Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Finally!

Ever have one of those embarrassing moments where you ask someone to watch your blog for the first time, and then you can't log on? Yeah, that's what happened to me. The good news is that Firefox is acting flaky, which is why whenever I tried to log in to any of my Google services (like this blog)it wouldn't do anything but ask me to log in... over and over and over. I'm not that web-savvy... I'll clear my caches and see if that fixes it, otherwise I guess I'm switching to IE for the time being. Bleargh.

Anyway, there have been a few updates to the shop since last I blogged... but quite frankly I don't want to tinker around with the pictures after all this... I just wanted y'all to know I was alive. :D

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

New fluffy stuff...

I've been dyeing like mad, trying to at least put up one item a day. I don't think that is going to last much longer, lol. I'm starting to get permanently pink fingernail beds. :D

Here's what's gone up on the shop since my last post, I think... "Wine in a Copper Vessel" is making a second appearance, since I managed to re-create it.




Thursday, December 11, 2008

White Christmas? In Texas?

It snowed last night! We got about a half an inch, if the amount of accumulation on my apartment railing is an accurate gauge. Unfortunately it was not easy to document this freaky phenomenon... but I tried to take pictures of my neighbor's grill and a stump from a Hurricane Ike casualty that had nice little white blankets on them.

My daughter did pack up some in ziplock baggies in the freezer... it might be easier to snap those. LOL

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I'm from Minnesota...

This morning was freaking cold. Like the title suggests, I *know* cold very well. Today's weather is worse, though, because this biting, sleety wind is so unexpected in the gulf coast Texas area. I have never been so glad to be a knitter! Just dip into the sack of hats, scarves and gloves and away you go. Saved our bacon this morning, and a few other kids' at the school bus stop. One poor kid had a busted zipper, and a very nice lady (not me) gave him a hoodie to wrap around his front. Had I thought that far ahead, I would have done the same. He was miserable.

On to the fibery goodness...

My fiber dyeing has been reinvigorated, partly by purchasing 120 ounces of blank "canvas" and partly by the unexpected (and semi-delightful) discovery of about 40 ounces of merino/tencel fiber that I had "organized" right out of sight and out of mind. It was neatly wound into four ounce balls and stored in a box... that promptly got buried behind many other boxes.

I say it's a semi-delightful discovery, because on the one hand it's practically like getting free fiber. I mean, I didn't know I had it last week, and now I do. It's like a gift. A gift given by forgetfulness, but still a gift, you know? On the other hand... I know why it was forgotten. I *hate* dyeing tencel blends. Hate, hate, hatey hate. Once it gets wet, it likes to fall apart and *cling* to everything. And of course I have to charge more for it because I can only sell about 50% of what I dye, because the unsellable half has disintigrated in the dye process, or fallen into too many pieces (I won't send out fiber that isn't continuous unless it's on purpose, like in the Duo sets). But what does come out is so *beautiful* and lustrous, it almost makes it worth it. Two of my new shop offerings are tencel braids, so you can judge for yourself.




Friday, December 5, 2008

Here's the deal...

I don't believe I've told the story of how I started dyeing yarn. There was this Etsy seller whom I liked very much... she had great base yarn, great colors, and was friendly (and hard-working). Unfortunately, her stuff was in such demand that I could very, very rarely buy any! If I logged in on payday, her shop was empty. If I saved money on the off-chance there would be an update, items would jump out of my cart while inputting my payment information! It became a clicking contest, one where shoppers who clicked the fastest got the prize of yarn.

So I started dyeing my own roving, and later yarn. While I do not have the same flair for color as this other seller, I am very happy with a new creative outlet. However, I remember why I started dyeing in the first place, and try not to give my customers a reason to give up on me. :D

I received shipment on 120 ounces of undyed roving this afternoon, so expect new (and hopefully as exciting for you as they are for me) products in the Etsy shop very soon!

Monday, November 3, 2008

From disaster arose splendor...



Late the other night, some positive feedback on my Etsy shop inspired me to go play in the dye studio. What started out as happy playtime turned into disaster. The dye didn't seem to want to set, and then as I was transferring the wool to a different container for additional heat application, I got distracted by the family and dye went *everywhere*. Spent a lot of time (and paper towels) mopping up, let me tell you.

However I was very pleased with the resulting roving. I have no idea how I'm going to duplicate it though. I'm certainly not going to repeat my steps this time, lol.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Lazy, lazy, lazy

While I *have* been lazy, not updating my blog very often, today's blog is about another kind of lazy person... the lazy knitting pattern writer.

