Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Dying to Dye In This Heat

Top:  Gray Alpaca in Dye pot.
Bottom:  Alpaca All Dyed.
Merino In dye pot.
A little bit of dye spillover into pot.
This past Friday I finally ordered some new dyes I was itching to try out.  However, the weather has been extremely brutal (especially on pregnant ladies) and running a stove in my kitchen was the last thing I wanted to do.  Luckily since they were ordered and I opted to have them sent first class mail it meant chances are they would take a while to come in.  This spared my family of the added heat from my excitement and impatience.  Imagine my surprise when I found them in my mailbox on Monday!  An added bonus is that by Monday the heat finally broke and we were welcomed with on and off thunder showers throughout the day.  A perfect day to play with dye.  I grabbed some gray alpaca roving that I had an abundance of and some superwash merino and went to town.  As I assembled my materials, I realized I was out of saran wrap.  Bummer!  I really wanted to try out some progression dyeing on my merino and I felt hand painting it would be the easiest.  Then it finally it me, d'oh!  Why not do immersion dyeing similar to canning.  To my surprise, it worked great.  Next time I'll need to use larger canning jars.  Notice the white splotches from the fiber being crammed into the smaller jars?

Merino Hanging to dry
Merino Dry and Braided
Another accomplishment on my weekend to do list:  I finally got my upgrade that I ordered (and received last Feb./Mar.) onto my Blue Bonnet wheel.  This upgrade now allows me to use my wheel as a double tension or a scotch tension with only having to change out the whorl and smack on the correct belt.  What should have taken maybe an hour or so project took about five hours.  No lie!  It wasn't the installing of the upgrade that was the problem.  It was finding all the correct tools as I needed them.  Instead of assembling everything I would need ahead of time, I waited until I came to the step that I needed to use them.  I would have to drop what I was doing, go on a manhunt (anyone who has seen my husbands garage or the organization of his tools would feel sympathy) and come back and have to fix any adjustments the kids made to my wheel while I was gone.  All the kids were cranky as we were feeling the effects of the continuous days of excessive heat.  They had been lacking in naps since their rooms were too hot.  They had decided it was more fun to play in the A.C. rooms that were offered as napping alternatives.

 I was beaming when I finally finished it.  I tweaked the settings and spun my first roving on it.  I am ecstatic that I can now do lace weight yarns!  My double tension set up was perfect for art or bulky yarns leaving my options limited.  Now it does about everything and in about half the time!

Rhubarb Pie
Late Night Stroll
I also got the unnamed superwash merino spun up.  It was aptly named Rhubarb Pie because, frankly, it reminded me of rhubarb pie.  I decided to enter it in my Blue Bonnet's summer SAL challenge through Ravelry.  I dyed up about 8 oz of it, this picture shows one of the skeins.  I also dyed and spun up a little over 4 oz of alpaca that I named "A Late Night Stroll" that I entered as well.  We were allowed up to three entries but with me wanting to hone up on my upgraded wheel and play with my dyes I know that's all I will have time for.

Husbands (at least mine) don't understand these little deadlines we put on ourselves.  They are very important to us.  When these are going on that means all cleaning is on hold.  Dinners will be quick made portions.  Phone calls will neither be answered nor returned right away.  The fact that your favorite clothes aren't clean are of no importance to me.  We need groceries?  Best go down to the basement and see what goodies are in the chest freezer.  It's really not that he doesn't care, or doesn't support.  It's more of a "Are you feeling okay?  You've got me worried." Obviously he cannot understand the excitement those of us can get over these simple things.  I also get, "I think you need to get out of the house for a bit.  Even if it's just for a ride".  Then I have to try to compose myself from showing what I'm really thinking:  "No!  Please!  That means I will have to leave all my "work" and get nothing done!?".  If my face showed how I really felt it would cause him extreme worry.  Somewhere on the lines of I think you should see professional help worry.  To avoid all that my usual response is, "Eh.  That's okay.  It's such a pain in the butt to load the kids in the car just for a ride.  If you think of something else we could all do though, I'm all ears". It works as a great save every time.  It promises me at least another two hours to wrap up whatever I was finishing. I admit getting away is healthy.  It gets me away from this stuff and out enjoying time with my family.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Berry Picking!

Today's Blueberries!
Today has been quite a refreshing day thus far.  The weather here in PA has been hot and humid for a while so it was nice to see a warm sunny day without so much humidity.  My husband was off work today so we had a chance to get the kids out for a bit and play.  I took my two year old with me and darted out to the backyard to check out our blueberry bushes.  I was surprised to see so many ripe already.  I grabbed a bowl and a cup and we started picking.  The cup was a "distractor" for my two year old, Danny.  This way I could put some in his cup to eat without him wanting the majority in the bowl that would inevitably end up on the ground.  Between my kids and I we picked almost three full pints which amazed me for this time of year.  There's still tons waiting to ripen so it looks like we will be able to make lots of jellies, muffins and wine this year!  I wish we had blackberries here in our yard.  They grow rampant everywhere else but when we go elsewhere on walks to pick them we usually don't yield enough to warrant saving.  They usually get eaten by the time we get home.  It's a bummer.  I would love some blackberry jelly and wine.  Something to invest in I guess.

