Saturday, December 29, 2007

Christmas wrap up

With Christmas being in the middle of the week this year, it seemed to go by in a blur. Even so, we had a fantastic Christmas. The husband and I had agreed not to buy each other gifts this year (although I did manage to surprise him with seasons 2&3 of the original Star Trek that I picked up for a song months ago). We both have most of what we want and its hard for him to get me the knitting stuff I want and for me to get him the vintage toys he wants. So we gave each other the gift of a shopping spree. I got EZ's Knitting Around DVD set, Harry Potter & the OOTP DVD, and the books Teach Yourself Visually Spinning and the Harmony Guides Knit & Purl. The family gift exchange was great. Everyone enjoyed their gifts. My sister gave me the Mystery Science Theater 3000 DVD (one of my absolute FAVORITE series. She also pointed out you can go here and get rifftracks for recent movies. I'll be checking these out for sure.)

The most special gift I got was a scrapbook from my mom.
She made scrapbooks for both my sister and I. It was so touching I couldn't even look at it without choking up. I have looked at it since then and it's wonderful. Chock full of memories. I will treasure it always.

Wheel update: I heard from Bob yesterday and got the tracking info for the Minstrel. It's schedule to be delivered on Wednesday (although I have my fingers crossed they'll bring it on Monday, it's already in Pennsylvania so the possibility is good). I've decided I want to use a Danish Oil finish on it rather than stain and polyurethane. I checked at the one hardware store in town, but they only had the Danish Oil in Natural and I've got my heart set on Red Mahogany. And for as precious as this wheel is to me, I'm not going to just settle on something. There's another store in town here I can check. And there's always Lowes or Home Depot. Bob suggested Antique Oil, which Ace did have. So if I really truly can't get the Danish Oil I want, I might go with that.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Wheel update

Hooray!! Santa whispered in hubby's ear found a way for me to get my spinning wheel NOW! Well yesterday actually. I ordered the Kromski Minstrel from Winderwood Farm. I'm so excited. Bob said I could have it in as few as 3 days (which I think is HIGHLY unlikely since we are in the middle of the holidays) but certainly in a week. Squee! I'm so excited. Wait, did I say that already. Oh, who cares. I'm SO EXCITED!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Yarn diet...the rules

Ok, if I'm going to do this yarn diet, I figured I better set some rules ("they're really more like guidelines") for myself.

Rule 1: The diet starts now. Although technically the last time I bought yarn was 3 days ago, I'm officially starting to count from today.

Rule 2: I will not purchase yarn for any new projects until
a. April 15 (might as well use another significant date to keep things simple) OR
b. I have enough money for a wheel and what ever I need to get started spinning (roving, books, videos, etc)

Rule 3: If I run out of yarn for a project currently underway or one started from stash, I can buy enough yarn to finish that project.

Rule 4: I will save the money not spent on yarn towards the purchase of a new spinning wheel.

Four rules sounds like enough. Should I change my mind about the wheel at any time in the next 4 months, I'm going to stick to the diet. The purpose for the diet is two fold: save money for a wheel AND reduce stash. For motivation, I'm going to put one of those nifty counter things on my sidebar to help track how long I can stick to the diet. I imagine this will be infinitely easier than any food related diet I've ever stuck to. There's plenty of stash to dive into and hopefully enough variety to keep me interested. Wish me luck.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Huge catching up post!

Hooray! I finished Mr. Greenjeans and it turned out fabulous!
Mr Greenjeans
I had just enough yarn with the 5 skeins of Patons Classic Wool. There was maybe a quarter of a ball left in the end. I followed the pattern except for 2 things: I messed up when I started the cabled part of the body, starting with a cable column rather than a plain column, but unless you were familiar with the pattern, I didn't think anyone would notice; and I didn't switch to smaller needles for the cables on the sleeves. The body was pulling in so much, I was afraid the sleeves would be too tight. In the end I think it would have been fine to use the smaller needles. After washing, the cables loosened up quite a bit and the sweater fits perfectly. Can't wait to wear it Christmas day!

