Monday, October 31, 2011

Weekly Goals, 10/31

Simple list this week. But still long. Yay stuffs!

  1. Organize Craft Box
  2. 24 Multi-color Crochet Circles
  3. Test Alpacas of York Double Ply, Blending, and Yardage
  4. 2 Mice
  5. 2 New Animals
  6. 3 Plain Ornaments
  7. 2 Ornaments with colorwork
  8. Plan New Mitten Top
  9. Finish Mitten #1
  10. Ply Ellie
  11. Wash and Finish Ellie
  12. Card 2 oz of Rosie Rollags
  13. Spin 2 oz or Rosie
  14. Crochet Blue Tote Bag Handles
  15. Start hat for Ren donation

Weekly Goal Wrap Up, 10/30

When I look at this list it seems like I didn't accomplish any of my objectives. But at the same time I'm rather certain that I did get some stuff done this week. And I'm really posting a day late as well. Ah well....
  1. Ply Ellie - Did this early in the week and it was amazing.
  2. Spin and Ply last batch of Ellie -After having lots and lots of problems with the 2nd fleece I was frustrated and contemplated keeping this last bit for myself. I've mostly changed heart on the matter but still only got it spun into a single so far.
  3. Finish and Wash Ellie - Same issue as the above comment.
  4. 9 more circles for tote bag 1 -Finished these guys without a problem.
  5. Piece together tote bag 1 - Did some piecing at the concert/work. My coworkers absolutely loved it so I was extra inspired and finished quickly.
  6. Start Tote bag 2 -Nope, didn't get there yet.
  7. Proto-type any other animals -Thought about it but never while at home.
  8. Make 2 holiday mice -Only got one new guy made, he has a beret it is the best. But I did pay attention to the time that went into him and I'm thinking 2.5hrs. So a decent starting place I think.
  9. Sort Rosie into locks - I started doing this and got absolutely entirely frustrated because the fleece was really in awful shape. It's full of second cuts and pieces that are just crazy small. There is barely any of the lock structure that I love to start from. For a while I seriously contemplated giving up and mailing it all back. But I think I'll try again this week.
  10. Wash at least 2 batch of Rosie locks - Continuing from above, the only success I did have was pretty much just to try and pick out the really bad stuff then just slap the stuff on the carders and then make one of my little rolags. I'll either need to just spin it dirty or try my hand at washing the rolag.
  11. Test knit hat, and try sock and sweater mods -So I made the hat and think it looks pretty darn bad. Good to know. Then I actually worked out a mitten modification which worked rather well. And I'm mostly but not quite finished the new sock. but I think it'll work. The sweater has actually grown on me a good bit so maybe it doesn't need any changes.
  12. Level WoW mage to 80 -Utter failure as I'm still at like 73. Bran just wasn't interested in playing. I did however have my own interest rekindled. And now that the 90 day bonus has passed I'm free to just play as I will so this is actually good.
  13. Two repeats on mittens -My mitten was my beginning of the week fun. However I've realized that I need to rethink my top decreases before continuing as the next repeat will actually take me into the top. Woohoo.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Fiber Arts Friday: Happy Pictures

So this week I feel like I've really not gotten much crafting done. There's not really any good reason for it aside from mental blocks. But then I looked at the things I have accomplished in the last week or two and felt better about things.

And so I present to you a bunch of pictures (of rather poor quality as I was taken them at like midnight, oops):
My Awesome Amazing Alpaca Mitten. It's actually coming out a bit bigger than I had hoped but we'll see what it's like off the needles. I need to sit down and figure out how I want to handle the decreases in hopes of lining up with the pattern more or less. I really ought to get moving as we've had a ridiculous cold snap. They are actually predicting snow for tomorrow which is insane. Plus its a frakking concert weekend so I have to work and now deal with all of the patrons who will be panicking about the snow.
Christmas Ornaments! The mitten is quite possibly my favorite thing ever. Although I do think the final ones ought to be a bit bigger and I think I'll aim for a slightly smaller sweater.
These little guys are absolutely the best thing ever. So freaking cute. And it's a free pattern available from Fuzzy Mitten. Highly recommend. The blue guy took me about 2.5 hours start to finish so I figure I'll only get faster.
First scarf for Special Olympics of the season complete. Still love this pattern. Best moment ever occurred at knitting group. I'd finished the blue repeats and was going to start the red as I want all the hearts pointing down. Someone asked if I joined them at the top then, yes. Another chimed in that why didn't I just reverse the pattern and keep going. It blew my mind.
And 24 circles ready to be pieced together as hexagons (top left) and made into an awesome tote bag.  The colors on this photo are absolutely and totally wrong but it still looks cool I think.

Thanks for visiting! For all of you fiber people visiting I encourage you to check out the Spinning Trindles Group on Ravelry where they are currently hosting a giveaway. I purchased my first Trindle in the spring and it was immediate love. Just about everything that I spin these days is done using my Trindle. They are the most awesomest and I wrote this whole post all about them.

And after signing up for that be sure and check out the rest of the Fiber Arts Friday blogs!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


My first trindle. Still my favorite bead/arm set.
I love trindles. They are the most awesome.

