Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Telling Your Overachiever to SHUT UP

I've been feeling a little disheartened with my knitting as of late. I have only completed a few small projects versus last year's set. Last year (by this time), I had finished four sweaters, two hats, one pair of socks and one set of fingerless gloves.  This year thus far, I've only finished three pair of socks, two hats, one set of fingerless gloves, one fair isle set of gloves, and one sweater (sans buttons). I feel like such a slow knitter.

Now, to be fair to myself (and as Sandy has pointed out to me), I've started two very large projects -- the Knit Swirl Coat (a circular coat with a BAJILLION stitches) and an Aran cardigan (involving a ton of cable charts), and I've been spinning quite a bit. These projects have taken up quite a bit of my time

The Knit Swirl coat is so big that it can only be worked on at home. And the Aran cardigan requires attention to the cabling so it's definitely not mindless knitting. Plus when you work on a singular project for an extended period of time, it tends to bring out the doldrums for me.

Consequently, I've started a bunch of small projects to alleviate those doldrums or when I wanted something mindless so I could converse with other people. Some of them I've finished (socks) and some are languishing as my fickle self decides what it wants to do.

It's little wonder that I've finished as much as I've done.

However, there's that part of me that thinks I'm a slacker and that I should have gotten done more. I'm sure everyone has that part of themselves that is the overachiever who wants to MAKE ALL THINGS

And sometimes, she does get the better of me, and I feel a little bit sorry for myself even though I know better. But every know and then I have to tell her to STFU because I can only do so much in the hours I've given, and I'm doing as much as I can, when I can.  

Consequently, I was super excited to have finished the back panel of my Aran sweater recently and started on the right front panel. Luckily, the right front panel is much smaller than the back panel, so the knitting is going a bit faster, which makes me so very happy .

I feel like I've finally made some progress on the Aran sweater, which will help my Overachiever to calm down a bit so I can actually get some crafting done.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

How to Migrate off Google Reader

Dear Readers,

If you haven't already heard, Google Reader (one of THE MOST useful RSS readers out there) is going to shut down as of July 1st, 2013. Google Reader, while not the most elegant was pretty utilitarian. I'm really sorry to see it go. (I hope that Google makes the Reader code open source so that other developers can pick up where Google has left off!)

If you are reading my blog (or any blog for that matter) on Google Reader, you're going to need to find another RSS reader to use. Here are some helpful links for you to migrate your data over to another reader

  • Google Takeout -- will save all of your Google data for you, including all of your RSS feed information so you can import it elsewhere
  • Alternatives to Google Reader -- Here's a list of 12 alternates to Google reader. Personally, I am using Feedly and am generally liking it. I have it on my laptop and mobile devices.
  • You can also follow my blog via email. An email message will arrive in your inbox whenever a new blog entry is posted. Just look for the following on the right side and enter your email address.

I hope that helps you save your various blog feeds!

Monday, June 24, 2013

What's Cooking?

The other day, I decided to get some dye'ing done on the stove top. I had two things that I wanted to dye -- my Hemlock Blanket (which is an oatmeal color) and a lovely white silk velvet scarf that I picked up from Dharma Trading Company,

So, I grabbed my dye'ing pots and my Jacquard acid dyes, and started dye'ing! For the hemlock blanket, I used a combination of green, black, and blue to give me a darker green.

For the silk scarf, I used a combination of red & black to give me a (hopefully) dark blood red color.

When you dye fabric, it usually seem pretty dark while in the dye pot, but will dry a lighter color than what is seen in the pot. So, sometimes, it might take a few dye'ing sessions to get the color you want, or you have to go "darker" in the dye pot in order to get the shade you truly want. If you have extra of a given fabric, you can do a  "dye swatch" some of the fabric and try out different measurements of dye. I've done this with silk ribbon that I've wanted to match specific outfits. It takes a bit of time, but really worth it, if you need to match color.

This time, however, I winged it, because I didn't care about the color matching and only wanted an approximate color. (Plus, if I didn't like the color, I could always overdye it darker).

The one thing about dye'ing that I like is that it is "fairly" maintenance free one you have everything set up. I mixed the dyes in the pot, added the fabric, and let it 'simmer' for a while; checking on it occassionally while I got other housework done.

I took some photos of the in-progress dye'ing projects. I love how these cam out.

Here's the hemlock blanket on my blocking boards, before pinning. I'm really liking the color, which looks somewhat "teal" in the dyebath, but is a lovely green. I forgot to take a photo of the scarf, which I'll post about later.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Spinning Batts

When I first start spinning, I purchased a 3-month club membership from Butterfly Girl Designs, and each month I got a spindle and batt.

