Thursday, February 22, 2007

There should be a more expressive word for "generous"

Some of you will remember that I offered some yarn up for swap over a week ago. The talented Heather of Little Peeps Etsy shop had given me an offer I couldn't bear to pass up: a sweater's worth (10 skeins) of Classic Elite Waterspun (which is discontinued!) in the perfect muted teal, and two skeins of Spinning Bunny hand painted/spun bulky in Blueberry.

Heather said that she would tuck in a few extras for the boys, but I was so amazed at her generosity when we opened the box.

There are also two little self-propelling monster trucks, plastic turtles, and glow-in-the-dark frogs that were immediately commandeered before I was able to snap this shot. You'll notice a hand sewn sachet of lavender, M&M's, markers, and then a handmade bib and stenciled baby onesie.

The boys were literally beside themselves with excitement that one of my "yarn boxes" had stuff in it for them.

But the thing that got me the most was the handmade things for the little unborn person. She actually took the time to make these for me! Let's take another look at those baby things:
The baby bib pattern can be found for free online here (Heather puts a snap in it, which I feel is genious -- no baby that I've met likes ties, as cute as they look), and if you want to stencil your own shirts, you can follow the waxed-paper tutorial here.

I can't help but feel that I got the better side of the deal here. The generosity of people in our fiber community will never cease to amaze me.

Heather, I cannot thank you enough. Go check our her shop -- she's got some totally cute stuff there, and is a great seamstress. (The only way that I knew she'd created the bib is because she told me -- her work is that good.)

Also yesterday, I received my order from Paradise Fibers:

On the left is "Golden Fleece", a 50/50% Merino and Organic Brown Cotton by New World Textiles (they don't exist anymore, and Paradise only has a few pounds left if any, so if you want some, click on over there fast!). The grey is Ashland Bay Merino in Pewter. Both are destined for baby things, so check back soon to see what I'll be doing with them!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The mittens!

ETA project specs and a pic of the yarn used for the mittens.

At long last, here are the mittens that I spoke of in Thursday's podcast.

To design the yarn for this project, I first examined the roving and noticed that it was mostly red/pink for about a third of it's length, focused on blue for another third, and was pretty much all about yellow for the last third.

I ripped it into sections accordingly, then ripped each of these into three, lengthwise.

I spun each color separately, then worked some color magic with the plying of the singles.

From left: blue/yellow, red/yellow, red/blue, yellow/yellow, red/red, blue/blue. (Can you believe they all came from the same handpainted colorway?)

I wound them into center-pull balls and knit from both ends at the same time for the mittens, starting with yellow. I then progressed to blue/yellow, blue/blue, red/yellow. The thumbs are red/red.

My own. It was a rather organic creating process that's more like a "grandma's recipe" (a pinch of this, an increase there), so instead, go here if you want some good solid info on how to create your own mittens out of whatever yarn you happen to have.
Yarn: I spun up 4 oz. of handpainted Spunky Eclectic Romney wool in the Leaf Peep colorway (a fiber club offering from last fall). This is a fingering weight 2-ply, somewhat thick and thin.
Needles: KnitPicks Classic Circulars, size 1. I knit both of the mittens at the same time on two of these circulars.
Notes: I loved knitting them at the same time. It took a little bit of getting used to for me to get into a good rhythm, but there's nothing like finishing up both at the same time. Also, since I was creating the pattern as I went along, it was really nice to not have to go back and try to remember exactly what I did, or measure anything. I just kept trying them on as I went along, and knit accordingly.
When I had knit up to the knuckles (and of course the thumb stitches were on waste yarn by that point), I worked a few rows in 1x1 ribbing and bound off. Then I picked up stitches from about an inch down from the bound off edge, cast on stitches across the front and joined to knit in the round. It was similar to what happens in the Urban Necessity pattern when the mitten caps are formed.

Something I found interesting is how well all of the accessories I've knitted for myself this season have ended up working together, colorwise, with my jacket, and with each-other (well, not the scarves together, but you knew I didn't mean that). =)

(From top left: Handspun One-Row Scarf out of Silk Garden, Danica "Mini-Eleanore" in Kureyon, Live Dangerously Don't Swatch Hat out of my own handspun, mittens of my own design in my handspun.)

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Swap complete!