Back in May I went to the MD Sheep and Wool Festival with the #1 goal of find myself a good spindle. Ideally it would not be terribly expensive so that I could also purchase some fiber goodness. The place is huge and there are zillions of vendors so I was a bit dismayed that we seemed to not find many spindle options at all.

I did notice the rather quirky trindles at Gales Art however. They struck me mostly for being sparkly and shiney. But they seemed almost more like little toys then a good useful spindle. Back in the biggest barn I ended up finding all of the spindle makers. By then however the options, the lack of time, and the price tags were getting to me. I decided to go with the "cheap" trindle and some fiber.

So back out we went and I made my selection. Turns out that the 'beads'/arms and the shaft are priced separately so it wasn't actually so cheap. Oops. But I went with the purchase anyway and made sure to leave with some awesome fiber as well. 

While waiting for my friend to make some purchases I found a bench and played briefly with my new toy. It was remarkably delightful to spin with. At home I kept going. I was making a super amazingly thin yarn and absolutely loving the way the trindle worked.

I wanted to learn more about my new awesome tool so I hopped onto Ravelry and found the Spinning Trindles Group! It was the perfect way to show off my new purchase and find out more information about these clever tools. Through the group I also became friends with Mrs. Trindleman, the moderater of the group and wife of the original creator. It was generally awesome.

Spinning hookless using a half-hitch.
Not everything was quite perfect however. Sometime towards the end of my first week I was getting a good bit of wobble in my spin. Looking closely it looked like the hook was at a bit of an angle. So I attempted to bend the hook back up right thinking it may have been from dropping as I was spinning (the tool is called 'drop spindle' for a reason). *Snap *. The shaft top splintered leaving the hook able to pull free. I was heartbroken.

For a time I was sad and left the poor spindle up on a high shelf afraid to do anything. I knew that Trindleman has an incredibly generous and easy return/fix policy, but it seemed so silly having broken it myself. But then I threw caution to the wind and started spinning with the broken spindle. I took the hook out entirely and just used a half hitch. Things were a bit slower but still worked just fine.

By this time however I was quite certain I needed more trindles in the house. I choose an Ipe shaft, hoping that the hard wood would be less susceptible to any damage I tried to impose upon it. And black goes with absolutely anything (including the hub and arms).  Then having my awesome lightweight beads/arms I choose the heavy weight malachite arms with gorgeous green swirls in them. So pretty.

 This 'heavy' set up spins just as well and does make it easier to add a bit of bulk to my spinning. But I really do trend quite thin in all I do so the tool only gets me so far towards worsted weight.

The trickiest thing about the trindles I've found is how to build the cop. As you can see in the picture on the left once things star getting pretty big the yarn bunches up around the arms at the top. I don't like this at all because it makes it easy for the yarn to get tangled when I remove it. And I can no longer remove the arms without a (small) fiber explosion.

I have however found some good solutions to this problem. Firstly I tend to spin in smaller batches. Around an ounce or so keeps things nice and easy. Although as I've become more comfortable I've found that I can get pretty close to two ounces now without a problem. But the most important strategy is to build up a good cop which is quite elliptical in shape. The bulbous center keeps most of the yarn while things are secured at either end tight against the trindle including the base of the hub, never reaching the arms. I accomplish this using the regular parallel wraps but also a good bit of up and down criss-crossing wraps that help secure everything in place.

During this time I also started thinking about this years Tour de Fleece/France. I asked Mrs. Trindleman if there was a Trindle team and when there was none she invited me to start one and declared me it's captain. Happy to oblige I set everything up and before long we had our own little team of Trindlers. At the Trindles shop they even added in this awesome TDF themed bracelet (along with some super discounts).

At the end of the TDF Mrs. Trindleman had everyone report in and awarded a number of prizes, including some amazing treats sent to me for putting everything together. She was absolutely insanely generous especially since I really didn't have to do anything more than start a thread, set up a google doc, and comment on lots of things :-)

My package included an amazing dyed purple silk hankie from Gale's Art. I absolutely love it and am so excited to spin it but want to actually find time when I can sit and enjoy it and not feel pressured to work on other projects. This totally cool flower bead/arm set. They're mid/heavy weight I think but they are flowers, how cool is that. AND they have a subtle sparkle. Rock on. But most awesomely she included a microtrindle. Coming in at 6 inches this little beauty is the epitome of easy travel spinning. Plus being so super lightweight the yarn is so super thin. (picture forthcoming if I can find it...)

Yea, I was totally spoiled.

These days I'm keeping my eye on the Etsy store in hopes of scoring a set of lightweight hematite arms. However it also seems like the store is so popular that it's hard to catch things in stock. An awesome problem to have I'm sure.

There is currently a contest going on at the Spinning Trindles Group on Ravelry. Just leave a comment on the thread for a chance to win one of the newest trindles that is soon to be released. These little tools are much too awesome to be missed!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Weekly Goals, 10/24

Last week was a success. Here's hoping I can follow with the same.

