Monday, December 27, 2010

FO: Blinky the Fish

After making the dead fish hat for my Youngest Nephew and being requested by the rest of his family to ALSO make them fish.....

DH also asked if he could have a fish. And after watching me peruse Ravelry, he exclaimed, "I WANT THAT!!!!"

....which just happened to be Blinky, the 3-eyed fish from the t.v. show, The Simpsons.

So, his yarn was ordered alongside the rest of the family to make fish hats. Of course, by the time I had finished making 4 more fish hats (even with variations), I was more than done with this particular pattern. BUT, DH really wanted his hat, so I obliged.

And, although parts of it were very very boring, I did have to figure out how best to make the eyes for Blinky, which ended up being felt and not knitted. I didn't quite like how other Ravelry projects looked with knitted bulging eyes, nor did I want it to be merely flat 2-dimensional eyes.

In addition, I added a bit more depth to the bulging felt eyes by adding an "eyelid"

BlinkyBlinky the Fish
Before & After

The eyelid is nothing more than a piece of knitted fabric that is knit to the length of the 3 eyes, then containing matching decreases on both sides. A little bit of stuffing is added to make them "puff" up a bit. The whole piece is then sewed/grafted onto to fish body.

After that, the dorsal and pectoral fins are added. The "curvy" bits of the fins are added using a scallop crochet stitch using a combination of double & triple crochet stitches as I saw fit.

The resulting fish is quite handsome. And quite fetching on DH's head

Blinky the Fish

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Felt Eyes for Blinky

The following is a brief guideline on how to make the eyes for Blinky.


Items needed:
  • white & black felt
  • needle & thread
  • stuffing of some sort
  • 2 circle cardboard templates (one large, one small)
  • a pin

Making the template for the eyes:
The size of your felt eyes depends on exactly how big your fish is and how big you want your eyes. The items I used were:

a) (for the large template) the small end of one of my spinning bobbins.
b) (for the small template) the tape measure I carry around in my knitting kit -- it's one of those plastic tape measures that are rather commonplace at locales like JoAnns

I would have used a compass, if I had one in the house, but you can use anything, really.


1) Cut out the pieces for the white eyeball using your template. You need 1 pair of a small & large circle. (For Blinky, I cut out 3 large & 3 small)

2) Pair up one small & one large circle and pin them together in the center of both circles

3) Take your needle and thread and sew 90% of the edges together. (Obviously, one is bigger than the other so the big circle will fold over "slightly".) You're creating a dome-like shape using these two pieces of felt.

4) Stuff little dome

5) Sew shut.

6) Repeat steps 1-5.

7) Put two eyeballs together along one "edge" and sew those two pieces together

8) Repeat step 7 for the 3rd eyeball.

9) Cut out your black felt irises and sew them onto the white felt. (I did this last because I wasn't sure how the three eyeballs would look after being attached and didn't want Blinky looking cross-eyed.)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Matching Alpaca

Due to today's weather, I am wearing:

a) an alpaca pullover
b) an alpaca scarf
c) alpaca mitts

They're all different colors, but since it's all alpaca wool, it must match, right? :-)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Black Pit of Knitting

I am finding that knitting an item that is a single solid color (no heathering, no varigation, no color work...nada) *boring*, ESPECIALLY when its all stockinette stitch.

I distinctly recall having this problem with my Ribby Cardigan -- as the sleeves were a solid gray and the body was also a solid blue, but it wasn't so bad, as it had ribbing to at least keep things somewhat interesting

Right now I'm in the orange pit of knitting with DH's Blinky hat -- All orange stockinette punctuated by a decrease round every few inches. (All of the other dead fish hats were also made out of solid color yarns, but there were rounds of color work or the switching of color.)

However, while it's boring, it's rather tolerable in a way because of the bright OSHA orange color. Unfortunately, my Color Palette cardigan (which is a handspun/commercial sweater) -- the cuffs & yoke are in handspun and the rest is commercial Cascade 220 in

Knitting up the handspun was a delight. Now, I'm in the black pit of I knit rounds and rounds stockinette of black yarn for the sleeves. I feel the light being sucked out of me as I knit. I have yet to even begin the body, which will even be a bigger blacker pit (black hole) of knitting.

So, I'm alternating between the orange pit of knitting and the black pit of knitting until I can't stand it anymore then switch to the other pit. Once I get Blinky done, I shall have to either finish up another colorful project or start a new pair of socks in a variegated color, just to save my sanity.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Basket of Warm Happiness

The weather in the area has been a bit cold (for us in the California area -- mid 50s-low 60s during the day, dipping into the 30s at night); and some days it's overcast with chances of rain. I know there are many who live in much colder climates that would scoff at our "cold" weather, but, to you I say...phhtttbbbttthhh :-P

I admit it. When it comes to actual "real" weather, California are weenies. If I want "cold weather", I'll drive to it, and come prepared with snow gear. LOL.

