Friday, October 29, 2010

Spindies Paint Box

I was recently asked to write up a guest blog post about my experience with my Wisteria Paint Box from Spindies.

Check it out over on the Spindies Blog.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Domo kun Mittens

My daughter has been searching Ravelry for free mitten patterns and has picked three for me to knit for her. She has decided I should start on the easiest pair first in the hope that she'll have a pair to wear before it gets too cold. Smart girl, no?

Since the Domo kun mittens I've cast on are only a 1" tube of fingering weight ribbing in Knit Picks Gloss, here's my inspiration pic instead!

I'm going to make full mittens, rather than fingerless and I'll probably make a square top so that it's more like Domo's head.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

So much and so little at the same time

I'm sure I've done a lot in the last 4 weeks, and yet it went by so fast it seems like just yesterday was mid September. It's amazing that almost 4 weeks have gone by since I last posted. I really don't have any good reasons for that - other than the normal busyness of life. I've been spinning, knitting and homeschooling... but haven't made the time to post it here.

Please forgive me.

Here's a few of the pretties that have been occupying my time...

260 yds 3ply sport weight. Spun from "Happy Vamp" batts from Knitty and Color. Love her colors!

A needle felted sheep. I melt every time I look into his felted sheepy eyes, even though I made them myself! Pattern by Bear Creak Designs, wool from Natchwoolie.

A colorworked Estonian Sheep Puppet. While I do like this, I'm not overly happy with my yarn choice. The pattern doesn't pop as there is less contrast than I initially thought there would be with the white and multigreen yarn. And somehow his ears look less than sheepy.

And I've started a few new projects: spinnng my Wisteria Spindies Box and making a pair of Domo mittens for my dd.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Watching Fluff Dry

B's fluff has been dry for a few days, but I only just found time to photograph it. We're both very happy with how it looks. But now we have to decide how to prep it for spinning.

My plan is to blend it like I did for my Peacock yarn, but the fluff I used for that was already either drumcarded into a mini batt, or pulled into top. We've got fluffy clouds of farm fresh merino lamb and I'm not sure what to do to make it mix together. I tried using my hand cards on a bit of it and don't think it's going to work to blend it like I did with the Peacock Spindies fluff.

Maybe I'll have to find someone with a drumcarder to help me.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Purple Fluff

B wanted to dye roving or carded fiber instead of yarn. Which is a good thing, since that's all I had in colors that would take dye well!

For her first attempt, she wanted to dye 8 different blues and purples to blend with a teensy bit of natural black and white.

Yesterday, while getting my Purples in order, I also washed up 4oz of Merino Lamb Fleece from Natchwoolie's Sushi club. This club is so much fun. There is something about knitting with yarn that started out as raw sheepy smelling fiber that gives me a thrill!

So today, the Merino Lamb was ready for her to dye. She used my kitchen scale to weigh 10g balls of fleece and placed them into 1L jars with water and vinegar. Then we calculated how much of red and blue each jar would need to obtain the colors she wanted.

We placed the jars in a 200 degree oven for about an hour, then placed them on the kitchen counter to cool. The water was completely clear, and the fleece took up the color beautifully.

Once the fleece is dry, I'm supposed to prep it like I did for the Peacock Spindies Yarn and spin it for her. I'm thinking a thick single, to preserve the softness of the merino. I might make it into mittens for her, but she's still somewhat wool resistant, so the final judgement will be in if she finds them itchy once knitted up.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Purple Dye Experiment

I'm supposed to be dyeing with B tomorrow. Knowing that she's going to want to try colors other than the Red, Blue and Yellow I've got, I decided to mix up my dye stocks today and experiment with what percentages will give nice purples.

I'm using Greener Shades dyes. I've got a little sample pack that comes with Sunshine Yellow, Ruby Red and River Blue. On the Ravelry Greener Shades forum, there are some excellent examples of Reds and Greens, so I didn't have to reinvent the wheel there. And orange is just not my thing, so if B wants orange, we'll wing it! But purple...