Now I'm working to finish the socks I've been slogging away at all summer. The Drops Tube Socks are officially not tube socks since I turned a short row heel, but I haven't come up with a new name of for them.
Tube sock?

I came thisclose to ripping the Jaywalkers because I just couldn't get motivated with them. I love the yarn and hated that it wasn't getting knitted up. However, I just couldn't rip them and now I'm glad I didn't.
Jaywalker
I've gotten past the heel turn and am getting into the rhythm of the pattern now. The socks are moving along much quicker now. The problem with both patterns is that they require me to pay at least a bit of attention and count some amount of stitches on every row. I just haven't had enough quiet time to ingrain the patterns into my brain and fingers. Hopefully now, though, they'll start going faster.

I started on the Ali Bag. Since I couldn't find the yarn called for in colors I liked and for a price I wanted to pay, I opted to use 4 strands of Knit Picks Wool of the Andes.
Yarn for Ali Bag
This appears to be working fine, except I grossly miscalculated the amounts of yarn I'll need and already run out of the 2 main colors!
Ali Bag - ran out of yarn
Luckily KP has them in stock and I was able to get my order in before they closed for the holidays. They shipped a few days ago so I should have them late next week.

Montego Bay has been frogged and the yarn re purposed into a Chevron Scarf. Mom had picked out some Sockotta yarn for me to make her a scarf we saw on display the Ball & Skein. I tried knitting the pattern from the shop. Hated it. Tried 2 more patterns, hated them. The yarn just wasn't cutting it on it's own. The cotton was too stiff, the colors were to jacquard. In steps some Sea Silk (formerly Montego Bay) and Joelle Hoverson's Chevron Scarf pattern (from this book) and voila
Chevron Scraf
lovely, pretty, soft scarf. I'm not crazy about knitting scarves, they seem to take forever. But I think this will be really nice when it's done and mom will love it.

One other finished object to report.
Irish Hiking Hat
An Irish Hiking Hat knit in Patons Shetland Chunky. Turned out a little too small to line it as the pattern calls for. But it's nice and cozy even without the lining (and it looks super cute if I do say so myself). I added a seed stitch border so it covers my ears nicely. This was a super fast knit, I think it might have taken a weekend. I will definitely be knitting this one again. Next time with a few more rows on the crown to allow for lining.

Only one item of stash enhancement to report
Araucania Ranco Multy
A skein of Araucania Ranco Multy. The colors are gorgeous. The Ravens yarn is still waiting in the wings. I'm committed to getting these socks off the needles before starting another project.

I've decided to go on a yarn diet for awhile. I've got a good amount of sock stash and yarn for several other small projects to keep me busy for at least a few months. The reason for the diet? Apart from motivation to use up some of my stash, I've decided I want to get a spinning wheel. The seed was planted decades ago. In my Grandma Miller's spare bedroom was a spinning wheel. I loved looking at it. It fascinated my child's mind, although I never got around to asking Grandma about it. This past spring, a locally made spinning wheel was auctioned off at our library's spring auction. And the seed started to sprout. The wheel was gorgeous. A Saxony style (think of Rumpelstiltskin's wheel or look here for examples). But I knew nothing about wheels and was hesitant. My sister and I were bidding together against another lady. We had no idea what it was worth, but knew our budget. R (the gutsier sister) kept bidding well past our budget, leaving me somewhat quaking in my boots knowing I'd be the one expected to learn to use it if we got it. (Un)fortunately we ended up not winning it in the end. In hindsight, now that I've started researching wheels, I see that she got it for a steal (if I recall it went just under $300). I was somewhat relieved, but still...the idea of a wheel was intriguing. I see bloggers like the Yarn Harlot & Wendy and hear podcasters like Kim & Lime and Violet all talking about their spinning and the sprout grows the tiniest bit at each mention. I see fabulous rovings on Etsy and think of the beautiful potential it has. Then along comes Ravelry (the Mecca of knitters) and see all the gorgeous fabulous handspun yarns my fellow knitters are creating. Now the sprout has got roots and at least a pair of leaves. So I decide to just do a little bit of poking around on the internet and see what wheels are out there and get an idea of what I might like. It's overwhelming! There's so many choices! But each day, I'm feeling more and more like this is the next step I want to take in my fiber journey and so I look and research some more. At the moment, I'm leaning heavily towards a Kromski Minstrel castle wheel. It's small size will fit my space much better than a Saxony but it's old world look suits my aesthetic better than a modern portable wheel. It's going to be awhile before I save enough for the wheel of my dreams (and why settle for less, right?) For now, I'm reading everything I can about wheels and spinning. Then, in a few months when I've saved enough money, we'll see if this mighty sprout is still niggling away at me or if the phase has passed. More on this subject to follow, I'm sure.