I am sick to death of reading patterns that go something like this:

Row 1: K5, P4, SSK, YO, P4, K5
Row 2: P all
Row 3: K4, P6, SSK, YO, P6, K4
Row 4: P all
Row 5: Same as Row 3
Row 6: Same as Row 2
Row 7: Same as Row 1

Is it really that damn difficult to write the actual stitches over? Or *copy and paste* them?? If I print my pattern, and the page happens to cut off in the middle of your little "listing" I'm going to end up flipping papers over and over and over. I shouldn't have to print my own set of cheat cards in order to make your pattern usable.

Another example of lazy pattern writers is the people who excessively use "AND at the same time...". For example, a pattern I recently attempted which was a snug-fitting vest/top in a famous knitting book, should have been a fairly simple project. Oh heck no. Instead of writing line by line instructions, they tell you to knit X number of stitches in a rib pattern. Oh, but by the way you should be decreasing every six rows *here* and oh, by the way, please leave a panel here in stockinette. Never mind that the two last-minute additional instructions start to conflict and cross over each other, do it anyway. Oh, and by the way, you'll need to start increasing over *here*. Just FYI. Oh, PS. Did you remember to change needle sizes in the middle? Oops, start over please.

I am not a lazy knitter. I *do* read through my patterns completely before casting on. But reading it when you just have a piece of paper in your hand, and reading it while trying to actually do what they say to do are two very different things. Stitch markers flying everywhere, three different strands of yarn for those pesky color changes... practice is much different than theory.

If you write patterns, please help preserve my sanity... write out every line of instructions. If your stitch pattern reverses itself in the middle and starts repeating the first six lines in reverse order, write them out that way. Don't just use "ditto". Or whatever.

If you have a complex series of decreases, some starting in several different rows, please for the love of all, make a damn chart. Or put the decreases in the lines, not in some lame "PS" maneuver four paragraphs later. I don't care if your publisher told you to cut 14 pages, drop one of the patterns instead of making all the existing ones a muddled, confusing mess. Or better yet, drop some of those crappy B&W photos that do nobody any good anyway.

GAH!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Bad news and good news

First off, Hurricane Ike caused a lot of damage. Power in Texas was off in a swath over forty miles long. When we awoke the morning after, this is what our courtyard looked like:








The good news? We are all alive, and we have power back in our apartment complex.

In other good news, I recently found out Rick Springfield released a new CD earlier this year. Yes, I am slow to find these things out. BUT if you are like me and were unaware, here's the link at Amazon: Venus in Overdrive . I'm biased, but it's pretty good. I especially like "What's Victoria's Secret?" and "3 Warning Shots".

I think the worst part will be having the first song stuck in my head every time I see a Victoria's Secret commercial. :P

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

New (sort of) roving up on the site!



I had a nice order come in before the long weekend, so I've re-dyed it all and I finally wrangled some decent pictures and relisted them. Teddy Bear, Black Cherry Cheesecake, and Sunny Day colorways all making a reappearance. The colors have changed slightly since the last batch, but overall I feel it's an improvement.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

As Promised...

Silk painting. They're really rubbish, so far. I'm figuring out what works for me, and what doesn't at this point. So far? Shibori: yes Serti: No

I really, really wanted to like the Serti technique, (outlining with gutta and painting within the lines) as shown here in my daughter's requested butterfly scarf, but I really don't. I suppose my hands are somewhat tied by the fact that I refuse to use anything but water-based resists, as I do not want to add regular trips to the drycleaner to remove gutta. As a result, my gutta lines tend to get flooded or washed away by my painting.


I did batik (using wax as a resist medium) back in college, so I may have to give that a go again. Boiling or ironing out the wax sounds like a complete pain in the tuckus, but I KNOW that painting won't wash that away.





Unfortunately, the better guttas that don't wash away as readily make my paintings look like a kindergartener got into mommy's wardrobe with a magic marker. I don't mind the "human touch" in my artwork, but I don't like it looking like I used a fine-tip Sharpie when I painstakingly squeezed the lines from a bottle with a teeny tiny point on it.








My abstract items look better, and I think that's the way for me to go until I get more practice or get my wax.

I *really* like the effects of salt and alcohol on the dye. Those techniques are staying in my arsenal for sure.







The Shibori will look better when I take the time to do it right, instead of hurriedly trying to slap something together. But isn't that true of most art?

This shibori scarf reminds me of the "Magic Eye" posters that were prevalent when I was in High School. I took the 17" square scarf and twisted it into a rope. Then I over-twisted it until it wanted to wind back on itself, which I let it do. I then clipped the end together so it wouldn't untwist, and placed it in a small bowl of dye. I then unclipped it (my clip was metal) and nuked it in the bowl of dye for a few minutes. A rinse and ironing later, and it was as you see here.

I look forward to experimenting more.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Silk painting is on hold...