  1. Ply Ellie - This shall be the huge awesome skein. Yay fluffy yarn.
  2. Spin & Ply last batch of Ellie - There's only a tiny bit left. It's almost a shame that it's all on its own.
  3. Finish and Wash Ellie - One alpaca down, one to go [for the spin a bag keep a bag project at least]
  4. 9 more circles for tote bag 1 - Turns out each bag will take 24, ouch.
  5. Piece together tote bag 1 - The cirlces are all shades of blue and being pieced using white half-double crochet hexigons.
  6. Start Tote bag 2 - either shades of pink or multi color. Probably multi.
  7. Proto-type any other animals - I'm thinking more of Fuzzymitten's designs because I love the first. And maybe a crochet amigurimi because we'll see how that goes.
  8. Make 2 holiday mice - I love these guys and hopefully I can get pretty quick at things. I also want to try them in the round this time as I hate seaming.
  9. Sort Rosie into locks - prepare for Alpaca 2! She's a rose-grey and so beautiful.
  10. Wash at least 2 batch of Rosie locks.
  11. Test knit hat, and try sock & sweater mods - Gotta catch up to the hat from last week and work on the pattern modifications while the ideas are still fresh in my mind.
  12. Level WoW mage to 80 - Yup I've been sucked into a MMO. Bran and I need to use this last week of the refer a friend bonus to ding 80 or we'll have to do it the old fashioned (slow) way.
  13. Two repeats on mittens - I think I stand a better chance of sucess on this this week.

I much be rather insane. Last weeks awesome has gone to my head and makes me not see how absolutely much this weeks list really is.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Weekly goal wrap up, 10/23

List updated as items are accomplished. Bold = finished.
  1. Check that Eowyn Costume still fits and is in decent shape, fix as needed - Still got it on with no problem. The fitted top is rather tight and restricts breathing a bit and arm movement is somewhat limited, but I think that's the way it was when I made it. This thing is like the most poorly sewn garment ever. Trimmed the rough bottom hem to make it slightly more presentable and sewed up a number of holes where the stitching had split. Methinks that I'll want to bring a sewing kit along when I wear it and maybe a set of regular clothes.
  2. Plan Christmas Gifts -rocked this one fairly early and was pretty happy with everything. Although there are a few question marks.
  3. Prototype Sweater, Sock, and Hat -Got through the Sweater and the Sock but not the Hat. Soo close. The first two went quite easily although I do want to make some modifications to the final patterns.
  4. Prototype Holiday Mouse -Sewed up the body and head easily and quickly on Monday. I'm quite happy how easy it was. And really as I am becoming familar with the pattern things will only get easier. Also, this little guy is so stinking cute.
  5. Order yarn -Managed to convince myself not to go overboard and stuck with just the basics. Now I'm anxiously waiting for the package to arrive!
  6. 15 Hex circles for tote bag -This objective was greatly assisted when it worked out that I spent 1.5 hours out of the office over lunch at a different office to sell things. The selling of things never occupies the whole time however so hooray for excellent on the go crafts. Now I just need to figure out how many circles I actually need for each bag.
  7. Knit 2 repeats of pattern on argyle mittens -I picked up this project again and totally fell back in love. Although it is difficult to get myself doing it as all of the other projects which are less for myself tend to feel more pressing. Alas I always put the other projects first. But at least i got through one repeat and the thumb gusset is now complete.
  8. Order Mother's Gift(s) -Check. Hooray for ebay. Now I'm just hoping everything shipped to the correct address and I didn't get scammed.
  9. Make more applesauce (if needed) -After planning out my Christmas gifts it was quite clear that I have plenty of applesauce for me and for giving. Therefore, not needed. That was easy.
  10. Ply Ellie singles - As always there are some thick and thin spots but I ended up with a nice soft and squishy yarn that was still a fairly lightweight. Awesome!
  11.  Prep 4.5 oz of Ellie - I'm getting quite good at prepping.
  12. Spin another two batches of Ellie -Done and they were even giant batches. This skein will be nearly 4 oz.
  13. Create a crafting plan for the next 3 months -This took way longer than expected. Like holy moly will I be churning out a lot of stuff. I really need to make sure to do all of my fall/winter craft planning in June or July next year. It is a much much smarter plan.
12ish/13 - not bad.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fiber Arts Friday: A Sweater and some Trindles

So I've pretty much been kicking butt at accomplishing things this week. Check out my crazy goal list for the week. It's going well so far and I plan on posting the outcomes late Sunday. At least for the next few weeks when there needs to be crazy crafting production I want to make those goals a weekly blog feature. Accountability and all.

But anyways while I have you my captive audience here I am quite pleased to present the most awesome accomplishment ever (in my biased opinion at least):

The project began way back in May when I spent my time watching the Giro d'Italia and prepping fiber. I have had big bags of this alpaca for a few years now and never managed to go through terribly much of it. It was what got me started spinning way back when the Mother of one of my High School Friends asked if I could knit her something and if I'd be interested in the fleece. In the quest for a better method of processing I had been investigating creating my own hackle. I wasn't terribly thrilled with the comb approach so modified things in my own way. I use the hair combs to flick batches of the raw locks. 

I then take the locks and can load them up onto my homemade hail and random wood plus duct tape hackle and pull myself out a long strip of roving. Roving is definitely my favorite preparation for spinning. I am much better at being consistent when I use it. And the whole hackling, pulling process, results in these amazingly fluffy, need no further drafting strips.

I spent some time testing different spinning styles. One yarn looked absolutely amazing but it has lots of twist so the knitting, which is done on relatively large needles, looked quite wirey. I found that while it was a bit difficult not to drop the spindle all the time or break the yarn I very much enjoyed the fabric created with a rather loosly spun yarn.

