Archive for the “yarn” Category

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A bunny and alpacas!

Yarn and adorable little figurines!

Teaching Jen to spin!

What I brought home with me!

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Now, I know some of my Tygershark crew-mates read this blog, and I know how quickly word gets around, so I'm only going to say this: I bought the yarn for a secret project. I'm not going to say who it's for - but the yarn is black, with real (!) silver plied into it, and that should give a big enough hint to those who know. I'm not going to say what the project will be or when I'm going to be able to knit it up, because at the rate things are going it might be two years before I get the chance. But I bought the yarn, and I have a plan for it.

While I was at it, I bought some solid Cascade Heritage sock yarn in navy, which I will need for heels and toes on at least three different pairs of socks which are coming from short-yardage balls, and in white, which I will need for the heels and toes on my tiger-striped socks. And, because I'm a sucker for Cascade Heritage is my favourite sock yarn, and because one more skein of yarn would push me over into the 20% discount territory and therefore make everything cost less than if I didn't buy it, I got a skein of Heritage Paints too.

I could not resist that colourway. It's called "Olympic Forest" (Can they use the forbidden "O" word? Will they be sued by the IOC? Will this be a limited-edition run of a colourway name, or is it okay now that the Games are over?) and it is so very me. Now, I just have to carve out some serious knitting time... more on that tomorrow.

(Pictures are from WEBS, since I don't yet have the yarn.)

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I had a doctor's appointment on Thursday that took me right by a Jo-ann, and so of course I stopped in, and of course I had a 50% off coupon with me, and of course I had to buy some sock yarn. Darn it. The Kroy line has such good colourways!

On Saturday I went to MD Sheep and Wool intending to buy only one or two things, and I was able to keep to that goal. I wandered around for much of the day without buying anything. When I was about ready to head home, I walked past the Fold's booth and was surprised to find it empty-ish... and doubly surprised to find a skein of Socks that Rock that I wanted to bring home with me. It's called "Smokey Mountain Morn," and looks very much like the view from my front window on a foggy day.

Then I was convinced to buy this rainbow-y braid of superfine merino from Woolgatherings. I don't yet know what I'm going to make with it, but it sure is pretty!

I took lots more pictures of the festival and will be sharing them throughout the week. Hooray for the new camera!

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I totally rocked my Saturday.

There was a lot to do: garbage dropoff, a trip to the hardware store, grocery shopping, fishpond maintenance, cat brushing and yardwork. To be honest, it was a little overwhelming to face a day like this for the first time on my own. But I sat myself down with a cup of coffee (which I made without any sort of coffeemaker at all, because all the coffeemaking devices left with Pirate-Ex, but which was awesome nonetheless and possibly even more awesome for not needing a specialized device) and told myself, "Self, you can be anyone you want to be. Do you want to be someone who goes wah wah wah I can't do this it's too much, I hate being a girl in a hardware store and I know nothing about fishponds or do you want to be someone who goes HECK YEAH (I may have used a stronger word than 'heck') I can TOTALLY do all this! RAWR! I am going to STEP UP!

In a move that should surprise absolutely no one who knows me, I chose RAWR over wah wah. (Useless trivia: my desktop computer is named RAWR.)

And to reward myself for being RAWR I stopped at the local artsycrafts store and bought the sock yarn I've been ooh'ing at - do those stripes say "I want to be Jaywalker Socks"? Maybe! or maybe they'll just be plain socks! - as well as three colourways of Sugar and Cream for washcloths and a new swiffer mop cover as the old one doesn't fit quite as well as I'd like anymore. The mere thought of knitting anything else in cotton makes my fingers seize up in protest, so I'm going to make up a crochet pattern for it if I can't find one I like.

(Conveniently, I had a 20% off everything coupon for the artsycrafts store in my pocket.)

I expected the cats to get between my camera and the yarn, but for the most part they were quite well-behaved. Kipling snuck into the frame once or twice...

Anyway, it was such a successful day. I tossed garbage bags and didn't hesitate to ask for help in the hardware store and bought only healthy groceries within my budget, and I fixed the fishpond all by myself without even getting too wet, and raked leaves and cleared two flowerbeds and I even ran up the driveway, and despite (because of?) all this activity my back isn't even complaining too much. Also, I brushed the cats, since they're shedding for springtime. One cat absolutely loves being brushed and the other only barely tolerates it. Can you guess which cat is which?