And now, wishing everyone out there a very Merry Christmas and a peaceful and joyous New Year!

Monday, November 19, 2007

November snow

So dad and I went to the feed store Saturday to stock up on birdseed for the winter. Apparently, not a moment too soon since this is the scene I awoke to this morning. It's November 19th for goodness sake! The weathermen were all calling for rain and a few flurries. We got an inch of snow. Very wet sloppy snow. Weird but very pretty.

I've been knitting up a storm, but as usual for this time of year, none of it can be posted here until after Christmas, hee hee. Well, not quite none. Here's the felted clogs finished.
These are going to my husband's aunt for Christmas. Check out the bottomsThe faux suede works like a charm! I "soled" the bottoms of my clogs and it's made a huge difference.

I finished the Melly's Cousin Bag
So cute. I've gotten a ton of compliments on it. It's a bit on the small side for me. Only my bare essentials fit in it. So I hopped back over to Sharon's site and picked up the Ali Bag pattern. She has it shown in a red colorway and a grey colorway. I'm leaning towards blue with green and purple pipes. I'm still looking at yarns. And since it's going to cost at least $50 for the yarn, it will probably wait until I've finished Christmas shopping.

Sadly, there's been no progress on Mr Greenjeans. I really need to finish my Christmas knitting so I can get back to working on it since I would love to wear it for Christmas. And then there's this...Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock Heavyweight RAVEN KORPPI!!! SQUEE!! I'm not a total STR junky, but I do adore their color sense. So a few weeks ago a reminder popped up in my email that said "STR Raven". I couldn't remember what the hell I set the reminder for, but I had put a link in the reminder and it took me to Blue Moon's site. There was nothing there about Ravens. So I hopped on the Ravelry Socks that Rawk group and found a RAGING discussion about when the Ravens would be up. Turns out they had some sort of trouble and the update didn't go up until evening. I happened to be there when the yarns started showing up. It was AWESOME! And the whole group spirit on Ravelry at the same time made it feel even more like a party. So what are the Ravens? Blue Moon did this whole line of colors based on black. Go look. It is PHENOMENAL. And the pictures don't even do the yarn justice. The colors are intense, almost iridescent. I WILL be getting more of this gorgeous stuff. For now, I had to content myself with one skein. It's going to be mittens. I couldn't hide this something this fantastic in shoes! So it's my carrot on a stick right now. I have to finish my Christmas knitting and Mr Greenjeans before I can start the mittens. Well, maybe just finish the Christmas knitting. We'll see how long I can hold out!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

New dye batch and what's on my needles

I finally got more Bare to dye. Here's my latest batchMy friend at the yarn store gets first choice, then the rest will be going up on Etsy later this week. I'm taking better notes so I can try to replicate colors in the future. I'm getting to the point I like so many of the colors, I don't want to let them go! Edna told me she was able to get undyed yarn from one of her suppliers. I'm anxious to see what it's like. I love the KP yarn, but it would be nice to have another source as well.

Hubby and I are on vacation this week. We have few plans, which is just how I like it. I've got books and magazines to get caught up on and tons of knitting! Mr. Greenjeans is cruising along. The body is finished and I'm halfway down the first sleeve.
Mr Greenjeans
And it looks like I'm not going to run out of yarn, YAY!

