Saturday, March 31, 2007

Mmmm merino/silk

I haven' t had a lot of time to spin recently, but in odd moments I have been working on some incredibly wonderful fiber recently. It is a merino/tussah silk blend that I bought at Mind's Eye yarns, and let me tell you it spins "like buttah". This stuff is so addictive. I have no idea what it will become. I am not even aiming for a particular weight. It just flows onto the bobbin without any problem in a fairly even single.

You see the wonderful shine this stuff has in the flash photo. If only there was squish-o-vision so that you could see how soft and... well silken it is.
This photo is with no flash, just natural light, but it seems brighter here than it does in real life. The actual color is somewhere between the two. I could write more about it (and maybe will later), but I think I should go take advantage of how quiet the house is right now to go spin some more up.

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Friday, March 30, 2007

New Cross Stitch Toy

Look what I got in the mail! After looking in every craft store I came across for over 6 months, I finally gave up and ordered a set of q-snaps online. The best price I found was from Hancock's of Paducah, whom I had never heard of. I am very happy with both the price and the incredibly fast shipping. My order left their store the same day and arrived no more than 2 days after that.

This is the 17" size that I will be using for Mother Earth, a Heaven and Earth Design by Jessica Galbreth. On my fabric (0ver 1) this pattern will be about 12.5" by 16.5". I can see why everyone raves about these. They hold the fabric snug, but are easily adjusted. Plus because of their geometry they do not put tension on a bias (or even worse on a radial bias such as with a hoop).

My fabric is light blue, but you won't end up seeing in once the piece is finished. This lets me get in another PS2 photo in before the end of the month though.

I hope you will excuse me for a moment of geekiness:
If two grids intersect
and a pattern reflect
that's a moire.

When two patterns entwine
In a way serpentine
that's a moire.*

If you don't know what a moire pattern is click the link to the Wikipedia article linked above. Basically it is when you have a set of intersecting lines or grids, that give optical illusions of other shapes. You can see some "circles" on the fabric above (near the top) from this effect.

*I didn't write either of these. I just remember them from college physics.

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

WIP: Print 'O the Wave Shawl

Since this color round for Project Spectrum will beending soon, I thought I would give an update on my sister's wedding shawl. Unfortunately there hasn't been a ton of progress since this project really requires time I can sit at home and concentrate on it, and such time has been scarce recently. So far I have 15/34 repeats done.

edit: I am not sure if I had mentioned it before, but the needles I have been using in this project were a generous gift from Moosey/dr-zhivago during LJSP3.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

FO: Mad-tini Socks

Yarn: Cherry Tree Hill Super Glitz in Sugar Maple (discontinued)
Pattern: Mad-tini (Sock Madness Round 2) by Karin Bole
Yardage: 286 yards (3.43 g)
Marathon Mileage: 1.48 miles

I had a really hard time photographing these socks to get the stitch detail because the color was so incredibly saturated. I am not sure that my photography skills are enough to compensate*.

I absolutely love the colorway, Sugar Maple. Unfortunately the yarn itself has been discontinued and replaced with Cherry Tree Hill's Supersock DK line, but the colorway still exists, at least without the glitter strand. I am somewhat sad that there isn't a lot more of this yarn, because I love how the glitter just makes this already super bright colorway even more over the top.

As to the pattern itself, I was a bit torn about it, although my overall response was positive. I really liked being challenged with a different construction, since usually I like toe-up socks with afterthought heels at the moment. I discovered I wasn't overly found of the oblique rib, which both made my hands really tired and I didn't care fore the look of too much. The spiral stitch (which I am having a hard time getting on photo) is really cool though and I could see using it again.

I would have liked the socks a little longer, but was worried about having enough yarn. My yarn had about 5 yards less in yardage than the suggested yarn, but I ended up having tons left over. Look for projects with the leftovers in the next few days.

*I will ask Salvbard to take some photos and then add them later.