Oh yeah, so making coffee without any coffee-making devices! You'll need a heat-resistant glass measuring cup (I'd say a Pyrex, but mine's actually Anchor Hocking. Either way, one of those.) and a good strong paper towel, like Viva. Add the right amount of boiling water into the measuring cup. Now, you don't actually want your water to be boiling when you put the coffee in; you want it to be a few degrees less, but when the water hits the glass it'll cool down just enough. Then put coffee on top of the water. The general recommendation is for two tablespoons of coffee per eight ounces of water (about 240 ml). Don't stir for 90 seconds, just let it float and bloom on top of the water. Then stir and wait another 90 seconds or so. The coffee shouldn't be in the water for more than four minutes total, or it'll get bitter. Pour through the paper towel into your mug; most of the grounds should have already sunk to the bottom of the measuring cup anyway. Et voila, coffee sans coffeemaker!

I bought more coffee at the grocery store. I'm determined to perfect this method. My first attempt was strong but sour; the suggestion I found was to use *more* coffee rather than less to avoid sourness.

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This is the official end of the year tallying-up post!

Incoming fibre in 2011:
33.5 ounces fibre acquired at Maryland Sheep and Wool

Outgoing fibre in 2011:
Er... I spun a little bit. Not a lot. Way more came in than went out.

Incoming yarn in 2011:
7 skeins of Red Heart for my first crocheting project
1 sock yarn for Michael
3 Lang Merino DK for Winterlude-inspired colourwork hat and armwarmers
1 skein sock yarn at Rhinebeck
2 balls Patons Kroy Socks FX
5 balls Sugar 'n Cream for washcloths
1 ball Serenity Sock Weight in navy for heels and toes on socks
4 balls Elann Silken Kydd for shawl

Outgoing yarn in 2011:
1.5 - Baby Surprise jacket
2 - Michael's Fleeps
3 - Winterlude Hat (tm)
2 - time traveling Jaywalkers
7 - Hexagon blanket
6 - Sweaters for the twins
1 - gave a ball of sock yarn to Mom
1 - white washcloth
1 - blue washcloth
1 - argyle washcloth
1 - greens washcloth
1 - Quick Relief socks

There are some fair amount of leftovers from the hexagon blanket and the twins' sweaters, unfortunately. On the other hand, the leftovers may come in handy for swatching, experimenting, or knitting little toys. Still, more yarn went out than came in, and I'm pleased with that!

The Year in Knitting (and Crocheting):
2011 Projects

Favourite project:
I think that prize would have to go to the Winterlude Hat(tm), for being the only thing I knit this year of my own handspun. Between the wool and the fleece lining it's a super warm hat, even if I think I made the lining a little on the small side. It stays on just fine when I tie it under my chin!

Least Favourite project:
Unfortunately, it was the Presto Chango sweaters. I am a little sad that I didn't put as much love into my niecelets' sweaters as I wanted to. Had I used a different yarn, I might have felt differently about them. The pattern was great, but the KnitPicks Swish and I didn't get along very well.

Patterns Published:
None. But I have ideas! Many, many ideas...

For Next Year:
I know it's a mistake to make too many resolutions, so here are the things I *want* to do, and if I get some of them done I'll be happy!
- spin more
- knit something with handspun yarn
- design and publish two new patterns
- try a new sock architecture
- finish Napramach and the Stripy Socks
- finish the Dancing Cranes stole in time to wear to a wedding
- cast on for fancy cabled knee socks
- use up more yarn and fibre than I purchase
- get some stock in the Etsy shop

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Every so often I take a look at Blue Moon Fiber Arts to see if they've added anything new, or if anything jumps out at me. I really love the Socks that Rock yarn and invariably I find one or two (or five) colourways that I really want. Then I go check out the projects on Ravelry that were made in that colourway and wow, I am amazed at the differences.

Monsoon, for example. The picture of the skein looks like the yarn is two shades of gray, green, and a little bit of brown. But then, check out the socks that were made in this colourway. Where did all that blue come from? I still like it, but not quite as much as I thought I would from the original picture, so I'm not going to buy this one. The gray and green that I thought I'd be getting has a similar feel to the sock yarn I bought at Rhinebeck, anyway, so I'm finding it easier to resist now than when I first saw the colourway.

