Friday, November 18, 2011

Bootcamp Knitting

My daybreak has become my shuttle & meeting knitting. Recently, I spent 2 days in a "bootcamp" training that lasted 8 hours each day. There was a lot of power point presentations and rather dry lectures on technology, development processes, example code, etc.

It was boring, but informational.

I took the time to knit on my daybreak. I got quite a bit done on it.

Using Cascade 220 Venezia Sport

Unfortunately, progress on the Daybreak slowed down after the meeting (not to mention the rows got longer and longer with each stripe, and it became my shuttle knitting. So I get about 1.5 hours each day to work on it while I ride the shuttle to work.

Now, I'm down to the last few inches with all of the purl ridges. Hopefully, I'll have to done before Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Adventures in Machine Knitting

So, yesterday, I finally picked up the knitting machine from the repair shop, which was a mini-saga. If you listen to the podcast, you'll have heard the story. Sufficed to say, everything's working now.

So, when I got it home, I grabbed our workhorse table, clamped it down, grabbed some left over yarn (Cascade 220), and set about making some test swatches.

Worsted weight yarn is about the "thinnest" this machine can do unless you want a loose weave. As it was, the weave for worsted is also pretty loose, but nothing that I can't live with in anything I'd make on this machine.

I also played with changing color. As seen in the photo, it ain't bad. It's stockinette stitch only, so it "curls" in on itself, but nothing that a good washing & blocking won't fix...or a crocheted edge.

Knitting machine test swatch

I also figure that since its Cascade 220, I can felt the yarn just a little bit to tighten up the weave, and it won't harm the overall end product.

Why am I using a knitting machine? So, if you listen to the podcast, you'll know that my Viking wanted the Doctor Who scarf from Season 18 (the red outfit with the red scarf). I am NOT about to hand-knit a 20 foot scarf by ANY means as it takes TOO DAMN LONG -- ask anyone who has knitted one -- but a machine knit one? Sure it won't be "exactly" like the original (the original was a garter stitch scarf, and this is stockinette, but honestly...who's gonna care outside of the Doctor Who police?

So after a few test runs where I made some mistakes, learned some things, then I started in on the Scarf. After about 10 minutes of putzing, I had this:

Docto who scarf

Overall, the machine is a *blast* to use. It is relatively easy to use, and everything goes by quick! After playing with the machine for several hours, I had ~8 feet of scarf, and had gone through nearly 1 skein of every color. I have one more skein of every color, and am going to need to pick up about 2 more of each color.

It was nice to see so much progress after a few hours work. This would have taken MONTHS to do by hand.

Knitting Doctor Who

Not to say that I didn't have any problems. I made some minor mistakes, which were easily fixed, and some BIG mistakes that...while fixable took a LOT of time to fix.

1) always make sure you have enough yarn for a row. If you don't, everything comes off the machine, and you have to carefully put everything back on carefully and tear your hair out. If you're unsure if you have enough, then you don't have enough so SPLICE in another skein!

2) MAKE SURE THE WEIGHT is on before you even start. Otherwise, it drops stitches of the needles.

3) move the weight every 10 rows. It helps with the tension.

4) When you move the weight every other time, double check the following:
a) no other needle has moved into position. Otherwise, you increase a stitch, which can be corrected easily by a K2TOG.
b) make sure that no stitch has accidently dropped. This is also easily fixable since it's just like regular knitting, but a PITA, because you're looking at the reverse side of the stockinette stitch.

5) Small color changes are a PITA, because you have to snip the yarn in order to do a small color change, unlike hand knitting. This makes for a LOT of loose ends to knot & weave into the scarf.

Overall, I could see making a bulky-weight blanket for just around the house or something similar...or making something nifty to just felt and cut out squares...after all, different tools provide different uses, and the knitting machine is no exception. But I'm not going to be giving up my needles anytime soon.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Accidental Knitting Group

I unintentionally started a knitting group at work yesterday. Well, I should really say that I didn't initially intend to actually start a knitting group at work, but circumstances being what they are, it's what ended up happending...unexpectedly.Here's how it went down:

We have a "spam" list at work. People can send anything to the spam list, such as want ads, for sale, requests for recommendations, anything.

