Monday, July 31, 2006

Band Cuffs - free pattern!

Here is a fun summer knitting project that you can make in less than an hour and wear out tonight! They use very little yarn so it's also great for using up scraps. These Mason Dixon inspired banded cuffs are knit out of worsted-weight cotton and can be layered or worn alone. The pattern is simple enough but I wrote it down for your personal use. If you want to buy these cuffs instead of knitting them, I am selling them in my Etsy shop.

PDF file available here.

SIZE: approx. 7 inches around (will stretch to fit)

MATERIALS: Any worsted weight yarn in two colors. "A" for background, "B" for band. I used Lily Sugar 'n Cream 100% cotton

Size 7 needles (slightly tighter than the usual 8's = better fit)

CO 30 sts with "A" color and knit one row.

ROW 1: Knit
ROW 2: Purl
ROW 3: Join "B" color, k2, slip 1 purlwise, *k5, sl 1 purlwise; REP from * to last three sts. K3.
ROW 4: K3, sl 1 purlwise with yarn in front, *k5, sl 1 purlwise wyf; REP from * to last two sts. K2.
ROW 5: P2, sl 1 purlwise with yarn in back, *p5, sl 1 purlwise wyb; REP from * to last three sts. P3.
ROW 6: Repeat ROW 4.
ROW 7: Using "A" color, knit.
ROW 8: Purl.

(For single band cuffs like green or pink in photo):
ROW 9: Knit.
ROW 10: Knit.
BO loosely.

(For double band cuffs like blue in photo):
ROW 9: With "B" color, *k5, sl 1 purlwise; REP from * to end.
ROW 10: *Sl 1 purlwise wyf, k5; REP from * to end.
ROW 11: *P5, sl 1 purlwise wyb; REP from * to end.
ROW 12: Repeat row 10.
ROW 13: Using "A" color, knit.
ROW 14: Purl.
ROW 15: Knit.
ROW 16: Knit.
BO loosely.

Sew up side seam and weave in loose ends. Put on cuff, raise your hand in the air and wave it like you just don't care...

If you make these I would show them off here in the customer gallery if you send me a photo. Also, if there is any interest, I can write up a pattern for a smaller size. Otherwise, enjoy!

PDF file available:

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Craftsman's Etsy Shop - Wooden Rings

Craftsman's Etsy Shop

Check out the coolest rings ever! His descriptions are really poetic too. I know I'm not very traditional but I think these are better than diamonds. Etsy is such a great site!

In other news, I can't stop thinking about some really good cake I had last night at Gina's birthday party. The rest of the party was great fun too of course. It's just that I'm haunted by the memory of the cake. I'm just finishing up her birthday present just now. (I'll post a picture after I give it) I'm only eight days late but that's what knitters are especially good at. Miscalculating the time needed to complete the project (and finishing sentences with prepositions.)

In short, it's a slow news day here in the Free World. It's such a Sunday. I'm lazy and unmotivated. This morning, I slept late. Even when one is unemployed, the natural powers of a Sunday resonate on a strong frequency.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

New products!

This is a ball winder and I finally have one! I bought it with a 50% off coupon (of course) and I am very happy with it. In fact, I spent much of last night winding balls of yarn for fun. Have you put it together that I am referring to what I did on Friday night? Be honest, would you rather play with a new ball winder or go out partying? On second thought, don't answer that!

I wasn't sure it would be as great as it is because there were some mixed reviews online. The only part that bothers me is they keep referring to the balls of yarn you make as "cakes" of yarn. I don't care for that expression and at the same time it makes me want to eat cake.

Picture #2: my hand modeling the knucks. I still have to decide what to write on the knuckles. Check out this list. There's some pretty good ideas in there! I was originally inclined to "blog this" or "knit this" but "omg! wtf?" is pretty funny.

The last picture shows off my new Knit Lites in action. I picked these up last week and think they're pretty interesting. I wrote about them before (the link = the whole story of what they are and you can see them lit up too). I finally got them on a field trip to the valley with my new pal Sopranospinner. In short, they light up, but I'm thinking you figured that out already. What's on the needles? A swatch of homespun of course (see the pretty ball?). I wanted to see this yarn knit up. Check out it's history!

That brings me to an important point. Homespun is not like commercial yarn. It is unique and beautiful and yes it costs more but it is worth it. No machine can create these subtle color shifts and rich texture. It's so hard to explain this to the uninitiated. You know, the people who think knitting socks is dumb because you can buy them at Target for $2. Or the people who ask you if you churn your own butter too. Actually I did churn my own butter once so maybe they do have a point! (I churned by accident by over-whipping some heavy cream. - Try it!)