After a taking care of a troublesome honeysuckle bush that was growing out of the middle of one of the blueberry bushes I decided I best scout around the rest of the yard and see what needed attention.  I have an extreme love of gardening (especially edibles), but being pregnant the past three years has provided me slim opportunity to really get my hands dirty.  I giggled to myself as I got to my grapevines and noticed one side of my grapevines had spilled over and were visiting all through my peach tree.  The other side was frolicking inside and out of a neighboring apple tree.  At least everything looks good. I had to share this picture as I thought it was quite cute.  I find awe in the way a plant can just dig itself wherever it really wants to be. Maybe I'll get the chance to prune the grapevines this winter?  Highly unlikely.

Nameless Superwash Extrafine Merino
The "nameless" merino started on the bobbin
Recently finished yarns ready to list.
Trying to spend more "me" time on the spinning when I get a chance.  Now that this tiredness is over I'm amazed at what I can get done and still have time to enjoy doing what I want to do.  The kids are loving the fact I can play with them longer before I want to nap.  I was even able to get a couple skeins of yarn finished and off the wheel.  They got their photo shoot this morning.  I'm hoping to get them listed on the Etsy shop sometime on Friday.  Right now I'm working with some superwash merino I hand dyed myself.  I approach most of my dyeing pretty carefree.  I have an idea of colors I want to work with but I try not to constrict myself into anything particular that way I'm not disappointed  if it doesn't work out exactly the way I want it to.  I liked the way the colors came out in this one.  I thought it looked even neater when spun up.  I imagine I'm going to make this into a two ply so I'm already thinking of how it's going to look when all plied together.  I'm actually rather excited!

Oh, I almost forgot!  I started up a Facebook page a couple days ago for the shop.  Trying to get things on it here and there in my spare time.  I mostly wanted to set it up to connect with other crafters and share tips and such as well as quick shop updates.  Yesterday I was able to get an album up to show step by step of turning old t-shirts and plastic bags into upcycled yarn.  If you're on Facebook, feel free to add us.  You'll find it under Davenport Groves (of course!).

With all that being said, I guess I will leave you with a short blog.  The kids are napping and I have to finish up special shipment for a special person (thank you a million times over!). Plus, I don't have to worry about making dinner tonight.  The boys said they have that under control.  How wonderful is that?  It doesn't happen too often so I'm looking forward to getting some stuff cleaned and enjoying the rest of the day.  Wishing everyone else a wonderful day as well!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I Promise I Didn't Go Into Hiding, At Least Intentionally

Well, after a long hiatus of my blog and twitter posting, I'm back. The lack of posting was for good reason, which I will get into later. I didn't intentionally mean to leave any kind of cliffhanger with my last blog either.  For that, I apologize.  I did write the blog and saved the draft but was in a different sort of mood when I went to post it.  It was very cathartic to type out but I guess it was something I wasn't ready to post, yet.  For that I apologize a million times over and I am sure I will share eventually.  For now I promise no more cliffhangers without solid intentions to deliver promptly.

As for the hiatus, the demands of the kids have been crazy.  With my husband's crazy work schedule, an 11 year old, a toddler and a newborn it was impossible for me to find a routine. Especially with the newborn changing to a crawling/almost walking nine month old and the toddler hitting the terrible two's.  On top of that our house was "gifted" many small illnesses that everyone couldn't help consecutively sharing.  The biggest reason for the hiatus is we found out we were expecting...again. Just when I thought I was on top of this routine thingy. I couldn't figure out why I was so tired and sleepy all the time.  All I wanted to do was nap and I never felt rested.

 The thought of having three under three sent us into complete panic mode.  We are feeling extremely blessed and grateful (I have always wanted four children) but quite overwhelemed.  Each stage the children reach we get one of those "can we still keep up with this and have another one" fears. Each time we couldn't prevent a boo-boo or would find crayon mysteriously on the wall it would escalate.  Now the panic has pretty much settled and the excitement has started to set in more.  After having all these boys, it would be nice to have a little girl.  I do have a strong feeling it's a little girl.  I'm not sure if my feelings are correct or in the back of my mind I'm wondering what the odds would be of it being ANOTHER boy.  Trust me, I would be just as excited for a healthy boy.  In a couple weeks time I should know!  I usually find out the sex.  It's still a surprise to me and I can rest assured being a little more prepared.

