Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Merry Christmas to me

Surely I am not the only one who buys Christmas gifts for herself. This has been a "tradition" of mine since I was 23 or so, and living on my own for the first time (not counting college).

This year I remembered that my friend Vickie at The Spinner's Cottage has beautiful spindles in her shop (brick & mortar AND online).  These lovelies are made by Vickie's mother, Carol, and are so much fun to spin with.  Here's the one I got:

Once I bought it, I needed some fiber to spin so Vickie gave me a bit of Polish merino to try.  Of course she gave me some of this beautiful red:

I thought about wrapping up the spindle and putting it under the Christmas tree, but decided that something this pretty needed to stay out where I could look at it.  So it is hanging out in the studio with the other spindles and fibers.  

Remember last year when I said that this year was the year to #finishorfrog the 19 or so projects in my project bin?  I did pretty well, although not everything got finished or frogged.  Most things did (although not all of them got blogged about here), and I'm really proud of having made progress.  However, the #finishorfrog party will continue in 2015, so that I can put those few leftover projects in the "done" pile.  #finishorfrog2015

In the meantime, I am on a quest to finish my husband's Christmas stocking. Yup, you read that right.  2014. But in our house, it's Christmas until the tree comes down and it's still up so ....

Happy 2015, y'all.  May your dye lots always match, may your yarn never tangle, and may your gauge always be spot-on!


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

New-to-me technique

I recently got hip to a spinning technique called "Ply on the Fly." Essentially, you spin up a few feet of singles with your spindle then immediately Navajo ply. That way, you don’t have to spin up ALL of your fiber into singles before plying -- you ply as you go, hence, “ply on the fly.” It's very efficient, and a lot of fun.  Here's the yarn that I've spun using this technique:

This pretty stuff is from The Spinner's Cottage, and is 60% wool, 30% alpaca, and 10% silk noil. 

This is a bit of Gotland fiber that I got from a friend.  It's a wool I hadn't spun before.
I haven't done much sewing or knitting or anything else lately.  Life has been happening, but there's always one project (or a ton) in progress.  I started a new sweater this weekend -- nevermind that I already have 2 of them on needles.  What's one more? :-)

Hmm.  Perhaps I will knit a few rows on one of the projects and move it that much closer to done!


Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Wait a minute...

... how did nearly a whole entire month go by so quickly? I've been up to a lot of fun stuff! (Beware, this post has a lot of photos)

I bought some fat quarters to make some aprons. There is a shop nearby called Quilts & Kreations that I've been dying to go to for years.  Finally got a chance and bought enough fabric to make 2 of these full-length aprons from KateWares. I want to try making them fully reversible, with a pocket on each side. Pretty fabrics, huh?

A coworker has given me (so far) 4 big bags of vintage fabrics, which belonged to her mother.  Here are some of my favorites:

The fabric below, with the cherries, is one of the vintage fabrics that my coworker gave me. I'm using it to make an apron for her! Lots of new skills to learn, including sewing with bias tape and making buttonholes.

Because of this new hobby obsession, I've also spent some time carving out a new sewing room in my house.  Here's the fabric storage:

... and the cutting/sewing table. Check out Tippy (my dress form) posing for the camera:

Knitting has been happening, too. I'm working on a pair of knee-high socks.  Nearly finished with the first one:

Fun times!  What have you been up to?


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

What I learned today

#1:  My friend Jan showed me how to ply yarn on a drop spindle.  Looks pretty cool, huh?

This is the Bluefaced Leicester wool that I got from the Wooster fiber show a few weeks ago.  I think this yarn will become a hat for MrJ.  

#2: I found out that thrift stores are good places to search for sewing supplies.

On a whim, I went to the local Goodwill and found a pair of pasta-themed cafe curtains that would make an awesome reversible apron, or maybe 2 if I make them non-reversible.  I also found a couple unopened packages of bias tape and a package of twill tape.  Both of these would make nice finishing touches or apron ties, don't you think?

A huge self-healing cutting mat and rotary cutter on the way to me.  Yay internet!  Got them on sale from (Psssssst! Rotary cutting tools and mats are currently 50% off.  AND there is a coupon code that you can use to get $1.99 flat-rate shipping.)  I'm already daydreaming about spending some of the weekend getting my brand new sewing loft organized. Squeeeee!