Aside from the initial testing all of the spinning was done during the 2011 Tour de France/Fleece. Highlights included spinning in the car, spinning in the car in the dark, spinning more than I've ever spun before, Contador sucking, and Evans rocking.

By the end of the 3 weeks I had a grand total of 1496 (ish) yards. Holy epic. Actually when I add in the bit of other TDF spinning that was accomplished I spun over a mile of yarn.  I am still proud of that.

From the get-go I knew the yarns intended object was a Featherweight Cardigan, but immediately after the TDF I was distracted by many other shiny projects and the yarn languished for a while. On August 22 I knew I would have some time while up with family over Labor Day and I cast on. Crazily I had to rob another project of the proper size needles. That project is still quite stagnant, oops.

The knitting itself was incredibly easy and amazing. I would highly recommend this pattern. Some folk might find the giant swaths of stockinette boring but I revel in the simplicity and love having a project that I can take and knit anywhere without having to worry about messing up a pattern.

It was odd how when I was knitting the hand spun yarn with its 'irregularities' almost made the stockinette look like there was a pattern going on. After being a bit dismayed in the end I decided it added to the character of the piece. But actually know that it's all knit up you don't notice it at all. A friend commented last night that it actually looked machine knit even. Although she was at least a few feet away.

The other real quirk of the sweater is that there is a significant color change. Apparently Max, donor alpaca, has some different shades to him. I didn't notice until I had knit probably 2 inches of the new skein, but then suddenly it because quite clear that there is a difference. I'm too lazy to re-knit anything so I just kept going. Chalk another one up to some extra character.

No matter what in the end I love it and shall definitely be wearing this sweater quite a bit.

Thanks for visiting! For all of you fiber people visiting I encourage you to check out the Spinning Trindles Group on Ravelry where they are currently hosting a giveaway. I purchased my first Trindle in the spring and it was immediate love. Just about everything that I spin these days is done using my Trindle. They are the most awesomest and I'm hoping to write up a post all about them sometime next week.

And after signing up for that be sure and check out the rest of the Fiber Arts Friday blogs!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Apple Sauce

My goal for Saturday was to make apple sauce. Things got off to a rather late start as I was with Bran and did engage in a bit more new apartment with him. I also finished the Max Sweater that morning.

So I didn't get out to my local awesome farm stand/market until sometime 2-3ish. I was hoping they might have gala or fuji apples but no suck luck. So I went with a half a bushel of Golden Delicious and half a bushel of Jonagold.

The back seat being occupied with a bunch of stuff for Bran the apples went into the trunk for the ride home. Alas this resulted in mass apple spillage through the trunk. D'oh.

The evening before I had purchased a new gadget that I thought might aid my process, an apple peeler. So I couldn't resist pulling it right out and giving it a whirl. It was amazing.

I then spent a bit of time trying out my new aproach and getting a feel for things, while also doing a bit of housework and blocking the sweater. This was a very very poor plan as inevitably the pot of apples that I left on the stove to soften boiled over while I was up pinning the sweater. I knew it was bad when I could smell burnt apples on my way back downstairs.

When the house was purchased back in January the first thing that happened was my Aunt and Uncle replaced the crazy old stove with a new amazing fancy one. It's a giant flat top and I love it. Burnt stuff on it is very very bad and muchly distressing to me. Eeek!

I already had about a quart and a half of sauce but I basically stopped my whole process and decided to clean the whole kitchen first. This gave the stove top some time to cool down so I could work more at cleaning off the burnt stuff and avoid any damage to the glass top. Plus it refocused me and gave me time to establish how I would run my operation.

At approximately 6PM I recommenced operations.

Here's my snazzy new peeler. the contraption could also core and slice, but I opted just to peel.

The dangling strands of peel were at times too much for Helo to resist.

I worked in batches of 6 apples, 3 of each kind. First I peeled them. Then I would slice off the skin remaining on the top and bottom. This also helped make a nice flat surface for using the slicer corer thing with the red handle there. I was working in batches (multiple ones at a time) so all of the slices then were left until the cooking pot was free.

The slices were put in a pot with some water to soften. As soon as they were soft they were scooped into the Foley mill and the next batch of slices went on the stove. Although make sure to change the water every 2 batches or so. The water gets very syrupy and bubbles over way too fast if you don't change it - not that I have experience with this or anything...
As the new slices were softening I was milling. Because there were already peeled and cored just about everything went through the mill. It saved me quite a bit of scooping out peel bits and fretting that maybe if i just mashed harder i could get more from this or that batch of left overs. It was great. The sauce then went into a big pot which I attempted to leave at a low boil. This was fairly unsuccessful as it tended to just find one place to bubble and project apple juice splatters all over the stove.
As soon as the milling was done, or if my arms were tired I would start alternating, I was back to the peeling/chopping/slicing. When there was a good bit of sauce in the pot and when I had a full 2 batches ready for cooking I would switch to filling the jars and putting a batch in the water bath.

The end result was 6 quarts, 11 pints, 4ish of the blue tupperware (a pint maybe) and one of the big tupperware which was already at Bran's new apartment when this photo was taken.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Weekly Goals, 10/17

This past weekend was pretty odd. I spent a good bit of it with Bran in his new apartment. So it kind of blows my mind that I still managed to accomplish what feels like quite a bit of stuff on my own as well. Excellent.