As far as the spinning, knitting and crocheting goes I have been busy on my downtime!  I have a lot ready to go list in the shop but I'm having a hard time with picture taking anymore.  We don't get very good natural lighting in the house.  I have a tot who loves to be outside and once he's outside it is impossible to get him back in.  So unless I've got everything squared away inside to spend my whole rest of the day outside, I can't get pictures done.  Lately I've set everything needing pictures in a separate area so I can utilize time better and  take a bunch of different things all at once.

Benjamin Green Studio Combs with prime alpaca.
(Notice my redneck spice cap diz?)
Lately I have been taking in a lot more raw wool and fleeces.  After my first Ebay purchase of raw wool, I realized I had been had.  All of my other purchases were no where close to the horror or that first shipment. Since I don't own anything to align the fibers with and a tight budget to do so, I researched the best product for my desired results.  I knew a carding machine was out of the question.  Especially not knowing if I would actually like working with raw wool.  That pretty much left hand combs and hand carders.  I tend to like working with combed wool better than carded wool.  I prefer more of a worsted over a woolen when working with yarn so that's what I wanted to make.  On Etsy I found a beautiful hand comb set through Benjamin Green Studios.  I loved the looks and design of the set and the price was in my budget.  I've been using them for a couple months now and I absolutely love them!  If you're looking for a really fine hand comb, these may not be for you but they hold up to the toughest of wool I have.  Very strong and durable and they look pretty too.  I'm extremely satisfied with the job they do.  He has even provided a youtube video with instructions.  At the time I was unaware that diz's even existed and realized I needed one so I came across a witty idea of using the caps on the little supermarket spice canisters.  For now, they work fine.  My husband is right now in the process of designing a couple and making them for me.  Thanks to the confidence these combs have given me, I have too much raw wool and alpaca fleece now waiting to be washed and combed.  The jacob's wool I mentioned in a previous post wound up under the tree for birds.  I am content to know that I did not give up on it, it's just that it was complete unworkable garbage.

Speaking of garbage, mine needs taken out.  Dinner needs started, floors need swept, yadda yadda.  Hoping everyone is enjoying their evening!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Bobble Yarn and a Blah Blog

Part of the backyard...much different
than normal snow pictured here
After shoveling out from a little over two feet of snow, we're now going to be swimming in mud.  It was nice to listen to the rain last night while I was in bed.  I just don't feel like dealing with the consequences of the quick melting snow mixed with the current steady rain.  On top of it, I am not awake.  So I will start by apologizing about my post and it's lack of wit.  After many concurrent nights of little sleep I feel like a zombie.  Some is of my own doing but mostly it's the kiddo's impecable timing.  I know if I don't get a post out this morning, I don't know the next chance I will be able to.

It's been busy around here to say the least!  Was getting low on supplies so I found some great deals and restocked.  I love when you can find quality fiber at a really good price.  Especially if it's for a customer because then I can share the cost savings with them.  Right now we've got alpaca out the ears.  We're due in for some more of our basics but I'm trying to stock everything in superwash as well.  I normally don't work in it because as a knitter and a crocheter, I like my yarn to be versatile.  I like knowing I can felt something if I wish to do so.  I apply the same thing with gardening.  When I am going to buy a plant, it has to have more than just pretty flowers.  It has to be edible, make a dried arrangement, have herbal qualities or something on that line.  I preferr anything I can use for my home-made wine.

Some of the mill end roving
As I think about it, all this restocking reminds me of when I first started spinning.  I couldn't keep any fiber.  I went through it all and wondered how people could "forget" about some roving here or there that they had in their stash.  I always kept a mental note of exactly what type of fibers I had and the amount in ounces I had.  Last week while rummaging though my fibers for an idea to put on my wheel, I came across some mill end wool roving that was perfect for what I wanted to do.  I completely forgot I had it and there was a perfect amount for playing with.  I've always liked certain art yarns as long as they were practical.  I love the texture and look of bobble yarn and have never attempted to spin any myself even though I've gone over and over in my head the steps that had to be done to make it.  So, I spun some up.  It was a lot more tedious than I expected, but it still wasn't so bad.  It came out pretty decent.  Nothing I would put in my shop (at least not at this point, yet) but I would definately use it in a project.  Thinking about possibly felting some...just to see how it would look.  At this moment I have black and white zebra striped bobbles on my wheel but I have already gotten bored of it.  It's a lot of manual 
First bobbin of bobble yarn.  See,
still needs a little more work.
work.  Sometimes the bobbles are too big and you have to manually feed them into your wheel.  Sometimes you are constantly doing this to avoid over twisting where you are working.  Sometimes it needs to be fed back through and the plies loosened.  If you use that method then it needs to be fed back through again to tighten again.  My favorite part of it was making the thick and thin singles.  It was very relaxing to let the wheel take over and not work against the fiber.  I imagine I will be pulling the rest off my bobbins and storing it for another time to play with.  I have some other work I need to do.