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

SPS: Buoys & Childhood Haunts

I grew up in a lobstering village, and spring was always associated with painting. You need to repaint all your buoys for the lobster traps before the season starts. Each lobsterman has his own unique way of painting his buoys that identify his traps. This weekend while I was down visiting family, my uncle was out painting for the guy he works with.
Can you believe that view? This is my grandmother's backyard that stands on a bluff overlooking the ocean, and growing up with it I can't say that I appreciated it as much as I do now. Coming back to the ocean always feels like home though. The sound of the surf is still one of the most comforting sounds I know.
My mom was kind enough to take a picture of myself and my very grumpy daughter. (Look at that face, she kept complaining that the sun was too bright and in her eyes.) Definitely not my favorite photo of her, but I don't have enough of the two of us together. Too often I am on the wrong side of the camera.

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

WIP: Mad-tini Socks

The round two pattern arrived Thursday just before it was time to make dinner. Despite that though I made some decent progress. Here are my socks Friday morning when I was getting ready to start working on them again. I can't say that I am a huge fan of the oblique rib. It is both really hard on your hands and not what I would consider terribly attractive. I would consider ripping out the rib and replacing it if it wasn't for the echoing detail on the heel.
The above photo is the last I was able to take last night before my partner left town with the camera for a couple days. (My camera is MIA but I am hoping it is just under something in the house.) So I am afraid you can't have a current progress shot.

I was going to take a picture with my camera phone if it became necessary, but it isn't any more. Sheepspyjamas (my opponent for this round) finished her pair of mad-tini socks early this morning. Congratulations Sheepspyjamas! It was a great round.

I am about halfway down the foot, but I don't think I will hurry through the last bit since I won't be able to take high quality images until tomorrow anyways. In DK weigh the stockinette foot goes really fast.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

FO: Felt Children's Clogs

Yarn: Lamb's Pride Bulky in Bight Red and Black Cherry
Needles: US Size 13
Pattern: Fiber Trends Felt Children's Clogs

When my daughter saw the my felted clogs, she immediately let me know that she would like a pair as well. After digging around in my stash, she chose red and black. Her feet are just under 8.5" (21 cm), so I was somewhat torn between making the 8" or 9" size. Since it should be getting warmer soon though, I opted for the larger size, figuring that she would grow into them over the year.
I had a suspicion that these would bleed really badly so I soaked them in hot water a few times until . Sadly the colors in this image are not really skewed because of lighting. Our sink is just that incredibly ugly yellowy avocado color that was popular for bathrooms in the 70s. This was the second hot water bath to remove dye. It took 4 before I was willing to put it in the laundry with a couple pairs of jeans.
For items that you don't think are completely color-fast (either your own creations or commercially made) I can't emphasize buying some Borax enough. We use it for a couple different things, but as an emulsifier it makes sure that loose dye particles do not redeposit on the other items in your wash. (The most common brand in the US is "20 Mule Team".)
These haven't come off much since the dried. I keep being told "they are so comfortable I don't know that they are on." Ok so that is a bit much, but I am glad that she likes them.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

A Place of My Own

This month's prompt for the CMP ATC Swap was "A Place of My Own". At first I thought I would do something along the lines of what Autumn Mommy ended up doing, my imagination. I just couldn't figure out the perfect way to do it though.

So I though, and I thought. Where was my place that was all mine? Then it hit me. Most of my crafting is done in stolen moments. I knit on the bus. I sketch in my moleskine in between other things. Painting is usually a shared activity, with my daughter painting her own work next to me. The one exception is spinning.

When I spin, I take a little quiet time to myself. Usually it is after the little one is asleep. I might listen to a podcast while I work or I might just enjoy the quiet zen of the sound of the wheel turning and the treadle moving. This is a time when I let the stress of the day slip away, and for a few minutes I just am. My hands just work. My mind is still.

Inspired, I grabbed some watercolor, my favorite pen, and a pencil. I sat in my spinning chair (not even replacing the flyer which I had removed to re-align the wheel) and set to work. After a quick sketch, I broke out my brushes. Usually I have to struggle to get the looseness I want when I use watercolor. For some reason this ATC was a lot easier though. I put my spinning wheel down on the cardstock and added the basket of roving I keep in the same corner. Bright puffs of soft fiber added some color where there hadn't been much before. Sometimes I guess you just have to let inspiration strike.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Knitting Collage Box

Recently I was doing a little extra work for our department office, and we ended up with a pile of small empty boxes left over from the envelopes for the Alumni Dinner. These seemed perfect for decorating, so I squirreled away several that were otherwise going to be thrown away/recycled.