In summary, we spinners are making art. Not everyone appreciates art, and that's okay. I'll get off the high horse now; I have some more yarn to wind into balls.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Fiber Friday 7/28

I dyed some roving this week!

Thick-thin kool-aid dyed yarn plied with heavy gold blue-jean thread. 3.1 oz, 84 yards.

Before and after: (2.9 oz bulky, 58 yards, merino, targhee, rambouillet) I put both of these in my Etsy shop!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Landis had positive test after Stage 17

Here's the latest cycling news: - CYCLING - Phonak: Landis had positive test after Stage 17

I've been working on something about why I love the Tour to post here to explain why this event is so amazing. Something that communicates why The Tour de France is more compelling to me than the World Series or the Superbowl or any other sporting competition. It's still a work in progress and I'll still post it here when it's written.

It seems every day new stories emerge in the world of cycling. Today's story is again about doping. All the press is bad press it seems. For people who assume cycling is an over-drugged sport based on headlines I want to remind you that each doping story related to this year's Tour is full of allegation and not proof of guilt. When there is conclusive evidence then judgment will be passed.

Also, cycling has the strictest tests for doping. No other sport tests for as many substances or as often as cycling. The punishments are far stricter in cycling than in any other sport as well. If a cyclist tests positive for a banned substance they have a two-year suspension. If it happens a second time, they are banned for life.

During the Tour OLN put a screen shot of a chart that listed each sport and what their penalties were but I can't find that information on the web just now. I'm just sad about such a negative stereotype growing about such an amazing sport. I guess I shouldn't be surprised. In the last 103 years the Tour de France has seen lots of cheating, riding trains, stealing sign-in sheets, and tossing nails on the road to burst tires. I think it's because the race is SO freaking hard to complete, much less win.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Alias socks

Now that the Tour de France is over I can write about some knitting. Here is the story of one sock, which eventually became a pair. The yarn is Simple Stripes (colorway "Vineyard") from knitpicks and the pattern I made up as I went. It's my first "afterthought heel", and that was okay. (Afterthought = You knit a tube, and where the heel goes you put in some waste yarn, then you go back after the sock is done, pick up stitches and work the heel.)

This is also a story about knitting at work. When I'm not working as a tv writer, spinning, knitting or blogging, I get work as an Extra. You know, the people who walk around in the background in tv shows and movies? We also go by the term "background artists" which I enjoy for it's pretentiousness. I have a LOT of stories about this kind of work, and here is one that includes a knitted sock!

First of all, this never happens to me. Usually I have to hustle work for myself. I got a call from the casting company asking me to be in Alias. Well, they asked my car to be in Alias, and that means I have to drive my car, therefore they want me to be in Alias. It's to be a scene in Europe, filmed in Los Angeles of course.

After getting lost a few times I discover the "London street” is actually off of Olvera street downtown Los Angeles, next to China Town. And next to the "London street” is the "Rome street". A few blocks away is the Russian subway scene. I park my car in the Roman Piazza and join base camp where catering is already set up. A guy has a custom omelet station going right next to the taco truck and the build your own burrito bar. A hamburger stand sits at the end of the line and I take it all in while pouring myself a tall iced tea. I stupidly postpone eating for later. This is breaking one of the cardinal rules of background artists: always eat when you have the chance.

Immediately I am beset by a desperate man who will be playing a secret service agent. I tell him he looks like one. I am making conversation. He is encouraged by this and gives me his card. He hosts a podcast about the entertainment industry. He explains to me what a podcast is like I am a caveperson. He tells me Brad Pitt got his start as an extra. One hears this a lot on set, but looking around I don't see any "next Brad Pitts." I start to look for a way out but no one else will make eye contact with me.

The assistant director (AD) comes and checks us in and sends us to wardrobe. I am wearing one outfit and brought two with me just in case. They hate all of it. They even criticize the pearls around my neck. They give me clothes to change into and I go into the tiny space where three other women are already changing. So embarrassing. I am reminded of the fact that I must lose weight soon.

The blouse is sheer and I am wearing a black bra. The skirt is cutting into my stomach and the jacket doesn't completely clear my chest. I walk out for approval. They hand me another outfit. I change again in front of three new girls. This time the skirt is stretchy body hugging with a long slit that is obscene. I go out for approval. They give me a third outfit and I go back to change. By this point every woman I will be working with today has seen me naked. They all seem to change once and that's that. Pretty soon I will be the last one left.

