Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Behold - the Power of the Sun!

I'm not usually in the habit of leaving trashbags in my backyard...but seeing as I live someplace with abundant solar energy, I figured I ought to give it a try rather than heating up my house while pursuing fiber activities....Incidentally, I think I need to figure out what types of "wrapping" store the most heat...

Look! inside one of the bags, this was the temperature reading in mid afternoon. Based on the initial experimentation, yarn wrapped in plastic, left in roasting pans inside a black plastic bag does not retain heat as well as yarn wrapped in plastic, placed in roasting pans, which are then placed inside a monstrous dyepot that has been covered in black plastic. LOL.

I also have to admit to not knowing for certain if it did get hot enough in the wrapped packages to really set the dye. I unwrapped one package, set it for rinsing and saw a tiny bit of bleed out of color....and decided to steam all of the packages for a half hour just to make sure. Even after the steaming though, that one colorway still bled just a tiny I may have just put in too much dye....

Ah well, I do love me my experiments. Does anyone know what temperature is actually needed to set dye? I know people will dye in a dedicated crock pot - and I've discovered that crock pots can range in temperature from 180-280 F....Somehow, I don't think I'll be successful in getting temperatures quite that high by just harnessing the power of the sun...*sigh* anyone know where I can get a digital temperature probe for cheap? ;)

Yeah, that's a fair number of skeins of these days I'll get them skeined and the shop updated :)

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Batt Girl Strikes Again!

A while back, someone I know called me Batt Girl thanks to my productivity over one weekend churning out batts left and right....

...well, it happened again. This is what happens when I get cooped up inside my house with my fiber for a weekend. I had noticed that I was running low on some colors, and I had been meaning to try out some others...and next thing I knew it, the weekend was over, there was fiber everywhere and I had something on the order of 50+ batts piled up in the den. It's madness....but it's all so delicious.

I'm waiting for the sample skeins to dry before photographing them and piling them off to the shop.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Cover Girl

I'm a star ;) or rather, my delicious fiber is a star...doesn't it look absolutely delicious? In addition to it's namesake, the Fairy Duster, that particular colorway reminds me of cotton candy....especially in that image :) My thanks to Yahaira for featuring on the front of Pure Knits!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Color, Color, Everywhere!

In an attempt to remedy my lack of colorful posts for Project Spectrum and to also feed my ongoing fascination with color, I had a wonderful time dying up skeins and skeins of yarn to take care of my Dye-o-Rama duties. Five honkin skeins of yarn and a whole mess of dyes resulted in this:

Of course, I do prefer how they look skeined...they just look so delicious. Go look. There's beauty in piles of yarn ;)

I have to admit, the skeining was a right pain in the you know what - at least until I figured out a proper setup. Unfortunately it proved to be rather annoying process that involved breaking of yarn at least twice, massive tangling of yarn at least once, and eventually blocking access from one side of the house to the other because the ONLY place I can park my skeiner and swift in a linear fashion at a height where I can still easily see the counter is smack dab in the middle of the foyer. Oh well - at least it works :D

Late to the Party

Project Spectrum

I kept wanting to be a part of project spectrum but somehow kept getting myself distracted in the process....I got caught up this week with a whole mess of dying (after all, who could dye just one skein of yarn?) you'll have to wait for the photo showing it all, but I'll show you the Green section :) Since green is the focus for May.

These greens remind me of the various abundant (yes, abundant!) shades of green in the desert southwest....I remember being very very surprised when I moved here from the Pacific Northwest and seeing just how many shades of green there are down here!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Faster is not always better

Some of the better things in life benefit from a slower process...

...chocolate conching and tempering....
...a slow rise for bread...
...braising and roasting and low temp barbecuing...

hmm. of course I'm having a bit of trouble finding examples that are not food related ;)

why the fixation on slow vs fast? It's because I'm re-teaching myself how to run. Not that I ever forgot, but I've got a bit of a hangup in that when I was (much) younger I was a sprinter, and never trained for endurance. I've been a bit slow this year on getting myself onto a healthier track - most recently I've been waylaid by special edition Snickers Peanut Caramel Chew Minis...guaranteed to add back a few pounds thanks to those little tasty morsels. Anyhow my workout has been leaving me with something to be desired...and it didn't seem like my cardiovascular fitness was improving at all with the selected regimen I had placed myself on. I had always heard that running was good for cardiovascular fitness and endurance. Further urged into the running pursuits by Raquel (who seems good at getting me sucked into all kinds of things ;) ) I'm trying to unlearn my sprinting habits and gain some ability to actually jog for a reasonable length of time. At first my feet were proving most uncooperative, and three pairs of shoes later, I think I have them finally convinced that running is not akin to being pursued by demons. The next battle was finding a speed to attempt to run at that was comfortable on the treadmill - I've finally come to grips that the training plan is not intended to kill me and leave me breathless and groaning - I've slowed my pace (it isn't a race after all) and I think I'm slowly getting back on the right track :)

Monday, May 15, 2006

I'm lucky indeed...