I knew I wanted to make a box to put my Lime and Violet Swap gifts in, but I was sort of surprised to find myself drawn to collage. Collage isn't something that I can say that I have really done since elementary school, but all of a sudden it seemed obvious that that was what I had to do. So I took out the Mod Podge and got cutting.

I am actually really pleased with how this this turned out.

I am not sure if it will have a purpose beyond shipping my gift, but I suppose you could use it to hold notions or something. It was really great to rediscover that childhood glee of glue and scissors though.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Child's Apron

I don't know that I have mentioned it, but my daughter has been taking sewing lessons at Laura's Sewing School. Laura offers kids class that are nice and small so that the kids can really get the attention they need to start sewing for the first time or to go that one step further. Their first project, which Tab finished today was an apron.

When I picked her up from the class she asked, "Can we put pictures up on your blog?" Of course! Even from the perspective of a novice seamstress, I thought that this was a fabulous idea for a first project. It is a useful object, that the kids can use even if they ultimately decide that sewing is not for them.

First they traced and cut the fabric. Then they did the seams in a particular order (top and bottom, sides, and on a bias), each step talking about how sewing along the fabric in different directions is be different. The casings on the bias was left for last as the most challenging part. Then ribbon was fed through the casings, and it was done! Her first ever sewing project. See how proud the young seamstress looks?

After this apron the kids are free to choose whatever they want for a next project. I am already hearing plans for a fleece blanket.


Monday, March 19, 2007

Ready for Round 2

The requirements for the second round of Sock Madness are out, and next we will be knitting a sport weight sock in US Size 2s. Looks like this Cherry Tree Hill Super Glitz (in Sugar Maple) will finally get some love.

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

SPS: Looking Out on the Snow

If you are anything like me, you will find you have tons (tonnes even) of pictures of your kids and family, but very few of yourself. So when I found out about Rosemary's idea for Self-portrait Sundays (here after abbreviated as SPS) I thought, aha! The perfect way to ensure that I will have a record of myself as well.

So I talked to Salvbard about helping me out a bit. He kindly agreed, and immediately after that we kept forgetting for several weeks. Well no more! I emailed Rosemary to get added to the list, and I was going to do it. So here is my first SPS contribution.
It is funny that I almost feel my profile doesn't look a ton like me. I guess that is because I never get to see myself from such an angle. That little "elf ear" is all me though. It is a favorite story in my family that when I was born it was the very first thing that my dad noticed.

When I went to go upload this image I realized that we had once again had hit upon Project Spectrum colors. Outside has once again been reduced to grey and white with the snow we got Friday, and I am wearing blue as I often do.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Stormy Winter Sky yarn

Remember that Stormy Winter Sky roving that I dyed a bit ago? Well I finally got a chance to spin it. The singles looked okay, especially considering I was working on a different wheel than I usually do. (That deserves its own post so I will save that story for another day.) The plying looked less consistent than I would have liked, though, as I had a lot of problems with the different tension system.

I finished the spinning and plying last night, but today I took advantage of the unbelievably nice weather to give the skein a quick bath and then let it dry outside. Plus I have to say that there is nothing quite like fabulous day for taking yarn pictures.

I have to say for all my minor disgruntlements about the plying, the colors worked out really nicely. I love how you get the grey mixed with the blue and every so often a peek of blue plyed with blue like a bit of sky peeking out of some light cloud cover. (Why yes that niddy noddy is made out of pvc piping.)

I liked this second niddy noddy picture because you get a good sense of how the colors gradually shift from more to less grey and back.

Now the question is will I be able to give this skein up? Or will I have to keep it for myself?

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Well loved socks

I have heard people say that they can't imagine spending all that knitting time on a pair of socks since they get so much wear. I guess there is something to the feeling that you want your effort to result in heirlooms sometimes, but there is no better feeling than when socks get returned to you because they have been worn to the point where they stop being wearable.