In anticipation of loads of knitting time I treated myself to one of Sharon's She-Knits bag patterns, Melly's Cousins Bag. I've ordered Berkshire Bulky in Coffee Bean and Tan from Webs and it should be here Monday or Tuesday. Speaking of Sharon, she's got a group over on Ravelry knitting the Felted Clogs. Mine are starting to develop a hole in the heel so I decided to join in. I picked up some Patons Classic wool in Leaf Green and Old Gold on sale at Michael's.
Felted Clogs
I also snagged some faux suede on Ebay with the hope of sewing soles to the bottoms for reinforcement. It was cheap so I won't feel bad if my plan doesn't work. I still have 2 pair of socks and the v-neck shell on my needles too! I'd say I've got PLENTY to keep my busy.

Still on the major clean-up kick. I thoroughly cleaned and reorganized the sewing/craft room. Many bits and bobs were tossed, sold, given away or re-purposed. I finished the Tumbler quilt I started last year.
Tumbler quilt
I decided I would never finish the log cabin rug I was making for the kitchen, so I bound it off and it's now a perfectly sized mat for under the cat's food dish.

I'm seriously considering frogging the Montego Bay Scarf. It spites me after all the trouble I went through to get the pattern and how lovely the SeaSilk yarn is. But I was looking at it today, thinking, even if I finish this, I'll never wear it. It would be a serious waste of beautiful yarn to knit something to sit in a drawer. But, I don't have any other ideas for the yarn either. Perhaps a stole. But I already tried it once in the Huck Lace shawl and didn't like it. For now, it's neatly tucked away in a drawer until I decide if I will finish it or frog it.


Monday, October 15, 2007

Precious

When Quinn was a baby, she had a favorite toy. A pink sparkle ball. She carried it around in her mouth all the time.
(Note that the ball is almost as big as her head!) We joked she was just about like Gollum "My precious!". Sadly, the sparkle ball was lost rather quickly as often happens with little cat toys. We tried in vain to find her another sparkle ball. They were all so flimsy they'd fall apart in no time and have to be taken away lest the cats eat them. Craft store pompoms were a half hearted substitute. But nothing seemed to please her as much as her original sparkle ball.

Quinn is now 6 and it's been at least 5 years since we've seen that ball. Then, this weekend while we were in the midst of our fall cleaning, I turned the sofa over to attach new sliders to the feet. Lo and behold, there stuck in the underframe of the sofa was the sparkle ball.
All is good in the world. At least it was for about 6 hours on Saturday. It appears, though, that the sparkle ball is once again lost.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Fall has arrived!

Hooray! The heat has finally broken and it's starting to feel like fall. This week the daytime temps were in the 50s and 60s and it's been down into the 30s at night! AWESOME. Some people have their spring cleaning. For me it's fall cleaning. The cold weather really puts me in the mood to spiff up and throw out. We steam cleaned the carpets on Friday, did the curtains and windows yesterday, as well as washing all the woodwork and rearranging the furniture. Today I'm going through all my old quilting and knitting magazines getting ready to sell the ones I don't need/want any more.

I've not gotten much knitting done the last few days with all this cleaning and now my wrist is buggered up from something I did (probably over exertion) so there will be no knitting today. Instead, pictures of what I have managed to get done:

Hubby's (impossible to photograph) sweater
He requested, plain and black. So there it is. Plain. and Black. Black does not photograph at all well. The sweater is nearly done. I have about half of the bottom hem left to bind off and a few ends to sew in and it's finished. I'm doing a sewn bind off that I saw on Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitting Glossary dvd. It keeps your ribbing nice and stretchy without looking sloppy. For me, though, it seems to take forever to execute. But the results are well worth the extra time if it means the difference between getting the sweater over your head or ripping your ears off because the neck opening won't stretch.

