Tuesday, December 30, 2008

30

Today I turn 30. Wow. Where have the last few years gone?

10 years ago I was still in college.
9 years ago I met my husband and he was with me to celebrate turning 21.
8 years ago I received the Goldwater Scholarship, and got engaged.
7 years ago I graduated from Alma and got married
6 years ago we bought our first house
5 years ago we adopted our first dog
4 years ago we started taking karate at Shaw's
3 years ago we bought our second house and our first new car
2 years ago we bought our second new car

This year a whole lot has happened. We got our blackbelts, saw my parents celebrate their 40th anniversary, welcomed a third grandchild into the family, had a few low points but even more high points.

Really, turning 30 isn't that much more of a milestone than 29 or 28 or 27. . . It's just one of those big round numbers that looks scary in type. I like how my life goes from "I" to "we" after getting married.

I'm greatly looking forward to this evening being surrounded by some of my closest friends, and doing little other than the usual hang out that's just so fulfilling. Drinking wine, eating ribs, telling stories, and just plain living.

Whatever the future holds, it is friends like these and the family I love dearly that will keep us afloat during rough times, and celebrate with us during the good times.

Monday, December 29, 2008

A few for me. . .

I've been knitting a little for myself lately, as a reward for all the awesome handmade presents that went out in the last couple of weeks.

I made some monkey socks for myself. I loved the texture of the monkey socks I'd made for Mom, that I just had to have a pair for myself.


I also combined a couple of different patterns. These socks have the toes from a very nice Berroco book Mom got me, combined with the heel from a Cat Bordhi heel. Trust me, they're some odd heels, but I have to say these are probably the best fitting socks I've made for myself to date. The gussets may be in odd places but then again, the heel is a fairly strange piece of human body architecture, if you think about it.

Last is a cute little shrug that took me less than a day to make. I had found myself riding in the car and, having finished the toe socks, I had nothing left to knit. Now, mind you I had just gotten that PILE of yarn from a couple posts back, but my husband being the expert packer he is had packed them safely away in the car. . . so I couldn't get to them.

Fortunately I had at hand another new knitting book from Mom, 101 one-skein wonders. I also happened to have in my knitting basket an already wound skein of my first three-ply handspun. It was fate.


And it is cute! I need to find a cute, thin long-sleeved shirt to wear this with!

I think she likes it!

I made a really basic, but pretty handknit sweater for my SIL for her birthday.



I'd say by the smile on her face, she likes it! The sleeves are a bit short, but I can fix that easily.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Looming Crafts

Jeff, as mentioned earlier, received an Ashford 20" knitters loom from me for Christmas. I will admit that it is a somewhat selfish gift, as Jeff is a completely unselfish person, which means it's nearly pulling teeth to get him to buy/make something for himself. So this means anything I want woven, I'll be able to simply buy him the yarn and he'll make it. However, he has been wanting to start some sort of hobby which leaves him with a physical object when he's finished. As brilliant of a D&D planner as he is, it's what a vocal director called transient art. Once it has been done, it is passed and cannot be replicated.

This way I get a nice cotton stole.

Here he is warping the loom at my parent's place, which has a fantastic granite countertop that 's over 6' long, so plenty of room for a nice long warp.

It took him a total of 2.5 hours to warp the loom, and about 4 hours of weaving.

Awesome.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas 2008; the presents

In the unfortunate wake of a LYS going out of business, Mom ended up buying me enough yarn to provide me with stash for at least a year. This is partially Christmas and partially for my *gulp* 30th birthday. . .

I have plans for some of it, and the rest I'll let speak to me.

This will become a Samus.

This pile of 100% alpaca will become a soft lacy cardigan.

This pile of alpaca/merino/silk will be a tomato sweater, but with different stripes

Socks

Socks

And more socks!
I don't have any specific plans for the various single skeins of Cascade, but Mom also got me 101 one-skein wonders, so those go well together!

And Mom Kass got me some seriously awesome yarn, it's called Kauni and it has super long color repeats. There's a pattern for a sweater which uses two skeins simultaneously, alternating and letting the colors change against each other. It'll be easier to show, once I cast that sweater on!