Someone posted a "knitter needs help" request. She was a beginning knitter and had somehow did something to her knitting as she was trying to fix a dropped stitch and something went horribly wrong; she was afraid to make it worse. A couple of people responded, and when I emailed said person privately, she had said two people had helped her already, and was glad to see so many knitters at work.

I said we should start our own knitting circle, and she heartily agreed.

So, knowing our IT group, I requested a knitting email alias put together (which they did in 5 minutes), posted it to the SPAM list, and people started adding themselves. We have a bunch of knitters here, plus some in offices in other parts of the country.

Then I scheduled our first meet-up on Friday (as it was the earliest in everyone's calendar). All in the space of about 2 hours. So, there ya go.

Sometimes, it helps to be a little proactive. And it helps that knitters are a very very social group and just love to get together for any excuse to knit.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


I've started spinning one of the fleeces I got from the Retzlaff Winery Event (that I didn't attend) that was processed by Morro Fleeceworks

Gretta is a merino/corriedale cross from Janet Heppler's Nebo Rock Ranch, and processed by Morro Fleece works. She was a 6 pound fleece, and I got 4 pounds 5 oz back from Morro.

I did a sampling, as I wanted a heavier worsted weight yarn for a potential sweater. I did Sample A first, and didn't quite like how the yarn turned out. Then I spun up Sample B.

Sample A) 7.25:1 ratio (left) spun worseted 3ply

Sample B) a 5.5:1 ratio (right) spun semi-woolen 3ply

Sample A came out an aran weight yarn
Sample B came out a heavier worsted weight yarn...and very lofty

Gretta Sampling 2

So, I'll be spinning Gretta in the Sample B ratio & style. And so far I've gotten 2 ounces spun up, and she's an absolute delight to spin -- woolen spinning really suits her. She's like a soft grey cloud of soft fur that I just want to bury my face into because of the softness.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Lack of Buttons: Finished Sweaters

This past week, I finally finished the Mondo Cable Cardigan I started last month, which all things considering, isn't a shabby length of time to knit a sweater. Some sweaters I've knitted took several months (like the February Lady's Tunic Sweater that I started in April, then finished in August.)

I'm really happy with how the Mondo Cable Cardigan came out. The color's perfect and I didn't mess up too badly. (I had missed an increase at one point, but that's not really a sticking point for this sweater.

It has about 2 inches of ease, which is perfect for wearing as layers. And the wool is light enough to not make it too bulky, but as it's wool, it's *warm* --- perfect for fall weather. (Plus, today, it's actually nippy enough to wear to work!)
I like it so much that I think I shall make another (at a later date) with a smaller collar that's better fit for a zipper.

Mondo Cable Cardigaon

And here is the aforementioned Febuary Lady's Tunic Sweater. It was the never-ending sweater. I had made incredible progress on it, until about the last 6 inches, then it started to slog so I put it down to finish some other projects, working on it occassionally. When we started podcasting, I finally got enough 'gumption' to actually attempt to finish it.

The angora/cashmere wool sweater Tunic is also VERY warm and VERY soft. It's like wearing a fluff cloud. However, due to the square neckline, it's more suited for high neck shirts (like turtle/mock-turtle necks).
Unfortunately, I only had two clasps (as featured in the photo) for it, when it really needed about 2 more. I had procrastinated going to JoAnne's to get more for about two months, but decided since I needed buttons for the Mondo, I'd pick them up as well.


THEN I discover that JoAnne's doesn't carry those particular closures anymore! GAH! I had to search online & buy more online. I don't know when they stopped carrying those closures, but it had to be within the past several months (as I had bought the same exact closures back in January for another cardigan).

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Knitter Network

Today, I headed over to JoAnn's to pick up heavy duty red thread for DH, who needed it for his project. They had their typical 40-50% flyers at the front of the store so I picked one up. I found the thread and thought to also pick up more locking stitch markers, because I needed more.

Then I saw they had 30% off all their knitting books, and I found Nicky Epstein's book, Beyond the Edge.

I had heard good things about the book, and after flipping through it, was pretty much convinced that it needed to come home with me. PLUS, you can't beat the 30% off.

When I got to the register, the cashier commented on the book & told me she had taken Nicky's class at this "big knitting event" that happens every year. When I asked if it was at Stitches, she smiled, then we geeked a bit about Stitches & Nicky's book. I asked her about Nicky's class. (Luckily, there was no one else waiting in line).