Knowing that I didn't want to dip into my dyes too much for these tests, I figured that the smallest amount of 1% DOS dye stock that I could measure would be 1mL. This weighs 1 gram; so I'd need 1 gram of yarn. I have some white KnitPicks palette and calculated from the ball band that about 4.5 yards would be about a gram.

snip snip snip

Here's my little yarn samples resting in some disposable cups with a vinegar water solution.

Next I mixed up my sample Purples. I wanted to try a range of blue to red ratios in a 1% and a 0.2% DOS.

Even though I only needed 1mL for each little yarn sample, I had to mix up 5mL of each test purple. Again this is because I couldn't measure anything smaller than 1mL with any accuracy.

So I went with the following

80% River Blue, 20% Ruby Red - 4mL blue, 1mL Red
60% River Blue, 40% Ruby Red - 3mL blue, 2mL Red
40% River Blue, 60% Ruby Red - 2mL blue, 3mL Red
20% River Blue, 80% Ruby Red - 1mL blue, 4mL Red

These were my 1% DOS Purples. To make the 0.2% DOS Purples, I mixed 1mL of each of these with 4mL of water.

For each of my 8 Purples, I put 1mL into each of the little disposable cups with the yarn.

I nuked the little samples for a total of 3 cycles of 1 minute cooking & 5 minutes resting. The yarn took up the dye beautifully and left the water almost completely clear.

And here are my little Purple babies!

The colors on my monitor are very close to the actual yarn, I hope they are for yours too.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Got Gauge?

This particular swatch is 6 sts wide by 6 rows tall. For a stockinette stitch gauge of 4.4 stitches in 4 inches. Doesn't this look like it would make a most amazingly warm pair of bulky mittens?

This is the Poppy contribution by WoolieBullie to the Poppy Spindies box I received on Friday. It's 75% BFL, 25% silk and is so soft and wonderful I haven't been able to stop touching it. Maybe that's why I want it to be mittens - so I can envelope my hands in it everytime I go outside! Unfortunately, my little swatch will not reach all the way around both my hands. I might just have to pop over to WoolieBullie's etsy shop and get some more. The only thing stopping me is that mittens from this sort of roving would pill like crazy - doesn't mean however that I couldn't buy some of this lovely stuff for some other purpose!

I love the reverse stocking stitch side too!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Just in time...

I finished blocking my Peacock shawl and love how it has turned out. I love the lace part and I love the garter stitch part! I finished it just in time as I've even had a chance to wear it twice this week. M had a couple of hockey practices at the rink that I didn't want to freeze at.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


I finished the knitting on my Brandywine on Sunday night. I love the bind off - a reverse stocking stitch I-cord. This morning I grabbed my trusty blocking mats ($10 foam playmats from WalMart)and T pins; gave the shawl a little soak and rather aggressively blocked it. My fingers got deeply stabbed a few times. Why can't I block lace without bleeding?

I can't wait to see how it looks when it's freed!

There was about 120 yds of laceweight left when I decided to bind off. I brought it back to my wheel and added lots more plying twist, and then plyed it back on itself to create a heavy fingering weight cabled yarn. I know that I will find a use for 60 yds of fingering weight yarn, but that was definately not going to happen with the small amount of lace weight.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Apple Sauce

I love apple sauce. As a kid, I think I thought it should have been it's own food group. As an adult, I still love it. But it has to be the homemade stuff. There's something about store-bought that just isn't as good.

A friend of mine called me a few days ago to let me know her crab apples are ready to be picked. B and I dropped by there Thursday evening and picked about 20 litres, or approximately 1/1000th of what was on her tree!

Yesterday, I boiled up a stockpot full to make G's favorite, crab apple jelly. I got about 12 cups of juice and decided that I'd dilute 4 cups of it for drinking and only use 8 for the jelly. Once I've added sugar and boiled it, I expect I'll get about 10 cups of jelly.