Looking out over the next few weeks/months there is a TON of stuff that I would like to accomplish. I must keep going with the success and really ramp it up as well. And so I think it's a good time to establish some plans and goals for myself.

This week I would like to accomplish the following things:
  1. Check that Eowyn Costume still fits and is in decent shape, fix as needed - We are inviting patrons to dress up for the next concert for work, so staff ought to as well. I'm quite certain that it shall be entirely awkward but at least I get to rock my awesome costume. And the costume itself is pretty 'neutral'.
  2. Plan Christmas Gifts - I really am rather late, for me, at this plan but I was leaning away from the crazy involved handmade gifts this year. But I still need to figure out what I'm doing instead.
  3. Prototype Sweater, Sock, and Hat - I worked up a quick tiny mitten (pictured) last night and it's so cute. I want to keep churning these guys out with the end goal of making lots to sell at the Christmas Market.
  4. Prototype Holiday Mouse - Same deal as the ornaments but this is a little adorable mouse. I'm a bit afraid that this pattern may be more involved, but that's what I need to figure out.
  5. Order yarn - I know I want to use sock yarn for the ornaments and solid colors can be tricky to find so I need to order online. Hopefully I can rock out a quick mouse as well to determine if online ordering would be best for that. Yay knitpicks.
  6. 15 Hex circles for tote bag - I'm going to start with a Christmas Colored tote (red, green, yellow, and white). These suckers are the perfect easy anytime project to have on hand at any (and every) free moment. I still need to mock up how many circles I'll need for each bag.
  7. Knit 2 repeats of pattern on argyle mittens - Even though I'm trying to accomplish a zillion other things I don't want to abandon my fun projects for myself. Must keep working on mittens.
  8. Order Mother's Gift(s) - Don't want to forget about this and don't want to wait until everyone else is ordering their gifts as well.
  9. Make more applesauce (if needed) - I already made a bunch but I need to take the Christmas Gift plan into consideration and see if I want to make more so that I have enough for myself.
  10. Ply Ellie singles - I have 2 rolls of singles ready for plying. I think it will give me 2.4 oz of yarn.
  11.  Prep 4.5 oz of Ellie - I have a good pile of flicked locks already waiting for the hackle. I'll likely need another batch but then I will have all of her prep work done and ready to spin.
  12. Spin another two batches of Ellie - At the end of the week I'd like to have around 5 oz spun up so that I can finish the last of her yarn (to be sent back) the following week.
  13. Create a crafting plan for the next 3 months - I suspect this is the only way I will get through everything that I have in my mind. And even then it will be tight.

Yikes.....I have a bad feeling that I am being super-way-over ambitious (especially when I look at my list of future goals as well). Fingers crossed that I don't hate myself for trying to do so much.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fiber Arts Friday: Not so much progress

So after pretty much kicking butt last week at the whole getting stuffs done this week was not so good.

I had every intention and didn't think it would be at all difficult to finish up the Max sweater. I mean all that was left was the band! Alas life had other ideas in mind. Friday night was cleaning and seeing Bran, Saturday was a rushed last big of cleaning then the Renaissance Fair. Sunday and Monday were spending all day with my Aunt & Uncle working on the house (or all too often watching him work and wishing I could help). There was indeed some knitting in there, but it was sadly minimal. Tuesday was the only decent free day and it did indeed have much knitting. In fact on Tuesday I crafted all of the strength right out of my hands. That was new. Wednesday was a bit of time but then Band and seeing Bran's new apartment. And Thursday was dinner with Bran's family and more new apartmentness.

Holy smokes how is a girl supposed to get anything done around here?

The Max sweater is however amazingly enticingly close to finished. Its a bit tricky because I have to take all of the stitches (300ish) off of the needle and onto waste yarn to try the sucker on to check on the band size. I have in my head that I must must must finish and block this weekend. I can not wait to wear this sucker.

I did also get in some reasonably decent spinning time. I have probably 2-3 ounces completely prepped all the way into roving form (yay hackle) which I've found easiest to work from. 1.4 of it is all spun up and waiting on a TP roll for plying. Most of that is just one nights work (Tuesday) so I fully expect that I ought to have a plying mate all spun up for it this weekend. I could theoretically ply but I think I'll let it rest a bit first. Plus I'm going to aim to get another few ounces of washed locks flicked and drawn into roving.

Lastly on the fiber front this week I started a new project. Not exactly the most brilliant way to get all of the other stuff done but so it goes. But it's for the Scarves for Special Olympics project. And it so happened that the yarn was on sale in Michaels when Bran drug me there. I'm just doing a simple double crochet pattern with holes in the shape of a heart. It's great because it takes approximately no focus and can be picked up/put down at any time. I actually started it at the Ren Faire and it worked quite well anytime we were sitting and waiting for a show to start. It is super happy news that this year they gave us colors that can be had in "Red Heart Soft". Previously it was all regular Red Heart Super Saver yarn which is rather dreadful (but cheap). The soft is quite akin to my super favorite cheap yet soft yarn: Simply soft. Hooray for that.