At least the "Show and Tell" part. I don't want to set up a steamer for one, tiny scarf, and I don't want to do more scarves until the frame I ordered arrives. I do not do well with improvisational art supplies. I just don't. Believe me, I tried. I was all "Little House on the Prairie" inspired, ready to make it myself or make do, but everything I tried was just a *little* bit off. It made things messy and sloppy. And trust me, my "artistry" needs to have everything going right for it from the get-go.

BUT... I really enjoy it. So expect to see some, eventually. :D

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Diving in... again.

Yes, I'm diving into a new hobby... again. And in my usual style: head-first, no-holds-barred and don't spare the pocketbook! What's the hobby? Silk painting.

Yes, today was payday and I've just ordered over $100 worth of supplies... and yet that was not as many supplies as I wanted to get. Oh, no. I had to restrain myself because the little niblet really, desperately needed a new computer. So, supplies for me, and needed parts for her machine. Fortunately, hubby and I know how to build them so the cost will be minimal on the PC front.

Also, with all the fiber dyes I have on hand, I already have a wide palette of colors to choose from, it's just the knick-nacky things, like stainless steel pushpins, better suited brushes, resist materials, etc. Actually the resists were the priciest part of the purchase, even out-doing the silks by a wide margin, if you include the applicator bottles.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Shushan Socks

Boy, am I late posting this one. I recently finished my Shushan socks in the Twisted Giles Kabaam! yarn.



I had enough left over that I think I might be able to squeak out a pair of plain ribbed socks for the little one. She's strangely excited about that. I will refrain from calling us "sock twins" if we ever end up wearing them at the same time.

I have also made progress on my two versions of the Anniversary shawl.



Somehow I have not managed to share a picture of the one in KnitPicks "Sherry" colorway. I have those little closed rubber rings for stitch markers in white, and the KnitPicks laceweight is turning them pink! Pretty scary that I wash the dye out of my own hand dyed yarns better than a professional company. :(

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I'm a sheep!

Although I suppose being a sheep in the fiber world is not as bad as elsewhere. :/

I've joined the latest craze, Plurking. Come join and be one of us.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Here goes nothing...

Well, I just spent $40 (one QUARTER of that for shipping!) on materials to try making a warping board of my own design for self-striping yarn. No offense to the lovely Scout (of Scout's Swag) but while her board is cool and all, I want something bigger. And less tangly.

Since these materials were ordered online, we'll see how this goes, but I'm strangely optimistic.

I finished (finally!) spinning up yarn from my own store's roving. One unit (I sell in 4oz. units) of "Purple Heart" and one unit of "Purplexed" spun to about fingering weight singles, and then plied together. I'm letting it rest on the 'noddy, then I'll wash and dry for pictures. I'm thinking a skinny scarf, or something. Not sure yet.

On the non-fiber homefront, today was mini-Di's last day of school, and it was a half-day. Apparently the end of school celebration included some form of recreational sport involving a super-soaker. They sent her home soaked, filthy, and hopped up on sugar. Thanks a lot folks.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

I don't know... it's a mystery!

Started my first mystery KAL this weekend with the swatch from the Goddess Knits Mystery Shawl group on Ravelry and Yahoo. It looks to be an interesting project.



From the various hints I've gotten reading the posts in the Ravelry group, it sounds as though it will be done in the round, which should prove interesting. I didn't care for the look of the fabric in the swatch when I did it on US 5's, so I dropped it down to size 4's (seen in the above swatch). I still think it's a little sloppy looking, but then I'm not an experienced lace knitter, and I'd really hate to have to drop to 3's.

Friday, May 30, 2008

New Line

Finally busted into the new cone of sock yarn, the Merino/Tencel. It's really nice... not sure how hard-wearing it will be, but it's very soft with a nice sheen. The twist feels nice and firm. It had better wear like iron considering the price compared to the other two cones I bought! Four skeins of it are dyed up and drying in the gypsy room... two in "Forest Pond" and two in "Summer Iris".

The Summer Iris sock yarn was not my idea. Mini-Til has decided she wants to work for mom as her summer job (I didn't have the heart to tell her about child labor laws) and so last night she wanted to "test" for the position of assistant. This basically consisted of her picking the colors herself, and squishing the dye in the plastic-wrapped bundles. She even squirted on the purple by herself. She did an awesome job! There will be pictures when it dries.

The funniest part was when I said I had to think about it because I didn't know whether I could afford to hire her for the summer, she said "You mean I'd get paid for it too?!" She's so cute.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

I feel like a real business woman... finally.

Last weekend I had my first "Oh-my-gosh-they-spent-how-much?" order from my Etsy Shop and it was more than enough to buy a shipment of "replacement" blank roving and some more bottles and things for the dye studio. Well the goodies arrived today. But today was MOM'S DAY OFF, so I did little more than cross-check the invoice against items in the boxes and stowed them away.