I've been devoting about equal time to the black sweater and Mr. Greenjeans. I'm still just loving this pattern. I changed up the cable section just a bit. I'm working the cable every 6 rows rather than every 4. The look is only slightly different...But it should save me just a bit of time over all. The cables are great. It's just a 4 stitch cable and I'm able to do them without a cable needle as described in the pattern. But there are a lot of cables and those rows still go really slow for me. A few extra plain rows in between crosses is a simple, barely noticeable time saver.


I've worked only a few more rows on the V-neck shell. I would still like to get it done to wear as a vest this fall, but I'm thinking I'll be happy if I finish it by the end of the year.
I do like this project, but cotton still is not by favorite fiber to knit with. This yarn (Aunt Lydia's Denim) is certainly one of my favorite cottons, but I still can't seem to get motivated to finish it.

No pictures of the socks. Neither the Jaywalkers nor the "not" Tube Socks have shown much progress. I've spent too much time working on the big projects and almost no time traveling to get any work done on the socks. Would have loved to have the Jaywalkers done for Halloween since they are in my Halloween yarn, but it ain't gonna happen.

Monday, October 01, 2007

October 1, will fall EVER get here?

It's been a lovely weekend. Still on the warm side, but there's the tiniest nip in the air hinting that fall may actually be on it's way. We put up our Halloween decorations hoping to work some voodoo to get fall to arrive.

I delivered my yarns and bags to the yarn store today and the owner seemed pretty pleased. She bought all the yarn I had and a few of the bags. My fingers are crossed they do well for her. I'm anxious to get more yarn to dye. Hopefully by the end of the month they'll be back in stock.

I couldn't resist a bit of stash enhancement while at Ball & Skein today.
Cashmerino Aran
3 balls of Cashmerino Aran. Hopefully enough for some winter mittens. I do love this stone color, but will probably end up dyeing it for something more unique.
Edna was working on a sock yarn chevron scarf that mom really liked. So I picked up a ball of Sockotta to make one for her.
Sockotta Fair Isle


I've been knitting away on Mr Greenjeans.
Mr Greenjeans bodice, front view
I've made it to the bottom of the armholes. I'm a bit concerned I may not have enough yarn. According to the pattern the size I'm making takes 4 balls of the yarn called for. That would be 1120 yds. But even 2 sizes up only call for 4 balls. I have 1115 yds. so it should be plenty. I think I'm going to pick up another ball or two of Patons Classic Wool when I get to the store, though, just to be safe. I took really good notes and saved my dye stocks just in case I do need to dye up another skein.

Knitting on hubby's sweater went very fast. I had the body and both sleeves done in a few hours. The hand work, as always, is taking much longer. I ribbed the sleeves and got the collar in. Now I'm working on the sewing up and will knit the bottom ribbing in the round last. Hopefully should have pictures next weekend.


Monday, September 24, 2007

Score!

As I've mentioned, I've been reading through the Cat Who series and trying to collect the books. Well, I managed to score the entire series in on Ebay for less than $20 including shipping!! All but one are hardback. 2 of the short story collections were missing, but I already had those. I am thrilled to bits. I'm still on Post Office since I've had almost no time to read this last week. And when I do sit down to read, I invariably fall asleep. This should keep me busy for months!

Finally, progress on the Drops Tube Socks.
100_3129
Although I've got to come up with a new name since they are no longer tube socks. I did, in the end, decide to put in a short row heel. I'm also only going to put the pattern on the top side of the foot so the sole is nice and smooth.

Jaywalkers in Jack.
Jaywalkers
I'm so thrilled with how this yarn is knitting up. I fell in love with it when I dyed it and am even more smitten by it knitted up. And this pattern is great. I can see why so many people have knit these.

I spent my weekend dyeing. Here's 5 skeins of Patons Classic Merino Wool, originally Winter White, dyed up for the Mr. Greenjeans sweater.
Yarn for Mr. Greenjeans
I had some issues with this yarn. Originally it was too bright.
After and before overdye
So I overdyed it with a small amount of black and brown dye. Now it's perfect.

I also dyed up the last of my sock yarn for my friend's shop.
Hand dyed for yarn shop
From left to right: Americana, After the Rain, and Shire. I'm going to have to dye up another Shire for myself, love those colors!