Never have I been so happy to actually be knitter. I have scarves, handwarmers, and sweaters to wear, as knitted garments are so amazingly warm and snuggly. I have a basket where I place all of the scarves & handwarmers so I can easily grab them whenever I leave the house.

Basket of Warmth

I also have a few cloth scarves in there as well. The other day, I made the mistake of grabbing a cloth scarf (just for a change, I thought) and wore it to work. I felt every single cold wind blowing and felt so much colder. BRRRR.

The very next day? I grabbed my entrelac wool/silk Noro garden scarf; MUCH much better and FAR FAR warmer than those cloth scarves. I think I shall put those thinner cloth scarves away for Spring or Fall months. For this winter, it shall be knitted wool or alpaca scarves.

I've never been a big "scarf" knitter; having only made a handful, but they are wonderful things. :-)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Never Say Never

Yesterday, I got a few minutes to put the eyes on my School of Mostly Dead Fish. I had picked up some felt, cut out the whites, then black felt for the dead irises. Everyone except Eldest Niece wanted 'dead' eyes. She's such a girly-girl, but absolutely adorable.



I really thought I was done with this pattern (after all, I'd already made 5 of these at this point), except then DH asked about HIS fish (which I did promise to make)....*facepalm*

On the flip side, it's is going to be a Most Awesome Fish, because it will be this fish.

So, I cast that on yesterday, and since I really don't have an official deadline, it'll be made in good time. However, I think I shall try and finish it before Xmas so we can take photos of everyone in their hats.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

One Step Closer to FO

Yesterday, I finished my BIL's hat for the holidays.

Dead School of Fish

It's part of a bigger school of fish that I'm making for holiday gift giving for SIL, BIL, and the 2 other kids.

I still need to add the eyes, and then I can officially say I'm DONE with holiday knitting.

Monday, December 13, 2010

FO: Reversible Plaited Scarf

Normally, most scarf knitting bores me as it's a continuous seemingly never-ending line of knits / purls. Even Elizabeth Zimmerman mentions in her book, "Knitting without Tears", that to make a scarf you continue until, "you can't stand it anymore".

I found this pattern, Reversible Plaited Scarf, on Ravelry that promised to be a relatively quick knit and was interesting. I wanted a "skinny" scarf that was warm enough for our cold weather but that I could wear indoors w/o looking like I was bundled up for the snow. (Our office A/C is sometimes over-aggressive.)

This project became my "extra" in-between-project for whenever I couldn't work on my primary project (for whatever reason) when I was on-the-road. Consequently, it lived in my purse and took a bit longer to complete than if I was actually working on it on a consistent basis, BUT it proved to be a relatively quick knit, even with worsted weight yarn.

Alpaca Scarf

It's made out of Cascade Eco Alpaca (undyed baby alpaca), and only took 1-skein to complete. Plus since it's alpaca, I'm sure it'll stretch out a little bit longer.

And it's one step towards solving my scarf-dilemma.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Scarves & Cold Weather

I've never really been a 'scarf' type knitter. I made my first scarves when I first began knitting; both to learn techniques -- how to knit & purl, double knit, cables, entrelac, etc. I know plenty of knitters who love knitting scarves. I'm just not one of them.

Entrelac Scarf

I moved on to other knitted garments for wrapping around one's neck: small triangular shawls, cowls, etc., and haven't gotten back to scarves because, well, I find them boring. I've only made a total of maybe 4 scarves.

But now that the weather has turned colder, I'm reaching for all of those neck coverings, especially the knitted scarves I've made; and loving them as they are warm and cozy! I'm especially reaching for my entrelac scarf as it's a bright splash of color that goes with almost any jacket I own.

With the cold weather, I'm seriously reconsidering my aversion to knitting scarves.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Cerisara: Completed

I had a change of plans last Thursday (12/2) that left me a good chunk of uninterrupted time to actually finish Cerisara. So, I turned on and worked through my queue of various anime shows and some of my sci-fi shows, while knitting the last few inches.

I had a total of 5 inches left. It toook about 3 minutes to do a single row. And it's about 8 rows to the inch.

So, mathwise (because knitting involves math....)

(8 rows/inch) * (3min/row) = 24 minutes / inch
(24 minutes / inch) * 5 inches = 120 minutes = 2 hours

It took a bit longer than that as there were breaks for food, stretching, and cat interruptions. So, I made dinner, turned on my shows, and knit for a while.