BFL right off the wheel.

My first self designed sock.
Needs improvements.

I've gotten a couple skeins off my wheel and hope to have listed in my shop some time tomorrow.  Right now the twist is being set.  I enjoyed the way the colors came out and it's a larger batch than I normally do at once.  I think it was somewhere over 320 yards between the skeins.  Once the twist is set and they're all dry they'll get to go through their own little personal photo shoot.  I've got a couple other things knitted that I haven't bothered doing photos for either, so we'll see.  I've been itching to do a project for myself.  I did the socks, I am generally pleased with them.  I took the knowledge from all my sock attempts and combined it into this sock I made.  It's awaiting a mate but I'm not really feeling up to it.  While out shopping last weekend Zeke picked out some yarn as he mentioned he wanted socks for himself.  Not feeling that one either.  The other day I heard about Ravelry's Mystery 220 group.  Basically, each week you are given a set of knitting pattern instructions.  You do the instructions and by the end of the month you have a wonderful knitted piece.  Each piece will usually not contain more than 220 yards so it's perfect for all the stash yarns I have sitting around.  For me, it's a no-brainer.  I can't sit and ponder at the picture and decide if I would really wear/use it.  I don't have much time to ever do anything for myself so when I am looking for something to make myself I find I spend more time searching for the right pattern than it would to take me to even knit it.  This way I have no choice, I just do it!  I started the March KAL.  As my piece developes, I have an idea of what our little item will turn out to be.  Don't worry, I won't spoil it for those who are not as far or haven't had a chance to check out the group out yet.  Very tickeled to see how it all plays out!

On that note, I am staring at my carpets and noticing how they are in a severe need of cleaning.  The boys have done a great job at making a collage out of mystery stains.  Even if my closest relative/friend were to stop in right now, I'd be mortified.  When my house looks like this, it always seems to be the time we get a bunch of unexpected company.  I guess I had better clean the evidence!

In closing, I'm debating on sharing a very personal post in reference to the upcomming St. Patrick's Day weekend.  As I ponder it more and more, I think I just may.  If you're interested, check back in around this weekend and I just may have it up.  Until then, I hope everyone is keeping warm and that your projects are coming together beautifully!

Also, spell checker does not seem to be working today so I will apologize for all my errors that have slipped my personal corrections.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Handsome Dogs, More Yarn and Socks Done

An interesting morning with lots to share...hopefully the blogger picture uploader and I can be friends as I type this so I can get everything up.  I have a lot of problems arranging the pictures exactly where I want them before the auto save clicks on and then the pictures end up somewhere in the page like a scavenger hunt.

Handsome Kato ready for St. Patty's Day
First and foremost, a couple friends of mine have launched their Etsy shop as of last night, BullFits.  It's catered to your pets, or "fur-babies".  Right now they are featuring some adorable neckties for medium sized dogs.  Their model (and their personal fur-baby Frenchie), Kato, is a doll!  How could you resist those looks and cheeks?  What a ham!  Some of you may have seen accessories or other attire for your pet but these are a much better quality than you might find elsewhere.  Unlike most other pet attire BullFits designed their line to accommodate pets in a practical way.  The ties are designed not to drag and to hug the body more so they don't interfere with activities like running, playing or drinking water.  The ties are made to slip right over your dogs existing collar.  The St. Patty's day prints are available now and are adorable but there are other clever designs that will be listed soon.  If you get a chance, you have to check them out!

The socks I was working on are finally finished!  If you've been following my blog, you know that I've never attempted socks.  Baby booties, yes, but not socks.  I decided I wanted to use a worsted yarn for a thicker house sock, plus, I figured it would be easier to work with for attempting my first pair.  So I grabbed some basic Read Heart stash yarn I keep around because it's cheap and versatile.  I found on Ravelry (yarn artists, if you are not using Ravelry you are missing out!) a very cute pattern that incorporates cables but still had a great foundation pattern.  It's St. Brigid's Carnamoyle Stockings by Lahoma Jayne Nally-Kaye (if you are looking for it).  They came out pretty thick which is what I wanted for a house sock.  I love working with cable patterns too.  Every time I work on cable patterns I think of my younger sister, Sarah, and her plethora of J.Crew sweaters when we were younger.  I was jealous of her sweaters and would try to steal them when I could but she knew I would not take as much caution with them as she did.  I don't blame her, she bought them with her hard earned money.

I have a couple little lazy slip ups here and there but it's hard to find them and they are for myself anyway.  My 11 year old son, Zeke, tried one on last night and loved them.  He asked if I could make him a pair that he didn't have to wear to school because he thought the cable pattern would get him picked on.  I told him I can either make these or let him scour for a pattern he liked.  I loved them so much I slept in them last night.  Yep, I think they just may be a permanent fixture on me feet. 

See?  Dreaded knot!