When she rung the book up, it didn't ring up the 30% off, but she graciously took the coupon and took off 40%. THEN she ran the stitch markers also at 40% (Normally, you can only use a coupon once!) But I did have to pay full price for the thread. LOL

So, yes, go-go Knitter's Network!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ren Faire Outfit Completed

I've been working on this particular outfit on-and-off for the past two months. I completed the skirt in about 2 hours, but neglected to hem (as I hate hemming) for some time.

The bodice also took about 3 hours, but I neglected to add the grommets (as I hate grommetting) for some time.

Finishing work is a Pain In the Posterior. So, both languished in the UFO bin for a bit until I finally got off my duff to get to work. (Plus I had to wear these to the upcoming Ren Faire, so they needed to be finished.

Grommetting took only about an hour. Hemming took another hour. But the results are great.

Ren Faire Outfit - Linen

(The upper half of the mannequin isn't quite the right size for me, but is perfect for hemming skirts)

Ren Faire Outfit - Linen

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Finished Spinning Projects

I've been busy as of late. Between work, sewing, knitting, spinning, and various events...not to mention podcasting, well, it's been hectic. :-)

I finally got around to taking some photos of a variety of finished projects, including some amazing Targhee from Abstract Fibers; colorway=Malificient. How could I say no to almost all of my favorite colors


It spun up beautifully into a lovely marled skein. I forgot to take a photo of the skein, but here it in in a cake. 383 yards that will be made into something...not sure what yet.

Malificent Targhee

Oh, and there's also my Tweed Spice from Tour De Fleece.

It went from the lovely top to singles

Ashland Bay Spice TDF 2011

to a final 3-ply worseted

Foxglove Spice

Unfortunately, it wasn't quite enough for a sweater (slightly short of 900 yards), so I'm going to try and either find an appropriate vest / shrug to go with the yardage, or combine it with commercial to produce enough for a sweater.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Bonfire Projects

Back in May/July, I had spun up some beautiful Abstract Fibers merino/silk blend called BonFire into 205 yards of sport weight yarn.


Subsequently, I had finished up two projects with the yarn. (I love knitting with handspun!)

Firelands -- a cowl of my own design. And I had a used about 159 yards of the handspun to create it.


I had left over yarn, and I really wanted to use the remaining yardage up, but didn't have enough to really do much of anything else unless I wanted to mix it with commercial yarn.

Then the latest fall version of Knitty appeared and they had the pattern, Pretty Twisted, which used left over yarn to make some pretty bracelets.

I named it "Embers" to reflect the leftover parts of Bonfire, and I found some cute buttons to match as the colors also reminded of an autumn day.

Pretty Twisted

Monday, August 22, 2011


I love getting packages in the mail, especially those that come from Morro Fleeceworks. Previously, I had two fleeces sent to them: a white hogget fleece and a dark grey ewe. They look absolutely beautiful in the box.

Sherri put a note in with the fleece. Apparently, the hogget fleece had a lot of VM (which I was told), but also a lot of 2nd cuts (usually, a fleece is sheared off with one fluid motion; and 2nd cuts are when they have to go back to recut the fleece and is not necessarily desirable in a fleece). I'm a bit disappointed in the shepherdess who didn't tell me about the second cuts although she did warn me about the VM (veggie matter) that was in the fleece.

However, not withstanding, the fleeces are beautiful and so very well done that I can't wait to start spinning it....Sometime after I finish spinning everything else that is on my 2 wheels.....



Saturday, August 13, 2011

Superwash Hair

Superwash wool is wool that can be run through the laundry (washer/dryer) without the wool shrinking. Wool shrinks when the scales lift up and rub against each other, thereby locking down on nearby fibers and "felt"; hot water and agitation (i.e washing through the washer/dryer) are the usual culprits that cause felting. As a note, the number of scales on a given strand also give a certain amount of curl.

There are two ways to get superwash wool, but either way reduces the number of "scales" ( or the cuticles) of the hair by either:
1) shaving scales off each strand, thereby reducing crimp and the potential for felting and shrinking.
2) glueing the scales down by coating it with a special polymer

Superwash wool often has a "smoother" feeling than regular wool.