Then I washed and blocked it. It's a bit cold in our area, so it didn't dry for a bit. And, like I expected (from doing the swatch), the knitted fabric "grew", which made it a LOT drapy-er. So I maniupulated the sleeves and length to about what I wanted and that worked out very very well.

However, it felt GOOD to get those off of my needles, as I was getting a bit annoyed at how many things I've started but not yet finished.

BUT, YES! I finished it, and am very happy.


Friday, December 3, 2010

The Little Monsters that Please....

Monsters aren't all bad creatures. Some are downright adorable and helpful. You just have to look beyond their initial visage.

I was wandering the Renegade Craft Fair (last year) when I spotted a potter with some wonderful quirky creations, called Skeletal Dropkick. What attracted me to her table were all the pieces that had skeletons, demons, and monsters faces that were just absolutely adorable. They were quite a change from the 'normal' (translate "boring") pottery that I saw on other tables.

When I took a closer look at her wares, I saw that she had a yarn bowl that was lovely but way to small for my needs; it only fit a single ball of yarn. So I commissioned a bigger one from her, and asked her to put two yarn hooks for them.

She obliged.

Monster Yarn Bowl

Monster Yarn Bowl

Since then I've also purchased a monster mug and a French demon butter bell from her...all surprisingly affordable AND amazingly cute. Plus, she was local artist in my area, which was great, since I try to buy local. So not only do I get products that please me, but I also get to support a local independent artist (a win-win-win situation in my book).

I pretty much use my yarn bowl for holding yarns for my project whenever I work at my desk. This is one of those things that bring a little smile to my face whenever I see them.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Designing My Own Sweater

I like the idea of "designing" my own sweater/cardigan. However, doing this from scratch, scares the beejeezus out of me. I don't know why. I design my own costumes that I sew. Designing my own knitted garments shouldn't be that difficult.

After all, it's taking drawing, figuring out the measurements, multiplying measurements by your gauge...then making it fit. That's not so hard right?! (yeah, right...)

I've already quasi-designed my friend's wrist-warmers as winged the pattern for my Top Down No Gauge Stocking cap. That's designing, right? So, how much more difficult to do that for a sweater? The logical part of my brain, says, it can be done. The knitting part of my brain? Not so much.

And I really would like to use my handspun and use it for something unique that's to me. I don't have enough for a full cardigan, but I have enough to make nice colorful accents. (I've often seen this question a few dozen times on Ravelry --"what do I do what the small amount of handspun I've made?")

So, what I've been doing is looking at various patterns of cardigans that I like for inspiration. I'm looking at design elements and what would work with a limited amount of handspun.

I have about 475 yards of rainbow handspun that I did for Tour-de-Fleece that was both Navajo-plied and barberpoled. And I have some black Cascade 220 that should go well with the colors.

RainbowTDF: Rainbow Barberpole

At this point, I'm looking at creating:

I started the sleeves this week. I cast on about 48 stitches for each sleeve and am knitting in the round.

Bits & Pieces

I'll continue knitting these until it reaches the desired length, then start in on the body. Right now, it almost seems a bit "too" big, because currently all the sweaters/cardigans I have been wearing are very fitted. But it has the correct amount of ease I want, and is similar to a number of "outer wear" sweaters that I have. Luckily, if it's slightly too big, washing the Cascade will make it shrink about 10% (from previous experience)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Cerisara: Progress

I'm currently about 5 inches away from finishing Cerisara.


She's lovely, and fits really well, and I CAN'T WAIT to wear her. But never has reverse stockinette stitch seem so tedious, as I'm knitting flat. The hard part (the lace) is done. Well, it wasn't really hard, but I did have to pay attention.

In complete boredom of doing reverse stockinette (which seems to take FOREVER on this cardigan), I started two new projects. LOL

1) my BIL's Dead Fish Hat
2) the sleeves for a new yoke sweater involving my handspun.

But, I am determined to FINISH this project. I've currently got it in my bag and shall be working at it at lunchtime today to get a few inches finished.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Giving away Yarn for Good.

Several weeks ago, I took the parts of my Stash(TM) that I was no longer going to use (left over acrylic/wool blends -- used to make amigurumi toys for kids-- boucle, ribbon yarn, and other big-box-store yarns) and handed it to my friend who works as a nurse as a childrens' home.

She had told me that one of the 'houses' has group of kids that have craft night where all of the kids (boys and girls) knit and craft. I thought, what better way to use all this yarn? I'm not going to be using them any time soon and the kids could use them.