Other than that I got a couple small shipments of some yarn.  Where I live, we have no LYS within an hour drive - one way (Yikes!  This is also why I learned to spin though).  The closest we have is a Wal-Mart which offers the basics like Red Heart, Lion Brand, Caron, Bernet, etc.  The second closest is a Ben Franklin craft store (every time I go there I seem to lose a Ben Franklin too) where they offer the same as Wal-Mart with a couple extras like Paton's, etc.  So not the largest variety.  I like to buy Red Heart for my prototypes because it's inexpensive.  When I am looking for a little extra texture (or something other than acrylic) I will buy Lion Brand or Patons for prototypes and friend/family gifts.  I love the variety, textures and colorway among the two latter.  The only problem lately is whenever I buy Lion Brand, I get a few yards into a project and here pops out a sneaky knot.  I've tried working it into my projects but it's very visible.  So, I end up ripping it back apart and just cutting it out and not using that part.  Sometimes it's required taking a whole project apart.  It's been happening in one out of three skeins of yarn I've been purchasing anymore.  I thought it might be because I purchased it from Wal-Mart (this seems common for a lot of Wal-Mart yarns despite what brand) but I found the same issue when purchased from two other craft stores.  It's only been as of late but I hope it's something they're looking into.  Maybe it's just my luck too, who knows.  I'm sorry Lion Brand, I love you.  You were the first yarn I ever fell in love with but I think we need to take a break.  At least for a month or two.

Alright, back to what I was saying, my shipment of yarns.  I was looking for something different as far as commercial yarns.  My one purchase was KIM made by Filtes S.A.S. in Italy.  It's 55% cotton and 45% acrylic.  What drew me to it is the way it is made it is very lightweight and seems to have some great drape.  It's wound like a loose, airy rope (hope my picture can convey this).  I have so many ideas of what to use this for!  I purchased an off-white/beige color and I see it being offered in many others.  If all goes well I will have to get some in other colorways.

The second I bought was Lily Chin's signature collection Harlem.  I liked the colors and this, too, is very lightweight.  This one is made almost like the KIM but it's more of a flat ribbon.  It's 52% cotton and 45% acrylic.  I've never used any of Lily Chin's products (although I would love to get my hands on her book Power Cables: The Ultimate Guide to Knitting Inventive Cables soon!).  I remember the first time I ever heard of her is when I was watching David Letterman and she crocheted a sweater on air for him, however long ago that was.  I giggled thinking, "That wasn't so tough, anyone can do that!" not thinking about how much the on-air pressure would add.  To be honest, maybe they can't.  I've not ever tried and I don't exactly know if I'm up for that challenge.  I'll probably get my ass burned.  Anyway, I liked her and thought she was great.  I loved how she helps bring knitting and crocheting into into mainstream fashion and designs exciting new projects that keep younger kids wanting to learn how to knit and crochet.  Back to my original statement (I'm rambling now and all over the place), I bought her yarn.  I will let you know what I think of it when I'm finished!

Anywhooo, now that I am over my sock determination I need to get things taken care of around the house that have fallen by the wayside.  The kids are getting stir-crazy and the weather looks like it will be nice for Northeaster Pennsylvania!  Maybe some grilling will be in order tonight?  Even better, grilling and spinning at the same time on the porch!?  (Yeah, I'm addicted)  We shall see....

Sunday, February 27, 2011

You Can Keep Your Germs, I'll Take Your Socks Though

After a bout of sick kids and a sick dog, I have finally found some time to be back on. After some TLC, a few hundred dollars later (thank you stupid medical insurance) and lots of disinfecting, we are back on track.  Sadly enough, the roughest to care for was the dog.  Although we were up every couple hours making sure Danny got his meds and James got a nebulizer treatment (of course they didn't coincide) the dog was tough. Without getting graphic, he couldn't hold anything in and was not able to make it outside in time.  He had to be crated at night and spent most of the day outside which he hates.  The routine resulted in constant barking and whining.  Constant barking and whining in my opinion is one of the worst forms of torture.  You can't reason with him and tell him he can't enjoy his normal routine because the last thing I need is the kids running through his messes.  Or that I particularly don't enjoy cleaning his messes, especially when the kids are making enough of their own.  He's very old, and very needy.  A giant, stubborn, thick-headed big baby.  He also suffers from some type of entitlement delusion.  He thinks he's the boss.  No matter how many times you try to prove to him that he isn't, he will bark and whine till he can get his way.

