Friday, July 27, 2012

Ravellenic Games - Day One

Okay, quick overview of my plans for the Ravellenic Games (I'm on the 221b team)
-PSoS - purple button up socks, looking much like a certain detective's purple shirt
-INSULATE!! -Dalek hat in that same yummy purple with black
-Beehive tea cozy - does that really need more description?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Adventures in Dyeing

I spent a good portion of the Tour de Fleece watching my teammates turn out so many awesome hand-dyed fibers and seeing how beautifully they spun up. While I did think my purchased fibers were beautiful, I still felt like I was missing out on the fun of making my own colors. Not going to lie, I was a little jealous. Not in the angry spiteful way, but in the way that made me know I just had to try it for myself.
Sometimes peer pressure is a very good thing!

I ended up finding a killer deal on some undyed Shetland wool, and now it's my turn to play. I have some Koolaid on standby, but first some natural dyeing.

I looked at tons sources beforehand and pestered (and post stalked) my fellow Ravelers for hints and advice first. One of them was the person who linked me the blog with instructions for dyeing with blueberries and dyeing with tea. My info on fiber prep came from this Knitty article

Since I am practically allergic to following directions, I decided to document my whole process, so I would know what worked (and what to avoid) for future adventures. And since I was going to do all that, why not share it will anyone stumbling onto here?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Week in review and my Tour De Fleece finish-line!

The Tour de Fleece ended yesterday, and so I held over this week's review until today so I could include my 'finish line' photo.

Last week I had almost finished spinning my second single of the merino blend, and I couldn't be happier with how it turned out.

I ended up with 47 yards, and with the first single I should have plenty to knit that cup cozy I wanted.

It took me through Sunday, but I finished my 2ply Corriedale also. I mixed silver and eggplant colored fibers together in each ply, so the yarn varies from solid to heathered to a barberpole twist throughout. I like the look, but had one small grrrrrr-moment. I wasn't paying enough attention and somehow broke the yarn during plying. So instead of one smooshy skeinlette, I have two. One is 27.5 yards and the other is 15.5 yards. It's still pretty though -

And that brings me to the end of The Tour. It took me 23 days (well, Saturday I missed. So 22?)to spin just over 137 yards between the three fibers. 

I admit I'm not a fast spinner, but I met all three of my goals. 

I made it to the end without quitting, even had just one rest day instead of two. I just tweaked the day I took to fit my schedule. 

I spun yarn that is knitable, and I think it's pretty awesome looking personally!

I tried plying. In fact, over half of the yarn I spun I ended up plying and the only disaster was the yarn breaking that one time.

All in all, I'm calling my experience a success, and I plan on participating next year too. I've gotten to like spinning so much more than I thought I would. Now I'm campaigning hardcore to get a trindle for my birthday this year, and before the end of the year maybe have a DODEC wheel. Maybe!

This week wasn't just spinning-

I finally finished knitting my mystery toy KAL. 
Introducing Benny the Cat (designer named, but I like it so Benny he stays)

He was meant to have whiskers, but they just didn't look right. I decided he was cuter without. I love how he is the floppy rag doll equivalent of a kitty, and I think this toy will be a keeper instead of a gift.

And my rescheduled rest day from spinning? One of my friends 6yo daughter was over for the day, and we played with Sculpey. She really got into it, and went home with a collection of spiral snakes, beads, marbles and a handful of magnets and other random bits she thought were pretty.
She even made this magnet of BF and I for us to keep, she's so sweet

I had to play with the clay a bit too. Along with a few random magnets, I also made myself a Hedgie (of course!), a mini one for her to take home, and a bowtied penguin (bow ties are cool)

Slightly on the ugly side, but what do you expect when I haven't played with this stuff in YEARS.

Aaaaaaaaand that was the past week. 
This next week with be 
-Trying to finish the sock monkey for BFs nephew. He has his mouth and one arm knit, but not stuffed or attached. Most of his other arm and his tail still need knit. I'm going to try and have this finished before the Games start.
-Which brings me to Ravelympic *cough* I mean Ravellenic prep. Gathering yarn, needles and patterns together to make sure nothing is missing.
-And last (but not least!) a little fiber dyeing. This I've actually started for today, and is why this post is so late. 
I know it's crazy to start another thing right now, but watching all the fun my Tour teammates had with their dye projects made me want to try for myself. One of them pointed me towards a blog with instructions for blueberry dyeing, and as luck would have it there was a bowl with blueberries that were past good eating, but hadn't molded. What better time to try? There was also a post there for using tea, so half the fiber will be trying that too. 
If this works, I'll have about an ounce of each to play around with when I'm done. 

But no more spinning until after the games!! Must stay focused if i'm going to have a hope in hell of finishing all three projects I have planned!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Tdf Day 23- the final day

My Corriedale color mixing experiment is done, plied and currently drying.

The top picture is the beautiful mess it was on the spindle, and the bottom is of it hanging to dry.

I had a grrrrr making break in the middle, not sure what I did. I have a strong suspicion it was user error, and evidence that me watching tv while spinning is just not a good idea. Anyway, I ended up with one 27.5 yard section, and the other is 15.5 yards.

Holding off until that is finished to take my "finish line" photo. Even spinning every day except yesterday (including rest days) I am so slow I need that yarn to make it look like I actually *did* something. Maybe by next time I'll be ready to work on my speed?

TDF day 22? Not so much, but that's okay!

Well I didn't get a speck of spinning done yesterday and I forgot to put my fiber in to soak before going to bed last night.
BF and I spent the afternoon with the 6yo daughter of a friend, and she kept us very busy. In fact, she came with a list of things she wanted to do. Surprisingly we got it all done, but not much else!