It was weird. I've been working my tuckus off for a week, and actually had to MAKE myself take today off. I kept getting antsy and wandering by the dye station. BUT I did manage to make it most of the way through a new book that has been sitting by my bed for a month waiting on me. I only slipped twice, and pulled all my dry yarn down and cleaned the dye station. Otherwise, I did do good and wait until after midnight to wind up a skein.

Dry colors almost ready to go up in the shop: Chocolate-covered Cherry variegate, an orange-green combo to be named later, and some Beth's Roses II in Merino/Bamboo. No new roving at the moment, but that's next. I still have to weigh out and divide up the 80 ounces that arrived today.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Yarn overload

Three huge cones of fingering weight sock yarn are now mine. Wheeee! I wound two skeins of 430 yards yesterday for self-striping goodness and I'm exhausted! Something about using a niddy-noddy that makes my shoulders cry for mercy.

I have really got to find a better way of winding skeins for striping. Why is my apartment so freaking SMALL? If I had 15 straight feet to wind between two chairs, I'd do it, dangit!

It also doesn't help that I figured out my yarn yardage counter that was a Mother's day gift A) Counts in feet, not yards, so more math is required and B)Is completely useless when using the big cones of yarn. They're just too heavy and apply too much tension... the yarn keeps wanting to pop right out of the guides. So much for that freaking idea.


On the bright side, the skein of "Beth's Roses" yarn I dyed from my Scout's Warping board turned out really pretty. It's too bad using the thing is so labor-intensive. I could maybe make two skeins of sock yarn a day. Maybe three. After that, my shoulders would hate me. And the stuff would probably still tangle.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Fetchingly Fast


I whipped out a pair of Fetching fingerless gloves in roughly 24 hours. I really disliked the cabling rows, especially on the left glove where they go to the back, but with only 45 stitches, they went by in a flash. They probably would have gone even faster if I had not been using my Perfect Pink homespun... it's a bit silky/slippery, and the thick/thin nature of it made things... interesting. However, they are yummy soft and have a nice sheen, so I'll keep them. :D

Saturday, May 10, 2008

What rhymes with economy?

So, we got our economic stimulus package yesterday. AKA My Small Business Loan. Okay, so I only get a third of it... one-third goes to mini-Di's college fund, one third-goes to Mr-Di's "I think I'm a rock star so I want a fancy guitar" fund, and one third to me. In honor of mother's day I even get an extra something to get myself something nice. :D So after picking myself up a set of KnitPicks Harmony interchangeable needles and a yardage counter, I spent the rest of it on yarn... oh, but not just any yarn. Undyed SOCK yarn. Three different "flavors". On huge HUGE cones. So expect Hullion Fiberworks to expand its offerings sometime within the next two weeks! Whee! Those Trek colorway sock yarns are this much closer to reality.

I got my shipment of roving earlier this week after some kind of weather snafu in Colorado. I've lived in Colorado, so I've seen icy days where people can't drive faster than 4mph before their car starts skidding, but you can't stay home because you work at the Army base hospital and are considered essential personnel. But in MAY? That's the part I have a hard time with. Oh well, it was a day late. But I may have to rethink my policy of only using free shipping, because it takes freakin FOREVER.

At least my bathroom is full of pretty colors again. I should be updating my roving offerings sometime this afternoon, once its all braided and pictures taken.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Getting there...



First "real" yarn from some of my own handdyed roving. The Purple Heart turned out some really pretty singles. I navajo plied a couple of yards, but they didn't move me very much... too bulky. So now I have 220 yards of some fingering-weight singles. Probably barely enough for a sock.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

ka-RAP


Okay, I am told everyone starts out spinning this way. Good to know I'm in the median. I named this one "Arbor Day" for it's halloweenie orange and black colors (but you might have to watch the cult cartoon "Dave the Barbarian" to get that one).

I'm probably going to end up making a market bag of some type out of it. What the hey, the darling daughter can use it next Halloween for her candy haul.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

First Wheel Spun


FirstWheelSpun
Originally uploaded by Diela360
Finished this sometime last night while watching Stephen King's "The Mist". My new wheel is great! The movie was great too, until the last TEN SECONDS. Then it went to crap. No spoilers, but couldn't movie directors at least keep the basic emotional TONE of the book/short story? That ending was just... wrong.

This roving was part of what came with my Louet spindle beginner's kit. Scratchy, but easy to spin. Once I finished it, I started in on some of my Twisted Fiber Arts roving in "Batty", but then my knees complained too much from being in the same place too long.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

It's Here!