Mmmm merino becomes....
 Naptimes around here where when I could finally find some sanity.  I would get my downstairs picked up and work on whatever project I could that is more dangerous or time consuming to have out when the kids are awake.  My favorite would have to be dying and painting roving and yarns.  To me, it's like an addiction.  My methods are not calculated exactly, so it's always a great surprise when I'm finished.  If it's roving,  I find myself extremely antsy to get it on my wheel to find out how it looks.
This.  My Tin Signs Merino
That's also another surprise.  I've found myself with a wonderful braid of roving thinking, "This is going to look amazing."  When it's one the wheel sometimes it doesn't appeal as much to me.  I've had others that I would set aside with no desire to get to my wheel immediately.  A lot of those end up becoming my favorite.  I love the way the colors take shape and compliment each other.  I think that's why I seem to prefer to spin mostly two ply yarns.  It doesn't seem to matter the amount of color you use, or what colors you use together.  When it's plied correctly, it can be wonderful.

This sunny skein!

This mottled hank became...
I also love surfing around and checking out other peoples blog for hand dyed roving pictures.  I think it is fascinating to see the roving and then see the spinners final product.  Colors that are extremely unappealing that you would never want to own or pair together find a way to live in perfect harmony with each other.  So, in honor of my addiction, I will share some of my most recent work myself.  Just so you can see how it evolves.  I drive my husband crazy whenever I am working on something and I am running around like an idiot taking lots of pictures.  I always regret when I don't have pictures.  They not only give you a simple satisfaction of watching your own work evolve but it's a handy way to keep reference notes.  It makes every artist more efficient and cuts out a lot of the guesswork. 
This is the yarn I spun from it.  By far my favorite colorway. 
Who would have thought?  A gift for my mom.

This is the roving Zeke hand dyed all by himself

Very pretty BFL skein

Wonderful BFL





Handspun waiting to be painted.
Notice my trashed socks from last post
in the background!

Haindpainting the yarn.

Harvest Tomato Hanpainted Yarn

Corridale for socks!
I think since my last post, you got to see me knitting those damn socks.  Well, if you check out one of the pictures of hand painting you can see them in the background.  I gave up on that particular sock officially.  The first pattern I had on it, the further I went the more I wasn't impressed with the pattern itself.  Made the sock start looking generic.  The second pattern I got, it was written out much better.  However, I missed the type of ribbing from the first sock.  So, I plan on combining the two eventually, the top of the first and the bottom of the other to get the sock I want.  In the meantime, I have started a new pair.  I have not taken liberty to take pictures yet but I will once they are done.  I decided to go with a worsted yarn because I wanted more of a house sock, or "footie" as we call.  It's an equivalent of wearing your shoes in the house.  They are coming out beautifully.  Now I feel my sock confidence rising and I am finding myself looking at yarns much differently.  So has my husband...he now despises yarn even more (if it was possible) and hates socks.  I find myself going over everyones socks while I am doing laundry now.  I never paid attention before but now I am amused.  Eventually I will get back to the stripey pair, if I can restrain from buying more yarn and fiber.  I got a new shipment of corridale that I intend on keeping for myself just to make socks.  I always spin two ply but love the way it looks spun single ply.  Being this is only for socks, for myself, I think I will stick to the single ply.

 Well, my small blog break is over.  I wanted to share more but honestly, this auto save stuff is for the birds when you are trying to place your pictures where you want them.  Sorry for the poor layout but my patience are maxed!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Birthday Socks

The current (and maybe permanent) status of my sock
So, this past weekend I celebrated my birthday by buying more yarn.  "Yes, I know I make yarn!" I told my husband as he grimaced at the idea.  "It's just nice to have more for my stash."  The idea of adding more yarn to my stash turned his grimace into a scowl.  He should by now know that these facial expressions are quite useless when I have my mind put to something.

One thing I have never done is knitted a pair of adult socks.  I've done infant booties, but never socks.  The idea of using three or more needles intimidate me.  I'm comfortable just using a pair, cable needles or cirucular needles.  I would have never intended on doing socks if it weren't for the yarn I came across while shopping.  It was Patons Kroy Sock Jacquards but I loved the colors in it. It was my most favorite colored skein in the whole store.  Well, if I was going to buy it I needed to make what it was intended for.  Along with the socks I purchased my first set of sock needles (which I prefer bamboo if anyone needs to know).  I came home and got the kids settled and started away.  I casted on the number required once, messed it all up and took it apart.  I stared at it starting to wonder if I really could do it.  Then I decided to start again making sure my investments went to good use.  Sure enough, I got it!  I did the simple rib stitching for about 8 inches like the pattern said (or so I thought it did).  When I was ready to proceed further I noticed the patten only called for the ribbing to go three inches.  No biggie, I figured I would just make them longer.  So I trudged on and now the pattern I'm using makes no sense at all.  It's a Paton's pattern from online and I either should not be making socks or I accidentally have been checking between two different patterns.  The pattern keeps telling me to slip last st onto next needle.  Okay, first there is no last st.  There are about 8 of them.  Secondly sl onto what next needle?  The next set that needs knitted?  That's what made sense to me and that's what I did.  At the end I had 8 stitches sitting on the fourth needle of my three needle pattern.  I would assume this is part of the heal and I would ignore it and flip the thing over and work in rows for a bit but it's still telling me to work in rounds.  I found a helpful website and kinda left it at that.  We'll see if I decide to pick it back up or if it's going to end up in my RIP project pile.