Thank you so much to all of you who opened up your stashes for the trade!

After reviewing offers that came in via comments, emails and PM's on the Knitty forum board, I've decided to accept an offer from Heather. I'll show you what I chose when it comes in the mail. This swapping business is way more fun than I'd imagined. I mean, why sell something on eBay and hope that I get the right price when I can peruse offerings from other people's stashes instead? What's old to you is still brand new to me, so it's all new yarn, and no one looses out. Very cool. I can see an addiction forming, as I find myself walking through my stash in my head, wondering what other yarn is just languishing, wishing for some *real* love.

Completely unrelated:

Here's a teaser for tomorrow's podcast episode.

Hopefully it'll be finished by today, and it will be tomorrow's fiber tale.

I'm ridiculously pleased with myself, although it's not like I'm performing back-flips or anything. You'll just have to listen in and find out why.

Talk to you all then!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Destash! (Or, more like, "move that stash around!")

I've always envied the posts about people going to yarn swaps, where everyone comes in hefting huge bags of yarn and dumps them out on a table. Everyone scores in this situation, gaining some new stash without spending a dime, and I want to do it too! Unfortunately, I don't currently have a group of (local) yarn-obsessed friends to do this with. So I've thought of a way to do this by remote.

There is some yarn in my stash that needs to go. I could sell it on eBay, but I thought of something that might be a bit more fun. Rather than sell it through auction or from this blog, I would like to offer it up for trade. Forget the whole "destash" thing that's so in vogue this year. Let's just move our stashes around. If you have something, even if you're not sure that it's of equal value or anything, please offer it up in the comments! I will choose the trade that is most attractive to me.

So here's what I've got:

Tahki Cotton Classic. Quantity: 10. 100% mercerised cotton, 50 grams, 108 yards each.

Color numbers from left (every-other is in bold to assist with reading all of the numbers):
3486 lot #473, 3401 lot #623, 3553 lot #829, 3537 lot #392, 3528 lot #414, 3525 lot #639, 3701 lot #713, 3701 lot #677, 3701 lot #677, 3715 lot #486.

Rowan Handknit Cotton. Quantity: 2. 100% cotton, 50 grams 93 yards each.

Color numbers from left: 322 lot #2915035, 321 lot #2908267

All colors are pretty close to actual in my monitor, but of course that varies from computer to computer.

You can go here to view the entire gallery of these yarns, with all of the beauty shots.

I will swap either all the yarn in one shot, or else in groups as follows, Rowan Handknit Cotton, both colors; all 10 Tahki Cotton Classic, Orange and yellow Cotton Classic, Green Cotton Classic (as shown grouped in the gallery).

If you've been reading this blog for a while you will know a few of my preferences, but here's some things right up front to help you develop your best offer for this yarn:
I do not want to trade for more cotton. I adore solid colors or semi-solids. Usually not a huge fan of multi-colorways, but I might be interested in yours. I love natural fibers and natural fiber blends. I might be interested in trading for fiber, so you're not limited to offers of yarn only.

If you live in the states, shipping cost will not be international, because I have an American address that you can use. If you live in Germany, of course I have a German address too, so it won't be international for you either.

One extra thing: if you happen to like chocolate (and mention that in the comment), I may find myself slipping some German chocolate into the lot to sweeten the deal. Soooooo... give me your best offer!

It's a turtle rainbow (sort of)

Laura got it right: Sheldons they are.

Their names are (from left): un-named, Theodore, and Billy.

Yes, I had planned on making at least two more for two different friends, but...well. I'm all done knitting turtles for the present. They were a pretty simple knit, but some of the details were a little fussy. See project notes. I cannot believe how endearing these are in person though.

