Thursday, January 31, 2008

To felt or not to felt.

That is the question.
Sorry, no photos :( I bound off last night well after midnight, tried on the hat and decided I had to go to bed.

I recently finished a fair isle hat but it's a touch loose - I should have probably knit the ribbing on smaller needles...anyhow, I knit it out of feltable yarns, but 2 different types. The gauge looks pretty even, though I might have pulled some of the floats a bit tight at the top of the hat - and the very top of the hat may be suffering the lack of floats as it switches over to single color for the last little bit - regardless, the hat could stand a blocking before I take some photos. But the dilemma remains, do I just soak and block, or should I attempt to rectify the sizing issue with some felting...The hat is definitely a touch too deep, and a little bit big at the circumference, so I think it's a pretty good candidate for felting...though I'm not relishing trying on a wet hat for fit ;)

Suggestions? I promise, I'll have photos soon.

Don't forget, Project Spectrum 3.0 starts tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Just in time for Spring!

If you're like me and seem to have a collection of lovely fabric scarves, but have no idea what to do with them, this book may prove wonderfully helpful! It's not available yet (due to release March 4, 2008), though you can Preorder from Amazon (incidentally, not a bad deal, apparently they take another 5% off if you preorder). If it's not due out til March, I'm sure you're wondering what I'm doing with one - I was lucky enough to receive a review copy!

I have several scarves I've acquired over time - either because I couldn't resist them, or because I had dyed them myself - I've used them for wrapping gifts and sending them to others, I've worn them as belts as they were intended - as scarves around the neck - but that's about it. This book, with its wonderful lay flat spiral binding, has a bunch of different ideas on how to make use of scarves of various shapes and sizes as accents or accessories, tops, skirts or even dresses. Instructions are straight forward and simple, and each project is nicely laid out over a pair of facing pages with the page on the left showing a clear image of the project (neat effect of the actual project "modeled" on a black & white line drawing), the name of the project, and the list of supplies needed. The right page has simple line drawings and instructions and a estimated time for completion of the project. Flipping through the book, I was able to find several ideas that I will likely try out with my own stash of scarves - including the Colette lounge pants, the Noemi satchel, the Caramia racer back top and the Farrah daytime bag. I've also found some new ways to wear the scarves wrapped around my head - always a bonus for those bad hair days :)

Friday, January 25, 2008

the Wheel goes round and round

After a very long hiatus, I finally had some time to sit down with my spinning wheel...

I find it amazing how different lighting brings out different colors in yarn - this is actually the same skein - the top photo was under incandescent lights and I was unable to get a satisfactory white balance off of it...but I liked the colors it showed, so I decided to keep it for future inspiration :D

The yarn is called Tumbling Tides and it can be's over in the shop. Incidentally, there are some other things in the shop too - the Unscented SOAK finally arrived in both small and large bottles, and I also just got a restock of Persephone Socks Patterns along with some more Oceanwind Knits Yarns. Incidentally, I'm working on getting the new limited editions photographed, so those will be hitting the shop soon too :)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Field Trip!

Sorry for the lapse in the blogging last week - I was traveling for work...and confusing my coworkers by requesting some paper clips (I had to move some stitches around on the Firestarter socks and I'm magic looping the pair and had no stitch holders or anything that could double for stitch holders on hand) Fear not, the socks are progressing much better than Bayerische!

Anyhow, while away, I managed to get a Fibery Field Trip in...

to visit Sheri and the Elves at the Loopy Ewe!

Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera with me so I didn't get a photo of the big Loopy Sign out front, but Sheri had her camera, so I'm using her photo :) That would be me, with what remains of the Spritely Goods yarn in my arms - I think it was something like 6 skeins or so.

In case you're wondering, yes, visiting the Loopy Ewe is like fiber overload! I couldn't decide what to bring home. Course, all the Wollmeise was long gone, so I settled for some Fiesta Boomerang instead - and some lace weight yarns...and some needles. Because a girl can't have too many Addi's ;) - I actually needed to go down a size on the Firestarters and I didn't want to have to wait until I was back home to do so - so I've now got another pair of US1s :) which means I can now queue more socks because as long as I have the needles...I can cast on for more projects ;)

Monday, January 21, 2008

There be no cankles here!