The new outfit makes me look fifty years old. Perfect. They love it. And now they love my pearls too for some reason, as if they hadn't hated them before. I overhear one wardrobe person yell at an extra: "Do you have wax in your ears? Listen when I talk to you!" I look at the ground in fear. They want me to come back for a hat. I say ok and leave. I have no intention of coming back for that hat.

The car people are told to go sit in their cars. Everyone else gets to eat. Whoops. Well I wanted to lose weight anyway. I schlep the rest of my clothes to my car and put them in the back seat. This is great! My stuff is already in my car. I sit in the passenger seat and knit a sock for a while.

Another AD comes over and tells me he likes my car. Then he tells me I shouldn't be in it. That I should be with everybody else in "holding". He tells me like I am really stupid and rebellious at the same time. I go to holding where the wardrobe lady finds me and gives me a hat. I look at my reflection and I look like Mary Poppins. Or Miss Marple. They tell me I look like a proper English lady. I feel ugly but persevere. I make small talk with a nice and smart woman in tweed and argyle. She's also a car person.

I knit for a while and people ask me if I am knitting a sock like it's the most insane thing I could be doing at that moment in time. I explain that it's not as hard as it looks and yes, I know you can just buy socks at Target. The one nice wardrobe lady asks me about the fiber so I got get excited. Then she goes on to tell me about her wool allergy in great detail. And she also wanted to make sure I wasn't going to carry my knitting into the scene. Oh well.

And then it's time for the London action. They use the Honda, the BMW and the Jetta. They ask me to leave my Mini Cooper in "Rome." I find it funny that the one car they choose not to use is the only one actually manufactured in England. I switch gears and play a pedestrian walking down the street with a young man in a dark suit. I think from a distance I may appear to be his mother but I pretend he is my paid escort for the time being. We walk arm in arm down "Portobello Road" mouthing a conversation in silence, having the time of our lives. An extra must be silent at all times, while appearing to be having a lovely conversation. My partner mouths the word "watermelon" over and over and I reply hub bub? Hub bub?

And then it is time for the great Rome scene. While the crew moves everything around the corner, wardrobe instructs us it's time to change clothes again. Are you kidding me? The extras are a bit angry and by now all of the women have discovered the chatty podcaster is creepy so he's stuck talking to the elderly. I get in line for more clothing-related humiliation.

They hand me another XS knit top and ridiculously shiny bolero pants and I go back into the tiny room of demoralization. And then I see it. My skirt! The skirt I wore there and left behind in the trailer that got separated from my clothes and I'm so glad I found it and I'm so stupid for losing it. And then I put it on as if I was told to do so and shove the ugly pants in the hamper bin. I put on the top and stretch it over my torso to the point the seams are about to rip. I walk out and they give me a long hard look.

"I'm going to be in a car for the next scene. You won't even see me." I beg. But they have very important jobs to do dressing the background players in the season finale of Alias. They give me another shirt to try on. They say nothing about the missing bolero pants.

Eventually I make it out to my car and I am to drive around the "piazza" halfway and then quickly return to starting position in reverse. I do this about 100 times in rapid succession because the sun is fading and that may be the most important thing to know about shooting. The sun dictates the schedule.

It was a mere 12-hour shoot and I hadn't eaten during any of it. While waiting to be signed out I made a hasty peanut butter sandwich and ate it in three bites. But the day wasn’t over yet! Some of the group were randomly being chosen to stay on and do the Russian subway scene. (Yes, Los Angeles has a subway.) We all looked at our feet and prayed we weren't to be picked. It would be a 24-hour day (and night) if you were so unlucky. Somehow I wasn’t picked. Although I was tremendously relieved, I started to feel resentful too. Wasn'’t I good enough? Professional enough? Pretty enough? I'm actually part Russian too. Fools!

As I drove home with pains of hunger rolling through my body, I questioned why I take these sort of jobs. And then I remembered it's because I don't have any better offers. I never watched the show when it aired but my pal Scott did and he said he saw a woman with a ponytail driving a Mini with racing stripes through the streets of Europe. I asked him if he liked my skirt but for some reason he couldn't see it while I was driving. As if it didn'’t matter what kind of ugly pants I was supposed to wear or not.

I know this is a long story, but I've been itching to talk about something other than the Tour de France. Did you see I knit almost a whole sock in this story? It's relevant!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Alpe d'Huez yarn

Finally I am able to show you my adventures of about a week ago when the Tour de France hit the Alps and I needed a challenge to spin along. I finally tried plying with thread and it was quite simple really!