Pattern: Sheldon by Ruth Homrighaus.
KnitPicks Shine Sport, red colorway: Cherry and Blush, blue: River and Cream, green: Grass and Butter
Needles: KnitPicks Classic Circulars, size 2 (used magic loop technique for in the round parts)
Cast-on to cast-off: In total, the three took me about a week-and-a-half to complete.
Notes: Rather than buy safety eyes, I embroidered eyes with black embroidery floss.
The turtle is completely adorable. In pictures, it's cute. In person, it's precious. I had intended to knit up 5 or 6 of them, but after knitting one for each of my children (the red/pink one is just in case this baby happens to be a girl...), I grew tired of all the finishing involved in this pattern.
Altogether, there are 8 separate pieces to knit. It was good practice for me to do mattress stitch that many times on all of the shells (shell top to shell bottom), but then the part that was rather fussy was the i-cord joining of the stuffed shell to the shell attachment panel. Because I did it on the first one though, I felt that I had to do it on the other two as well (I'm just crazy like that -- they all have to match), but I would suggest doing a single crochet all around to join instead. However, the i-cord edging is rather professional and "finished" looking, since you're pretty much putting a piece of piping all around.
When knitting the body, I found it easier to stuff the body after I did the neck increases, then stuff the neck and head at the end (rather than stuff the whole thing at the end). Also, the neck really does needs to be stuffed very, very firmly or the head will flop. Just warning you.
Other: Sheldon happens to have his very own blog, as well as a Flickr pool.

Sparky picked out the colors for his and Max's turtles, and then waited anxiously for them to be complete. The blue one had to live hidden in a drawer until the green was finished, because I didn't want Max to have a Jealousy Trouble, so I had to endure the asking ("Are you working on my turtle Mommy? Is it done yet?") for a good week.

After I finished the red one, Sparky thought that maybe he'd landed in heaven. While Max sees the turtles as "something cool to play with sometimes", Sparky gets the specialness of a hand-crafted softie, and more often than not can be found running around with all three.

Last month, to prepare for my experiments in color during Project Spectrum, I purchased an Almost Solid Sampler in Superwash Merino from Amy of Spunky Eclectic.

Truthfully, the colors are so brilliantly gorgeous, I'm tempted to spring for the Sampler Set of her sock yarn as well

Click each photo for bigger.

Now if that doesn't tempt you to learn to spin, I don't know what will.

I have some ideas for what I will be doing with this, but you're just going to have to check back and see.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

So you want lace?

Thank you so much for all of the encouraging comments that have been pouring in over the past few weeks regarding motherhood as well as the Swallowtail shawl. As far as motherhood goes, I'm still working at it, (aren't we all?) but I'm getting to a good place once again.

If you read my blog via bloglines (or other aggregator), than you may not have noticed my updated links in the sidebars. I'm still missing some of the bloggers that I read, but I'm just waiting for them to show up in my Bloglines so that I'll have the link to add them. I'll still be doing some more tweaks to update things, but this is a start. I should probably save some time to knit and spin, right? =)

The other day, Tim asked to see more detail of the lace. Ask, and you will receive. Or, "Ask, and I will go overboard". Whichever.

The little "berries" in the Lilly Of The Valley border are the nups that I referred to in the Finished Object post for this project.

All of the little lace buds that make up the body of the shawl.

Lilly Of The Valley edging with peaked border. (Which, as you can see, is a little less pointy than perhaps it should be. Did I wear it on a damp day or something? Would that do anything to it?)

More of the budding lace pattern, just because even if you're tired of looking at this shawl by now, I'm not.

If that's still not enough detail, click each photo for bigger.

So. Several of you, my dear readers, have said that you've been considering this pattern or lace in general and just needed that one last extra "push". Let's consider this to be just that nudge. If you've followed a chart before, and if you are comfortable with setting up knitting rhythms in your head (you know, like when you're doing ribbing, and you chant silently to yourself "knit 2, purl 2" etc.), I'm pretty confidant that you can do this. The charts are clear, small and simple, and the repeats are short. It only costs around $5, because it takes less than one ball of Misti Alpaca Laceweight, and it is very satisfying to complete.

If you are very much a beginner, you might want to do this on bamboo circulars, since there will be more "grab" and your stitches won't go flying off all of the time. Although, the dagger-like KnitPicks Options are terribly nice to have for those nups. Well, and also the Alpaca might make things a little too sticky on wood. Scratch the former thought (although, if you've worked with this yarn on bamboo, please do leave a comment to let me know your thoughts!).

In other news, here is my Project Spectrum Knitted Babe for Feb/March, surrounded by the yarn that will become her wardrobe.

I've got a stranded sweater in mind, using all six of these colors, and then I intend to go stash diving into my fabric and see what kind of complementary colors I can come up with for various other accessories.

My favorite part of her is the flowers in her eyes.