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you'll come back and read about more of my goings-on. 
Be sure and check out WISDOM BEGINS IN WONDER! to see more Fiber Arts Friday Blog Amazingness.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Farm Show Options

Once I found all of the information on entering things to be judged at the Farm Show I immediately started thinking about how many of the different categories I could conceivably enter. It was overwhelming. To try and organize myself I printed off the 20 pages of "Home Living" info and went through with a highlighter. Each of the following orange items was marked, my notes are in black.

Crocheting: Accessory – pair of mittens, hat, shawl, etc. I can totally crochet some little something or other. Even just a scarf if nothing else. I could even theoretically use one of the scarves that I've been crocheting for the Special Olympics project.
Crocheting: children’s Garment – sweater, shirt, dress, etc. The other category of adult garment is rather out of my range (plus I'm not a huge fan of my crochet garments) but kids stuff is so much faster/easier/funner.
* Knitting: Hand Knitted Accessory – pair of mittens, hat, shawl, etc. I am already planning on making mittens and scarves for myself so this is easy. I'm thinking I'd enter one of my hand spun linen stitch scarves. Although that would mean that I wouldn't be able to wear it for that time-span. Tricky.
Knitting: Hand Knitted Adult’s Garment – sweater, shirt, dress, etc.Quite ambitious for me but I have already been knitting up my Max sweater so that would count and proves my capable of such feats.
Knitting: Hand Knitted Children’s Garment – sweater, shirt, dress, etc.Same deal as the kids crochet garment. Except I know of at least 2 babies who I've kind of wanted to knit for anyways.
Handmade Garment (Any garment knitted, crochet or woven from a natural blend of yarns [commercial or hand spun] containing a minimum of 30% mohair): Garment Again a whole garment is rather intimidating and at first I didn't know about the mohair aspect. But then I realized that I had purchased 4 oz of the most phenomenally amazing Mohair/Alpaca (or maybe sheep I can't remember off the top of my head)/Angora blend roving at Knitters Day Out. It would be absolutely amazing and perfectly suited to spin it up just like the Max and knit another Featherweight.
* Folk Art: Hand spun/dyed yarns Given how obsessed I am with spinning these days I certainly must enter some hand spun yarn. Although it's also rather intimidating as I really don't ever consider my own stuff to be so great. It's pretty darn bumpy (adds character to my knitting which is fun but not sure how well that goes over in judging).
Skill in Needlecraft: Cross-stitch (counted)  Cross-stitch is amusing, and quite easy.
Skill in Needlecraft: Embroidery (creative) I have been wanting to learn more embroidery stitches and skills for quite some time now. Perfect motivation!
Home-related accessories: No Clothing Items: Other – Base size no larger than 15” x 20” Kinda seems like I must have something around. Would a knit/felted alpaca toy fit here?
* Cloth Toys: Stuffed figures of animals Or would the amazing felted alpacas (if I can manage to get my yarn to felt) fit better here. Not sure if knitted cloth is the cloth they are looking for or not. I could always sew one of my awesome penguins. Those guys are great. Whoa brainstorm! I ought to make more of the amazing tiny penguins I was making for a while. I love those things.
Quilted Wall Hangings: (Pieced patchwork- hand quilted, appliqu̩ Рhand quilted, mixed techniques Рhand quilted, or Machine Quilted) All of the things listed in parenthesis were options. I've not done much quilting but its another craft that I really do want to pick up someday. I would probably go fairly simple and stick with Machine quilting although my sewing machine skipping stitches could be a problem.
* Quilt Block Context – Pieced Adult (The theme for the 2012 Quilt Block Contest will be “Country Pride, City Wide.” We ask that you create a block using new fabrics in the color palette of red, white and blue and design of your choice.  Each block will become the property of the Family Living Section of the Farm Show. Items will be constructed with proceeds benefiting the Farm Show Scholarship Foundation.) Even better a quilt block that I can try to run with the theme. Except I'm really not quite sure about the theme or the colors really. I'll probably do this anyway instead of the previous category.
Adult Photography (lots of different categories) Normally I wouldn't think of myself as much of a photographer but I randomly entered a picture in a contest last spring and won! This is likely because there were only two other entries. But still. Photos are fun.
* Greeting Card Contest I love making cards. There are so many different possibilities of what I could do its hard to choose. I would probably go with Scherenschnitte. I miss paper cutting, it was probably the most meditative craft I've done for me.
* Tote Bag Contest: Large or Small Tote Bag Adult This category seems a bit odd. I think it may be more geared towards buying those plain canvas bags and decorating them. But I want to enter a bag like my awesome colorful crochet hexagon bag. I'm already planning to make some to sell at the Christmas Market so might as well mass produce!
Gift Box Contest: Hand-made Box (Any material using theme “Country Pride, City Wide”) Again a bit of an odd category but definitely within my grasp. I'd probably go with something paper. Paper is such a broad medium you can do so much with it.
* Potholder Contest: Hand Constructed Potholders Really I ought to be able to knock out a potholder with no sweat. Quite a while back I was thinking of making a pretty double knit potholder. That would be nice.
Place-mat Contest: Adult Way back when I moved into my house in February I was thinking of making some place-mats for the dining room table. They would still be quite a nice addition.