I first dyed some roving with kool-aid orange and strawberry. Then I spun thick and thin (but mostly thick) singles alternating between plain white, kool-aid roving, and some heather grey mill ends. Then I plied this yarn with some sturdy gold thread made to sew up blue jeans. I'm happy with the results and in person the yarn has a lot of energy to it.

So naturally I went out and bought lots of thread to play with. I've got variegated, metallic, and some plain and useful. I vow to spin more singles and thread-plied yarn as soon as it cools off a bit.

In knitting news, I cast on today for the knucks! I'm using Classic Elite '03 Tweed from my stash and it's similar to the Rowan Felted Tweed they suggest. Whenever I knit from the stash I feel like I am being a good girl (like eating leftovers) while in the back of my mind I'm harboring a desire to replace the yarn with new yarn. Specifically, I'm entertaining the idea of returning to a certain store I went to last week that had a massive sale and I didn't buy anything there...STOP!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Tour de Fleece wrap-up special

We did it! We made it to the finish line. It was a fast three weeks for me and I'm already going through withdrawals.

A lot of spinning happened from July 1st through the 23rd. If you look around here and in the archives you'll see all of my adventures. (Actually, I still have a couple of skeins to show off!)

Go here for the original concept and guidelines.

Go here for some pictures of yarn in the Flickr pool

Go here to the Craftster board where people have posted their yarns. In addition to lots of lovely yarns, be sure to see Fiberangel's breathtaking cotton there. Also, annalou posted a great picture of spinning on the top of a mountain! I am so proud!

Overall I feel this was a tremendous success considering this was an event that combines a passion for spinning yarn with a love of professional cycling! Thanks to everyone who played along and to those who read about it even though they don't have a fondness for either. (You know who you are) I've made new friends and I've learned a lot and I plan on organizing it again next year. Vive Le Tour!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Talking about the heat is worse than sitting in it

It's still too hot to knit. It's also too hot to spin. Or dye fiber. Or knit.

There will be no review of the Tom Jones show last night because I only recall that it was great and a lot of fun. And that he is a good performer and his fans are nuts. The main thing is that it was too hot...

Is this getting as tedious to read as it is to write? Moving along!

In homespun swapping news, partners have been assigned and I'm curse-word scared curse-word!

The ORGANIZER is a very advanced spinner and she also happens to be my partner! She's a good sport too being a Tour de Fleece spinner! I'll get good yarn, but I'm suddenly struck with performance anxiety. It never occurred to me this could happen.

Finally, The last bit of news. The Tour de France ended today! But you already knew that. Somehow another American won it, coming from behind and with a dead hip. The fanfare! How I long to cycle along the Champs Elysées nursing a glass of champagne...

I'll have a full update tomorrow on how our spinners have fared. Now that the spin-along is over I might have to join a knit-along, I rather enjoyed the process! It's nice to feel like you are a part of something... something other than a world-wide heat wave that is.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

More green yarn

There have been a lot of photos lately in the Free World and I'm sure it all loads on the computer slowly but I really can't help myself. I'd rather look at pictures of yarn than read about yarn, so I assume the same goes for others.

This roving here had a lot of yellow and blue with a bit of orange. I dyed it with Wilton's buttercup, delphinium, and copper. It's interesting how much green came to the surface though.

Lesson of the day= blue + yellow = green. Oh yeah.

This yarn here is one of three I am submitting to the LA County Fair (with help from my new pal sopranospinner! Yay for us spinners who live in hot places!) Read her blog for a tale of our adventures one scorching Friday afternoon...

Pretty soon I will start showing off some knitting in addition to the spinning. There's only a day left in the Tour de France (and the Tour de Fleece) so I can slow down a bit on the spinning, though it's hard to imagine that will actually happen.

In other news, I am going to see Tom Jones tonight at the Hollywood Bowl. I keep thinking I'm going to make a joke about it not being unusual but I shan't stoop so low.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Lemongrass homespun

I present to you another before and after showcase of homespun yarn. I dyed three ounces of my fave merino-targhee-rambouillet blend with Wilton's juniper green and buttercup yellow.

I challenged myself this week to spin up singles and let them be. I did not ply as I usually do because I want to get better at balanced singles. What would Freud say to that I wonder? Do I need to be single for the joke to work? Perhaps you have not noticed I made a similar joke last month. Classy!

I have SO much yarn to show off tomorrow for Fiber Friday. I think it will be like a centerfold. Just pictures. Pictures of yarn porn. Are you getting excited or am I just being inappropriate?