Lookie here :) it's bulky weight Karaoke (50% wool, 50% soysilk) in beautiful poppy colors - and these are only two of the colors that this soft yarn will be debuting in. That's right :) Debuting - its official release is at TNNA in June. I get to play with it for Southwest Trading Co - I've got a project in mind and I sure hope it comes off the needles as I expect! Whatever it is, I have a month to do it as I need to get the finished object back to SWTC in time for TNNA. I do love playing with new yarn!

Friday, May 12, 2006


I have to say thanks to Susie - who turns out is my Dye-o-Rama Buddy. She sent me some goodies with the sock yarn - some little sticky note pads and a small stack of silk hankies...the kind to spin with :) whoo hoo! I've been meaning to give those a try - just hadn't gotten around to it yet, what with all the other fiber goings on...

Mmmm sock yarn. Isn't it lovely? I have no idea what they will become...but I'm sure they will become something beautiful.

As for my dying for my recipient, I was hoping to get that underway this weekend, but the box o yarn has yet to arrive...I sure hope it makes an appearance soon!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

More Knitting!

Have you been to visit PureKnits yet? The SpritelyGoods section has been updated with a bunch of my batts :D You can kinda see em in the photo - unfortunately I had to tilt the screen funny on the laptop so I wouldn't get a horrid bounce from the flash. I usually don't shoot photos with a flash, but I was having absolutely no luck fixing the color balance when I didn't shoot with the flash...Anyhow, you can see one of the current projects laying happily on the keyboard - they are a pair of Jaywalkers...but knit in the Toe-Up fashion (big thanks to Natalia for revising the pattern!) Of course, I didn't check gauge while I was knitting, and had to make a correction around the ball of the foot because they looked dreadfully loose (and I was too lazy to want to rip them back, though that might have been the wiser thing to do)...I think they'll turn out okay. I'm at the gussets now, and will hopefully be headed into the heel turn soon :)


Quite possibly, this may be too late for my Dye-o-Rama Buddy as she's (assuming here - as the odds are in that favor) been incredibly productive and already has my yarn dyed up and quite possibly in the mail already!

Anyhow, if you're not my Dye-o-Rama buddy, feel free to ignore ;) or read on to learn more about my yarn preferences.

Questions specific to this swap:
Your favorite colors?
Blues - denimy colors - though lately I seem drawn to brighter colors. People tell me this is normal. I'm finding it rather strange. Periwinkle is about the only pastel I'll do...

Preferred yarn weight (Fingering, Sport, DK, maybe even Worsted)?
Depends on the project, for socks, Fingering & Sport :) for a felted bag? Worsted, bulky or superbulky!

Do you prefer solid or multicolored yarn?
Also depends on the project - for lace, I like a nice solid or a gentle variegation...I've never knit with a self patterning yarn yet, though it certainly seems fun - I enjoy variegated yarns and self striping yarns, and prefer that odd pooling doesn't occur - but again, this is something that can usually be resolved by changing the project it seems ;)

If your buddy is able to do so, would you like a variegated, self-striping, or self-patterning yarn?
Honestly, since I signed up for the WTF group, I'm happy with any wash-fast, light-fast, nicely colored yarn :)

Would you be interested in a wool blend sock yarn (nylon, tencel, silk, acrylic, alpaca, etc.)?
X-nay on the Acrylic or high nylon content....

Imagine the perfect colorway. What would you name it?
*sigh* I have serious mind block right now...and naming colorways has never been my forte...

What was the biggest appeal to you for joining this dye-along?
It was a great chance to learn more about dying (which I have been meaning to do) and also a great opportunity for Fun Mail - we all know how I like my Fun Mail :D

General yarn/fiber questions:
Have you dyed yarn/fiber before?
Why yes, yes I have :) Both yarn and fiber!

If so, what's your favorite dye and method?
Handpainting - because it's fun to squirt the dye around :D

Do you spin?
Definitely :) and it's all Raquel's fault! Though I'm pretty sure she didn't mean for it to turn into an obsession...