Creek Stone Merino Yarn
Other than that, things have been humming along with my other projects.  The creek stone merino was spun and listed.  I debated on keeping this hank because it came out so squeezy.  I reluctantly parted with it knowing I would be sorry if I kept every skein I make.  I didn't have time to show you the regular, "Here it is, it's finished!" before it was sold.  I shipped it out this morning and I hope it's new owner enjoys it along with the other goodies sent.  I really do enjoy putting a package together.  I like to make it a present for whoever is going to open it.  Oddly, I hate wrapping presents.

Zeke's hand dyed yarn, single ply

Zeke dying his merino roving

I also got a couple more batches of yarn dyed, and some spun.  Zeke actually helped me dye one night.  I gave him four ounces of merino to do whatever he wished with it.  I personally liked the colors in his the best. I've spun one batch up that I did and I have his on my wheel.  I have the first ply done and I'm almost halfway through the second ply but it's been a little too busy for spinning.  I also think the very cold weather and ice outside has to do with it too.  I can't seem to get myself motivated.  Hmmm, now to think of it a fresh pot of coffee sounds great right now.  We were almost out of coffee this morning so I didn't get to brew much.

Well, I should go see if the hubby needs help putting away the groceries he came home with.  I noticed he got a box of chocolate donuts in which my reply was, "Why do you always get food that makes my butt grow?".  His reply was to hand me two donuts, one for each cheek.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

You Found WHAT!? WHERE!?

As you can see there's been another small lapse in my blog posts.  For a good cause I may add.  It all started when my husband and I were having one of those conversations that turned into a debate and the horrible "C" word was thrown out at me.  Yep ladies(and gents in fairness), you guessed it...the word "CLEAN" (what else were you thinking?).  Our house was starting to look like something off of hoarders.  Not that we hoard anything, or meanfully try to.  When you have small tots, you're playing with them and ooops, someone found a pair of scissors or a fresh cup of coffee. They get placed up out of reach and playtime is resumed.  Well, after months of it clutter starts to stack up in high places.  For years I had been nagging my husband about a bookshelf (well a wall of bookshelves).  A little over a year ago we finally got them and I proudly placed my books on them.  Until this past weekend if someone were to stop by I had wished I had curtains over my bookshelves so they would become hidden from view.  They were a catch all for everything.  Not to mention I have been pestering my 11 year old son, Zeke, to clean his room for what seems like two years now and mine looked like a tornado ran through it.  I had lost about 60 lbs since before I was even pregnant from my second son so there were piles of clothes that were too big.  There were piles of maternity clothes that go from sister to sister when she's expecting.  There were clothes my kids had outgrown or hand me downs they had not grown into yet.  My husband had a plethora of band t-shirts that he felt were too juvenile at his age but he didn't want to part with.  All of that, and then some got done this weekend.  No blood was lost, no lives taken.  Everything was taken back down to being simple and tasteful.  I have an eclectic taste and have all kinds of things placed everywhere so it was hard parting with a lot of furniture and nick knacks.  Thankfully, the new found functionality takes all.

Back:  Jacobs wool before cleaning
Front: Jacobs wool after cleaning
I'm just glad there weren't too many surprises.  Kids love to hide things in odd places.  It took us all weekend to find our Wii remote that Danny (my 18 month old) lovingly shoved in his play kitchen stove.  We found candy from who knows which child shoved between books.  Medical ID bracelets from when we had to take Danny to the ER from a high fever (he was actually seizuring) that we couldn't bring down.  We even found some tablets used for high school and college homework.  I think my favorite find of all was this hippy single shoulder bag I had from when I was in high school.  Not so much the bag but inside I found a small bag of puppy food from when our pit, Sable, was a puppy.  I used to bring her to work with me.  In there was also one of those fine toothed pet combs that had never been used because her hair was so short.  I had been trying to find something to help me clean out vegetable matter out of raw wool in order to spin and couldn't find anything fine toothed enough.  So although this may seem silly to you, it was a treasure to me!  I still have about two pounds of Jacobs raw wool wrapped tightly in a garbage bag stashed inside one of those wooden porch bench/toy box deals.  It was the scariest thing ever when I got it in the mail.  It didn't look anything like the picture.  It was matted with urine and feces and clumped together.  There were whole dead bug carcasses and carcasses of bug butts, like cockroaches.  I don't know much about cockroaches as I've never seen a real one but I guess the eggs are carried in the rear and the rear breaks off with the eggs in it or something to that effect.  Well, you get the idea.  Just as I was about ready to dump it out so I could go through it better a large, giant, millipede crawled to the top to meet me.  So, that's why it's still sitting outside since October.  I did get enough courage to clean a little of it to see if it's even worth cleaning. As you can see from the pictures it did clean up very nicely.  I think I may keep it around to practice some techniques with and maybe make some felted mats for the doggie out of.  This was my first and only run in with raw wool and I have no clue if that is the norm.  The raw alpaca I got from my aunt seemed like it could have been eaten off of compared to this stuff.  Alas, alpaca doesn't have the lanolin in it either so I imagine raw wool in that shape is normal.