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Should I be scared?

Clear out of the blue the other day, my dear husband asked me if I would knit him a sweater. Be still my heart! I of course jumped at the chance, showing him sweaters I'd knit for me so he could pick a yarn he liked. He picked Wool Ease, which is good. I don't expect he'll wear the sweater much so I don't want to spend a ton on materials. He wants plain black, plain sweater. This makes it super easy for me since I can machine knit most of it and have it for him in time to wear this fall. And I'm safe, right? No sweater curse when he's your husband, right??

Through my job, I know a lady who owns the only yarn shop in miles. It's a cute little shop in Brickerville. We got to talking this week and I mentioned I'm dyeing sock yarns and making knitting bags to sell on Etsy. She asked if I'd be willing to make some stuff up for her to sell at her shop. She's along a tourist route and often has people looking for local crafts. I was thrilled and jumped at the chance. I'm going to her shop for the Harvest Festival in a few weeks and hoped to have a bunch of yarn and bags to take with for her. Unfortunately, KnitPicks is sold out of the base yarn I use until the end of October! I was crushed. I have a few skeins left and am going to dye those for her, but it's super disappointing not to be able to do a larger batch right off the bat. I spent some time looking online trying to find a similar base, but came up empty. I found coned yarn that was close, but I don't have adequate facilities to measure skeins for consistent yardage. I don't feel my system of counting wraps on the skein winder is not accurate enough. Plus, pre-skeined yarn is just so much easier to work with. I did have good luck finding fabric for the bags, though. We went to my favorite fabric store, Martin's Fabric Barn, and found a line of marbled fabrics that look perfect. I can't wait to get started on them.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

V-neck Cardigan

The weather turned delightfully cool yesterday and I was inspired to finish the V-neck Cardigan. I picked up stitches all around the front opening and knit a garter stitch band.The pattern called for knitting a ribbed band separately and then sewing it on. And although I've come to terms with seaming my knitting, it certainly isn't my favorite activity and I avoid it whenever possible. I designed the pattern myself with the help of the Knitware software. It is knit from Lion Brand Wool Ease in Oxford Grey. I think I used 5 or 6 skeins. I'm not sure since the yarn was salvaged from another project that didn't work out. The buttons are from Jo-Ann Fabrics.I love the purple color against the grey sweater. I may have to stitch the buttonholes closed just a bit. 3 stitch holes didn't seem quite big enough so I went with 4 stitch buttonholes which are just a hair too big. The fit is just about perfect except for the bottom.The pattern called for decreasing a number of stitches before starting the ribbing. In hindsight, I should have left those stitches in. However, I steamed the bottom ribbing and that seemed to relax the acrylic content enough so I can at least button all the buttons and it looks pretty good. This was a super quick and easy pattern, especially since the majority was machine knit. I will probably make this pattern again.

I've been splitting my evenings between reading the Cat Who books (I'm up to The Cat Who Played Post Office), knitting on the summer shell (which is now destined to be a fall vest) and punching on the ghost picture. I cast on a belt last night from some of the New Zealand wool I hand dyed.
This should go quickly. 7 stitches in garter stitch. I'm going to felt it slightly when it's done for durability.

The new Knitty is out. I've totally fallen in love with Mr. Greenjeans. I'm not sure what it is about this little cardigan that I love so much. I think it's all the cabling. She even incorporated the cables into the sleeve ribbing. Awesome. I've got so many projects in queue, but I may just have to knit this one next. At the moment I don't have yarn in my stash that would work, though, and am flat broke so I can't buy new yarn. So it will have to wait at least for awhile.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

A little bit of everything

It's been a busy 2 weeks since I last posted. The week before Labor Day weekend I spent every spare minute sewing. I made nine knitting bags for a huge Etsy shop update. I also dyed up some more sock yarn in "almost solid" colors (inspired by a prior week's feature on Knitter's Review). There's still a ton of stuff left so hop on by and have a look.