Have you knit socks before?
Yes - I've done 2 from the toe up, the other cuff down. I'm much preferring toe up as I greatly dislike the anxiety of possibly running out of yarn at the toe if I misjudge things...I also knit them both at the same time to prevent second sock syndrome or wonky gauge syndrome...

Do you use sock yarn for just socks or in other patterns too?
Sock yarn is definitely not just for socks

What are some of your favorite yarns?
Honestly, it's hard to say - I'm dreadfully fickle...this is probably why I have such a ridiculous stash.

What yarn do you totally covet?
Well...I have a pair of skeins of Classic Elite Sinful Cashmere. They are the most extravagant yarns I have ever bought...and because my hands are usually rough, I have yet to knit them up!

Favorite patterns?
Fickle here too - I have books of patterns and a ginormous three ring binder full of patterns to try...

Any pattern you would love to make if money and time were no object?
Hard to say - I love knitting lace, but I never wear it...there was some fancy snowflake shawl I was looking at - it looks incredible to knit, but I would never wear it...

Favorite kind of needles (brand, materials, straights or circs, etc)?
Mmmm...addi turbo and addi natura circulars :)

If you were a specific kind of yarn, which brand and kind of yarn would you be?
Hmm. I'd probably be some sort of blend - easy care, easy going, but wonderfully versatile ;)

Nothing to do with knitting/yarn/fiber in any way but seemed kinda fun:
Do you have a favorite candy or mail-able snack?
I love chocolate - but it's the wrong time of year to be mailing chocolate anything this way...unless it's non-meltable--like Brownies ;)

What's your favorite animal?
Cats, because they really know how to relax and they don't care what anyone else thinks!

Do you have pets?
A pair of kittys

What are their species/names/ages?
Domestic Short and Medium hair - one is mostly British Blue, the other is a Dilute Calico mixed breed, I can't win on the fur - since one is dark and the other is predominantly white....they're middle aged - but I'm unsure of exact age as they were both adopted.

Do you have a wishlist?
Yes :) I've an Amazon Wishlist...and a fiber wishlist - the fiber one is on the sidebar of my Finished objects Blog...and the Amazon one is here

Anything else you'd like to share with the group today?
No - but does anyone have a favorite full spectrum sunblock to recommend? I've been told I'm supposed to be hunting for sunblock with micronized zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Sheep & Wool

While many people were having fun at Maryland Sheep & Wool (I love their logo) I was having my own little mini Sheep & Wool - or Wool anyhow, courtesy of Marie :D You'll have to settle for a pictureless post tho - mostly because I'm too lazy to round things back up after filing them away nicely - but also because I don't have good light for the photos. Anyhow, I'm loving the things she sent - some stuff for plying and some stuff for spinning - and some lovely fiber that she handpainted - it's more or less in fat pencil roving form so it's ready to go on the wheel with no prep at all :D

In other news, rumor has it that my Dye-o-Rama buddy has been ridiculously productive and has already dyed my for me, I'm still waiting on my yarn order to come in!

Friday, May 05, 2006


Who doesn't love cake?

Delicious swirls of chocolate combined with tasty vanilla cake in this lovely Chocolate Marble Cake. It makes plenty, so pack it up and share it...or hoard it for your own ;) I promise not to tell anyone!

Read on here to find the recipe!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Feeling Bookish

For better or for worse, my entrepreneurial spirit has gotten me neck deep in fiber...I've discovered that I adore playing with fiber, working with color and creating new yarns - what a departure from what I'm officially trained to be (I'm an Enginerd!). Anyhow, I'm rapidly outpacing the capabilities of my little blogshop and I figure I really need to get my official store launched at some point, sooner rather than later. Since I know nothing about PHP, and my selected cart is an open source venture with not so good documentation, I had to go shopping to find myself a book so I could get this show on the road...apparently Zen Cart: Building an Online Store the Zen Way is the only Zen Cart book out there right now, but it is targeted towards Beginners, and I figure, hey! that's me! With some luck, this will get me to where I need to be, with minimal fuss. Though I will be eagerly awaiting the next installment, I'm sure - either that or I'll be pestering the forums for assistance.

...of course, I took the opportunity to save on shipping and picked up a couple impulse purchases...

Knitting Without Tears - Because *everyone* tells me it is a fantastic resource - especially if you're like me and you don't like to follow patterns exactly :)

Wendy Knits: My Never-Ending Adventures in Yarn - WendyKnits was one of the first blogs I started reading when I stumbled into knit blogs. Her ability to crank off fancy patterned sweaters in very little time astound me.

Knitting Rules! : The Yarn Harlot's Bag of Knitting Tricks - I had to finally get a Yarn Harlot book - her blog makes me laugh :) Even better, she might be making an appearance where I can actually see her and one of the ubiquitous socks in progress!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A French Jacques!