My daughter came to me recently to let me know that she couldn't wear her "purple stripey socks" anymore. The toes had gotten too snug, and they just didn't fit anymore. This isn't a huge surprise. They were my first completed pair of socks (though I had made a single lonesome sock for myself before that) and they were also the first time I tried to do 2 socks at once all in honor of the Knitting Olympics last February. I am impressed they lasted this long! (Look at those long narrow rabbit feet!)

Given that I have sock surgery experience it was no problem to rip out the old toes and put in new ones. Now they look better than new! (I say better because let's face it, my toes have gotten neater over time.)


FO: Ember Socks

Today was really relaxing for the most part. Salvbard and I slept in and ignored Daylight Savings. Then ate leftovers and just hung out around the house. I worked on my Ember Socks for Sock Madness. He played some first person shooter game. Well at least until the small one came home from her grandmother's house. Then we actually had to be somewhat productive.

But I finished my socks, which I think means I am free for a couple days. I don't plan on on a ton of knitting though. Even though I made sure to take breaks, do hand/arm stretches and generally listen to my body, I want to take it a bit easy so that I don't put too much repetitive strain on my hands. I guess this is a good change to take out a cross stitch project or my art journal.
Yarn: Koigu KPPM & Silky Wool
Fiber: Merino & Silk/Wool
Suppliers: Lakeside Fibers and Mind's Eye Yarns
Needles:US Size 1s (Os for ribbing)
Pattern: Mad Cow Socks (Sock Madness Round 1)
Techniques: 2 at time Magic Loop, Toe-up & Sewn Bind off
Yardage: 241 (combined)
Total Marathon Mileage: 1.31 miles

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

WIP: Ember Socks

So round one of Sock Madness has begun! The pattern for the first round is Mad Cow Socks, but I have renamed my pair since the colors make it reminiscent of something different all together. (Salbard has pointed out that maybe I should be knitting rather than posting, but I want this to be a fun process. If I am so bent on knitting to the exclusion of other things I love it won't be.)

The inspiration for my yarn combo was a single skein of Koigu KPPPM I bought while I was in Wisconsin. At the time I remember that it made me think of fall or harvest. Why I bought just one skein I am not entirely sure, but when I saw that there would be a Sock Madness pattern that required a skein of variegated yarn and a solid skein I knew that this was its chance.

But what should I combine it with? I didn't have anything else that was about 175 yards/50 g, and if I was going to have to color work (unclear at the time but ultimately untrue) I really wanted something extremely close to the weight. So I turned to Lucy for advice. She suggested something I would never have considered: Silky Wool. Not having my Koigu with me I bought a skein in black, figuring everything goes with black right?

Ultimately it worked out splendidly. The Silky Wool has a similar sproingy quality to it like the Koigu but with some added nubbiness. And having the Koigu color way already labeled in my head as harvest colored, but when Salbaard looked at it he immediately thought it looked like embers, especially in combination with the black. It has sparks of red and yellow with stretches of orange for the low burning flames and shades of brown ranging from light brown to dark burnt browns for the less burnt wood. Then the silk/wool blend had dark grey bits among the black, giving it an ashy character to the charcoal. In the stitch pattern I could totally see this come to life (see image). And so I am renaming my pair the ember socks. Have I thought to much about this? Absolutely!

I am not sure that I will continue to the next round, but I have been having lots of fun. We slept in until almost 10 am. I figured I would only be an hour or 2 behind. I did not expect to get the pattern before 7! This is totally not a criticism though. It was great of them to get it to us early.

Then, for those not in New England, I went outside to discover that that it was gorgeous! I could have spent all day inside, but who was I to miss this amazing 50*F weather? So instead we went to the Blue Hills to do some hiking. Here is a picture of my with basically just some toes at the tower on the summit. Maybe I'm behind, but I am happy.

This evening as it got a little cooler again, I curled up on the couch and did some knitting. Is it just me or am I the only one knitting 2 on a circular? It is allowed in the rules, but everyone else seems to be doing theirs one at a time.

Here is my progress by dinner. (No the toes aren't different lengths, one was just sticking up a bit and appears at a funny angle.) I am 6 repeats in, but after a quick try on I think I will do a 7th. Then on to the heel!