My Kromski FINALLY arrived. It was supposed to be here last Friday, but after the box hit Houston, it disappeared for three days. I called the nice people at Paradise Fiber and they initiated a package trace. UPS system got jogged loose and it finally showed up again... in Colorado! It took it this long to wend its way back from near-oblivion. The newbie delivery guy (20 if he was a day, and not my usual delivery man) was probably a little pissed off that I made him wait while I inspected it to see if it was damaged, but if you'd seen this:

you'd have made his behind wait also. Not to mention I was a little ticked off at the kid since I was supposed to have gotten three other packages yesterday, and he tried to slack off by saying I was not available to sign for it. I am home all day, every day, and usually knitting about three feet from my apartment door. I was home, and nobody knocked. He just didn't want to schlep my case of plastic wrap up a flight of stairs. The college kids had better learn fast that they can't pull that kind of slacker crap on my route, because I'll call their supervisor every freaking time. Ahem. Anyhoo...

Here's the baby in its plastic wrap fresh out of the bag.

After reading the setup directions (which were pretty simple since it's just folded into the carry bag) and installing the scotch tension eyehooks, etc. I had a little trouble getting it to where I wanted it tension wise. I'd read the instructions several billion times and the mother of all doesn't adjust up and down as easy as they make it sound. But that's another blog... :D

Anyhow, here's my new baby, all set up and looking pretty. I'm happier with the walnut finish than I thought I'd be. And I can definitely see the TV over her. :D My first wheel-spun yarn will be tomorrow's blog.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Socks Finished!!


100_0313
Originally uploaded by Tilandra
So this is my third-ever pair of socks, completed fairly painlessly. Cookie A's "Monkey" pattern using Twisted Fiber Works' "Batty" colorway on an Ariel base. Dang comfy.

Hubby tried to glom onto them while I was finishing the second sock, but no way, Jose!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Crafting sub-cultures

Lately I've been hearing a lot of stories about local yarn stores (LYSs) and strange, rude, or snobbish behavior on the part of the owners and/or their staff. In part I think the behavior stems from something I've personally thought of for years as a kind of compartmentalization that crafters get when they fall into a social group.

I've tried it all... beading, quilting, knitting, chainmail jewellry, and in every single one of these groups, I'll see trends towards some really *hideous* pieces. Yes, they are creative. Yes, they take a technique and stretch it to its limits. But would you ever f******g wear the damn thing? It comes from being so focused in your little tiny group world that you forget the world at large.

This is what I think happens to LYSOs. They have their little cronies, who come in regularly and sit and knit, and praise them to the high heavens. They all knit the same things. They all like the same yarns, the same colors, the same, the same, the same. Woe betide the newbie who wanders into those sacred halls, because you are NOT THE SAME.

Step out of your narrow view. Believe it or not, some people like to knit socks. Believe it or not, some people like colorwork. Believe it or not, some people will wear the fabulous Turkey Hat of doom, and like it. Infinite diversity in infinite combinations.

Learn tolerance people. And if you want my money, you must be extra tolerant. Even if a Pac-Man scarf is not for you.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

You just gotta laugh at a chicken...

To digress from the fibery goodness, while indulging my LOTRO obsession briefly today, I was greeted by a splash page that featured a link to this:

http://www.lotro.com/amonhen

This has to be my favorite April Fool's of all time.

On the fiber front, I received my tracking number for my Kromski wheel... scheduled delivery? FRIDAY! (cue the Hallelujah chorus)

Monday, March 31, 2008

Here it comes...

The Kromski wheel has been ordered! The prepwork is almost complete, too:





The fiber stash has been enhanced.








My daughter's computer table was cleared off and set up as a dyeing station.





Now, all I need to do is clear enough floorspace near a comfortable seat.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

So cute!

My last order of roving from Twisted Fiber Studio had a tiny sample of Batty roving. I spun that on my spindle today, and it turned out so tiny and cute I just have to show it off.

Is that not the most adorable tiny skein you've ever seen? No clue what to do with it, but it's adorable.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Your math-fu is better than my math-fu

I'm about ten rows into a pair of Jaywalker socks with the Heartsick yarn, and I can already tell the length of the stripes is too short. Poor hubby is going to have witchy superman socks. It's practically a pinstripe... the stripes are only coming out two rows wide.

For some reason I thought it was (π*sock circumference)*rows of color but I guess Scout and millions of other knitters are right and I'm wrong. Flarbersnout! I had enough trouble trying to get a 20' loop, 30 or more is impossible till I build a warping board. Le sigh.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Heartsick or Superman?


I'm beginning to think every beginning yarn dyer makes a skein of red and blue superman yarn. It's actually a very deep wine color and teal, but these pictures just make it look red and blue. We will see how my first self-striping sock experiment (without any warping boards or pesky common sense used) works out. If nothing else, I can give them to my hubby instead of my precious Batty Monkey socks.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Um, yeah...



So this is what happens when you don't figure-eight tie your skeins before dyeing them, huh? Good to know!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Doctor... to the emergency room.


