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.