Merry Christmas 2008: the projects!

Merry Christmas everyone who reads this blog!

Mom got her monkey brain socks, and loves them.



She also got back her quilt shown in the last post along with some extra quilt pins. She was thrilled, and said something to the effect of "it feels like a real quilt!" :) I'm going to help her trim the batting and even up the backing. She's planning on simply pulling the backing around to the front for binding.

Dad got his earl grey socks plus these cute fishook slippers I made based off of the Fuzzy Feet pattern from Knitty. He also got a neat tool Jeff picked out. Amazingly, we actually found a tool Dad didn't already have.

Jeff got his black/green socks he's been wanting for a while.

Mom and Dad Kass haven't received their Christmas presents yet, so I won't spol it here, in case they read it!

Amanda got a handknit sweater, and Ally got a handknit hat, which I am promised pictures of soon.

Jeff got a loom from me, for which pictures are forthcoming. I'll give the pictures of that its own post. I'm so excited by this. Just how much he's enjoying it, and how he's asked me to go ahead and do all the shopping for him for yarn. Me? Shop for yarn? Oh, the torture.

Jeff got me an Ashford drum carder, which I have already played with, but didn't take pictures of yet. I have already made a few fun and pretty batts. I'm going to greatly enjoy playing with my new tool!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Title of the blog. . .

Let's see. According to the title of this blog I knit.



Check



And I quilt





Double check




The first is my much-loved Danish Tie shawl. The main reason I haven't posted a picture of it sooner is I'm always wearing it, and I'm terrible at taking a picture of myself!


The second I can't take full credit for. It's a friendship quilt with blocks made by the ladies from my Mom's quilt guild up in Michigan, and finished by Mom. Well, there may have been a little prodding on my part to work on it, but really the work is hers. The only problem is she doesn't care for machine quilting. So I offered to quilt it for her. It turned out great, and only took one long evening to complete. My neck is rather sore, but it's done! Mom's going to put the binding on and do some hand quilting in the two center squares (They're both appliqued). I am, however, contemplating wrapping this and putting it under the tree!



Oh, I would also like to point out the particularly awesome quilt displayer I have. His name is Jeff :-D


The only drawback? Now I want to quilt. . . Anyone know where I could get a few extra hours in a day?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Finished




They greyhound wheel is finished, and I couldn't be happier. Eric did a fantastig job on the woodburning, and the staining went very well. I have captured pretty much every common color for a greyhound here.
The wheel still spins fantastically, I've been getting used to the quirks, and getting those around me used to the whirr whirr as it goes. It does have moments of silence, where it's still spinning, but for some reason blisfully silent. I have to figure out what's doing it and if I can make it do that more!
Oh, and with as much work as I put in to this wheel, I decided I really needed to name it. So in keeping with pulling from Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky" for naming greyhounds, I am naming it Whiffler.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Knitting feat!

This is my friend Jeffrey.




He knits with pikes.

This is what happens when his entertainment director tells him to "make it bigger"

Because this started with size 9 needles.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Playtron! and other ren faire pictures

I saw a guy walking around in some patently classic garb. Jeans, tennies and armor. But this was special armor.

I had to take the picture, if nothing else than to share with Sensei Shaw.

This poor defenseless sleeping fairy was about to get her toes eaten! Oh noes!

Ren Faire Endings

The past weekend was a great! The sun set on the 2008 season of the Carolina Renaissance Festival.

Thanks to our local friends who were taking care of Callay, we were able to enjoy a fantastic weekend with old friends and new. It turned out to be one of the most refreshing and relaxing weekends I think I've ever had.

My friend Kim was kind enough to let me use her booth to show off my stuff. Not a lot sold. I think people get scared of the price tag on handspun, but those that persisted, or were really really nice, I'd almost always give a discount. Since most of the cost involved in handspun yarn is my time, if the time I spend with someone is pleasant, it should be rewarded by giving them the time it took me to make something they want, like yarn!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A what? an update!