Cast on right after I finished my CPH, I was wanting some coordinating socks. How convenient that this pattern for kilt hose appeared :D

Imagine my slight horror to realize that my measurements matched those of the recipient of the Kilt Hose in the actual pattern - Actually, my measurements are just a hair larger at the top of the calf and a touch trimmer at the ankle - I attribute my legginess to all the hiking I've done - and the genes of course :) No lithe slim legs here.

Ah well, I figure play em up and celebrate, I love the "seam" down the back of these socks!

Commentary etc, as always, is over at the Finished Objects Blog.

Monday, January 14, 2008


RIP Bayerische
Cast On: October 2007
Frogged: January 2008

I had such high hopes for these socks - the mind is nimble and willing, the yarn is fantastic, the body - or rather the hands and forearms - simply isn't up for the challenge - knitting even one row of twisted cabled loveliness was causing problems. Rather than let these socks linger on and perhaps never be finished, I've frogged them - this yarn will become a pair of Firestarters instead - I think the colorway is wonderfully suited :D Not only that, but they will be perfect for Project Spectrum 2008 - this year the focus will be broken into elements, with the first grouping for February and March being focused on FIRE!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A Little Look

Into my world. :)

Well, you just saw a corner of one of the rooms that I keep finished batts in...

And you've seen what the foyer can look like when I get a shipment of yarn in...

In the past, I've given you a glimpse of my Solar Dyeing experiments, and my blending workspace when it isn't being used for order fulfillment.

Most of my dyestocks are kept stacked up in an upstairs bathroom that I reserve for rinsing yarn (and drying in inclement weather). I tend to mix dye stocks outdoors, wearing a mask though I'm now in the market for a respirator because I find the mask uncomfortable and am often tempted to not use it. I admit to doing all my dye application indoors, though like any good dyer, I segregate all my pots and utensils for dyework from any sort of food/eating application.

In order to set the dye, I have toyed with microwave setting, as well as the previously mentioned solar experiments. While I do kettle dye my semi-solid colorways, I tend to steam set most of my yarns and fibers. You can see the 2 pots I keep for these occasions below, though I'm looking to expand and am shopping for steamer racks now while trying to decide if I can set steamer racks on top of my existing big dye pot...

Over the holidays, I took advantage of the additional time to experiment with natural dyes - you can see some of the results collaged in that photo. While natural dyes produce gorgeous earthy colors (I'm particularly fond of the Madder and Cochineal), I don't think they will become a regular part of my shop, though I may offer some of these up as limited editions. One thing that absolutely amazed me was the change in color of the madder root from a flash-flood muddy brown color to that stunning red - and the by looking at the cochineal extract (boiling bugs, by the way, do not smell very appetizing), I wouldn't have expected the vibrant fuschia hue - I would have expected more of a reddish color.

Incidentally, I also took some time to dye up a bunch of yarn and fiber just before the New Year (a pile of limited editions due to hit the shop for February!) Turns out I underestimated how much space the roving would take on the drying racks (and the experimental natural dyed yarn was taking forever to dry) that I ran out of drying space - I do all my initial drying outdoors as I was getting tired of the scent of vinegary wet sheep invading the house - LOL. Anyhow, I took the rest of the yarn and fiber in and set it in a box to await final rinse - turns out the cat approved of the warm steam-heated perch:

Incidentally, if you haven't cruised over already, the fiber (blended and/or dyed) was updated into the shop :)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Batt Girl Rides again...

Stephanie + Fiber + Time =

Over the holidays I took the time to do a wee bit of blending :) Incidentally, the shop has been updated :D

I'm still working on the post about my workspace and some recent dyeing adventures - sorry for the delay....

Instead, I offer you this:

to keep you entertained.

Free Rice donated as you test your vocabulary skills! Terribly addictive - at least I thought so, but I'm kind of a nerd that way :D

Give it a try, send it to your friends - heck, if you have children of school-age, you can even get them to play ;) what better way to get them to work on their vocabulary than by a "game" that benefits others?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Have you the urge...

To dabble at dyeing? If so, the following book may be a worthwhile addition to your library if you haven't gotten it already!

