – I’m thinking of you today (Lundi Gras) as we head into the finale of Mardi Gras (tomorrow). Wish you were here with us in New Orleans to join the festive craziness. Still love the Beaded Ball you made me. Thank you!
p.s. You can read about the making of the Mardi Gras Ball at Joanne’s blog here.
Thank you to all who helped (almost 750!) with the recent survey about whether the layout of the January 22nd HeartStrings newsletter looked ok or whether it went wonky when received on your end. The fun stuff has been the drawing for the Mardi Gras Bead Ball kit. And also reading all your comments. And I AM reading every one of them. You talk. I listen.
You might be amazed at how much of my Designing Day is filled with activities that are not strictly knitting design. In fact, sometimes it could be days, or even weeks, between times when I get to pick up knitting needles. It goes along with the saying … “There is more to the business of designing than just design“.
For example, the recent journey I undertook to improve the process for producing my HeartStrings newsletters and email announcements has taken on a life of its own. If you recall, I wrote last week about The new look of news from HeartStrings. The response has been overwhelmingly favorable. Of course, I am elated it is being received so well.
But upon getting replies to me that included the original newsletter, I saw that some things might be going wonky and not displaying as intended on the receiving end. For example, some text shifted or spacing was lost. It doesn’t devalue the newsletter itself, but I really want to make it as easy to read and aesthetically pleasing as possible for readers’ enjoyment.
I couldn’t discern why the newsletter layout went wonky for some people and not others. So I decided to ask for help via a short survey. Those who pitched in to help me make the newsletter even better also got a chance to win a Mardi Gras Bead Ball kit.
As stated in the survey, the drawing for the kit was yesterday. Congratulations to Janet in Virginia. When I heard back from Janet with her mailing address, she wrote: “To say I’m shocked is not really enough. I never win anything. Thank you so much for this gift!“. I already have the kit packaged and ready to mail to Janet today. She should have it in her hands before the weekend if USPS cooperates.
So that was the fun side of things. Now back to work. There were 742 people who answered some or all of the survey’s 6 quick questions. Of those 742, there were 504 who took the time to write something in the comment field. Either to re-confirm that the newsletter looked great to them (and what they particularly liked), or to explain more fully about what looked wonky on their end, or in some cases to just offer other comments related to the newsletter, or even un-related to the newsletter. That is fine. I really appreciate the time that people take to share and make comments, whether via this survey or writing to me directly.
So I have a lot of data to sift through. And I AM reading every one of those comments. If you offered a suggestion, please know that I am paying attention and will be doing what I can over time to make the newsletter and your association with HeartStrings FiberArts as enjoyable as possible for you.
According to the survey, the new layout for the newsletter looked as intended for 89% of the readers, for 10% it went wonky in some way, and 1% read the plain text version of the newsletter (i.e. unformatted). Unfortunately, with all the multitude of electronic devices and computer software, it’s impossible to test for absolutely every combination. By understanding more about that 10%, though, it will give me more to go on. I don’t fool myself that I can please everyone, but I certainly want to please as many as I can.
If you talk, I promise I will listen.
p.s. If you missed receiving the January 22nd HeartStrings newsletter, you can read it in the online archive.
Remember when I posted about the Knitting Giant Beads for Mardi Gras last week? Well, that stirred up a lots of interest and appears to have inspired several people to make up their own. It’s always so much fun to hear that people are enjoying the ideas and photos.
I got to thinking about some people who may not have ready access to the supplies. So I decided on a whim to offer a Limited Edition supplies kit to make the beaded balls in the Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold. Some orders have already come in, so I have been scurrying around today catching up on my promise to do these kits.
I made some pretty labels for the clear draw string bags. Wound the purple and green sock yarn from Lornas’ Laces (in the color Funky Stripe). Weighed and packaged the metallic gold beads (the good Japanese beads in the Miyuki brand that is on the top of my list of recommendations). Weighed the fluffy non-allergenic stuffing. Pant – pant. And now I have a batch of kits ready to send out.