Green Eyed Monster is the same. I've been coveting this one since I first saw it. It's even described as down and dirty greens, and reminiscent of Oscar the Grouch. So again, where did all the blue come from, and where has the brown gone? The picture on the website looks like Oscar, but those finished socks... not at all. I'm disappointed; if the socks had really looked like Oscar-colours I absolutely would have bought a skein, but I'm really glad I waited for some other people to knit it up so I could see what it looks like for real. I'm generally an optimistic and cheerful person, but I have a soft spot in my heart for Oscar. There's a little bit of Grouch in all of us, sometimes!

Bella Coola is another one that I keep going back to look at. In the SCA I go by "Belaset," and everyone calls me "Bella" for short. (note: I had this name well before those Twilight books came out. Grr.) Given my nickname, I thought this would be an appropriate yarn for me. The picture from Blue Moon shows two blues, green, and gray. The socks that people made actually look like they came from that same skein of yarn! I'm still tempted to buy a skein of this, but I'm holding out until I knit up some more of the sock yarn I already have in my stash.

I know that hand-dyed yarn can have a lot of variation from one batch to the next, but when it comes to Blue Moon, I will always check Ravelry first to see what projects have been made using a colourway before I choose to buy. The differences are sometimes so great! Their base yarn is wonderful and I love how it knits up, but I'd hate to be disappointed in a colour that just doesn't match what I thought I'd be getting.

(Disclosure: These pictures are from Blue Moon's site, though I saved them to my own webspace first. Hotlinking is bad, but I want to give credit where credit is due. If Blue Moon wishes me to take the pictures down, I will.)

I've started a page for the Knitting Pirate over on Google+, which I greatly prefer to Facebook. If you use Google+, please feel free to add the page to your circles and spread the word! And if you still only use Facebook, don't worry - I'll keep posting links to new posts over there, too.

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You know what this weekend is? The Maryland Sheep and Wool festival. I'm going to head up there on Saturday morning.

You know what I'm going to buy? NOTHING. Last year I came home with two and a half pounds of fibre that I'd bought, and then I was given another three and a half pounds of wool roving and a goodly amount of alpaca fleece. So this year I really don't need anything.

You know what else? I'm a big fat liar. I can't go there and buy NOTHING. That's just an impossibility. But I'm not going to buy a LOT, okay? The only really splurgey thing I might get, if I find one, is a box picker to fluff up the eight pounds of alpaca fleece that's too compacted to run through the drum carder the way it is. One day I'd like to have a triple picker and a supercard, but that day is not today.

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Day Three: 30th March. Tidy mind, tidy stitches.
How do you keep your yarn wrangling organised? It seems like an easy to answer question at first, but in fact organisation exists on many levels. Maybe you are truly not organised at all, in which case I am personally daring you to try and photograph your stash in whatever locations you can find the individual skeins. However, if you are organised, blog about an aspect of that organisation process, whether that be a particularly neat and tidy knitting bag, a decorative display of your crochet hooks, your organised stash or your project and stash pages on Ravelry.

Once upon a time, my entire yarn stash fit into this picnic basket. The top tray held all my tools, needles, and the ball bands from yarns I'd used. Underneath, I put all the yarn I owned. These days I laugh at that. The top tray of the basket still holds tools, but the main compartment is now completely reserved for handspun yarn - and it's filling up!

I bought a bunch of large plastic totes at Costco, and sorted my yarn into them. One holds only sock yarn. Two are stuffed with raw alpaca fleece waiting to be carded and spun. A third has my collection of dyed fiber and a fourth has batts that I've carded and haven't yet gotten the chance to spin. Yet another tote is for heavier yarns and leftovers from previous projects. I don't have a picture of the totes, because it's not really that impressive.

Right now all of this resides in my loft room, but the plan is to move them downstairs when Pirate-Husband and I finish building out the craft room in the basement. That should open up a lot of space for me upstairs. Who knows, I might even start letting the cats go in there!

Almost every yarn I own has been photographed, and each one has a listing in my Ravelry stash. That helps me to keep track of what I own, and when I'm having a bad day I can pull up the stash photos and think about the different projects that I'm going to make with all that beautiful yarn. I like making lists, so I've crosslinked my yarns with the projects in my queue. Of course, I don't always work from my queue in order... but at least the organization is there.