We ended up dealing with some health drama over Labor Day weekend requiring a trip to the Emergency room. Why is it we have to have trouble that could nor
mally be handled by a physician on a holiday weekend when none are open? Everything is getting back to normal now, thank goodness.

Our heat wave continues. It's been in the upper 80's with humidity leve
ls suitable for growing tropical plants. The library's annual book sale was yesterday and it was the hottest one I could remember. As always, it was a fun day. My family staff's the bake sale portion and we had a huge spread this year. So many donations of delicious food! They had fewer books this year, but better quality and selection of books. The librarian did a good job of culling out the "junk". I got a bag full of books.Managed to snag 4 of the "Cat Who" books I was missing. Renee found me 3 James Bond books! Also found a vampire book, one of James Herriot's books, a Roddy Doyle and an Agatha Christie. Not a bad score for only $14!

On the craft front, here's what I've been up to...

I finally got around to machine knitting a bag from the wool mom & dad brought me from New Zealand. This yarn was gorgeous, but pretty scratchy, so I figured it would be perfect for a felted bag.I was right. It machine knit pretty quickly. Although the yarn had a lot of "grab" and managed to jump the needles several times. I restarted the bag 3 times (so much fun casting on 100 stitches 3 times) before I realized I'd have to run the carriage slowly to prevent the dropped stitches. But it was worth the hassles in the end. I need to stitch the lining in yet.The bag has plenty of structure on it's own, but I decided to line it to keep the fuzzies from transferring to whatever I carry inside. As soon as the humidity drops and I can stand to have wool in my lap I'll get it stitched.

I've started a new punchneedle project.
A cute little ghost for Halloween. I started punching the background in grey variegated floss but quickly realized I'm not going to have nearly enough thread to do the whole background that way. So I've switched to a combination of variegated and solid floss combined. I'm using granny's Pretty Punch this time. It's certainly more comfortable to hold than the cheap Dimensions punch I used for the first picture. But my loops are not as consistent on the front side. I got a bunch of supplies this week...wool floss, a kit, a pattern book and some issues of Create and Decorate. I have plenty of ideas now. Now I just need more time!

The Summer V-Neck vest is coming along nicely.
I've put a lot of time into this as I'd like to have it to wear over a shirt for fall. I finished the back and have started the cabled section on the front. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I love cabling! Such a simple process creates such a cool effect. I'm glad I changed the pattern to have left and right slanting cables rather than them both going in the same direction.

And on a final note. I'm such a lemming. Wendy has been talking about how happy she's been with the Wen cleansing conditioner. I was intrigued. I'm a hair care junky, although I have reigned it in a lot the last few years. But I still love to try new stuff in search of great hair. So I finally broke down and ordered a bottle of Wen Fig. I've been using it for a few days now and am absolutely thrilled so far. The product is a non-foaming cleanser that is supposed to replace your shampoo, conditioner, leave in conditioner, deep conditioner, detangler. Out of the bottle it looks and feels just like conditioner. The directions call for you to use a ton of the stuff. I used about 1/3 of what they call for. You apply it to your wet hair, massage it in and let it sit for several minutes before rinsing. It feels tingly on the scalp and smells fantastic. I must say, I am completely sold so far. My hair is soft and clean and manageable. I have not put a drop of anything else in my hair, no leave in conditioner, no styling gel, nothing. It's fantastic. I generally can't go a day without at least wetting my hair down to make it look presentable. Even after yesterday's full day outside in the sun and breeze, my hair looks great this morning. I brushed it out when I got up and it looks perfectly presentable. I'm thoroughly impressed. It's early days yet, so we'll see how it preforms in the long run. But so far, Wen sure looks like a keeper.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Summer is back with a vengeance this weekend. It was cool and rainy last weekend and it felt like fall might be right around the corner. But today the thermometer outside my window reads 96 degrees. Ugh! And the humidity is just downright oppressive. Luckily, the air conditioner is doing it's job to keep it bearable and it's supposed to be only in the 80's tomorrow.

Not much to blog about. Just a few FOs to share.