Blah blah, I've been busy, blah blah.

While yes, I have been busy, I've also been totally slack about taking pictures of stuff. Honestly, that's why I haven't been blogging. I like having pictures in my blog posts!

So what all has happened since SAFF? Well, I went to Indiana to visit my brother's family. They have an adorable new baby, Nick. He's awesome. Such a laid-back baby. He'll fuss a bit when he's hungry or wet, then just kinda wait patiently, sucking on a pacifier until it's his turn. Oh, and the best part in my opinion? His ears. Little dude totally has elf ears. But that picture is on my phone, so I'll upload it later. Then, in the joy of joys that is school-age children, Ben brings home a stomach flu that dropped us all, one at a time. I was the last to get it, and of course it happened the day I was leaving, so I'm flying home, trying desperately not to get sick. I'm okay now, and NEVER want to do that again!


Okay, onto the yarny content!

A while ago I showed you this yarn. I finally decided what to do with it. It's the "apple shawl" making progress on the Ravelry bars to your left. It's going well. I'm hoping it'll make it, the shawl called for 250 yards and I have 263. So theoretically I should be good. But there I go, tempting the knitting fates!


I also finished my Danish tie shawl, but haven't gotten a decent picture of myself in it yet.


Most exciting, I got a new wheel! It's the Road Bug or mini Hitchhiker from the Merlintree. I just got it last night from The Bull City Fiber Loft. It is too cute for words. Weighing in at only 8.9 pounds and 16" tall, it's a cute little compact thing. I have some cute ideas for how I'm going to finish it, involving greyhounds. I'll try to do better and keep posting about that as it progresses.



I took to it quite quickly. The heel-toe action actually makes it easier to start and stop, which is good, because it would be a pain to have to reach down and start the wheel every time. I discovered after playing with it for about an hour that if I knew where I ended, I could just keep going. It does make a lot more noise than my Traveller, but because of the direct-drive nature of the wheel, this is to be expected. It kinda sounds like roller skates! For me, it blended in to the background and became white noise. Molloy agreed with the roller skate analogy, but found the rhythmic changes to the tone to make the noise continue to stand out. Hopefully when I get more comfortable with the wheel, the light "whuzz whuzz" of the wheel will even out.

The actual wheel is very light and so has less inerta than the wheel on a traditional spinning wheel. This means that the pressure required by the treadler to make the wheel go is less. The only downside is that it doesn't continue to spin on its own, due to the decreased inertia.

With my traveller, with the big thick, rim-weighted wheel, when I get it going, the effort I have to put forth to keep it going is minimal, but I do need to think ahead when stopping.

With the HH the amount of effort for treadling is constant, but constantly low. My ankle was a little tired after spinning on it for an hour at the shop (and then another hour at home!) but I think that may be just a matter of conditioning. It does make me wish my legs were longer though!


Looking at that picture, I just realized I have some bad posture issues going on. I will need to have Jeff take a few more pictures of me using the wheel and using my Traveller as well, and fix it before I cause myself problems! It may simply have been because I needed a shorter chair. At home I usually spin on an old woodern student's chair, which is low enough that my thighs are parallel to the floor. In that chair my knees are below my hips, and I know that's a no-no for spinning posture.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

SAFF. . .


Was a blast!
Heather, Jamie and I got up at 4:30 in the morning, and left the house at 5:30 to get all the way across North Carolina to SAFF. We got there just as it opened for Saturday and headed on in. It was amazing. The wool fumes were overwhelming.


There were people spinning.


There was amazingly beautiful wool art.

. . . and Wheel art!
I successfully resisted buying a whole fleece. Mainly because I came to the philosophical realization that I'd rather spend that time spinning or knitting rather than washing and processing wool. It was rather tempting though, as there were fantastic fleeces available.

We also got out to see some of the livestock at the show, and the two cutest things we saw were a blonde alpaca. She kept saying "maah" at us

And a 4-day old pygmy goat. Apparently mama had triplets so the breeder/owner is hand raising the smallest one.
Since I'd been given a little "mad money" as well as having done pretty good at the Ren Faire the past couple of weekends, I got myself a tidy little pile of treats.