I knit her in pieces just as the pattern instructs, even though I know that some people have knitted the Babes in the round. The reason I went with pieces is because I like the structure that the seams give her. Because this doll is styled after the rag-dolls of yore, I felt like it was important to maintain that flat-ish, seamed look.

I completely ignored the book's suggested doll faces and pattern pieces for features. In fact, I put the book aside for that part, and just cut felt and stitched everything free-hand, no pattern. It was very freeing for me, since I really like to do things by the directions. This doll was good practice on mattress seaming.

More to come as her wardrobe develops. (And hopefully a name, at some point.)

Something else that was good "finishing" practice:

If you listened to my podcast last week, you'll probably be able to guess what these are.

The Beauty Shot and more details on those tomorrow.

Sunday, February 04, 2007


So as it turns out, when you knit your first shawl, it's kind of like when you have your first baby.
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If one picture is good, 6 must be even better.
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So please forgive the excess.
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I honestly couldn't help myself.
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I mean, I'm actually showing some restraint here. There could be more.
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I have one question about blocking though. When I took the work off of the blocking wires, it was perfectly dry, flat and open. Now, after wearing it a little and keeping it folded up in between, it has gotten a little curly along the edges. I still love how it looks, but is it supposed to get "un-flat" like that? Do I need to re-block?
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Pattern: Swallowtail Shawl, Interweave Knits magazine, 2006
Yarn: Misti Alpaca, color NT-605 md brown (click on the yarn link -- this vendor, The Knitter, has free shipping with no purchase minimum. Love it!)
Needles: Size 4 KnitPicks Options circulars, 47" cable. I cannot say how much I love these needles. They had just the right amount of "grab" so that my stitches didn't go flying off, yet they were smooth enough to allow speedy stitch execution. The pointy tips made those nups (with the "purl 7 together") no problem at all.
Cast-on to cast-off: 9 Days
Notes: When I started, the laceweight was a little bit intimidating, and I held the yarn too tightly. Once I relaxed, everything went a lot more smoothly and quickly. The best moment was blocking it out and truly seeing the pattern for the first time. I am totally looking forward to knitting my next shawl.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

It's day 3 of Project Spectrum! Sparky, Max and I went shopping for art supplies on Thursday, and I came home with a watercolor set (the tube and palette kind) and colored pencils.

After naptime we sat down for some artistic playtime.


I started my very first creative journal in a moleskine, and it felt rather strange. When I was young, I took art classes for years and worked in the mediums of watercolor, acrylic, pastels, charcole and pencil. However, since I was about 15, I haven't even picked up so much as a pencil to do anything more than draw a crazy little badly drawn car for Sparky.
(Upon tasting the fingerpaint, Max declaired the paint to be "spicy")

I have to tell you, looking at the blank paper and holding a brush in my hand was kind of a scary thing. I felt like a little kid all over again. I'm pretty sure that it's going to be good for me though; freeing up my creativity a little as I let myself express things in a different way. Reguardless, it should be interesting. So in the interest of full disclosure, here is my first entry:


I've joined the Creative Mom Podcast group at Flickr, as well as the Project Spectrum one.

In the most recent episode of the podc
ast, I asked sock knitters to give me their best "learning to knit" sock resources for Mr FiberFlash's cousin, Tim. I also emailed the Yahoo SockKnitters group, and overall, I got an overwhelmingly helpful response!

Here are some of the responses:

Heather suggests the video podcast Let's Knit2gether; one of the first episodes is all about knitting socks. She also says that the book Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch is helpful. "It walks you through basic sock constructions and tips. It has lots of patterns for all knitting levels."

Jocelyn reccomended Kristen's Knitting Socks Online Class, as well as the book Sensational Knitted Socks (I'm starting to sense a tre
nd here).

For learning to knit two socks at a time on two circular needles, toe-up, Tracey likes the book by Queen Kahuna, "Crazy Toe And Heel Book".

Pat says that Sensational Knitted Socks was the first book she bought on sock knitting, and she's never regretted it. (Hey, maybe I should consider adding that to my book collection?)

NancyMaria thinks that Knit Socks! by Betsy McCarthy is a good book for beginners.

Laurie suggests the Basic Sock Chart for understanding how to get a sock to fit properly.

Thanks everyone! You can watch his progress here as he casts on for his very first pair.


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