And today, it's apple sauce. I boiled up a second stockpot full until the little apples were soft and sent them through my old Foley food mill. We've got some beautiful, tasty, tart apple sauce. Such a gorgeous color... and... Yummm!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Knotty Gloves Update

I've had this one glove finished for a few days now and have the cuff on the second one.

Before I cast on for the second glove, I decided to check how much a finished glove weighs and how much my ball of yarn weighed. A finished glove weighs 1.5oz and the ball weighed 1.0oz. Can you see the problem? It's a good thing I ordered some of the East Friesan Lamb in roving form too. It should arrive in a few weeks and I'll spin up what I need then. Until then, I'll finish with the yarn I do have.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

If my Calculations are correct...

I'm clicking along nicely on the Brandywine Shawl with my Peacock yarn.

I've finished 13 repeats of "Chart B" and with the amount of yarn left, I expect to be able to make 17 repeats before needing to ply more yarn. Once I'm at that point, I'll pin it to my blocking board and take some measurements.

If it's as big as I'd like it, I'll move on to "Chart C", otherwise, I'll ply up the third Peacock bobbin as a 2ply and knit some more repeats.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

"Africa" Phat Fiber Box

I've received my August Phat Fiber box and as usual, it is a beautiful sampler of fun fibers.

So many coupons, a EZ note card, beautiful bracelet, zebra sphere stitch marker and dainty beaded stitch marker.

Some interesting things here! A mini art yarn kit, silk noil, crab fiber, beaded plying cord, sock yarn, upcycled yarn

Lovely soft merino, beautifully colored falkland, "Cleopatra" merino, pindrafted romney, and alpaca

Orange fluff!

If you see your stuff, feel free to give your shop a shout out and linkie in the comments!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Peacock laceweight

I've finished spinning all of my Peacock Paint Box. I decided to do a two ply laceweight so I can make a Brandywine shawl. So far I've only plyed two of the three bobbins. I'll start knitting and then decide if I need the rest. If not, I'll n-ply it and use it on some colorwork mittens.

I'm very pleased with how this turned out. 440 yds 26wpi.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


While we were in Ottawa this summer, B and I had coffee together one afternoon and she tried an iced chocolate smoothie kind of thing. She decided I needed to try to copy it once we got home.

We had noticed that it had ice, milk, chocolate syrup and something that looked like hot chocolate mix all blended together in a blender.

So into my blender I put:

1 1/2 cups ice
1 1/8 cup skim milk (if you use higher fat milk, you could omit the cream)
1/8 cup cream
1/4 cup hot chocolate mix
1 tbsp cocoa (I was out of chocolate syrup)

Blend until all the ice is pulverized and you'll have a yummy cold chocolatey treat. Especially great for a girl who's been at figure skating camp all week and is tired and wanting something cold and creamy and sweet!

Friday, August 27, 2010


I've mentioned a few times how I like my Ashford Traditional, but wish it had more than one speed. When I want to make really fine singles, I need to spindle spin the singles and ply on the wheel. Since trying the Majacraft Suzie this summer (shhhh, don't tell my Traddy) I'd almost decided that when I save enough to buy a new wheel, the Suzie Pro will be it. While amassing the small fortune needed, I thought I'd look at buying a newer flyer for my circa 1975 Traddy. I showed a few to G, who suggested he ask around to see if anyone had a lathe and could retrofit my current flyer with a few new whorls.

So this morning, not without some trepidation on my part, my flyer took off to work with him. Apparently Speedy is the best way to describe the friend he found, because by lunchtime, I had this!

And I could spin 50 wpi singles with no effort!

And my Knotty Gloves progress?

I've almost finished the chart. I shortened the cuff by 2 cm and started the increases for the thumb gusset 4 rows early. This will effectively decrease the cuff length by 3 cm and move the cable motif a little higher on the back of the hand. I'm still a bit worried about having enough yarn, so this cuts out a bit and I like the placement of the motif a bit higher.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Borg Queen Yarn...

...your uniqueness shall be added to our own.