Friday, March 09, 2007

FO: Coral Snake Socks

Yarn: Coral Snake merino/tencel sock yarn
Supplier:Mind's Eye Yarns (Etsy shop here)
Pattern: toe-up something I made up
Yardage: 400 yards
Marathon Mileage: 1.18 miles

I am absolutely thrilled with these socks! They are so shiny and silky. The color is great. They stay up well. And best of all I managed to get them off the needles just in time for Sock Madness!

For those interested, this pair was done toe-up with a short row heel, reverse Dutch heel and stockinette foot and leg. The cuff is a 1X1 rib with a sewn bind off (my favorite!).

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Monday, March 05, 2007

The Official L&V Pr0n Exchange Survey!

Whew! Sorry for running a bit behind on getting this out.

1. What kind of fibers do you prefer?
Every fiber has something good about it. I knit a lot of wool that is hand wash for myself and my immediate family, but also with a new niece on the way I can certainly use machine washable fibers in general.

2. What kind of weight do you prefer (sock, worsted, bulky)?
Mostly I knit with sock, DK, or worsted weights, but honestly I have knit pretty much any weight.

3. Do you spin?
Yes, but as of now I am still exploring different types of wool. The only exception is I have some merino/tencel blend that I need to spin. I haven't had a chance to work with other fibers.

4. Do you crochet?
A little bit. I just learned how recently.

5. Are there any books, patterns, magazines would you like to own that you don't?
Favorite Socks
Knitted Babes: Five Dolls & Their Wardrobes to Knit & Stitch
Knitting Vintage Socks: New Twists on Classic Patterns
Domiknitrix: Whip Your Knitting into Shape
(for patterns see my wishlist)

6. Are you participating in any themed a-longs like the Project Spectrum?
Yup: Project Spectrum, Sock Madness, Dulaan Project, Illustration Friday, and Every Day Matters. (see sidebar for links)

7. Do you have a wishlist on or (provide a link)
"The Things I Want" Wishlist
Random Book Wishlist #1
Random Book Wishlist #2
contact me via email for Amazon list if interested. It has my given name attached to it.

8. Any Etsy stores that you would love to get something from?
I am very curious about the great dyeing talents of Yarn Pirate, Fearless Fibers and Epicurus, but haven't bought from any of these vendors yet.

9. What other crafty things are you involved in (quilting, drawing, painting)?
Lots! I draw, paint, crochet, and spin.

10. What is your favorite sort of scent?
I am a huge fan of mint scented things and lemon/lime/lemon verbana things.

11. Do you have a sweet tooth and what kind of sweets do you like best?
Chocolate is always good. I don't really like coffee though (such as chocolate covered coffee beans).

12. What kind of music do you like?
I am always on the look out for new music. I have fairly eclectic tastes, but I particularly enjoy acappella, female vocal trance, happy hardcore, and symphonic/power rock.

13. What do you like to knit? And for whom?
At the moment I am knitting mostly socks and baby items, although I do have a few sweaters lined up.

14. What sort of things do you like to collect?
I have a thing for dragons. I have several small figurines and other related dragony items around the house.

15. Do you want needles? And what kind do you prefer?
I tend to prefer metal needles.


Thursday, March 01, 2007

WIP: Coral Snake Socks

Have I mentioned recently how much I love the merino/tencel sock yarn by Mind's Eye Yarn? Not only is Lucy awesome, but I absolutely love this sock yarn. (You may remember that I made a scarf for my mom's Christmas gift this year with some.)

Well the rest of this wonderful yarn was making sad puppy eyes (in a metaphoric way anyways) since it has been under-loved in terms of actual sock making, so I cast on a skein in the coral snake colorway. These are so very me. The color repeats are very, very short to give a mottled red and black variegation that appeals to me a great deal.

The tencel/merino has this wonderful shine and wonderful silky hand. I keep stroking the socks in progress and stopping for completely unnecessary breaks to try them on. Since I have such relatively tiny feet, I am trying to decide if these should be knee socks (which is totally possible with the generous yardage).

Even if these colors don't appeal to you, Lucy offers both in her shop and Etsy store a range of other great colorways both in the merino/tencel blend and a superwash merino. I know that in particular I have been eyeing the Spring Green Sock Yarn and Indigo Sock Yarn.

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