Over Thanksgiving, she told me how much the kids went WILD over the yarn. I had a multitude of colors (blues, greens, reds, purples, variegated, etc). Apparently, the kids normally get stuck with "old lady colors" that the volunteers find at various thrift stores or that get donated. They didn't know that yarn came in so many different colors. (Apparently a lot of the boys just end up knitting pink yarn.)

I think I will ask my friends for their non-used yarns that they might want to donate to give to these kids. It makes me feel good to know that a small thing on my part has had a big impact. It's nice to hear that it made people smile.

Monday, November 22, 2010

War between the brains...

Until this weekend, I had been knitting consistently on my Cerisara with absolutely no deadline for it to finish.

Silver Cera

However, at one point, I got the idea in my head that I would finish it and wear it to Thanksgiving dinner. Of course! What an idea! I could do it.

Then the logical part of my brain kicked in, and is currently warring with my creative side.

Logical Brain: I don't think this will happen. You need to do 10 inches on BOTH sleeves that has an 8-lace pattern. It takes you nearly an HOUR to do one repeat of the pattern.

Creative Idea Brain: Yeah? So? One repeat = one inch

Logical Brain: Which equals 20 hours worth of work! AND you still have to knit another 8 inches of stockinette stitch for the body AND finish the bind off.

Creative Idea Brain: I can do it.

Logical Brain: That's 28 inches of knitting you need to do BEFORE Thursday. When are you going to sleep?

Creative Idea Brain: *flexes knitting muscles* I'm up for the challenge.

Logical Brain: AND you need to block. It's been wet outside. It'll take long to dry

Creative Idea Brain: Blocking? Who needs blocking. We can do this.

Logical Brain: OY....

Friday, November 19, 2010

Sweater Forecast Checklist

Done List:
  • Overcast and slightly cold weather?
  • Comfy alpaca pullover?
  • Cup of tea?

Still To Do:
  • Go home
  • Get under blanket on the couch
  • Find purring cat to snuggle
  • Pull out knitting project
  • Enjoy nice relaxing evening at home.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Cerisara: Progress

My Cerisara is coming along nicely.

Currently, I worked down the body to the reverse stockinette stitch, then finished THAT ball of yarn. So, I picked up the stitches on the sleeves and started working on each one.

I *was* hoping to maybe do two-at-a-time on magic loop, but that's not going to happen because of the 8-row lace pattern, which isn't too difficult, but it does require paying attention, lest I miss a YO on occasion (which I have multiple times).

Silver Cera

So, in order to ensure both sleeves have the same length & number of rows, I'm doing one lace pattern on one sleeve, then switching to the other sleeve. AND I'm using one cake of yarn for both so that I'm not juggling the sweater AND two balls of yarn. However, I am using one set of circular needles for each sleeve.

In order to ensure that the cake doesn't get too tangled, I am employing a used nylon stocking (toe cut off). The stocking keeps the cake from getting tangled because each yarn end comes out of either end of the stocking.

Overall, I LOVE the yarn, Cascade Venezia. I hadn't intended on making it "silver" like the sample, but I loved the yarn and it was the color that I liked well enough while perusing at Purlescence.

I also really like this pattern. However, it's not your 'mindless knitting' and does require a bit of attention. I'm not wholly sure I will make this cardigan again, just because of that fact, but I might.....given enough time away from the project.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


I like to do things in small increments or "chunks" so that a big project isn't too daunting, whether it be household chores or any crafty/sewing project. It gives me a goal to achieve as well as feeling good about doing it. AND it gives me permission to put a project down once I accomplish that goal.

For instance, in cleaning up the kitchen: I try to take 5 minutes every day to do one thing in the kitchen -- put away the dishes or put dishes into the dishwasher or to wipe down the counter/stove.

After all, five minutes isn't a lot of time, and can easily be accomodated into my day. Then I feel accomplished and not so frazzled thinking about cleaning up a whole room.

When sewing, I break out a project into manageable chunks. For example:
1) get a pattern drafted (or cut out the pattern pieces)
2) getting just the fabric cut,
3) sewing just 1-2 logical pieces together
etc.. Then I work on just that single chunk so that a big project can be made more manageable.

When knitting, I'll try to do things in increments, like 1-2 lace rows or 1-2 inches of a given sock.

When spinning, I've been following Jasmin's example, and only spinning one ounce at a time. While this might have a few disadvantages (like never having enough quills for large amounts of fiber), it does break amounts down to sizeable and MANAGEABLE one ounce chunks that I can easily deal with, instead of frustrating myself thinking about the number of "pounds".