Monday, June 09, 2014

New obsession

Yesterday, I pulled out my sewing machine for the first time in about 6 years or so.  I took an old pair of jeans, cut here, stitched there, and pretty soon* I had a new apron. The back of the jeans became the front of the apron.  The legs became the upper "bib" part.  A snazzy piece of grosgrain ribbon with silver skulls on it became the neck strap.  There are a ton of rookie mistakes here, but hey, it works.

I have a new fascination with aprons, and have been stalking the internet for patterns.  Plain, fancy, full or half, doesn't matter.  My strictest requirements are that the patterns are free, and that the aprons have pockets. I've even asked my husband to hang a rack in the kitchen for the growing apron collection (he has a couple of his own, too).  I only wish that I had kept that small stash of fabric that sat unused in my closet for years.  I gave it all away recently, and that would have been a goldmine for apron materials.  Oh, well.  I will use what I have, and whatever I can find. That is part of the beauty of "making."


* "Pretty soon" is a relative term.  It took what seemed like hours to remember how to thread the machine, wind a bobbin and get going.  

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

2014 Great Lakes Fiber Show, part 3

I forgot to mention one thing:

This pile of Nature Spun worsted weight yarn is destined to be a sweater ... one day.  Better start browsing my ever-growing Ravelry queue!


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

2014 Great Lakes Fiber Show, part 2

Here's the rest of the story:

I picked up some fantastic buttons from Small and Beautiful Beads, who is a distributor of Kazuri beads.  These buttons are just screaming to be added to a sweater, don'tcha think?

If you don't know about Kazuri, read all about it here.  I will forever be a fan and a supporter.

My husband loves wearing hand-knit socks, so I almost always have a pair on my needles for him. Seriously ... I think he has more hand-knit socks than I do. At this year's show, though, I bought him 2 pairs of socks with alpaca (which is warmer than wool), acrylic and nylon.  He was teasing me about how much he deserves socks made of 100% alpaca. But 100% alpaca socks would not hold up  to being worn in shoes and boots.  However, one of the pairs I bought him has 80% alpaca, which is the highest alpaca content I could find.  The other pair, shown above, is (only!) 50% alpaca.  I hope he likes them, once it is cool enough to actually wear them. Maybe one day I will knit him a pair of 100% alpaca socks, just because I can.  He's worth it, even if it won't be the most practical pair of socks in the world. 

The kitties also got a pile of felted catnip balls.  Some of which are already shredded to bits.  No point in photographing those :-)

All in all, a successful trip this year.  Now, let's see how much of this fiber I can spin up before next May.  Some of what I spin up will be entered into the skein competition.


Monday, May 26, 2014

2014 Great Lakes Fiber Show, part 1

This year's show was extra fun, and boy did I come home with a great haul!  I missed last year because I was on vacation in the Cayman Islands, but this year I totally made up for it.

The plan for the first day was to browse through all four barns and see what all the vendors had to offer, then make purchases after lunch. After all, no one should shop on an empty stomach, right?  All was going according to plan until we entered the last barn.  All day, we saw people carrying these awesome market baskets, and the first vendor we saw in that last barn we went into was the one who had them.  

African Market Baskets from River's Edge Fiber Arts

By the time we got there, the baskets were mostly sold out, but I loved the pink one and bought it right away.  Her booth was the first one I went to on Sunday and there were only 2 baskets left and the purple one called my name.  This vendor will be one of the first ones I visit next year.  These fair trade African Market Baskets are hand woven in village co-ops in Ghana, West Africa and, according to the attached tag, the purchase of these bags helps provide healthcare and school supplies in support of the weavers, their families, and their villages."  Happy to help the cause, plus these baskets gave me a place to carry all of my stuff.  Keep reading.

We also meet a group of ladies from the Trading Post for Fibers.  They were a hoot and I bought a bunch of great fiber from them on Saturday and again on Sunday:  
  • 100% Polwarth wool top roving from Frabjous Fibers in a colorway called Dunedin (shown here with an AWESOME drop spindle I picked up from 7 Yaks Design):
This is one bad-ass spindle!
  • 2-Tone Bluefaced Leicester (BFL) from Abstract Fiber in the Fade to Black colorway, shown with another fantastic drop spindle that I got from 7 Yaks Design). This fiber will be spun into yarn that will become something warm for the Mr.  Maybe a winter hat.  Or something. 