See, I got this far!
I guess I should be moving on to other things now.  I have my shop scheduled to have a showcase promotion this weekend and planned to have a lot of different things ready by then which probably won't be happening.  I've been caught up lately at working on my knitting cable technique.  Not that I can't cable knit, but try it with an 18 month old running around and every time you get up and leave it lay he decides he needs to "help out".  So I guess you can say it's more of a "retrain myself to get through a cable knitted project and not let the kids get to it" state of mind.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Another Snow Day and Another Listing

Mobius Cowl - 100% Mernio Wool, Handknit, Hand Spun and Hand Dyed
 Just want to let those of you who are reading this know I am still blogging! I know I haven't had a post in a few days. I really wish I had some great story to go with as to why I don't, but I don't. Maybe because of weather and MLK day this week, my eldest has only been in school two days this week? Yeah, I'll go with that one. As you can see from my status bar, I've made some progress and have had some failures. The chunky cowl was completely scrapped. I did not like the way it looked without being knitted on over sized circular needles (something I need to invest in). However, I did get a new cowl finished that I have listed. I have recently learned how to link the pictures if I need to, so if there is anything here that winds up in the shop you can find out by clicking on the pictures.

As I type this now, another storm has reached us! My eldest does not have school today. I'm sure he'll be excited to know once he actually crawls out of bed. Ahh, memories of snow days. I would remember laying in bed all night too tired to look out the window at the storms progress. I would try to gauge how much snow we got by holding my breath when the snow plow truck drove by so I could hear the amount of snow it's pushing around better. Although I did this often, it was never an accurate calculation. Every time my parents came up and down the stairs seemed like they were taunting us with the inevitable question, "Do we have school or was it cancelled?". The anger when we would find out school will go on as normal that day. We would curse out of earshot with juvenile words pointed at the bus drivers, principal and superintendent (whoever we thought made the final decision). We would question their intelligence because even though we did not have drivers licenses, we knew we had made the more responsible decision. On the other hand, jubilation when we had gained an extra day to ourselves! We felt like we had gambled against the system and won.

The Snowfall Very Early This Morning
An extra snow day meant a lot of things for me and my siblings as a kid. Of course the first is sleeping in. Just the fact that we could lie around in bed and actually wake up BEFORE we rolled out was great. Did you ever notice though, it's much easier to get out of bed early on a cancelled day than it is on a school day? I guarantee right now my eldest, Zeke, is laying in bed wondering each time I go upstairs to get something for the baby, if I'm working my way to waking him up. Today he will find out that is not the case. After we were up we would eat our breakfast and gear up to go play outside. We would meticulously bundle ourselves to ensure we would not get snow in our boots, up or sleeves, down our neck or get cold in any way. Even if this meant sifting through the cupboards and finding plastic bags (usually bread bags) to line our boots with. It was not because our boots were in poor condition but to guarantee once we got our snow fort built we wouldn't have to come back inside to warm up before we got a chance to play in it. We knew when we did come back inside there would be a snack of hot chocolate and peanut butter and fluff waiting for us. It doesn't sound like much but my mom is a great mom and knows that kind of stuff isn't good for a regular diet. If it was before Christmas, my mom would bring out a tub of felt sheets, glitter, rick rack, magnets, and other odds and ends for us to make Christmas ornaments while we had our snow day snacks.  If it was after Christmas we would work on our craft items that we had gotten for Christmas.  Like pot holder looms, woodburning kits, etc.  On the really special snow days, by the evening a fresh batch of home made vanilla ice cream was waiting for dessert. Not too many things in this world can beat the taste of home made ice cream.

As a mom I love snow days. Not because I don't have to wake up early. I'm always up early anyway. I like knowing Zeke is in bed, warm and comfortable. Catching up on good sleep. It's a nice slow paced morning. I can enjoy my coffee and catch up on the things I need to get done without cutting into the kiddo's time or keeping an eye out for the bus if Zeke is dragging his feet getting ready. Having all my kids home for the entire day and enjoying the extra playtime.

My youngest, James, taking his early morning nap.

Well, I myself, must start the day. I need to go through and make sure everyone has their boots, gloves, hats and snow pants are accessible. I also need to dig out the hot chocolate and fluff for later. A tradition I have carried on. Wishing everyone else out there a great Friday and a wonderful start for your weekend.