I'm only teasing you with pictures of yarn. Harmless really. No shame in that. I'm not addicted or anything. Stop looking at me.

Tour de France is off the hook!

I know I should try to focus my banter to all things fiber-related but I must digress to what is in the forefront of my thoughts. And besides, The Tour de Fleece combines my love of spinning with my love of cycling. And I talk of that Tour all the time.

Yesterday, my heart was heavy because of the tremendous meltdown in the Tour de France. Americans seem to care very little about the Tour now that Lance Armstrong is retired but the irony is, this year's Tour is the most crazy, unpredictable and wild race in years. It appeared that Floyd Landis, who I pledged alliance with after he announced he needs his hip replaced, was not going to win. Not after yesterday. Not after he bonked on the last climb of the last mountain and lost 8 minutes on the pack.

And somehow today he found a way to claw back to the top. People who know about such things as The History Of The Tour, which is taken very seriously, have universally said that they have never seen a stage like today. He made up most of the time lost. He did it on courage, heart, and determination.

There are only 30 seconds between first and third place now. This is the closest race in years.

Here we are, three days away from the end, and we still don't know who will win. You must consider watching the time trial on Saturday, where it will all go down. Lance would have it wrapped up by now, with such a lead over the pack that no one could come close to winning. This year, not so.

If you are getting interested, you can read about today's stage here. Thank you for indulging me. I will resume fiber news presently.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Today's yarn

I present to you today another before and after show and tell of some homespun yarn. I dyed this roving (my favorite blend of merino, targhee and rambouillet) with Wilton's icing gels about a week ago.

Obviously I never know quite what kind of results I'm going to get. I usually have an idea, but then I always get surprised in the end. I love how some colors line up nicely and others play against each other.

When I ply, I find myself hoping certain colors will meet eachother. The two singles get together in harmony or contrast. Like people.

And then the whole length gets coiled up and patterns emerge and colors change. You think you know what it will look like knitted but you don't. Not really.

Not that I easily knit with homespun. I like to put it on a shelf instead. It's a certain kind of courage that says nothing is too precious. That I am a worthy knitter.

But I can't help but feel that this trio of pictures shows a progression that is incomplete. Yarn is also meant to be used. But for today, I'm going to just give myself permission to enjoy yarn for yarn's sake.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Alpe d'Huez

The most famous climb in the world of cycling. It's not the longest or the steepest, but it sure takes it's toll on a cyclist. I feel a bit empty now that it's been done. Like the day after Christmas to a child, it's a year before we get it back. That's IF it comes back next year. The Tour changes every year, people. For now, only two more hard climbing stages remain, a time trial, and a promenade through Paris. This year's Tour de France is winding down. I am making the mistake of missing it already, though it is still in action for five more days. Obviously I need therapy.

I dyed fiber on the "rest day" yesterday. There's something beachy about it. The sun, sand and sky. What do the colors look like to you?

To challenge myself today I am plying some overspun singles with gold colored blue jean thread. I know this is a common spinning technique but it is new to me. It's a tough climb, but I'm ready.

Monday, July 17, 2006

I told you it was ugly

Here is my homemade PVC niddy noddy in action. I love it a lot because of what it's doing. It's a valuable tool in the yarn making process.

I suppose this is a good lesson for me not to be so shallow.

Then again, not everything has to be beautiful, right? Why should I feel bad about calling it ugly? It can't hear me. Can it? Wait, can it? Of course not. It's plastic. But it could be reading my thoughts. Or this blog.

Personally, I'm trying to be as cute as possible all the time. I accept my niddy noddy to look as it does.

Let's just say this picture won't end up in any Flickr pool.

Tour updates 7/17

Today is a rest day from the Tour de France so it's a good day to get caught up on all things Tour de Fleece. It's been a little quiet in Tour news but we have three hard mountain stages ahead this week in the actual Tour, so I'm hoping we'll see some action.

Bitibis has pretty blues and green to share. It seems they are for sale in her Etsy shop as well. Nice work!

Fyberduck is organizing the handspun swap on Craftster and I am really excited for it. The sign-up closes in a few days so if you have been thinking about it, why not just jump in? It's my first swap but I hear they are addicting.

My hero Soprano Spinner is keeping busy knitting The Most Amazing Socks for the fair. Hit the link for a sneak peek. Be especially nice when you are there because she may be going through caffeine withdrawal. (By the way, when are they going to announce the spinning contest day at the fair? I want to see that!)

Melanie has pretty glitter yarn on her blog. Must be hypnotic to spin such shiny objects...I have to try that!