The spider's web design looks pretty mesmerizing when it's spinning. Fun to watch. And SHHHH! I might have just bought /another/ spindle from her on Etsy ... 
  • 2 pounds of Falkland fiber which is (I think) destined to become a 3-ply sock yarn and also a 2- or 3-ply sweater yarn:

  • Look at this ridiculously beautiful fiber, also from Abstract Fiber.  It's 50% yak and 50% merino and is soooooo soft!

  • This pile of pretty stuff is on my wheel right now, and is on its way to becoming my very first sock yarn.  It is 6 ounces of superwash merino from Gypsy Girl Creations in a colorway called Orchid Petals. I am planning for it to be a 3-ply but I'm not sure yet whether it will be a true 3-ply or whether it will be Navajo plied.  Either way, it will be pretty awesome. Might take forever to spin, though...
I just LOVE this color combination.
I am not sure what to blame for my rekindled love affair with drop spindles.  When I was visiting the Trading Post booth on Saturday, the owner was spinning on a spindle so I asked if I could use one to test out some fiber.  I kept saying how much I hated drop spindling but I just couldn't stop.  I pretty much abandoned drop spindles when I got my spinning wheel a few years ago, but this weekend totally got me hooked again.

I also got 4 ounces of Rambouillet but I don't remember the vendor's name.  Almost bought a few ounces of angora but decided against it.  Maybe next year. 

This year, I decided to focus on buying fibers that I have never spun before ... and more or less stuck to it.  but there are a few more things that I didn't mention in this post.  Those will have to wait until tomorrow, or later this week.  Bye for now!


Sunday, April 27, 2014

A knitter's truth

It is a truth universally acknowledged (among sock knitters, anyway), that knitters who know people with feet -- want to knit them socks.  And so I did.

This is the Tom and Ethel pattern that I showed y'all a while back, and they are for my grandmother (whose name is Ethel).  They are still a bit damp, but they will be dry soon, and I'll send them off to her for Mother's Day.

I am REALLY tempted to start something else but ... since this is supposed to be #finishorfrog2014, I better stop starting stuff and start finishing stuff.  So I've picked up the Madman with a Box socks (sorry, no picture yet. But soon!).  Hmmm ... maybe I'll go knit on them now.  Until later, friends.


Sunday, March 16, 2014


Can't sleep,  may as well blog about the newest project to leave my needles.

These are Simple Skyp Socks by Adrienne Ku and were an easy knit. Not sure why it took me so long to finish ...

They are for MrJ and he hasn't tried them on yet.  I can't wait to see how they fit!


Monday, March 10, 2014

Quick pic


My feet look like boat oars in this picture! And let me tell ya, these stripes are pretty addictive to knit. All weekend I've been saying "just one more stripe!" instead of the usual knitter's plea, "just one more row!"  I am so hooked on these that, to celebrate a really good bit of news that I got today, I have some of this yarn on its way to me so I can knit myself a pair (or two!) in red and white. There's nothing in the world like retail therapy.  I will try again to knit the next pair two at a time. 

I've also decided which project from my WIP pile will get frogged next but I'll tell you later.  Cliffhanger!


Saturday, March 08, 2014

And another one's gone ...

Another one bites the dust!

Alpaca Sox Legwarmers. Pattern by Pam Allen.

I started these legwarmers back in September 2013, with the idea that they were pretty easy and would be a quick knit.  I was going gangbusters on the first one (I don't remember why I decided to knit one at a time), then all of a sudden I slacked off.  

Today, I reclaimed the yarn and put it back in my stash.  It will eventually be knitted into socks.  But now I'm happy to have one less project in my pile. 

This morning, I knitted a few more stripes on my grandmother's socks. They are kind of addictive.  I hope to make a lot of progress on them this weekend.

Until next time!

Friday, March 07, 2014

Frog one, start one

So ...

You know those fingerless mitts I told you about last week?  Well ... shortly after I reclaimed that yarn and put it back in the stash, I pulled out some sock yarn and started those socks that I told you about.  See?