Since I first did all of my highlighting I've had a good bit of time to think about the crazy and the time has also seen me find even more crafty stuffs that I want to get done in the next few months. The ideal solution would be to quit my job and just make crafts all day. But then I would have no monies, and soon no food, house, or craft supplies. Alas that plan is a no-go. 

So instead I'm going to pick and choose my categories. And really this is certainly a smarter way to go as there is no need to enter more than a few things on my first attempt. First times for me are very much about feeling things out and learning whats what. 

I've marked the projects that I want to try and accomplish with the asterisks. Most of them are things that I will already have been creating or often are more simple type objects. I think this should work out well.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Star making

My father is the executive director of a research library/museum. During the holiday season they expand their gift shop to a little “Christmas Marketplace”. Last week I received an email asking if I would be willing to teach people to make Moravian Stars on one of the days the Marketplace was open.

The funny thing about the whole proposition is that my Father is actually the first one in the family to start folding the little stars and even since I learned them myself he is easily the record holder for the number of stars produced. But apparently he’ll still be making them plenty through the season so he cleverly plotted to rope me in.

I was hesitant at first because it’s 3 hours of driving to get home and back, and I hate driving and gas isn’t cheap. Plus it’s the weekend after thanksgiving, so right after I will be home. And the following weekend I’ll have to work all weekend. Which would leave me with only one free weekend in December.

What to do?

By the time I had the opportunity to talk about it with Bran, my sometimes resident sounding board, I had pretty made up my decision. And he didn’t think it was a bad idea or argue against it so I committed to it. It helps that Thanksgiving is on Thursday so I can still come home Friday and have the weekend. And then when I go back the following weekend it will be late Saturday as I have a band gig. Plus on Sunday I suspect I’ll be able to work with the organist to play my flute in church that day. I love killing birds with one stone.
Now the final bit of this here Christmas Market is that I can make stuff that they take and sell on consignment. Whoa. My head is now swimming with all of these possibilities and ideas. As always my favorite place to go for ideas is Ravelry. The pattern finder there is however crazy dangerous. Total overload. Wish me luck.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Fiber Arts Friday: The Things I'm Doing

I wanted to try for the first time to participate in Fiber Art's Friday's. And I thought it would be a great opportunity to introduce all of my current Fiber Works in Progress. Well to be more specific it's all of my current WIP's that I am actively, or well generally mostly-sorta-kinda, working on:

Max Sweater:
It was my epic (for me) goal during this years Tour de France/Fleece to spin up enough yarn for a Featherweight Sweater and I was totally successful. I cast on back mid/late August. And the project has ebbed and flowed but last week I finished the body and got this huge surge of must-finish-this-project-ness going on. Last night I cast off the 2nd sleeve and picked up 2/3 of the stitches for the band! I ought to be able to finish before next week. Woohoo! 

And I really am loving it all. Being knit top down I've been trying it on since it was time to split off the sleeves. The thing really fits me like a glove. I had it out last night at band and one of my fellow flute members (a casual knitter I think) commented it looked child size. I commented back that it was fitted and had she noticed that I pretty much am child sized. It amused me. I could say more about this project but I think I'll leave it for a full report once it's finished.
Argyle Alpaca Mittens:
Sudden thought: I really ought to call these the Argyle Alpaca Appendage warmers. I really have a thing for alteration. Anyone know of an A word for warmers?

This is the other bit of yarn that was spun up during the TDF. Purchased from Dunn Spun Alpaca's at 2010's Knitters Day Out the stuff is absolutely so amazingly soft and pretty much the best thing ever. It practically spun itself. The knitting of these gloves however is a bit more of a challenge. 

Color work is probably one of my lowest knitting skillz levels. Really I've just not done that much of it at all. So I'm doing my darndest to keep the stranding tension even and not too tight. It's also difficult because I really don't do all that much knitting on double pointed needles. I prefer to magic loop. So holding everything even and keeping the stitches has become part of the challenge (or fun when I'm being postive).

We have however had a crazy cold snap here in South Central PA (actually it's become phenomenally nice again, but last weekend was miserable). And the weather makes me quite anxious to get working on these mittens to keep my hands nice and toasty warm.

Ellie & Rosie Spinning:
On Ravelry some people have been offering "Spin a bag get bag". The idea being they are likely the owners of some fiber bearing animals who have more fleece than they can keep up with. So they send a willing spinner, like me, fiber. We spin it up and return half of it back.

I was lucky enough to make such an arrangement with Tracey of Koehlers 4 Star Alpacas. She sent me 2 bags, 1 lb each, of fiber. Ellie is white and Rosie is rose grey. I absolutely love love love each of the colors.

Alas I must have been crazy when I contacted her about this because seriously I have so many other things that I am working on and so much fiber to spin already. But whenever I'm doing something for anyone else I really do try to bump it up near to the top of the WiP priority list.

I've been carefully sorting and washing the fleece so far. Previously I've just spun all of my raw alpaca dirty. However I recently got up the courage to try washing raw fiber and I absolutely love it. It is certainly not the most speedy process as I am being extra crazy and keep everything in lock formation but I like it this way. The only problem so far is that some of the fiber isn't exactly ideal. I've found a some second cuts, but also patches of corse locks and some just generally quite short bits. I'm not quite sure what to do about it all as I really wanted to return a full pound to Tracy, but I also don't want to stick myself with all of the yucky bits.