Another shout-out is in order for Chipper, who is so kind, bought my roving, and has very adorable children eating waffles on her blog. Thank you.

I leave you with a cute picture of The Lamb Who Looked Like A Deer. I found it on the web and it made me smile. Perhaps it will have the same effect on you.

Tomorrow is L'Alpe DE d'HUEZ people. The most famous climb in all of cycling. One week before we hit Paris. Get your spin on!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Bad grammar, but I like it that way

Jumping up and down. About to faint. Hyperventilating. Freaking out.

Remember the secret pattern I was writing about at the end of June? Since then, I'm not exactly waiting for a rejection letter, but assuming it will come in the next month or two. And then today I get an email from Knitty so I KNOW it's going to be that rejection letter but it's not.

What? They liked my pattern? I'm going to have a pattern in the fall issue! Please don't change your mind. Please.

Yelling. Crying. Happy. Skipping the length of my apartment. Shock. Doubt. Re-read email. It's real.

It's REAL!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

PVC niddy noddy

Using instructions found here I finally made myself a niddy noddy and the best part is that it only cost $3 for all the supplies! Happy!

It's not much to look at and it has a funny name but this device will make a huge impact in my spinning. Usually, I spin some singles and ply them together onto a bobbin. I let the yarn sit on the bobbin overnight. Then, I wrap the yarn around my dining room table chairs. This step is a major drag. It involves walking around the table, wrapping the yarn over the tops of the chairs which I've measured out to be a yard apart. If it's a small amount of yarn (80 yards or less) I just use two chairs. A larger bobbin full gets the whole do-dah. Then I lay down while the room spins because I just walked in circles over and over and over. Then I give it another day before setting he twist. To do that, I remove the chair yarn and place it in hot water for 20 minutes. Then I wring it out carefully, towel-dry, and hang it over a clothes hanger in the shower, with a full spray bottle hooked over the bottom to weight it down. Simple. You have yarn.

The niddy noddy allows me to skip everything after the plying! I can wrap the yarn around the noddy from the bobbin and let it sit there. I can steam set the twist while the yarn is on the noddy. I can let the yarn dry on the noddy. This is the best $3 I ever spent. No picture because it is ugly.

By the way, the guy at my local hardware store was a real jerk about cutting the PVC for me. I only wanted one 18-inch length and four 6-inch lengths. I guess it was a drag for him to cut it up but I asked on the phone first if it was possible. I think I just got the wrong guy when I went in there. Oh, and he cut the 18-inch one long. This is actually a major pain because the 18-inches is a half-yard. Yards are the way yarn is always measured. Now I measure in 20-inch increments. That means math. Math is hard. Less happy now...

Friday, July 14, 2006

Fiber Friday 7/14

I don't know what to show off since I've had a productive week! I guess I showed this yarn off yesterday but not this photo. Personally I could look at pictures of yarn all day. It was suggested to me that I show the hand dyed roving that turned into this yarn because I was thinking the roving came out, well, a bit ugly. It seemed flat, splotchy and the colors were at odds with eachother.

But I really like how the yarn turned out. So you never know? Perhaps I don't know what I'm doing when I dye roving, because the results never look how I think they will. In this case I was pleased. This is not always the case! I put it in the Etsy shop because I need some cash. Why? (drumroll)

I got accepted into the Bazaar Bizarre! I'll brag about that more as we get closer (It's in December). But the fees are due now. Oh the yin yang of it all.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The yarn is taking over my apartment

I made some more yarnahol! This little number is made up of 85% wool, 15% mohair, homespun and hand-dyed. It's 60 yards and weighs 2 ounces. When I dyed the roving I was trying to make colors of summer berries like raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, plus grapes and peaches. I guess I wanted some fruit then. Man I could go for a fruit salad now too!

More good news. The thread finally arrived! I get to experiment plying with thread now. Yeah! How do I do that again?

But the best news of all: (heralding trumpets) Soprano Spinner has offered to help me submit my yarn to the L.A. County Fair!

It means a lot to me because of my affection for the fair and how last year I promised myself I would figure out how to participate this year. And then when I blew it and missed the deadline I felt like a loser. And then someone reaches out a helping hand? Let's have a toast to the good people of the world. Cheers!

Moral of the day: even if you feel like you are a complete idiot and make big mistakes, someone may take pity on you, so that in the end it all works out. A thousand thanks!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

I'm a roving lunatic

Two more dye jobs. Sunshine and Ocean. (I wish I was there right now)

Sunshine is for sale. I think Ocean will be too...