After all, you should eat pie in slices. Trying to fit the whole thing in your mouth is not only messy, but very impractical.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Chic Knits

I'm very much in love with Chic Knits' patterns. I've already made two of her patterns

AND, I'm currently working on Cerisara. (I'm about to get to the reverse stockinette stitch portion).

I'm also spinning up of Frankto work on the Mondo Cable Cardigan! And I'm itching to actually start knitting it up...nevermind that I haven't finished Cerisara yet AND I haven't plied ANY of my singles yet... :-)

Bonne are my bane. :-)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sewing &. Knitting

I've been sewing & crocheting since I was a little girl. My grandmother taught me how to do both.

Usually, when I sew, I make costumes -- simple costumes for Ren Faire or historical costumes for balls. For example, for Dickens Fair last Christmas, I made a complete Victorian outfit which involved a 5-gore skirt, blouse, waist belt, Spanish bolero jacket, and a faux-fur muff.

Spanish Jacket & Waist Blet
Spanish Bolero with Matching Waist Cincher Belt

Luckily, I already had all of the underpinnings for this outfit, or I would have made them too. Consequently, this was a "simple" project that only took about one month to complete, which including drafting a pattern, making several mockups, and then sewing.

My most complicated project took over 6 months of consistent sewing & fittings 3-4 nights a week (which was for an 18th century gown, complete with panniers, multiple skirts, underpinnings (18thc corset, bloomers, and chemise), and accessories (including building a wig)

Is it any reason why I really enjoy knitting? Most of my knitting projects can be finished in under two weeks and is *easily* portable. Bringing an 8 yard cartridge pleated skirt to hem on your lunch break isn't exactly feasible.

Not that all of my sewing projects are complicated. I can easily make small singular things, like a Ditty Bag in under 20 minutes or catnip mice in about 5 minutes, which is why I mostly don't knit "bags" or purses -- mostly because it's "sew" much easier to make them out of fabric. Heh

This is also the reason why I tend not to sew my own clothing (i.e every day clothing). It's usually faster & cheaper for me to purchase commercial clothing than it is to make it .....unless it's a super unique piece or costs WAAAY too much money to justify buying it (i.e. $300 for a dress).

Just like knitting, I much prefer to use my time to make something 'special' and unique that is going to show off my talents & hardwork, and that is fun & enjoyable for me to make.

Friday, November 12, 2010


Occasionally, I make jewelry...pretty costume jewelry with Czech or Swarovski beads, or formed glass beads, and semi-precious stuff. It's fun, and usually, I can churn out a single piece in 15 minutes....which totally appeals to my need to have to finish projects quickly. It's the reason why I like knitting -- I can finish a project faster than I can sewing a historical costume (which sometimes needs its own project plan as it's very involved and involves not only the clothing, but all accrutements.)

So, I took some pendants & beads I had laying around to make some simple stuff I can easily wear out & about. (All about 16-18")

Silver Mountain Lion Pendant with 6mm Tiger Eye &
Silver beads and green Czech glass beads

Ancient Egyptian Goddess Sekhmet Gold pendant,
6mm Garnet & gold beads, with red czech glass beads

Brass Eye of Horus pendant with 6mm Tiger eye bead, gold beads, and gold/brass czech glass beads

Lotus-shaped glass beads with gold overlay; gold spacer beads

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Frank, A hiccup in our Relationship

Frank and I had a small hiccup in our relationship this past weekend. I was spinning him on Nona, at a ratio of 11:1. After spinning 1 ounce, I decided that I would put together a plyback test for 2ply, 3ply, and 4ply and then put them into my spinner study book.

This I dutifully did, and stapled them to a 4x6 card and labeled them. Then I decided to double check the weight of the yarn, using the double-over method.

It works thusly: You take your yarn, double it over, and then slide it through the hole of your knitting needle measuring guide, and that gives you a GUESTIMMATE on the actual weight of the yarn without needing a WPI tool. (Now, a WPI tool is more accurate, but you need a lot of plied yarn to test)

So, I slipped in the double strand of yarn, which gave me an approximate needle size to use. Then correlated that information to my handy-dandy chart of WPI that lists the weights and the approximate needle sizes to use different weights.

(TANGENT:I learned this nifty trick via Spin Control: Techniques for Spinning the Yarns You Wantby Amy King.)

I discovered the following about my handspun:
2plies - heavy fingering
3plies - Sport
4plies - DK weight

Of course, this totally made sense, because I had just finished plying up a 4ply cable which ended up being a sport weight yarn, and nearly everything I've 3plied on 11:1 is primarily a sport weight yarn.