So far I've washed prepped and spun up little test samples of each. I had a very easy time spinning Ellie right from the flicked locks but I also tried and was fairly successful and creating a long roving strip using my hackle. After finishing washing about 8 ounces of Ellie I started to spin last night. I seemed to be much more consistent using the roving strip so I think I'll probably prep the rest in that fashion.

Rosie, having all different colors and shades in her fleece offered much more in the way of possibilities. Unfortunately her fleece is also the prime culprit of short pieces. After deciding I wanted to blend her colors I tried the hackle but it wasn't very successful, I suspect the blame could be the short bits. Luckily using hand carders the blending worked rather well.

The plan for this next week is to get the 8 oz of Ellie prepped into roving and keep spinning then get 8oz of Rosie washed.

Thanks for visiting and I hope you'll come back and read about more of my goings-on. Be sure and check out WISDOM BEGINS IN WONDER! to see more Fiber Arts Friday Blog Amazingness!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Farm Show Research

Last year when I drug Bran to the PA State Farm Show I was fascinated to find at the very back of the building a whole section that was just filled with all sorts of, pretty random looking, hand crafts. Some of them even had ribbons indicating some kind of contest or prize. I'm not sure if I commented then that I ought to make something and enter it then, but it seems like I should have at least been thinking it.

Although really I had no idea how to go about anything or if it was even open to the public and as I was caught up in all of the other things that are going on I mostly forgot about it. Then recently YarniMarni, an awesome local blogger who puts together amazing liveblogs of the Farm Show's Sheep to Shawl contest, posted about Farm Show preparations. And my dreams and aspirations (ok maybe thats a bit overkill, but nevertheless) were rekindled.

The problem was then finding any kind of information on entering hand crafts. The epic website search began. Now I fully respect that the PA Farm Show really is an epic undertaking and so the website is probably not one of their biggest concerns. But really there must be a better way to have some of this information available. Eventually in the midst of a giant 200ish page PDF document I found the information I was looking for under the link "2012 Premium List". I suspect that if I'd been more involved or grown up around such things maybe some of this terminology would make more sense.

From what I've been able to find it seems like anyone is welcome to submit an "exhibit". Fun fact, all of the various livestock are exhibits, just like a knitted scarf. This amuses me. I thought I remembered reading something about Pennsylvania residencey being a requirement but I can't even find that now. So really all you need do is find these crazy forms and deliver your stuff. Sweet deal. The premiums, or prizes are as much as $500 but that's for some of the popular baking contests and such. For most of the arts and crafts they award $3-$12. This is also a fact which I find to be highly amusing. There are entry fees for some exhibits but not for anything I'm interested in.

My area of interest is Department 24, Family Living. This department covers a TON of stuff. Firstly there are all kinds of food stuffs. Including what I understand are some pretty serious baking contests. There are all kind of canned and preserved food entries as well. I actually considered maybe entering my Pickled Watermelon Rind or Watermelon Jelly. But in the end I don't think that my canning skillz are really up to par. The goods shall continue to just go to friends and family.

Where things really start to get interesting to me is the later bits of Home Living. There are all kinds of different crafts, not just knitting either. There's tons of things I could totally do. It's almost overwhelming and I've already written a bunch so I think I'll have to come back with more of my thoughts on what I want to create and submit later!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


I have been inspired to blog again. Wish me luck.

Other than that I really do have what feels like a half a million inspirations swirling around in my head. Here are some of the more concrete ideas:

Dragon Mittens:
I purchased these delightfully fun bits of roving from the MD Sheep and Wool Fest way back in May. I knew I wanted to spin up as a variegated color changing yarn, but I wasn't sure what project. Then I found these absolutely amazing Dragon Mittens. Love it. 

Although I am a bit on the fence if I should knit the mittens with the whole rainbow or just use half more similar to the original design.

All in all this will be an epic project/challenge when (not if) I actually do it.


After reading an article in the local paper about a nearby sheep farm I started following the farm on facebook. Sure enough when they posted that they had just sheared the sheep and were selling the fleeces I had to take a visit. I came home with the fleece of this delightful little sheep named Kiwi. The fleece is multiple colors of brown and grey. But I couldn't resist working up a little sample. I wanted to take advantage of the multiple colors to knit up a scarf like this one using the linen stitch. And interesting in the end the project came out very grey and not much brown at all. But still beautiful. I can't wait to make the whole thing.

Alpaca's of York:
At Knitters Day Out this year I was delighted to find the Alpaca's of York booth. She had these delightful piles of raw, but dyed, alpaca. With the help of my knitting friend I picked out these four colors with the idea of making some fall-ish type of something.

Also while out browsing all of the amazing booths I had noticed, and fallen in love with, these amazing multi-colored scarves that looked woven. Later I realized that they were actually knit using the linen stitch. I've decided to put two and two together and make myself, another, awesome scarf. Again, I couldn't resist working up a sample, pictured above. For the final project I think I'll just work each row with only one color so that they are constantly mixing, like these examples, or as they do where the colors meet in my sample. I'm also thinking about blending some of the fiber colors together.

Yikes I've already nearly written another novel chapter, so I'll stop there. Inevitably there are definately more project ideas swirling around in my head. But at least one of these three is likely to be the next thing started on the needles (or spindle as it were).