I have a 3 month club membership with Spindies. It's wonderful, lovely and such fun to open presents for me every month, even if I have to buy them myself!

My very first Spindies Paint Box was the Peacock inspired one. Each sample from bamboo, milk fiber, wool roving, and gorgeous blended batts were such fun to pet and play with. It really gives me a good idea of the product each of the contributors produces.

I struggled with how I should spin this lovely fluff up. I considered spinning each sample as it's own little yarn, but didn't know what I'd do with ten 0.5oz mini skeins of Peacock inspired yarn. I considered breaking each sample into little bits, and spinning a fat single with a bit of each sample in sequence, but didn't know what I'd make with the resulting yarn. In the end, I decided to go with what I know I will love, 3 thin singles, plyed into a fingering weight yarn.

I wish I had a blending hackle, but since I don't, I found another way to blend all the samples nicely. I stretched each sample out to a big rectangle (approx 15" x 20") - very easy with the batts. Not so much with the milk and bamboo rovings - those I lightly carded with my handcards. I stacked each stretched sample on top of eachother. Then I ripped the sample sandwich into eight strips. To keep things tidy, I twisted each strip into a little knot until I was ready to deal with it. Once I was ready to spin, I predrafted each knot and spun to my heart's content!

I feel a bit guilty for this approach, the wonderful uniqueness of each sample is lost this way, and I hope each of the fiber artists who contributed don't feel slighted by my melting pot approach.

I'm spindle spinning this so I can get the thinness I want from the singles, but I'll ply it on my wheel. I've got two thirds spun, and am working away on the final stretch. However, now that I'm at this point and have just found the Brandywine Shawl pattern (a Haiti relief project by Rosemary Hill) I'm considering a two-ply lace weight instead!

On the Knotty front, I've got 4cm of cuff!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Knotty Gloves

My poor sad, neglected blog...

I've been spinning this summer, but not so much knitting. But with the kids heading back to school, I start thinking about fall. And then thinking about winter and Christmas gifts and cold weather. And that almost always cures the knitting funk!

So today I cast on for Knotty. I'm using the East Friesian lamb I spun up this summer and I'm still just as in love with it as I was when it arrived in it's raw sheepy state. It is such a lovely smooshy yarn. I'm hoping the 80g I've got will be enough for these gloves. These will be a Christmas gift for someone who always appreciates handmade goods. The fact that these come from raw fleece to finished product will not be lost on this someone!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Fiber Tourism - part II

On Saturday morning we headed out of Ottawa torward Toronto to take in a Blue Jays game before saying goodbye to my parents and heading north again. Enroute, G kindly allowed me to detour us to Port Hope to visit the Black Lamb.

I tried out a Majacraft Suzie Pro and a Little Gem. I really liked both of them. However, I liked the way the Suzie treadled better than the Gem. I would still like to try a few other wheels, but so far, I'd say the Suzie is my favorite of the ones I've tried.

The Black Lamb had big baskets of fiber tempting me in every corner.

I succumbed to some tencel roving. I've spun merino/tencel before, but never 100% tencel and I think this could be a fun challenge.

Sunday afternoon we watched the Jays play the Cleveland Indians. Although they lost 4-5, it was one of the highlights of the trip - my first ever major league ball game!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Fiber Tourism!

My family met up with my parents in Ottawa last Monday for a week of sightseeing and fun! Of course, I couldn't leave any yarn shop unvisited and included a few in my travels. My goal was to try out a few wheels. Don't tell my Ashford Traditional, but I'm looking for a replacement.

On Monday night, we watched the Mosaika show. It was quite enjoyable: the show uses the parliament buildings as a screen. Tuesday, we toured the center block of the Parliament Buildings.

I enjoyed it much more than I expected. The architecture is really impressive and I hadn't known that the building was built to honor the soldiers who lost their lives in WW1. The library was really amazing, all the wood details were well worth a visit. Tuesday afternoon we visited the Aircraft museum.

Wednesday and Thursday and Friday, more museums, including the War Museum, the Museum of Civilization and the Nature Museum. And a bit of Shopping!