As a handdyer myself, I am always curious about new techniques and especially at glimpses into other dyers' studios. The Yarn Lover's Guide to Hand Dyeing: Beautiful Color and Simple Knits is a lovely book that satisfies both curiosities. Starting with a brief overview including safety tips and workspace preparation, the book delves into different types of dyes (from kool-aid and food coloring to one-shot dyes, fiber reactive dyes and various acid dyes) and application techniques. Each chapter includes several simple patterns making use of the yarn that has been dyed using instructions from that chapter. The dye instructions were very thorough, complete with clear written instructions and photographs. The patterns are primarily small projects (hats, mitts, scarves/wraps) that that vary in complexity, though each does a nice job showcasing the dye technique being featured. Each chapter also includes an interview with a dyer - and even better, a little glimpse into their workspaces. These interludes were a real treat :D stay tuned, and I'll give you a wee peek into my own recent adventures!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

You can call me Miss January...

If you happen to have the Stitch 'N Bitch 2008 Page-A-Day Calendar, you might have noticed that Spritely Goods was featured as the very first fave fiber for the year! How awesome is that? I was honored to be included in the calendar - and hope to have even more handspuns for the shop this year.

Friday, January 04, 2008

A quick flash back

One last finished object in 2007 - I did finally finish the Urban Homesteader hat. the summary and details are over here. I knit on it for a day, and was seaming buttons and doing the finished edging that evening. I've already worn it - in the house no less. Apparently once I get cold, I have a really hard time getting warm again, even if the heat is on. No amount of warm fluids was doing the trick, and I didn't want to waste electricity bringing the temps inside the house into the "tropical" on went the hat :D

And since we're light on the content, how about something good to eat? Sorry, no photos - I always seem to forget to take photos when I'm taking dinner...

I had Zucchini Carbonara for dinner last night - very tasty - and easy to make too! Recipe essentially from Mark Bittman's The Minimalist Cooks at Home. Basically, boil up some pasta...while the pot for the pasta is getting going, slice up several zucchinis about 1/4 inch thick, saute them in olive oil and season to taste (I also added some minced garlic, and seasoned simply with salt and pepper). Mix 2 eggs + 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese. When the pasta is done, quickly drain it (don't rinse!) and add it to the zucchini - quickly pour on the egg & cheese mixture and toss - the heat from the pasta should do the cooking, though if it isn't hot enough, you can do this in your pot over low heat, be careful to not let the pot get too hot or you're going to have scrambled eggs and pasta. Adjust your seasonings, serve with a drizzle of olive oil and more freshly grated cheese :) and a salad. And garlic bread. Yum.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Looking Backwards and Forwards

Happy New Year, everyone!

2007 was definitely a mixed bag - and I'm happy for the "fresh" start that a new calendar year brings. Focusing on all that is good (which is still plenty) - lets have a look at where I went last year and where I'm hoping to go this year!

The new year was kicked off properly with a visit with the Luscious Gracious Clan and other suspects for some serious knitting to bring in 2008 properly :)

After a slow start last year, there was a flurry of finishing objects -
There was some spinning, a his and her pair of socks, 5 lovely bits of lace, his and hers sweaters, a whole whack of dyeing and a book.

Speaking of dyeing and the shop, business continued to grow and I got picked up by the Loopy Ewe this year. This allowed me to gift generously to my designated charities (Heifer International, Best Friends Animal Sanctuary and Komen Foundation for Breast Cancer) over the holidays - if you care to join me this year, I've created a registry at Heifer International. I'm hoping the business will continue to grow (I'm now accepting a few wholesale accounts, so tell your LYS ;) ) so I can be even more generous next holiday season.

My other major focus for this next year is for more balance in my life. It's always a struggle, and something that always requires focus and attention. I'll be striving to be more balanced in everything - from work/rest/play to diet and exercise, I'm hoping to better balance the varied aspects of my life. I'm still training, and have at least one "race" on the books for this year, though I might go ahead and sign up for another, depending on how I'm feeling after the one I'm already scheduled for goes.

Wishing you all the very best for this New Year. May it be full of joy, wonder and accomplishments!