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Day One: A Tale of Two Yarns.
Part of any fibre enthusiast’s hobby is an appreciation of yarn. Choose two yarns that you have either used, are in your stash or which you yearn after and capture what it is you love or loathe about them.

Let's get the bad out of the way first, shall we? Noro Kureyon Sock. I want to love it. There's so much about it that I could love. The colours, the striping, the rustic thick and thin, the way it softens in the wash. But then... I just can't stand knitting with it. It's hard. It's rough. It feels like knitting with cotton because it has very little bounce and stretch, so it actually makes my hands ache after a few rounds on the sock. But every time I see it in the store, I want more of it. And the Stripey Striped Sock really is gorgeous. Maybe it would be better if I crocheted it? Or maybe I should just never buy it again.

But then there's Cascade Heritage Sock. There is nothing about this yarn I don't like - except maybe that it's difficult to find some of the colourways in stores. The Cascade website shows Heritage in a multitude of colours, but even WEBS doesn't seem to have most of them.

I've already made two pairs of socks out of this yarn, and there are two more skeins in my stash waiting to be knit up. (One of them will even be for myself!) It's smooth and soft, but machine-washable and sturdy. I used it to design the Cakewalk Socks, which gives it even more of a place in my heart. The same yarn is available in solid colours, and also in 150g/492 yard skeins. I think it would be great for colourwork socks, too, although that may be a little on the ambitious side for my current knitting schedule. Maybe I could use it for colourwork armwarmers instead... ah, there I go, dreaming about the future again.

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Once again, I visited my sworn-sister the Knitting Ninja (along with a bunch of other friends) in her hometown of Ottawa for the annual Winterlude festivities. In addition to the usual things we do there - eat stew at the cook-off, drink lots of beer, buy fancy cheeses and make a meal of them, watch the Super Bowl - we visited two yarn stores.

Our first stop was the new Yarns Etc., where I acquired a skein of Cascade Heritage Paints in the understated blues and grays "Thunder" colourway. Understated blues and grays... if you've been following along for a while, you may have guessed that this is going to be socks for Michael. (And if you haven't, now you know!) I have no idea when I'm going to get to them, and first he has to tell me where the last pair of socks could fit better, but eventually there will be a new pair of plain ribbed socks for him.

Since it was within blocks of our hotel, we walked down to Yarn Forward. Last year I'd gotten two skeins of Lang Merino 120, a smooth DK weight superwash yarn, in black. This year I supplemented them with three more skeins, one each of cream, green, and blue-ish. The colours aren't exactly wintery, but somehow they remind me of winter. Blue and green are more springlike, but with the cream in there they make me think of ice. So I'm thinking of designing a Winterlude-inspired hat and armwarmers set to be my very first for-sale patterns.

To that end, I wandered around the ice sculptures in Confederation Park looking at, and sneaking pictures of, people's hats. There was lots of inspiration to be found, since of course in February in Ottawa it's cold enough for nearly everyone to be wearing a hat, and many of them are hand-knit.

Many of them also have earflaps, which was my motivation last year to knit the hat that I didn't want to buy. I finished sewing the lining into my Winterlude Hat(tm) just a day before leaving, and got the cords in with some help from Pirate-Husband, and was quite pleased with how warm it was while I traipsed around Ottawa. There are a couple of things that I would change, if I were to be making it again: first, I'd make the earflaps wider. They are wider than my ears, but still let wind in unless I tied the cords under my chin. And second, I'd make the lining a teensy bit larger, because it felt as if the hat kept riding up on my head unless I tied the cords under my chin. So third, I'd make the cords a couple of inches longer, because it was hard to tie them while wearing gloves. Even without those things, I absolutely love my new hat. Wearing something made of yarn I spun myself is so gratifying! The polar fleece lining kept me from having a terrible case of hat hair, which is definitely a good thing. (I know I'm squinty in this picture. It was very bright out.)

Speaking of gloves, there's another finger to repair on my Fleeps. They still kept my hands warm, though I can definitely feel that they're getting thin. Maybe I can wear them for another year, but then it will be time to make another pair for myself. Meanwhile, Michael's new Fleeps made their debut and did their job wonderfully. He says he's going to show them off to everyone, and I totally believe him. The magnet-snaps that I sewed in are seriously awesome. My next pair will definitely have those included.

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