The basket was hand-made in New York, and fits on my back! I had fun sherpa-ing stuff for Jamie. I got some natural colored alpaca, in tri-color and chocolate, some irish flax because I've never spun flax before, and a show special mixture of alpaca and bombyx silk! There was a store having a buy 5 get the 6th free deal, so the navy and grey bumps of roving were from that. I can't remember the breed of wool it is (Heather, help!) but it's extremely soft. The black/white rectangle is a tool I've been wanting for a while, a spinner's control card which will help me spin with more purpose than just doing whatever the wool seems to want to do.
Oh, and those little round stones? Well, you'll just have to stay tuned to se what I'm doing with those!


Monday, October 20, 2008

New Spinning content, and an FO



I've started a new method of dying roving, which results in a loooooong color change down a single piece (with a weight in the vicinity of 2-3 ounces of roving). Then I spin it as one single, working my way from one end of the piece of roving to the other. While I haven't gotten a picture of the roving before spinning, I have a picture of two of those rovings in yarn form. And they're just beautiful.




I also finshed Mom K's Spring Forward Socks, in my own hand-dyed knitpicks sock yarn. They were a fun knit!

I hope she likes them :D

Ren faire fun!

One of the great things about the internet is how close it brings people. I've had a few of my handspun items available for sale at the Carolina Ren faire, and of course I knew that the presence of handspun and drop spindle kits would bring two things: gawkes from yarn muggles who don't truly know the value in handspun yarn, and oohs and ahhs from those yarn snobs that do. One lady who fell into the latter category was chatting as I was spinning, and we were talking about our respective spinning wheels, what we like to spin, and other such conversations. As I've always done when the conversation indicates to me I've found a real yarnie I ask if she's on Ravelry. She answers in the affirmative and we share screennames, only to realize that she's turtlegirl76, and we've chatted before on occasion in the forums of Ravelry as well as the forums for Knitty. Small world.

I have photographic evidence, but it's a pretty lousy shot of me. I'm tired and staring almost directly into the sun. She, on the other hand, looks gorgeous. So if you want to see a terrible picture of me, you'll just have to check out her blog!

So what's a fellow Raveler to do? I give her one of my handblended batts! She was so excited, and had said she needed the spinning pick-me up. It feels so good to re-inspire someone to spin!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Yarny Goodness!

The clickable picture has been available for a couple of weeks, but now it has been updated with a direct link to my handspun and handdyed roving available for purchase through Yarny Goodness!

I am super excited about this, and I'm hoping that sales through this website go very well. I'm all for more venues for supporting my craft habit!

Speaking of which, the weekend at the Carolina Renaissance Festival went fantastically. I decided to make up a few drop spindle kits and sell them. They went fantastically well! All 8 which I was able to make sold, and I'm going to go get more supplies and dye some roving for this upcoming weekend. The handspun had a couple of sales and a lot of interest, and I think I probably could have had one more sale, had I actually been there. Not that the adorable boys who are helping us didn't do a fantastic job, but there's just something different about speaking directly with the person who made it. I also have a tendancy to offer discounts to nice people, which will often cinch a sale, and the guys obviously couldn't take that into their hands and offer a discount on my stuff. Hopefully she'll be back though.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Zen Spinning

I love having a quiet evening at home. Tuesday I stayed in while Jeff went to karate, caught up with a few people on the phone, and talked the entire time on my bluetooth. Egads I love that thing. I spun three whole bobbins full while catching up: one with the last of the colored roving to make the berries and cream yarn, one with white to ply with it, and one of the delft yarn, which will hopefully bring me home on the Danish Tie Shawl. If it's not enough though, it should be just fine to finish with white. We'll see.