Cute puppy

Wow. The Tour de France continues to baffle as no real frontrunners have yet to emerge. It was fun/hard watching the cyclists struggle up two massive climbs today knowing they have five more tomorrow! I watched while I spun some of the newly dyed roving I showed off yesterday and felt pretty good about the day ahead. (You can feel an "uh-oh" moment coming, right?)

Okay. Moving on. The top of my list of things to do today was send off some homespun to the LA County Fair for judging. I gathered my yarn that I picked out a while back for this day. Three skeins, each over the required 60 yard minimum. I filled out the application. I double checked everything. And then I saw it... (brace yourself)

I'm a day late. I thought the deadline for LA County Fair submissions was today. I don't know how I got it into my head but I was sure of it. I marked it on my calendar even. "Send off package to Fair." The form had what I thought for a millisecond was a typo. The deadline was yesterday? I had a few weeks to do this and I waited until the last minute and now it's too late.

I am such an idiot.

It's time to bring out the big guns. I need a smile:

I did an image search for a "cute puppy" and this puppy IS cute, but am I nuts or does he look sad too? Oh bother!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Yarn show-off

I finally got around to taking photos today!

This is an 82-yard skein of mill ends (85% wool, 15% mohair) that I dyed and spun up to a sportweight/dk weight yarn. I'm really happy with the results! I put a few coils in for fun but I might take a break from that sort of thing for a while. Any day now I'm getting some fancy thread in the mail to ply with and I'm thinking my spinning style will change while I experiment with it. The Tour de France will start to get really interesting tomorrow because they are finally headed into the mountains. I feel that will be a good time to challenge myself too.

More Tour de France news: American hopeful Floyd Landis had a press conference where he announced he will need a hip replacement as soon as the Tour is over. I always liked him but now he is the ONE I am cheering on to win. (Sorry George) I am such a sucker for an injured animal.

Fiber extravaganza

On yesterday's Tour de France "rest day" I managed to dye some fiber and I'm thrilled with the results. I keep meaning to mention for people who like to look at yarn and fiber like it's porn (you know who you are) feel free to click on the flickr badge on the bottom right side of this page. It's the rectangle with the flashing thumbnails. You can see lots of yarn pictures there.

I'm also taking another chance at something new and am selling one of these hand-dyed rovings in my Etsy shop. Ain't no stopping me now!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Post-Lasik debriefing

If you are considering Lasik eye surgery I will share with you some of my experience. I am not a doctor and I have no idea why you might think that I am one, but I feel compelled to make that disclaimer. The one thing I heard over and over is that everyone's experience is a little different. This is mine. It may not be yours.

What I learned:

-If, while you are in the waiting room trying to relax and seeing if you can feel the Valium kicking in, do not be alarmed if someone runs out of the operating room screaming "MY EYES ARE LIKE TWO BURNING POOLS OF FIRE." When this happened to me, unfortunately I panicked, and Alex had to talk me out of sprinting out of the medical center directly into traffic. I tried really hard not to cry at all.

-Crying with numbing drops in your eyes burns a little but it's not unbearable. Not like burning pools of fire or anything.

-You get to sleep in goggles for a week. Subsequently, you might not sleep very well for a week.

-I developed cat-like night vision for the first few days. In the darkest of rooms, with sunglasses on, I could see everything. The light from a cell phone was a piercing brightness from which I had to turn away. I don't know if my eyes reflected like a cat because I didn't think to check.

-I'm not sure how I didn't know this before, but I learned that I like to sleep on my side with my face smushed up in the pillow. The goggles prevented me from doing this even a little bit. Thus I had to sleep on my back like a corpse. Thus I had corpse-like stiffness in my neck that lasted all week.

-Do you have any idea how many times in the course of a day you touch your eyes? It's about 1000 times more than you think it is. Just see how often you catch yourself doing this when it's forbidden.

-You will get very good at putting in eye drops. This is because you will put different drops into each eye every fifteen minutes the day of your surgery. The next week it's much easier and you only have to put two different kinds of drops in every four hours and a third kind of drop every hour. Simple. You too will get good at it though I doubt you will ever enjoy doing it.

-No sudoku for a week. I am now admitting that I do sudoku at night to help me fall asleep. Instead, I listened to the Cast-on podcast and it was very special. It was like someone reading me a bedtime story. And I could close my eyes and dream about rubbing them endlessly.

-You have to learn to let yourself look at the clock first thing in the morning without putting on glasses. I am still struggling with this.

-I know this is a long list. Honestly I could keep going. I'll spare you the minutiae of my life for the rest of the evening. See what happens on the rest days of the Tour de France? I go nuts and get wordy!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

I'm going to swap...