Recently, a friend of mine who is a hairdresser told me how the new "Brazillian Blowout" straightens curly hair --- essentially, each hair strand is "coated" with a glue (much like superwash wool) to straighten it.

It also feels "smoother" than regular hair.

Basically, the Brazillian Blowout creates superwash hair.

Monday, August 8, 2011

We have a podcast!

So, I mentioned previously that I was working on a podcast in the works. Well, that's become a reality!

Introducing the Geek Girls Crafts podcast -- a podcast by geek who just happen to be girls, talking about geeky topics from books, movies, technology, science fiction, cosplay,  conventions that they attend, and all of the geek events in the SF bay area. In addition, they talk about their DIY and crafting projects and how it fits into their geek lifestyles.

Listen here:
Geek Girl Crafts Podcast

Sunday, July 31, 2011

PodCast in the Works

Some friends and I are working on a podcast that's in the same vein as this blog. We just recorded our first show yesterday, and I'm working on getting the audio edited and finalized.

We're VERY excited. I'll be making an 'official' announcement soon enough along with the appropriate links, etc.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Brief Thoughts on The Schact Sidekick: A Review

Ever since the Schact Sidekick was announced, I've been really looking forward to giving it a try. The Sidekick looked very nifty and the preliminary reviews were excellent. But, since I like to try wheels out first, I wasn't ready to pre-order it.

If it worked out for me, I had plans to sell my Ashford Joy for the Schact Sidekick. So, when my LYS finally got one into their store, I gave it a test drive.

My Initial Impressions:

* It's a very cute wheel, and looks to be well-engineered
* It is very small, and would travel very well.
* It treadles beautifully. However, being of a shorter stature, I do have to be in a slightly taller chair for it.

Then my wonderful spinning guru at my LYS showed me how to break it down, and this is where I started noticing problems. I'll be listing the advantages/disadvantages as I saw them.


* They use some nify handles to loosen a lot of parts (much like bikes).
* The Sidekick is very light to handle, albeit an awkward shape.
* Treadling is very smooth and very easy.
* Nearly everything has it's place.
* The orfice is of a good size, and you can probably do some art & bulky yarns with it.
* It's very well engineered (although I think it might be a little *too* over-engineered, see my notes below.)
* This wheel is tiny with a SMALL footprint. It'd fit nicely in a small apartment. You can probably take it on as carry on luggage on a plane (provided you don't carry anything else)
* It comes with two types of whorls (medium & fast). Also you can get an additional slow whorl (4.25:1/5.25:1) and the High speed whorl (12.5:1/15.25:1)


The following are some of the disadvantages that I found with the Sidekick. These are based on my personal preferences, and not something that is a "deteriment" to the wheel, but basically some things that might annoy me.

* It's not exactly easy to fold down the Sidekick. There are screws to be loosened, removed, then parts are rejiggered, then screwed into their proper places.

Unlike my Joy, where it's a push here, fold this, then zip into the bag and you're ready to go, the Sidekick takes a bit of doing. I'm sure that once you get used to breaking it down, it'll get faster. I'm just comparing it to the Joy where it was easy to fold up out of the box.)

* There's no place to put the flyer that would secure it well once it's folded down, nor is there a place to store extra bobbins.

* There's no handle by which to heft the Sidekick when it's folded, but there's plenty of real estate on the wheel to put something there. So, I don't know why Schact didn't do this one thing.

* There's no built-in kate (not a deal breaker for me, but something I noticed).

* The travel bobbins are PRICEY ($30.00 apiece). If you don't already have a Schact Matchless or Ladybug, you'll be investing in additional bobbins.

* I'm not sure how much I like their Scotch tension design that puts the spring on the wrong side of the nut, which causes it to lose a little bit of finer tension control as with other Scotch tension wheels. I really have to crank the nob to get a change in tension (unlike my Kiwi or Joy where a small twist to the spring provides additional tension)


This is a very nice wheel that I would buy if I already didn't have the Joy. But this is a wheel that I would highly recommend people to consider IF:

* you're looking for a wheel that could serve as a home & travel wheel, I'd go for the Sidekick.

* you don't have a lot of space in my home/apartment, and needed something with a small foot print, I'd go for the Sidekick (although I think breaking it down repeatedly would be a hassle.)