HOWEVER, what I wanted was to spin Frank for an Aran weight @ 3plies so this was problematic. I didn't want to do a 5ply. However, as it was late in the evening, I decided that I would leave it, and tackle the problem in the morning.

They say that a problem can be best dealt with by sleeping on it, and letting the idea come to you. And, boy did it ever come to me. Somewhere in the land between sleep and awake, I realized that if I just changed the wheel ratio, I will be okay. After all, Judith Mackenzie teaches that if you make adjustments to the wheel (like your ratio, tension, drive band), you will be able to adjust the fiber diameter without changing anything you're doing. And who am I to argue with Judith?!

Of course, this idea wouldn't leave me alone, and it woke me up completely. (Luckily, I had a good 8 hour sleep at this point). So, first thing, I went over to my wheel, changed the ratio out to 7.25:1, and spun up about 1/2 ounce.

I did another plyback test:
2-plies - sport / DK weight
3-plies - aran
4-plies - heavy worseted

And stapled those onto a 4x6 card.

Then I compared the 3-ply with Cascade worseted weight yarn that I used to knit my Ribby Cardi. AND they were nearly identical in diameter and appearance. My handspun was just a smidge thinner, but not by much. I can work with it.

Now, Frank and I are back on track, and I'm still very much in love with him.

I'll still need do a full swatch when I have more handspun on the bobbins to do a true 3ply and a knitted swatch, but this change in ratio puts me on better track for how I want to spin Frank.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Frank: How I love thee

I recently started spinning up Frank, the fleece. it took me a while to get him, because I had to finish a project that was on my wheel (only having one singular wheel).

The old roject was using 8oz Ashland bay merino I had bought at Village Spinning & Weaving last year (around Thanksgiving)

Garnet Top

After spinning 4oz singles, I spun up a two ply, then everything kinda languished on the wheel while I was busy with other things. I thought I might want it for a Citron shawl. But I wasn't overly happy with the 2ply, but wasn't happy with the 3ply sample either. So I decided that I should finish 2ply'ing the rest of the 4oz, AND then cable ply the other 4 oz, which turned into a sport weight 4-cable ply yarn @366 yards

Purple Heather

I still want a purple citron shawl, BUT I think I will use this for something else, like a pair of cabled hand warmers and use some of my art yarn as an accent piece.

Tour de Fleece - Coils2

Now, Frank? Frank's absolutely lovely. I wouldn't say that he's butter, but he's delightful to spin, drafts very well (thank you Morro Fleeceworks), and is an absolute STUNNING rich dark chocolately brown.


He looks like a chocolate cake here, but he turns into a deeper darker brown when spun up. I love the color, and am seriously debating whether or not to dye him into another color....which almost seems a shame to waste that beautiful naturally colored dark chocolate wool.

Friday, November 5, 2010

WIPs: Socks

Isn't it pretty?

Earth, Sky, Water

I love all the blues, greens, and browns. It reminds me of a mountain next to a lake. The blue of the lake & sky, the brown of the mountain, and the green of the trees. I'm calling the sock, Earth, Sea, Sky Socks (say that 3x fast....)

The yarn is Sheeps Feet by the Sheep Shop Yarn Company, and I am loving this yarn. This is the second pair of socks I've made with this yarn, and I do like the colorways and the thickness of the fabric.

The pattern is Cat Bordhi's Upstream Master Sock pattern (which serves as my vanilla sock pattern), as it's one of the better fitting sock patterns for my feet. (My feet are on the flatter side, so having the gusset on the instep versus the sole works well for me.)

The ribbing of the cuff is a faceted 1x1 rib, where the knit stitches are slipped every other round -- much like a reinforced heel on a toe-up sock. And so far, they fit very well.

This is my 'mindless' knitting project, for those times when I might need to put a project down and not worry about where I am in the pattern.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


I started a new sweater (Cerisara by Bonne Marie Burns)  last week, And I finished up the lace portion of the back and started in on the next band, when I realized I was making the HUGE size sweater.

See, Bonne's Marie's patterns are awesome but are slightly smaller than what I would think of as "my size", so I have to go one size up. For her last two sweaters I've made, they fit well, but I would have liked to have more *ease* so I really should have made the next size up.

However, when I was looking at THIS pattern, I didn't see that she steps up her increments by FOUR instead of TWO (like other patterns)

So her other patterns read sizes as: 32, 34, 36....
This one reads her sizes: 34, 38, 42.....

I'm used to just looking at the THIRD sizing in for her patterns instead of, well, you know, actually READING the pattern. So I started making the 42" instead of the 38".......