Then this weekend we had friends up and in-between gaming I spun up the gorgeous roving Heather dyed. I decided to split the roving into six pieces running lengthwise, prep and spin half for one bobbin, then prep and spin the other half for the other bobbin. The nearly 6 oz braid nearly filled two bobbins, then did fill my jumbo plying head with little effort. It's Ramboulliet, and apparently that wool in this roving prep wanted to be a heavy worsted, nearly bulky weight. I quite like it. It's very fall-colored, so being bulky will be nice for some outerwear. I have 265 yards, and I'm hoping that'll be enough for a small shawl/capelet. Something I can use with my new leaf shawl pin. I'm thinking something along this line, heavily modified to accomodate both my yarn thickness and quantity. I may need to spin more yarn, and perhaps use this just for the front panels. Since it's just a simple rectangle with holes for the arms, I could even find something cool, like a leaf pattern to add to the front. . . ahh the possibilities.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Yarny Goodness

I have decided to join up with a great website called Yarny Goodness to sell my wares on comission. It is an exciting adventure, and the owner Pam is looking forward to having my handspun and handdyed rovings in her store.


Here is the first batch of stock heading off. She asks for 10 items as an opener, so I've got 4 pairs of 2 matching skeins, 2 other skeins of handspun and one roving. The roving is interesting, it's something I haven't done yet, but I had to take advantage of the roving I'd gotten from Brown Sheep which was so thin it hardly needs anything but a fluffing before spinning. So I laid it out in such a way that I (or someone who purchased it) could spin it continuously and get gradation going right through the rainbow!


Wish me luck, and please do check out Yarny Goodness, she has a lot of great stuff! She'll have a lot more great stuff when I get off my tush and mail this package to her!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Rising Meadows

Rising Meadows Farm had an awesome farm fest today, and I went with a few of my friends.



It was a lot of fun! There were tasty lambburgers (I had tzatziki and tomatoes on mine). There were spinning demonstrations, and I got to try out a couple of very nice spinning wheels.

We got there just in time for the herding dog demonstration.

There was a farm with angora rabbits. This adorable shaved dude is a german angora. They need to be clipped to harvest their wool. I also got to see someone spinning angora. . .




Right off the bunny!



Here is a video Eliana Kenyan, owner of Avillion Farm, demonstrating!

video

Of course, I bough a few things I've not spun before. I didn't go too overboard (Kept it under $30 actually) and I have some fun spinning now to do. I stuck with things I've not spun before, so I have soysilk, silk hankies and some inego.

Friday, September 12, 2008

CH-CH-Changes!

It's amazing what a little washing does.

I really like to wash and abuse my yarn as a final step to spinning, unless I think the final product might be felted. This usually gives me a little less yardage, but thefinishing gives me added protection against felting in the finished product. I've also discovered that a swatch doesn't really change that much after washing if I've pre-abused the yarn.

The yarn I'm spinning up for Saundra is probably the most dramatic example of this. I'm spinning it up as a bulky 2-ply, and since there was a little lanolin and suint left in the wool prior to carding, it needs a good solid wash and abuse to soften up and not feel sticky.

The skein on the bottom is before. The skein on the top is after. Both were skeined onto my 2-yard skeinwinder. The one on the bottom, unfurled is 1 yard long (folded in half, of course). The one on the top, unfurled is about 6 inches shorter. So that's nearly a foot gone per revolution on the skeinwinder!

Although it may seem like I'm losing a lot, I'm not. Could you imagine knitting a sweater (and let's just say someone decided to knit it without really doing a thorough gauge swatch) then washing it! hoo! that would be a disaster!



Still the yarn is extremely pretty,very soft after washing (although not against-the-skin soft) and very sproingey. This yarn will show stitch definition extremely well. I'm getting about 230 yards (prior to washing) out of 2 batts spun and plied. After washing, I'll guess it's probably just under 200 yards.

In other spinning, I've started spinning up one of the rovings I hand-dyed, then decided I liked too much to not spin myself!




And boy, I need to make a light box!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Playing around

I wanted to try something new with my spinning, and after making the roving which had the long black stripe, I figured what better than to try to spin it in about the same proportions! So I spun up the colored part as a bulky worsted and the black as a very fine almost thread.

It made a sort of boucle, I think. Or at least a nice thigk and thin.

It looks like licorice allsorts to me, thus the name, Allsorts!