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....