This one is called Starlight, Starbright. It's 3.5 ounces of 57% merino, 33% bamboo, and 10% nylon firestar. Isn't it pretty?

However, there is one small problem with this type of batt. All of the fiber are layered (bamboo sitting ontop of merino sitting ontop of the nylon). Because it's not blended thoroughly, spinning it can prove prickly and problematic, as I discovered when I spun one of the first batts I got from her.

The resulting yarn was lovely, but I did have a hard time spinning it, as I would get chunks of just bamboo or chunks of merino or chunks of firestar.

I didn't want to spin the other batts until I felt I got better spinning-wise or learned how to better deal with spinning from such a batt.

After taking the SpinU classes from Sandy, she taught us how to overcome these problems, simply by better blending the batt with either handcards or a drumcarder. The resulting batt isn't as "pretty" as the layered batt, but it would spin easier.

As this batt was 3.5 oz,  I headed over to my LYS, where they let me use their drumcarder to better blend the fibers.

And, they are spinning up quite nicely now. I'm currently spinning them woolen on my Ashford Traddy. I'll post photos of the finished singles once I'm done with them.

Monday, June 17, 2013


Some time ago, I picked up some lovely Ashland Bay merino / cashmere (80/20) at my LYS as it was on sale. I wasn't sure what to do with it, but found the perfect pattern, Eve's Ribs. The suggested yarn is Carol Sunday's own brand of yarn, which is lovely, but I decided to spin for it myself.

According to her website, her yarn is a 5ply light worsted (or a DK) weight yarn @ 10 WPI.

If this is true, then each single of a 5ply would have to be 50 otherwords, froghair. And I just don't like spinning that fine. So, I thought to change it to a 3ply yarn, so that the singles would only need to be about 30 WPI each.

The yardage required is 822 - 1233 yards (depending on size). My current grist is about 55 yards / ounce, which would require that I have 16 ounces for the barest minimum yardage

822 yards / (55 yards/oz) = ~ 14 ounces.

I'm really loving this fiber, which is super soft. Spinning it completely woolen actually goes by relatively quickly. I can finish an ounce in an evening (whereas it might take me two evenings to spin worsted.) Plus, it's easy to spin even when I'm not feeling 100%

So, far, I have about 12 ounces spun (not including the left over bobbins that I used for sampling).

Here's one of the skeins that I've plied thus far. It's lovely, air, and oh-so-soft!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

In Sickness and in Health.....

I apologize for the radio silence on my end. This past two weeks was somewhat of a whirlwind. DH & I went up to the Valhalla Ren Faire (I'll post photos later), but when we got home, I got very ill.

This year, I started having allergic reactions to the various blooming trees and weeds. It was enough that I had to start taking Claritin on a daily basis. Prior to this year, I had extremely mild to no reactions to those trees having sex. (Ah, the joys of getting 'older').

While I was in Tahoe for the Faire, I was surrounded by trees! I took Claritin every day while I was there, but it was hard. I think it overwhelmed my system. So when we got back home, I got sick, which at first, I thought was just allergic reactions, but then it got worse. I completely lost my voice (which meant I had to cancel podcasting until I got better).

I was having problems taking deep breaths and was winded (and thus tired) very easily. I was getting exhausted from doing simple household chores or even working on the computer or heck...knitting. I ended up napping a lot, which is saying something for me as I am not a nap-person.

The doctor diagnosed a viral cold on top of all the allergy crap. She put me on four different types of medication, but the combination made me loopy; there was a severe lack of concentration, and I felt like I was detached from any emotional involvement.

(My medical retinue with my "medicine bag")

Knitting was difficult at best as I had a few complicated projects on the needles. I had one project involving stockinette and slipped stitches, but even that proved troublesome after a while.

So, I couldn't knit, crochet, and I couldn't read (as I couldn't retain anything I had read). I was pretty much good for background movies & t.v. shows, and napping -- in other words, pretty useless in my mind. This was very difficult for me! I WANTED TO KNIT. (Even DH noticed that I hadn't knitted as much.)

But now, I've had enough of an attention span to do something "simpler" than knitting. My houndstooth scarf (out of my own handspun) had been languishing on the rigid heddle, so I've picked it back up again.

Hopefully, this will keep me until I don't need the meds anymore. And then I can start knitting again.

And hopefully, I can get back to blogging on a regular basis, and I can finally get to recording the next podcast!