Tom and Ethel Socks by Nigel Pottle.
For my beloved Nana, whose name is Ethel :-)

I just love the color combination. It's bright and cheery and I think they will make my grandmother smile.  The original plan was to knit both socks at once, on one long needle. I tried that but it was pretty much a disaster.  Yarn got tangled and it was giving me a headache so I decided to knit one at a time. It's not my preferred method of sock knitting, but it will save me the trouble of untangling yarn which is so not my favorite thing to do.  I hope to get a lot of knitting done this weekend!

Maybe I'll knit for a while before I go to sleep ...


Sunday, March 02, 2014

More progress!

This morning I went stash diving to find some yarn to knit catnip mice.  Along the way I came across these mitts:

I generally love how they look, but I started them in September of 2012 and haven't really touched them since then. So today I escorted them to the frog pond!  Feels good to recover some needles.  Now I won't feel quite so guilty about whipping up a few catnip mice for the cats, and then settling in to start the Tom and Ethel socks (Ravelry link!).  

Photo credit: Skacel Collection, Inc.

I chose some Cascade Heritage Silk yarn (from stash, mind you!), in snow and turquoise. The socks will be knitted toe-up on one long circular needle.  I'm debating whether to knit them one at a time, or both at once.  Since the socks require 2 colors, there is the potential for major tangling with the 2 at a time method. But I gotta say, knitting socks one at a time is a little like torture for me. I think knitting both socks at once is the way to go -- what's knitting without a bit of tangling, anyway? -- so after I check some things off of my to-do list, I will settle in and cast on.  

How will you spend your Sunday?  Whatever you decide, I hope you enjoy every moment!


Friday, February 21, 2014

Catching up

I totally forgot to write an update about my #finishorfrog2014 project! I finished MrJ's socks earlier this month:

I apologize for the not-so-great photo.  The socks are nicely textured, due to the broken seed stitch pattern. I didn't really love the process of knitting them (I think I just didn't love the stitch pattern) but I love the final product. They look really great on him, and one of these days I will get a photo of him wearing them.

The next project I'm working on this weekend isn't mine at all.  A friend of mine recently started a baby bunting (a sleep sack kind of thing) for a new granddaughter who is due to arrive any day now (yay!). However, last week, she had some excruciating pain in her arm and hand which halted her knitting!  I told her I would try to get it finished. I ran into some trouble with the pattern and had to rip out a bit and start over. So part of my plan for the weekend is to finish that up. I am looking forward to being able to present the finished bunting to my friend next week. 

I'd better get to it.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Finish or frog 2014

Oh boy.

It has gotten to the point where I have at 19 projects on needles (yup, I counted!).  I swear, a few years ago I vowed to only have 3 projects going at any given time -- 1 knitting, 1 crochet, and 1 spinning. Yeahhhhhhhh...

Recently, I was emailing a friend of mine about the overabundance of projects on needles and decided that in 2014, I will either #finishorfrog everything that is currently in progress.  That plastic bin up there? Those are my unfinished projects.  I took them out and photographed them recently, and will blog about them as I pull them out of the bin over this year and decide what to do with them.

First up: socks for my Mr!

In October, I was at a professional conference in North Canton, Ohio. Of course, whenever I go somewhere, I sniff out the yarn shops.  Hey, don't judge!  After the conference, I hopped in the car and drove the short distance from the conference venue to Artist Yarn Gallery.  The shop was about 30 minutes from closing time, but the manager allowed me to hang out in the store for about 30 minutes after closing. She sat and knitted with me to give rush hour a chance to ease up a bit before I hit the road.  I purchased this yarn Kertzer On Your Toes sock yarn, which is infused with aloe vera.  Unfortunately, this yarn is now discontinued. The color fits my Mr's color preferences -- black, brown, gray, and blue -- and while brown is not one of my favorite colors, I know that he will like the socks.  I knitted these with the Fish Lips Kiss heel and it is now my favorite sock heel of all time. I don't have a photo to share (yet!) but this heel is magic.  Easy to learn and execute ... these are the best-fitting socks I've ever knitted him. I can't wait to use this on the next socks I knit for myself.

Watch this space for my #finishorfrog2014 progress!  I'd better go knit.


... this has been a QuietStorm production, dahling ...