...yarn, that is. I don't know if I'm the swapping type but I'm going to give it a go.

Join the Hand spun swap if you are eligible. All the info is on Craftster, just hit the link. We're up to six people signed up and I think that's great. We're all struggling with the idea that our yarn isn't good enough. I'm tired of feeling that way though.

It's my first swap and I think I picked a good one. If you look around you'll see other swaps there, including a Harry Potter themed swap, a July birthday swap, "pimp my username" swap, and a few dozen other very specific ones. It's a whole new world out there in swapland. I hope I can handle it.

Tour updates 7/9

Originally uploaded by smalltownholly. Aka: Misshawklet

I feel funny posting pictures of other people's yarn without their direct permission but I do it when I find them on flickr and they're "bloggable" (copyrighted but not restricted) and I give full credit. I think I'm in the clear. If not please let me know. But I beg you, could you resist this yarn? I didn't think so.

I'm back from San Diego and just now got caught up with today's cycling stage as well as with my own spinning. I plied more yarn and will be able to do some dying tomorrow on our first "rest day." Oh! (singing) And I'm going to ship the yarn I sold on Friday! (end singing) I also plan on organizing a photo shoot outside my apartment to show off all the things I've been working on. One never rests really, does one?

I have a couple of updates from other Tour de Fleece spinners to share. Bitibis has some lovely mill ends dyed with kool aid totaling 230 yards! Impressive! Misshawklet also has some pretty yarn. (as you can see in the photo) They look like soft singles and their beauty makes me want to cry. You can see all of it on the Craftster board.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

I sold yarn!

I can hardly believe it but the yarn I listed on Etsy yesterday sold before the day was done. Less than one day, people. I can't ship until Monday though because I am on my way to San Diego for a wedding. Yes, I already did my Tour de Fleece spinning this morning while watching the time trial and I'll be home Sunday with time to spare for more spinning. And now that you all know my schedule, feel free to break into my apartment!

Obviously I am going to list more homespun this week. Selling that skein has given me a real boost and I want to explore that feeling some more. Any spinners thinking about opening an Etsy shop and making a go at selling yarn, do it! It's easy; it works. People you don't even know will buy your yarn. If this is too scary, start with a swap? I just signed up for one and I'll tell you all about it tomorrow. Oh the teasing!

I leave you with a picture from my last trip to San Diego. It was taken at the Hotel del Coronado during Sunday brunch. A small bird has helped herself to a croissant. Bold!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Dying fiber?

Human fiber? I dyed my hair today and it got me thinking about acid dyes and hair dye. I am an animal and my fleece sits on my head. What if I dyed yarn and my hair with the same dye? Would my sweater really really match?

What about spinning human hair? I know what you're thinking but why is this gross? It turns me off too but I can't figure out why. I want to jump into wool and roll around in it. I want to run screaming from a pile of human hair. Except that I wouldn't scream in case the hair got in my mouth.

Today on Craftster there is a posting from a spinner (see her cute blog) who spun some of her hair. Go ahead, hit the "posting" link to see it if your dare. I made a bad joke there about it being a great gift to give if she has a stalker. I'm sorry. I can't believe I am repeating this joke either.

It is interesting that she did it and had the courage to share it. I noticed it's not in her Etsy shop though.

What if you knitted a hat with the hair yarn and wore it on your head? And then your hair returned to your head as a hat? Do you wash it with shampoo? In conclusion, anything that inspires such a debate must be worth it's weight in human hair.

Fiber Friday 7/7

I've been spinning on the downlow so I could show off for Fiber Friday! These skeins could be considered Tour de Fleece yarn as well for those keeping score. The first one here is superwash merino 2-ply worsted weight measuring 140 yards. It has nice subtle colors in person. It looks a bit pink in the photo but it's not quite so. Actually, both yarns have a lot of the same fiber, but with the different plying techniques, they came out like very distant cousins. I think I have an unintentional experiment on my hands.

This second one is another attempt at Navajo-ply and I don't love the 3-ply texture of it. The yarn is pretty enough but my opinion is influenced by the fact that I didn't enjoy plying the yarn and that there's only 57 yards of it now that it's done. You lose a third of the length in the plying? Am I doing it wrong? It's like you have to crochet with your fingers while feeding the yarn onto the bobbin. I couldn't get the hang of it and don't feel compelled to practice again just yet. On the plus side, I am comfortable selling this one and will add it to my Etsy shop today!

On the other hand, this yarn is pretty. Maybe I should hang onto it...