About ten years ago I played a PC game called Theme Hospital. It was a mostly tongue-in-cheek hospital building sim where you would try to serve all the whacky sick and injured whilst trying to keep the vomiting in the halls to a minimum.

So when I saw the Doctor's Bag in the book Knit2Together
I just knew I had to knit one up. Well, after searching long and hard for the proper closures, I have finished it, finally. It could use another round of fulling in the wash, but I love it.

Now, if only I knit in public more.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

This is why I hate birthdays...

No, it's not the getting older part (although that doesn't help) or being reminded of my own mortality... it's my freakin' stingy husband!

We've been married over ten years now, and we've tried all kinds of scenarios for gift-giving. I've let him surprise me (50/50 success rate), I've given him a list and told him to pick however many items (80 percent success rate), I've picked my own gift and told him to pay for it (100% success rate, but then it's not really a gift).

This year for my birthday, I want a spinning wheel and they're kinda spendy, so I told him what I wanted and that I would save my "mad money" budget for the required number of paydays to pay for half, and he could pick up the other half.

Well, today when I gave him an update on my saving progress and mentioned that I'd have it by next payday, but we could wait two paydays if it would take him that long to come up with his share of $400.

He actually paused his game, set down the wireless 360 controller, looked at me and said, "[expletive deleted], how much does this thing cost?!?" Did he not listen when I told him this six weeks ago? Probably not. Am I hopping mad? You betcha.

At this rate if I saved all my budget from now until the payday before my birthday, I would have the money on my own. Is that the point? No. The point is that he should *want* to buy me a gift, and recognize the spending cuts I have been taking to facilitate the purchase of this extra-expensive gift.

I'm tempted to just buy the thing on my own and treat him to stony silence for at least a week. >:(

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Go speed racer!

Still depressed about my socks (which I finished, but am NOT happy with)I didn't knit at all yesterday until after supper... and then went nuts.

I cast on one of the sleeves for my Kimono Bathrobe and before I knew it it was 2am and I had about eight inches done. Holy cow! The socks seemed so slow in fingering weight yarn, that when I switched back to worsted weight-ish stuff on #6 needles, it was like I could watch it grow.

So I'm very pleased with that, and it's given my attitude about the bathrobe project a much-needed boost of adrenaline.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Gah!

So I am casting off my second pair (ever) of socks, and about to pick up the stitches for the afterthought heel when I realize I can't see well enough in the evening light. Black yarn, tiny, tiny stitches. So I put my foot under my behind to scootch over closer to the lamp and as I put all my weight on my foot to shift the rest of me, I hear this sickening *CRUNCH* like chicken bones snapping.

I had put my heel squarely on the middle of the dangling end of my Harmony size 2 and snapped it like a twig.

So I am sitting here, too depressed to knit. Although while writing this I have realized that somewhere in my binder for needles I do have some metal DPNs in the right size. But I don't think I will be buying Harmony needles in sizes smaller than 4s any time soon. :(

Spring Cleaning Already??

So... my husband goes out to go to a meeting last night around 7 and notices that there's a notice stuck to our door. Apparently the apartment people got a wild hair (or possibly a citation related to some building code violation) and decided that NOW was the time to install fire extinguishers in every apartment.

Well, this is appalling news to me, as I am the world's WORST housekeeper. And I live with the world's two biggest slobs. So we're frantically cleaning, and as I straighten the afghans on the back of the couch I manage to notice just HOW much fiber, yarn, and fiberly pursuit related (excuse my french in advance) crap has taken over my end of the couch. For some reason (Ravelry) I pulled out all of my stash and it has now gravitated to the end of the couch where the window and the best lamp is. Granted, I do not have a humongous stash, but it's three boxes worth of stuff. Big enough to trip over, anyway.

So I've decided I'm going to sell off all my jewelry-making inventory and move my stash there. Hah! That's my idea of spring cleaning.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Not enough hours in the day...

Yes, I admit it, I've been fantasizing... about my upcoming spinning wheel purchase. While I enjoy spinning on a spindle (I told hubby it's like my former LoTRO addiction without the trolls) I'm frustrated by the "pause and go" aspect of having to wind the finished yarn onto the spindle. Not to mention that I have to stop and ply it after only a single ounce! Just thinking about a wheel that will not only spin it onto a bobbin for me as I go, but fit a full 4oz on the bobbin at a time, makes me sigh and stare dreamily off towards the horizon.

I believe I've settled on my future paramour... A Kromski Sonata in a beautiful walnut finish. With a tensioned lazy Kate (which makes me think of LOST every time I see it, hah), three niddy noddys in graduated sizes, and a bundle of fiber, I think I'm stretching my husband's tolerance for birthday-gift pricing, but since we're going halvsies on it, he'd better not complain too loudly. Hah.