I had to rip back 10 inches of lace work....*cry*

AND I just realized the silk / merino that I'm using grows a bit when I actually block & wash, which means that I was actually making THREE sizes bigger than I should have....

In a way, I'm glad to have started ripping, because I now realized I should be making the 34, as this yarn "grows" a little bit, which should put me at a 36".

But....10 inches....

I would have really hated to have
a) run out of yarn
b) make something that would fit someone 3x bigger than me....

But....10 inches.....

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Deb's Gloves

A friend of mine is a terrific beader. She makes really pretty jewelry, and she offered me a trade. She wanted handwarmers and she'd make me jewelry for them. I agreed.

We headed over to Imagiknit in San Francisco, where she picked out some lovely Abstract Fiber laceweight in the Matisse color.

Abstract Fiber Matisse

However, I am incapable of really knitting with lace weight, so because the yardage was extremely generous in the skein (420 yards), I doubled up the yarn as I only needed about 210 yards per handwarmer.

I showed her some patterns on Ravelry, and she picked out the design elements she liked from a few photos. Luckily, these design elements were easy (ribbing, vertical ribbing, and some YO/k2tog lace). She wanted longer handwarmers (mid way to her elbow) with a little bit of lace at the palm.

So, I took her measurements for her arms, and sketched out the design she had requested. I made some test swatches so I could get a feel for what gauge the double strand of the yarn was going to be happy (10 stitches per 1"; 15 rows / 1.75" -- US Size 2 needles).

After I found the yarn's happy place, I cast-on. There was some re-designing on the fly to take into account my gauge, actual measurements, and where I thought elements might look good versus my initial sketched ideas.

I took copious notes for each change. There were several "fittings" along the way as she tried on fit. There were also numerous camera phone images via text message as I sent her "progress reports".


At one point when the initial 15 rows of ribbing were done, I cast on the 2nd pair of arm warmers on another set of circular US2 needles using the other end of the yarn cake. I then knit up to the 15 rows of ribbing, and then put both on 2 circular needles so I could make sure that I did all of the decreasing and design elements exactly the same.


A rough guideline for this pattern

1) I cast on 54 stitches in a 3x3 (this allowed me to fit the widest part of her forearm @ 8")

2) Knit for about 15 rounds

3) Began arm decreases (1 decrease every 3 rounds) 6x -- I made the k2tog decreases in the purl part of the 3x3 rib to "hide" the decreases. There was a total of 5.5" of ribbing.

4) Purl 3 rounds, Knit 3 rounds, Purl 3 rounds (for the next design element)

6) Knitted stockinette stitch and started the thumb gusset about 3/4" from where the wrist starts. Increased until the gusset was about 22 stitches.

7) Put the thumb stitches on a scrap yarn
8) Knit for 3 more rounds

Lace bit:
9) Purl 1 round
10) (K2TOG, YO) for the entire round
11) Purl 1 round

12) Knit 2x2 ribbing for 3 rounds
13) cast off the hand

14) Picked up 22 stitches for the thumb,
15) Decreased the thumb by 2 stitches
16) BO with a sewn-off binding.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

On Washing Swatches

Last night, I started for the swatch Cerisara, and I'm glad I took the time to swatch AND wash/block said swatch.

The yarn? Venezia Worseted in a lovely silver color.

The pattern calls for 20 stitches / 4 inches (or 5 stitches / inch). The yarn label called for a US 7 needle, so I started the swatch using that. And, I ended up with a 5.25 stitches / inch.

I dropped down to a US 6 needle. And I got my 5 stitches/inch, and I really liked the tightness of the fabric better.

I know that washing the swatch will change my stitch count, so I washed & blocked the swatch overnight despite WANTING very much to just cast on.

And I'm glad that I did. The fabric ended up relaxing by QUITE a bit.
My US 7 swatch was now 5.5 st/inch (was 5.25 st/inch)
My US 6 swatch became 5.25 st/inch (was 5 st/inch)

So I'm dropping down to a US 5, as that should give me about 4.75 stitches per inch, but will open up to 5 stitches / inch after washing & blocking.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

In Between Projects (Kinda - Sorta)

Since I've finished my Ribby Cardigan, which was a huge project, I'm waffling between wanting to start a new project and finishing up my old projects.

I want to start a new sweater, but I still have one last Solstice/holiday gift to finish, not to mention finish the 2nd of a pair of socks and a shawl. The gift is rather simple and shouldn't take that much time to finish. However, I've already knit up 3 of the same item (in different yarns), so I'm kinda "blah" about the whole thing. I still have 2 months, right?