If you don’t otherwise have a good source to get the supplies (e.g. your local stores or even stash-diving), then consider the Mardi Gras Bead Ball Kits as a way to conveniently get the yarn, beads and stuffing. Kits are available in 2 sizes: the single ball kit (i.e. to make one ball) OR the multi-pack (to make 3 balls, which is a 50% savings over buying a 3rd single ball kit plus a savings on shipping).
There’s been lots more exciting stuff going on at my HeartStrings studio, so I’ll be back to tell you about that in a day or two. Also, I have a meatless recipe lined up to share with you in a few days. Oh, where does the time go? See you soon. Take care.
I’ve been obsessed with making even more of the Beaded Stress Balls, but this time using Mardi Gras as the theme. I even worked up some simple variations to produce different geometric patterns on the surface of the balls.
Probably only people close-by in New Orleans, Louisiana will relate to these. Or those who keep up with Mardi Gras. Each year at Mardi Gras, it seems that everyone is trying to out-do last year’s largest throw-me-somethin’-mista beads of the carnival parades. I won’t be throwing any of these giant beads to anyone, though (I am keeping them!).
I’ve used Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock yarn in color Funky Stripe. It is a purple and green yarn. With the galvanized gold seed beads, I think it carries off the theme of traditional Mardi Gras colors pretty well.
If you’d like to knit some of these yourself, I’ve written up the variations to the original instructions at my Ravelry project page. But you will also need the original Beaded Stress Ball pattern to use for the basic instructions. Besides the overall beaded ball in the original instructions, the Ravelry page has guidance for these 3 variations:
Alternating sections beaded and un-beaded
Outer edges of each section beaded and remainder un-beaded
The negative of #2: Interior of each section beaded and the outer edges left un-beaded
I love how such simple changes can result in attractive and interesting designs.
Each ball only takes about 25 yards of yarn. So, out of a single skein of yarn, you could make a bunch of balls. Or undoubtedly you probably have some partial skeins/balls in your stash for which this could be a fun use.
I can imagine in my wildest dreams to make an entire giant “beaded” necklace out of hand-knitted beaded balls like this, but I probably should get onto some other knitting now. What do you think?
Although I have done several blog posts in the last year around the theme of “Meatless Doesn’t Have to be Tasteless”, I don’t want you to leave you with the impression that I have anything against meat — I don’t. I just wanted share with you some of my findings for ways that one can have tasty dishes without meat.
I still do enjoy occasional meat dishes, though. And for tailgating, whether it is for upcoming play-off football games or Mardi Gras parades, chicken Hot Wings are a tasty and welcome treat for everyone.
You can refer to a recipe I tried here at the Weber Grill site while I take you on a photo tour of the cooking steps.
The spices and minced chipotle peppers in adobe sauce to mix to make the paste:
Waste not – Want not. These are the wing joint tips that I cut off and have started to cook for a chicken broth I will use as soup base later in the week.
The paste is smeared onto the remaining wing joints and left to marinate in the frig for a while.
The wing pieces are set onto the grill to be cooked. (lighting is obviously different between indoors and later at night outdoors under the patio lighting). I realized after putting these onto the grill that I had overlooked the part in the recipe about wiping off the extra paste before putting onto the grill. Oh well … and I even scraped out the extra remnants of paste from the bowl and had spread it on the piece parts because I thought all that good paste should not be wasted. ha! ha! So, extra hot can’t be bad, right?
Here are the wings after cooking ’til nearly done, then tossed into the hot sauce, then put on grill again. One thing to remember … after tossing the nearly cooked wings in the bowl with the hot sauce, DO NOT just dump the bowl to save time in getting the chicken quickly onto the grill again. The oil in the hot sauce mixture flared up and I thought I was going to have burned hair on my head!! Fortunately, I guess my reflexes were good enough, or maybe just some good angel was watching over me. No singed hair and all is well.
Finished and ready to eat (lighting is under the kitchen fluorescents again). The recipe included a blue cheese dressing which of course I enjoyed some with the 4 wing joints I taste-tasted (yah, I know I could have just eaten one, but I had to be sure, lol). Obviously I have plenty more left (20 if I am counting correctly) for sharing.
Do you have a favorite Hot Wings recipe?
Behind the scenes with Jackie E-S and life at the HeartStrings FiberArts studio.