One of the shopping stops was Wabi Sabi, a fun fiber arts store in Ottawa. Both M and I found some merino/silk fiber that begged to be brought home with us (with really great prices, I might add).

M helped me pick out mine: it was a toss up for me between two teally greens and this one. M pointed out that this one was really more my color!

And of course he picked out the purple. He says this will be the first he spins on my wheel!

Wabi Sabi has a Louet S15 and a Babe in store that I got to try out. I can appreciate the price of the Babe and the double treadle, but really didn't like how it wobbled. Plus, I just can't get past the PVC. (my apologies to any die-hard Babe fans). The Louet I liked better, but found getting the bobbin off a bit fiddly, I'm sure I could get used to it and I like it's modern appearance and smooth treadling.

And since my parent knew I was looking for a new wheel, they brought me this:

Isn't that a cute little wheel? "Respect the Spindle" was brought along for reading material on our trip - highly enjoyable and informative!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Zahara - new pattern

I'd like you to meet Zahara. She's a sweet knitted camel, complete with underbite, knobby knees and a gentle disposition.

This pattern is suitable for someone who can knit in the round on double pointed needles. Other skills required are increasing and decreasing, knitting short rows, picking up stitches, grafting and seaming.

To make your very own Zahara, you’ll need less than 100 grams of worsted weight wool. I used Patons Classic Wool in "Sesame".

As usual, the pattern is available through my Etsy shop and as a Ravelry download.

This link will redirect you to Paypal through Ravelry's shopping basket.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Somebunny special...

Excuse the seriously silly title, but someone I love asked me to make them a bunny after seeing this one that I made for my nephew for Christmas. How could I resist?

This one is made with handspun: 2oz of oatmeal colored Corriedale, 3 ply worsted weight, and a little bit of teal merino/silk, 3 ply heavy fingering weight for the dress.

I changed things for the body on this one as I wasn't entirely happy with the way I'd improvised the body for my nephew's bunny. I like this much better. I knit from the neck down. Once I got to the legs, I slipped half the sts plus 3 to a holder and knit the others in the round for one leg. The 6 sts (3 from the front, 3 from the back) were placed on a holder, while I knit the second leg. Then 6 sts were grafted together and all ends woven in.

The skirt was improvised too: cast on 50 sts, made a little picot hem, and knit up to where the bunny's waist is, did some decreases, bound off half the sts and knit the bib back and forth. Tiny 3 sts I-cords make the dress straps.

The pompom tail used up the very last bit of handspun that I'd made for this project. All that's left are the trimmings from the pompom as I used all my snipped off yarn ends and the last few yards of yarn to make it!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Coming Soon to a desert near you...

I'm almost finished tweeking a new pattern. B has been bugging me for a while to make a camel. She's named it Zahara...

And since we're on the topic of camels, maybe you can help me? Do you know the song "Alice the Camel"? It's one of those count down songs that goes like this:

Alice the camel has 5 humps,
Alice the camel has 5 humps,
Alice the camel has 5 humps,
Go, Alice, Go,
Boom, Boom, Boom...

Alice the camel has 4 humps,
Alice the camel has 4 humps...

until the end...

... Alice the camel has no hump,
Alice is a horse.

Now B says the song is supposed to be about Sally the Camel. Which way did you learn it?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Being Good has it's rewards...

Last summer I let you all know of my resistance to the temptation to steal my favorite picture book. Well, today, my goodness has been rewarded. The public library in my little town is selling books from its collection that are rarely signed out and "Sarah's Bear" was on the table!

If you ever have the chance to read this adorable book, take 5 minutes. The darling water color illustrations and sweet text won't disappoint you!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Soft, Fluffy Clouds

I started carding the East Friesian last night and it is oh so soft and bouncy.

The little bowls show approximately equal amount of fiber: one washed and dried, the other also carded!

And here's all 80g carded and ready to spin. It really fills up the same blue basket the raw fiber was sitting in in the previous post.