* you're travelling and am going to be leaving your wheel set up for an extended period of time, I think this is an excellent wheel. If you need to constantly setup & fold up your wheel, this might get annoying, depending on your own personal preferences.

* you don't already own a travelling wheel.

I don't think I'll be selling my Joy for the Sidekick. I think the Joy is a little bit more "travel" friendly than the Sidekick; it's certainly easier to break down and I like the extra bobbin storage. Also their bag allows me to put fiber and other tools easily.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Sooper Seekrit Project

I'm working on a Sooper Seekkkrit Project that has to do with geek girls and crafting. Hopefully, it'll come into fruition this August. I've been doing prep-work in the meantime.

For this one, I am blaming several things:
a) Jasmin of the Knitmore Girls Podcast, coz, well, I can, and she initially put the seed into my head

b) Several conversations at WesterCon 2011 that basically said, "Why the hell not?"

More to come later...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

TDF 2011: Final Day

One Pound of Fiber
TDF 2011
This is 16 quills (1 ounce per quill) in my little Cthulu knitting bowl.

So, I finished my TDF 2011 goals 2 days ahead of schedule. So, I opted to spin the last 2 ounces of the fiber (as I had 18 ounces total, but only a goal of 16 ounces, or 1 pound) as extra credit. However, I only managed to finish one extra ounce due to Life (TM).

TDF 2011

And will make a wonderful 3ply yarn....enough (hopefully) for a sweater.

Ashland Spice 3ply - Sampling

Friday, July 22, 2011

TDF: The Home Stretch Day 21

It's almost the end of Tour de Fleece, and I'm working hard to accomplish my goal. I somewhat fell behind the pack last weekend because we had a trip planned that would leave me with several days of no spinning. Consequently, I tried to make up for it last week by spinning extra to make up for those last few days, for fear of being "rushed" at the end.
As a result, I'm really close to finishing my goal of 1lb of fiber for TDF. I have less than 1 ounce left of the required 16 ounces.

And then I looked at the TDF dates again....

I THOUGHT that TDF finished TODAY, 22nd of July, instead of July 24th. (Instead of 22 DAYS to finish, my brain transposed it to finishing BY the 22nd).

Silly me. I'm definitely prettier than smart in this case, it worked out in my favor as I am completely ahead of schedule!

Consequently, I will take these extra days to spin up the 2 additional ounces that would be left over from the fiber (I had a little over 1lb of fiber), and maybe, just maybe, I can also start plying.

AND, that would be EXTRA credit for TDF.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

TDF 2011: Update - Day 13

Here's a photo of where I am right now with Tour de Fleece 2011:

  • 9 1-ounce bumps spun.
  • Another one ounce on the wheel.
  • 5.5 ounces left to complete

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

TDF: Days 5-11

I'm still working diligently on my Tour de Fleece project. I've been looking at some of the forums & posts, and WOWZA, people have gotten a TON of spinning done! (As evidenced by the tons of bobbins and skeins already created.)

I am still plugging along on my mere one pound of fleece spinning. I have 6 ounces done, and am woefully behind getting all 16 ounces done by the 22nd of July. I need to get 10 ounces done in the next 10 days, which sounds do-able, BUT....when you have a multitude of things going on all at once, then it becomes a little bit more difficult (esp. since we're going to be gone for 2 days and there shall be no spinning for me because the 2 days will be jammed pack).

so, realistically, I shall have 8 days to finish 10 ounces. GAK. However, I shall perservere, as this is my challenge, and getting everything plied was "extra credit" anyways.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Slate Talks About Ravelry

Fiber artists all know that Ravelry is amazing.

Slate post an article about Ravelry earlier this month.

Weekend Full of Faires

This weekend was one full of variety of craft fairs and such.

On Saturday, we went up to the Renegade Craft Faire late in the afternoon. This gave us time to sleep in a little bit, grab a leisurely lunch before heading over to Fort Mason.

Parking was relativey easy, and the vendors there were the usual suspects we had seen before with a few new ones. I ended up buying a print from Wondermark, which was a whopping $5.00.

I got this print from him, which involves knitting...coz it's too funny, and well, it's just so very true!

It was interesting to see different takes on upcycling, repurposes, and the ilk, but nothing that jumped out at me and say 'WOW'.

On Sunday, I headed over to the Oakland Fiber Festival, which was a small craft festival for fiber artists. It was mostly vendors with a few guilds.