Funny thing is, my spinning daydreams are inevitably leading me towards weaving too, but there just isn't enough time in the day to feed spinning, weaving, AND knitting. So I'm going to have to choose... for now.

I guess in an ideal world, some fabulous idea would come to me for a garment, I would then plan whether to weave or knit it, and then spin the necessary yarn for it and make it. However, I am one of those people who can't seem to get projects done fast enough.

When I played LoTRO, I used to lament that my characters never seemed to level up fast enough. My husband (and common sense) told me that I'd need to concentrate on one single character to see any real progress. And he's right. Well, it's the same for my fiber crafts... if I want to finish those socks, I have to actually be working on THEM and not spinning on a spindle or starting up yet another hat.

So even though I will still be buying my wheel, and will inevitably play on it for hours when I first get it, once the newness wears off I'm going to make a serious attempt to get all my undone projects finished, and start trying to see one project at a time through to the end. Yes, I will need little side projects for situations where hauling a full-blown knitting bag around won't do, but socks are always on some of my needles somewhere, so they don't count.

But if I'm going to see my yellow Chenille bathrobe to level 40, I'm going to have to start doing some serious grinding on the sleeves.

Friday, March 7, 2008

First Ball finished!

One ball finished of my spindle yarn. It was very addictive! I thought my hands were in shape from knitting so many bulky and multiple stranded items, but after a day the muscles of my left hand were aching... and I still couldn't put it down!

I'm a little disappointed that it appears I can only fit 1oz of yarn on the spindle at a time. I don't know if it's a limitation of my beginner's spindle or my inexperience, but if I tried to fit more on there the yarn would get in the way of getting it to spin. I am guessing this is because the shaft is rather short.

Plying was a little hairy. I clearly put too much twist into my plies, because they kept doing that thing telephone cords do after they have a lot of twist in them. And the skein I wound on my hand to keep the yarn on my wrist while I plied was apparently done incorrectly, because the inside pull tried to cut my wrist off on the first pull. So then I had great fun trying to keep it from winding around the yarn I was plying. Oy.

But all in all, I'm liking spinning and so now the daunting task of choosing a spinning wheel sits before me. I like the price-point of The Hitchhiker and its portability, but what few reviews I could find on the web indicated that people had problems with it when plying because of the direction reversal. I love the idea of a Fairy-tale wheel (or castle wheel) but as I know I'm going to be doing a lot of my spinning in front of the TV (in our tiny, post-Katrina apartment), it's not practical. So I have to stick with portable, low-profile models. The Ladybug seems to fit those criteria, but I'm not too sure I like it's looks. I can understand an inexpensive model like the Hitchhiker being constructed of what looks like primarily plywood, but at twice the price the Ladybug should have a little more hard wood in it, if you ask me.

It probably doesn't help that I'm relying solely on pictures on the internet. If I thought I could talk my husband into driving me forty minutes to a local spinning shop to check out wheels, I would. Perhaps I will at time of purchase, since saving on shipping would appeal to his cheap side. :P

Thursday, March 6, 2008

First Spindle Yarn

I have finally ventured into the world of spinning my own yarn. My spindle arrived late this morning, and I bravely picked the worst (to me) color of roving included with my Louet kit and went to town. Had I not watched the spindling episode of "Knitty Gritty"(not to mention just having read all of Spinning Spider Jenny's blog posts with incredible details on how to drop-spin) the included instructions would have confused the heck out of me. As it is, I don't think I'm doing too badly.



There's a lot of hay-like vegetation in this roving. Okay, I'm so new I'm not sure what "a lot" consists of, but I've had to pick out three or four flecks of hay at least once every six feet of yarn. Well I suppose it's good I'm learning on the cheap stuff and not my Twisted Fiber Works pre-dyed roving in all it's groovy colors.

Playing with the spindle has taught me one thing... I'm not too shabby at spinning. I thought I'd be clumsy and awkward, but I've only broken the yarn once, and that's cause I was being distracted and not paying attention. Considering the first time I tried to play basketball I got a fat lip from the ball bouncing back into my face while trying to dribble, I'm happy my lack of coordination doesn't seem to be affecting me in this case. :D Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to be breaking any speed records... I barely seem to have made a dent in this ball of roving... but I'm encouraged enough that my saving my "play money" budget until my birthday so I can buy a spinning wheel seems like a fantastic idea right now. Not the usual "oh, another fad hobby you spend several hundred dollars on and have now quit doing" kind of idea. No, I think this idea is a keeper.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Double stranding = ultimate customization?

I never buy bulky yarn. It's not that I don't *like* bulky yarn, it's just that I only like to use it for certain things, and even though I may purchase yarns with a specific project in mind, they only get used for the intended project about 25% of the time. The rest of the time I usually just get an itch to cast on something cute I find, and dig through my stash till I find enough yarn for said project. So I mostly buy worsted-weight yarn... it's the most commonly used weight, and as I've discovered, the most versatile.