Mrs Beeton
Glorious! I absolutely love these.
I can't wait for fall to get here to wear these. The yarn is from Elann. Super Kydd in Ice Blue is the whisper soft mohair and Peruvian Quechua in Dusky Lavender is an alpaca tencel blend. I ended up getting blue 11/0 beads for the top cuff and used the purple 8/0 for the bottom cuff. You can barely see the beads in the picture, but they are a great subtle accent and definitely worth the effort to do the beading. Some people leave the beads off, but i think they make the cuffs so much more elegant. I did not enjoy knitting with the mohair at all, but once past that point, these were a super easy and fast project to knit.

Here's my first finished punchneedle embroidery project finished.
I'm very pleased with the results. This is a super easy craft and the results are impressive. But I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it. Probably frame it. I've just found that DMC makes a wool floss (this was done with standard DMC cotton embroidery floss). I've got to get my hands on the wool. I think it will give an even more folk feel to the designs.

I used up the last of my soap supplies making 2 batches of soap
On the right a batch of lavender with my own dried lavender adorning the tops and on the left a highly experimental batch of almond soap made with the leftovers of all the oils I had. I weighed the oils and plugged it into a soap calculator to determine how much lye to use. The bars are really quite nice at this stage. I'm going to let them cure for a few weeks before giving them a try. I just placed an order for more oils. I've been having a dickens of a time finding oils at a decent price around here lately. I decided to try this place since their prices seem good and they were recommended on a podcast I just listened to. I'll let you know how I make out.

I've resisted the urge to cast on another pair of socks. I'm going to make a concerted effort to get some of my WIPs finished up. Of the 2 tanks I intended to knit for this summer, I'm still not even finished with the back of the first one! I've gotten a few inches on the Montery Bay Scarf, but still have a very long way to go on it. And the cardigan needs only to have the front band picked up and knit. The tank will probably win out for this weekend since it's cotton and will be cool knitting.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The skin of my teeth

Talk about cutting it close. This is how much yarn was left as I completed the Opal footies42 inches. I had actually dyed up one of the tiny skeins of Treadsoft I had to more or less match in case I ran out. But I didn't need it after all. The socks have been dubbed Low Rider
Low rider socks
They sit delightfully low, not even reaching my an
kle bone. I think they'll be perfect with my clogs. I really dig the short row heels.
Low rider socks in action
No holes on the second sock. I think I did one too many rows on the heel of the first, resulting in holes at the corners. The short row heel went way faster than the standard heel/gusset. I may just be converted. They also seem to be fitting a bit better too. I struggle with getting my heels to not be baggy. I'm sure there's an adjustment to eliminate the bagginess, but I haven't run across it yet.

All of the yarns I had dyed for Etsy have sold! I'm so happy other people are liking what I've dyed. It's hard to let some of them go because I love the colors so much myself. But I know I can always dye more. This weekend I dyed up the last of the undyed yarn I have (more is on the way). Here they are pre-reskiening.
Blue Jean
Bats in the belfryPoodle SkirtThis brings up a question. In my journeys on the Internet, it looks as if most dyers do reskein their yarns. But some leave them as dyed (the famous Socks That Rock are not reskeined). I'm just wondering what you all prefer. Reskeining is a pain, but I think it gives a better picture of how the colors will blend and show up when used. "As dyed" gives a great view of the individual colors, but I just don't find it quite as appealing for some reason. Thoughts? I think I'm going to list this batch as is and see how they sell. These should be up on Etsy by the end of the week.

I was very busy this weekend. Not only did I finish the footies and dye yarn. I also made these fab-o Halloween candle holders.
Canned a whack more tomatoes. Finished another Cat Who book. Started another Cat Who book. Got started on the punchneedle.I know it doesn't look like much now, but it's coming along nicely. I'm finding it very hard on the eyes. I'm trying to get a feel and rhythm going so I don't have to look as hard, but it's pretty detail oriented so pretty close attention is required. It's a lot of fun and goes pretty quickly. I don't see this becoming a top of the heap craft for me, but certainly one I'll keep in my repertoire.