They had some tents set up to teach knitting, weaving, spinning, crochet, and felting, but some of the tents were over crowded with equipment. But unfortunately, not a lot of designated space for existing fiber artists to just hang out and commune. There were a lot of space in the park that you *could* do it...outside of the general festival area, but it would have been nice to see a place where people could convene, and sit and just hang for a while; seeing as how most knitters, spinners, and crocheters are extremely social community.

I had a nice conversation with Shaggy Bear Farms and her rare breeds flock and got a lot of information on some breeds that she raises, from pygora, teeswater, gotland, and Icelandic. I picked up a few samples from her to spin.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Google Geeking

Having worked for many a high-tech engineering & software companies in the Silicon Valley, I can say that I have some tech geek cred. Not as much as others, but enough.

The buzz lately has been Google+. I managed to get into the latter half of the Beta Program, and have been liking what I've seen so far. It's FaceBook with things done better than FaceBook

There's a little bit more security for privacy, photos, and the ilk.
I like their use of "circles" versus friend lists. You can put people you know into different "circles". (For example, friends, acquaintances, family, work friends, etc). You can place multiple people into different circles, AND G+ makes it easy for you to post only to specific circles.

However, I do wish that with all of Google's graphic design, that they would have made a more Google-esque interface instead of having it look too much like FaceBook.

For now, I'm on both, and I've discovered a nifty way to crosspost between Google+ and FB (with some restrictions), but it's good enough for me now. However, I will be using G+ a lot more.

Those who are on FB who primarily play games (like CityVille or Farmville) have no worries. Its rumoured that Zynga will have games on G+ soon enough.

Birthday Socks

My nephew got his socks on his actual birthday, which was all sorts of awesome. His mother sent me a text with a photo, letting me know how much he LOVES his socks. And despite the 86+ degree weather they were having (down in Southern California), he ran around the house with them on for the rest of the evening.

He keeps trying to wear them, but it's too darn hot down there to actual wear *wool* socks for any length of time, so he's been keeping them with him on his bed and sleeping with them.

Colin's SOcks

The socks fit him a little loosely, but well enough. He should be able to wear them for another year before he outgrows them, which is exactly what I had hoped....provided he doesn't wear them out first.

The photo she texted me (which I won't post for obvious reasons), has him splayed out on the floor, feet in the air, to show off his socks....along with the biggest goofiest grin that a 6-year-old can muster.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Sometimes, you just have to walk away

I have this hat pattern. It's a pretty hat, and lots of people have knitted it. I very much like this hat.

The instructions are not overly complicated but not exactly all that simple. It's got tons of simple cabling in it. I've liked this hat for a while and had gotten it a while ago, but just haven't knitted it.

But apparently, I am completely incapable of reading *single* page of instructions correctly....several times. Apparently, I can't count either. I've had to frog several times, including ripping out the WHOLE thing 2x. *sigh*
  • I couldn't count stitches correctly -- cast on 104 -- even with all the stitch markers I used, so when I start the cabling, everything was off by a single stitch. FROG back to the ribbing to reduce the number of stitches.
  • Then when I get everything ready, I am unable to count a simple 8 stitches in order to do my cabling. FROG to the ribbing
  • Then I couldn't actually *read* the initial ribbing part correctly (k1, p2, k1), which is a 2x2 rib (k2, p2), but you have to make sure you start at the right first stitch (k1) instead of starting with the k2 in order to get the cabling to line up correctly. COMPLETELY FROG in order to start all over again in frustration.
  • Then I thought that I'd do a tubular cast-on to make a better edging since I had already frogged completely.. Apparently, despite having done this many many times, I am still unable to count correctly. FROG the cast-on 2x.
  • And then, (this might have been an honest assumption, except that I didn't actually *read* the entire pattern first), I thought the "written" directions was a translation of the chart, because it had the same exact number of rounds. INSTEAD, the written directions were for the crown, and I couldn't understand why it was decreasing so fast to make such a small hat. FROG BACK to the ribbing.

Needless to say, I had to walk away from the whole thing for several hours as my frustration level was growing. I had started this hat on the 4th. I should have been finished by now.

le sigh

But, apparently, I am on the "right" track now (knock on wood), although I will be using lifelines at the finish of each repeat, because given the history of this hat, I'm bound to make yet more mistakes.