Consequently, as a matter of avoidance I'm finishing up my second sock (2" left in the cuff), and looking at my sweater yarn for Chic Knits, Cerissara, and really really wanting to at least get a gauge swatch started. Now, a gauge swatch isn't really starting a project yet, is it? And therefore, not *really* a project, and it's certainly NOT starting a new sweater.

Oh, and I started a new bobbin of the Ashland merino (garnet) that I had been spinning up so I can get all of the plying done on that. Certainly, a spinning WIP isn't a "new" project at all, right?

I think I'm just avoiding the last of the holiday gifts.

Monday, October 18, 2010

FO: Ribby Cardigan

Back on July 4th, I started a very pretty cardigan, Ribby Cardi, by a wonderful designer. I had modified the pattern to knit everything in-the-round instead of in pieces, which worked well.
  • On Thursday nite (10/14), I *finally* finished it! It's been quite a slog with it, but it's done, and it's pretty!
  • On Friday nite, I washed and blocked the cardigan. It took nearly all weekend to dry the sweater, because the weather turned to a little bit of the cooler side.
  • On Sunday, I sewed in the zipper for the cardigan. I ended up getting a parka zipper at Joann's Fabrics. Unfortunately, they didn't have a blue or grey zipper, so I went with a black one which works just fine. It's not the double zipper shown on the designer's website, but I'm okay with that.

It shrunk just a teeny bit (mostly in the sleeve length) after washing (even with aggressive blocking), but not enough to impair wearing it.

Ribby Cardi 3

The wool is Cascade 220 Sapphire Heather (which is a bright blue-jean color) & in a Charcoal Gray. I bought a bit more wool than I actually needed. The designer is pretty generous with her estimated yardage. So I still have 3 skeins of the Sapphire & 1 skein left of the Charcoal Grey.

Ribby Cardi 4Ribby Cardi 2

This makes me happy because it's been on the needles for far too long, and I've started other projects around it to break up the monotony of a single large project. It's started/stopped between other projects, small heatwaves, and finger injuries.

Overall, I *love* the sweater. And I shall be making another one (probably in a bigger size 38") just so that I can wear bulky shirts underneath.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Windrush Farms

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of going up to Windrush Farms for their Fiber event. The day was rather warm, but the drive up to Petaluma was pleasant in the early morning.

There, I got to meet Mimi who (at the time) was giving a small lecture/workshop about fleeces. Mimi has two flocks of sheep (Corriedale mix and Shetland) with their guardian llamas. She also has a few alpacas.

I fell in love with her Shetland. I never realized how TINY they were (and how very friendly)t, in comparison to he size of the Corriedale mixes.

Shetland Sheep

There were various workshops on felting, natural dye'ing, weaving etc.

Marigolds for Dye'ing
Marigolds for Natural Dye'ing.

I picked up some of their beautiful Indigo-dyed yarn. I've never seen such a deep cobalt blue!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Happiness Thy Name is Frank

Back in June, I went to the Retzlaff Winery Spinning Event, and bought Frank, a gorgeous chocolatey brown 10.5 lb merino/corriedale that I then dropped off to Morro Fleeceworks (who was at the event).

Today, Frank came in the mail. All 6.5 pounds of him.

Frank in Bags

It was like the Christmas holidays. I squee'd.

Isn't he gorgeous?!


Lisa is going to stop by on Sunday to pick up her half of Frank. I so can't wait to spin him, but I have to wait until I finish up two already-on-the-bobbins project, because, well, I don't have any empty bobbins or quills.

Knitted Cats

This...THIS is cool.

Ruth Marshall has KNITTED the skins of several small & large cats ranging from tabbies to ocelots to tigers.

I am in *awe*

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Back from My Knitting Vacation

I'm pretty much back from my self-imposed knitting vacation of last week. The overall week was ever-so-slightly trying.

I got plenty of spinning done in the evenings, and I managed to do one fiber-related craft item that had been sitting in my Stash for quite some time. So I pulled it out to work on it, while I couldn't knit.

I had a kit from Lorna's Wool of these adorable felted sheep. The kit came with a felted egg, needles, some pretty silver & white locks, and some colored wool (fit only for felting as some of it was matted and there was lots of VM in it).

The instructions were pretty clear, and it took a bit to work the legs & head, but once I got the hang of it, it was relatively simple. However, I'm not quite sure felting is for "me", per se. I kept looking at all of the wool and thinking I could spin it (neps, matts, and all)....although I knew it'd be nasty to spin.

I guess I'm just not a felter at heart. Although I do love these sheep.

The black sheep is "Henry"
The white sheep is "Henrietta"

Don't ask me why I named those sheep in that fashion. They just "looked" like a Henry and Henrietta.