Look! It's the 2nd Jacques that I didn't crochet that I am actually aware of...the first is Shelly who was made by Pam who graciously volunteered to test crochet my pattern for me. Anyhow, this Jacques hails all the way from France! Incidentally there were several non-English French speakers who wished to have the pattern translated, and as I do not speak French, Peggy has completed the translation and it is available here :) If you are reading, and you have indeed completed a Jacques of your own, please feel free to email me your photos or even better, post them direct to the Flickr Gallery!

A Clue For My Dye-o-Rama Buddy

hello Dye-o-Rama buddy :) and everyone else too ;)

The secret email this is not too challenging - I'm sure the Dye-o-Rama Mamas can provide some assistance :)

Anyhow, my favorite colors have historically been shades of blue - the closest I seem to come to pastel anything is Periwinkle...somehow, a switch got flipped recently - I don't know if it's the knitting, the spinning or the dying (or the influence of some of my more colorful friends) that has turned on the brighter colors - I now carry a red handbag, and as you can see my recent bout of dying and blending brought out the pink and pinky orangy hues...the best guidance is probably to tell you that I am not a fan of yellow...and I'm sure I'll love knitting with whatever color yarn you dye for me. Perhaps some of my friends care to comment...

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

A Busy Weekend Indeed!

After an initial run with the Beast (who really does need another name...), I discovered that he really likes to fling fiber as he processes....unfortunately I was processing Fairy Duster batts and managed to completely coat my husband's briefcase in pink fuzz. To his mortification, the poor guy was brushing pink fuzz off himself all day....anyhow, the decision was made to move the carder into the Den, which now acts as my "place of business" - well, except for the spinning and dying activities - those are still in other locations in the house.

The weekend was kicked off by delivering the little Ashford to his new home - he's acquired the nickname "Munch" and has already been put to good use. This was followed by a wave of organization...thank goodness for the Joann's Daffodil Dash sale - all plastic organizers were 50% off. I got the huge boxes (something like 30 gallon size) elsewhere...

Voila! Much better - everything all nice and tidily stored :) and I nearly got it all into boxes too...unfortunately none of my Mill End fibers fit into the boxes, so those are living under the table on top of one of the big boxes - you might be able to make out one of the bags if you look closely.

I've also got a much nicer storage setup for the shop inventory, along with a bunch of stuff for my forays into dyeworks...

Speaking of Dyeworks, the reward to myself for catching back up on inventory was to break out some dyes and play. First, I did an immersion bath for some mill end rovings...

The lesson being that I do need to stir the pot or be happy with slightly blotchy results...

Then I did up a bunch of stock solutions for handpainting...mmm merino :) The lesson here is when they say to add "a little water to form a paste" it *really is* a very *little bit* of water - I was a bit heavy handed with the first dye I mixed up and spent what seemed like an hour stirring to get the dye un-clotted and dissolved....happily, all the other dye mixing went smoothly and I managed to not turn my fingers or counters fuschia or orange :D

Believe it or not, everything does indeed fluff back up nicely once its dry - I certainly had my doubts. I need to tweak the concentrations a bit - I was not aiming for quite such a vibrant pink...the merino balls are the orange-yellow-pink one (it was supposed to be less intense so I could call it Globe Mallow, but I'll call it citrus berry sorbet instead ;) ) and the smaller pink & brownish ones on the right (the pink was supposed to be more pastel-y so I could call it Manzanita - unfortunately I'm not sure *what* to call it now) . The large vat dyed ones are the mill ends - and that colorway will be called Raspberry Truffle...I have yet to decide if I'll spin them as they are or if they will take a trip on the drum carder!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Funmail Makes my Mailbox Happy

...well, perhaps not the Mailbox, but it certainly makes *me* happy, anyhow :) Especially when it has original illustrations on it! This box came from Myra as a surprise thank you for participating in a little social experiment. Sadly, I don't draw as well as Myra, so I'm not sharing my pitiful little stick figure drawings.

Inside the fun box were some wonderful things indeed - a lovely postcard from Hawaii (still on my list of places to visit *sigh*), Some tasty Mentos (citrus mango flavor!), a nice little notebook and a fun pen with ink that smells like cola (both put to use already), a handy white out tape for any mistakes I should make with the fun pen, and the best thing of all?

A DIY Pompom kit! I've been rescued from my cardboard templates! Hooray! Thank you so much, Myra, I love it all :D

Now you think my husband would be offended if I smacked a pompom on top of that pirate hat? ;)