I guess it's a good thing that this hat is a lovely green for all the frogg'ing I've had to do. There are some days, where I just feel prettier than I do smart. *sigh*

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

TDF: days 1-4

Tour de Fleece has started well. Despite the holiday weekend, I've gotten off to a good start. According to my calculations, I just need to spin an average of 1/2 ounce of fiber per day in order to finish up a pound by the end of TDF.

So far, so good....even with the horrifically hot weather we've been having.


Friday, July 1, 2011

I Can Haz Socks?

Last month, I got a chance to spend some time with my niece & nephews. The youngest, C, asked me if I could knit him a pair of socks like I had for his older sister. He said I could make it his birthday present, if I wanted (which he pointed out was coming up).

Hmm. Cheeky kid just like his uncle. However, with his big blue eyes and toothy grin, who I am to say no? I'm such a sucker for those kids. And socks are a relatively quick knit, esp. since he's got smaller feet.

Of course, this was the kid who was kinda disappointed that I had given him a dead fish hat for his birthday (he wanted a R/C car), BUT also the same one, who dragged me over to show me that he had brought his hat and they had worn it while on vacation. LOL.

Dead Fish Hat 1

As he is growing like a weed, at 5 years old, he's wearing Size 2 already. His mom & I agreed that a size bigger would at least last him a year. So when I got home, I dug out some left over sock yarn (machine-washable for his mother) that I thought he might like, and knitted him a pair of socks.

Colin's SOcks

I sent those off to him earlier this week, which should get them to him (hopefully) ON his birthday.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Knitted Knockers

This is very cool, and helps breast cancer survivors. So, if you want to do some volunteer knitting, yet something "different", here's the thing for you.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tour De Fleece 2011

It's that time of year again for the Tour De Fleece Challenge on Ravelry. Again, I'll be spinning with Team Sasquatch for TDF2011

My goal? Attempt to spin 1 lb of silk/merino fiber from Ashland Bay in the colorway "Spice" within the specified time frame. This is only the singles. I get extra credit for plying. ;-)

Ashland Bay Spice

I bought it because it reminded me of tabby cats. However, when I did my sampling, it came out a beautiful brown tweedy color.

For the samples, I've spun 1oz of fiber, and tried a 2 & 3ply to see what I liked using a 11:1 ration on my Ashford Kiwi.

Ashland Spice 2plyAshland Spice 3ply
2ply (Left) / 3ply (right)

I'm basically going with the 3ply sample.

So far, I've split my fiber into 1oz size bites so I can get them off the bobbins and onto quills when I'm done. There are about 16 (1oz) bumps there + 1 bump @ 1.5 oz.

TDF2011 Bumps

Usually, 1lb of fiber is enough for a sweater for me, so this shall end up being one.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Head over Heelix

I usually don't jump on a given knitting bandwagon immediately. If I like a pattern well enough to knit it, I usually get around to it. Very rarely has there been a pattern that I Have To Knit NOW!!

However, in the new issue of Knitty Fall 2011, I saw the Double Heelix and I just Had To Knit It Now!!

Luckily, I had just finished a pair of socks for my nephew (more on that later), and was looking for another portable project. I also had the appropriate yarn for it in my Stash.

The heel was a little bit tricky to get right and I frogged 2x because I didn't read carefully enough, but once I got the heel, everything else was cake.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Retzlaff Winery Event

The Retzlaff Winery Event came and went...without me. :-( I had gone last year, and had every intention of going this year, except that it was slated to have 80% chance of rain (unseasonably) on the planned weekend, so it was moved to a weekend when I already had conflicting plans. :-(

However, I had already arranged with Janet Heppler of Nebo Rock Ranch to buy two of her fleeces. She put aside two grey fleeces and 2 hogget fleeces (the first fleece removed from a sheep and generally the softest fleece a sheep will ever produce) for me to look at at Retzalff.

Fortunately, a friend, Lisa, was willing to pick up the fleeces and drop them off to Morro Fleeceworks for me (who was also going to be there). So, when it was definite I couldn't go, I had her do that for me.

I also had her get some fleece samples for my fleece & fiber study book so I could have some before/after of the fiber along the way.