You see, there was a time in my teens when I thought variegated or "print" yarns were the greatest thing out there. They look so pretty (usually) on the skein, with their blends of color. I bought bunches of them. I cooed over them in my stash and petted them like tribbles. Then I tried to knit with them. Yuck! Color pooling in unexpected ways! Disaster!

So here I am now, several years later and most decidedly not a teenager and not a fan of print yarns. You can't throw it away... it's YARN! What to do?

Well lately I've been running into really cute patterns that all call for bulky yarn... in our "instant gratification" society, I suppose bulky is better because it offers a quick fix for you if you're a product knitter (you enjoy the end garments more than a process knitter who just wants to knit and doesn't care if they ever finish). Me, I'm a product knitter, but also feel that bulky is tacky looking. So every time I see something that needs bulky yarn, I double or triple strand regular worsted. It's possibly the best thing ever!

See here's the thing, you don't have to have two strands of the exact same color, you can mix it up... create unique blends and textures. If that smooth rose-colored worsted is too bland, add a fushia boucle yarn and presto! Lots more interesting! Have a blue-aqua-black print yarn that's just too intense when knitted up? Double strand it with a neutral gray or straight black and tone down the color.

You get the idea. It's like mixing paint, oodles of fun, and perfect for the experimenter in all of us. Plus a good way to use up the lonely, forgotten skeins in our stash.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Harmony

I am really liking my new(ish) Knit Picks Harmony wood needles. I have both fixed and interchangeable tip styles. Quick list of pros and cons:

PROS

* Slick enough to be fast with the stitches but "sticky" enough not to drop your stitches if you have to lay them down suddenly.

* Colorful and bright. I call them my "Mardi Gras" needles with their purple, green and gold wood colors.

* Fairly inexpensive when purchased individually.

CONS

* Not interchangeable with Boye cables or other parts, even though they look really, really close.

* No cable connector parts available to take two cables and join them together if you need a really long cable. If Knit Picks doesn't sell the length you need, you're out of luck.

* Fixed needles seem "flimsier" than their interchangeable counterparts. I keep worrying I'll snap it right off at the join.

* No sizes on the needle tips anywhere. Even a single digit stamped into the metal bases of the needles would be helpful. Hanging tags onto cables of a work in progress is not useful for the many tips that are sitting unused in your storage case.

Wow, maybe I should have put the "cons" first, as this is coming off a little harsh. Let me say again that I love working with these needles... I have the Boye set, but there's something about working with aluminum that sets my teeth on edge. Plus the aluminum needles in the Boye set are too slick and way too short... my hands cramp up when I use them because they're not long enough to reach the heel of my hand.

The Harmony needles are a goodish length, have a warm feel and sound when being used, are slick enough to get a good fast rhythm going, and have good points that are sloped just about right for my tastes.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Morning Knitting

I get up every weekday at 6am to get the peanut off to school and make sure hubby doesn't oversleep. I have an alarm clock that I can dock my iPod into, and lately I've been waking myself up to podcasts about knitting. I try to get my chores and such done by 9am so that I can start knitting at about that time. However, today was Mom's Day Off (*see note below) so when my eyes were able to open I picked up the project I had put aside the night before and took off with it. As a result I did not get out of bed until 9am. I'm not even sure my husband locked the door behind him.

Starting your day listening to someone talk about knitting is a great way to energize your enthusiasm if you're planning a day of knitting. I feel both industrious and decadent at the same time.

(*Mom's Day Off is a little tradition I started a few years ago when the little one started riding the bus to school. Even in Texas, winter mornings are cold and damp and no fun, so one day a week on Fridays usually, my husband takes her down to the bus stop and lets me sleep in or stay warm inside. I also tend to take the rest of the day off from my other responsibilities.)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

New Stash is here!

I order yarn stuff every payday (that's hubby's payday, not mine, lol) and this batch has arrived! This is my first order of Knit Pick's "Essential" yarn (bought several sale colors) and the bright, Miami-esque colors are beautiful. Can't wait to turn them into summer socks!

Considering how slowly I progress on fingering-weight socks, I may be done by summer. Ha.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Inspired to Knit...

... if I can ever get off the computer! I just received my invitation to Ravelry.com last night, and I ended up staying up waaaaaay past my bedtime just noodling around and looking at all the cute things other people are making. Today I got serious about listing my yarn stash, and after a few hours I am halfway done (getting organized on Flickr for the stash photos and slogging stuff over to my PC kind of slowed me down... my stash is not that huge!) There was also twain drivers to install, and those million little things that slow you down when starting something new on the PC.

Today, I am two discs into the entire series of "Andromeda" and I will be knitting to that if I ever get away from this electronic menace.