Six pound grey fleece, Gretta

Gretta was coated, so she wasn't particularly dirty, and there was some grease. But, she had that wonderful musical sound when you pinged her locks.


Odie, a hogget ram @ 4.5 pounds.

According to Janet, the hoggets aren't coated and there is some VM in their coats. But since I really wanted to experiment with a hogget, this is of little concern to me as Janet's fleeces are quite nice. The hogget was slightly greasy, but not overly so.


I did take some of the samples (not enough to spin, really), and washed some of it so I could see the before and after. I've read enough about washing fleeces to have a working knowledge, but no practical experience. So I tried my best.

I had some tulle so I wrapped some of the samples in that, and let it soaked/rinsed 2x using Dawn.Then let it dry in the very hot sun.

Gretta Washing

The Results?

Gretta had very little change; just dirt & debris and some of the lanolin was removed. You can feel the difference mostly in touch versus sight. The *after* is very soft and most of the lanolin has been removed.

Gretta Before / After
Before / After

Odie (Before & After)

Odie had the biggest visual change, as the yellow-y lanolin & dirt was removed leaving a very clean white fleece.

And, ZOMG, is it sooo soft!

Ode Before/After

Now that I have these clean locks, I wish I had a little bit more to try a sample spin, but this was mostly just to have reference examples of the fleeces I buy. that I really can't wait to have these arrive from Morro!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Feeling Not So Blue about Blue

Previously, I wrote about my cat Blue who was suffering from an unknown-at-the-time ailment. However, she is responding beautifully to both types of antibiotics, and cancer has been ruled out.

She's eating, grooming, and generally herself again. This makes me happy. Now, I can concentrate on other things, like crafting....

Friday, June 17, 2011

Feeling Blue

This is my cat, Blue. (Once dubbed Bluebeard for the grey 'beard' under her chin, until we found out she was a girl...)

Blue in Repose

She hasn't been feeling well for the past few days, and the doctors don't know what's wrong; actually they just don't know WHY she's sick. It could be anything from an infection to the big "C"-word.

She's on two types of antibiotics, subQ fluids, and we're putting food down her until she feels good enough to eat on her own. She was at the vet for 2 days on an IV.

This is what I've been doing for the past several days, so things have been quite on the blog-o-sphere, and very minimal crafting has been done.

Blue's getting better, but progress is slow.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

iPad Accessory Case

Since I got the iPad2, I've been looking at a variety of accessories, including cases for it. Some are rather expensive, and there are mixed reviews on all of them. Until I could make a firm decision regarding what type of case I wanted, I opted to at least make something quick for myself as a modicum of protection rather than just throwing it into my messenger bag when I go out.

I have available leather as well as fabric in the house, but I opted for fabric until I was happy with what I got, as fabric is a little more forgiving if a mistake is made. (Plus I have much more fabric available).

I took some progress pictures with the iPad just to see what it was like.****

All-in-all, it took me about 2 hours to put it together. I did spend 30 minutes, trying to remember how to do a bowline knot.

Fabric Being Used

I had some left over linen fabric from a previous outfit I had created.

I also had some left over quilting material that would serve as padding for my iPad.

Quilted Pocket Finished

One edge of the quilted fabric was already sewn in bias tape, so I thought to use that as the top edges. The edges are serged for extra strength


After some sewing for both the lining (green fabric) and outer fabric (striped fabric, the pocket was finished.

Finished Pocket

Boning along the Edge

I did some decorative stitching of a vine motif along the edge of the flap, and used boning to give it a little bit more stiffness.

Boning added to edge

Finished Pocket with iPad Enclosed
Here's the finished pocket with the iPad inserted. It's a little bit bigger than the iPad, but the inner quilted pocket fits the iPad snuggly.

Closure Idea

I was playing around with the types of closures to be used. A while ago, I found a young boy's leather belt that I think might work for the closure, but it proved to be a bit unwieldy.

Closure Idea

I opted for a leather thong & a nice brass button. The thongs are tied with a figure-8 & bowline knot.

Closure 2

**** (Although 1-2 photos were taken with the iPhone because the iPad was in its case. And can I say that the iPad camera just SUCKS? I know it's not on par with my regular camera gear, but the photos it took are just horrid! They only look good when resized very very very small. The "large" ipad sized photos are just waay too noisy & pixelated.