When we played with the Sculpey she made a magnet that she said was BF and I, and gave it to us.
Big thing - took two magnets - but how cute??

Verdict? Missing a spinning day was totally worth it! I'll just finish that plying today.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Tour de Fleece Day 21

The second ply of the Corriedale is finally spun. It's not as even as the first, but hopefully it will work. 

Tomorrow is plying, and for better or worse I'll know!

And, thanks to my Paradise fiber order arriving today, I can spend my last day of the tour (Sunday) trying Kool-aid dying for the first time. 

They had 1lb of Shetland wool on sale for less than $15, which I though was pretty great. First thing I did was split the fiber up into 4oz sections

Here's my KA stash, I'm thinking blue and green for my first try

There was an extra half ounce of wool. What to do, what to do? I feel like I must waste it doing something inadvisable...I wonder what espresso would do to fiber? I know it has colored the hell out of every white shirt I've ever worn to work. Hmmmm

I couldn't resist getting some yarn too, especially since it was my favorite pink and a good deal (gotta love coupon codes!)
It's a new summer sock yarn from HiKoo (skacel) - a cotton, bamboo and silk blend with nylon called CoBaSi-

The color is so much better than I've managed to capture here. The yarn is also very soft and has a great texture. The only thing that worries me is that ,at least at the ends, it seems kind of splitty. I'm hoping this won't be an issue when I knit with it. I have a few pairs I want to finish before I get to whatever I decide to make with this, so hopefully the added experience under my belt will make it a nonissue. I hope so, because I really love the feel of this yarn!

I don't normally like to buy yarns I haven't seen in person online, but I liked Simplicity so much I took a chance. Simplicity was the super wash wool/acrylic blend they make, and I had used it for Charlotte's latest dog sweater. It was great to knit with and has held up incredibly well.

Because it is knitting related I can be excused for a puppy picture, right?

Awww she looks so little... And angry... But mostly cute

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A KAL FO and TDF Day 20

Even I think it's like I'm talking in code sometimes, I swear.

I tried a couple different looks for my cat's whiskers, but didn't find one that I really liked. I decided he's better without, and so my Mystery Toy KAL WIP is now officially a FO.

Meet Benny (designer named, but I like it so it stays)

Now for the spinning. After the first ply went so well, I am getting frustrated because this second one seems to be fighting me every step. I'm almost done though, and still expect to be able to ply this weekend.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

TDF day 19 and the Mystery Toy Reveal

So today was supposed to be challenge day for the Tour. I was going to attempt two days worth of spinning in one, but the real challenge was getting my spinning to cooperate at all! I was fighting thick spots, then I started getting so thin it would break. BAH.
In the end I managed to get .26oz of decent yarn - even if there are a few spots I'm not happy with - which is about a day and a half worth of spinning.

I probably could have muddled through and hit my goal, but I decided to take a break so I could continue tomorrow when it will hopefully go smoother.

I didn't waste the down time though, I got both the ears and all the sewing up done on my Mystery Toy KAL project.

Isn't he cute??
Like the rag dog equivalent of a stuffed cat!
I love him, and might even keep him for myself!

I still need to figure out what to do for whiskers and decide if I want to embroider a mouth (I'm leaning towards no) then I'll take his "official" picture and mark this project complete.

Next up will be finishing the sock monkey for Bfs nephew
(or at least get as close as I can before the Ravelympics Ravellenic Games)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

TDF Day 17 and the Rest Day that wasn't (Day 18)

I had such unreliable Internet yesterday (high winds and Tstorms) that I couldn't even get blogger to load. I normally love storms, but this time it was kind of a downer. I had just finished winding my second attempt at spinning the Merino/Tencel into its hank, and I was dying to show off. Luckily the weather was much more cooperative today -

Isn't it so pretty?!?!

Until now I've had trouble noticing any significant change in my spinning, but when I put the first mini skein in front of the one I just finished in the same fiber I can. It looks like (to me anyway) I have gotten finer, more even and better twist.  

I think this is a really good amount of progress for just a couple weeks of practice!

Yesterday was also my second day of mixing the eggplant and gray Corriedale. I'm enjoying playing with the colors, and hoping I like it as much after its played with more of the same.

Today was meant to be a rest day, but I spun on. 

After hitting the .5oz mark, I wound it on a roll. Tomorrow I'll start on the second ply and hope to get that finished over the weekend. I can't believe the Tour is almost over, the time has gone so fast!

Why did I spin more on my rest day than I did the couple days previous? 
(see me pretend someone asked? Yeah, I have become the crazy lady who talks to herself)
I plan to have a slow spinning day later in the week, so I figured doing more today would make up for it. 

I ordered some undyed fiber over the weekend, and I know once it gets here I'm not going to be able to keep myself from experimenting with koolaid dying. I've been watching everyone else in my Tour group have great results (and fun!) with it, and I can't wait to have a go!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Tour de Fleece Day 16

Today was bath day, and not just for Henrietta - who is still not a giant fan of them, but now only glares instead of making noises like she's being murdered

poor soggy little thing

The yarn I finished spinning yesterday got a dunk too, it looks so pretty like this!

Now I have 47 yards of singles yarn hanging to dry. 

Today I started spinning the Corriedale I bought from HiFiber Kits when I first got my spindle. For the first ply the silver fox is the main color, and I'm mixing in small amounts of the eggplant as I go. The second ply I plan to do the reverse.  I wanted something a little different than the straight barber pole of plying a gray and a purple least I hope this will turn out well, I'm really just experimenting at this point.

Tonight I'm going to knit on my mystery toy some more, and hope to get the ears finished. Maybe I'll have a new progress photo to share tomorrow.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Another week in review

First the spinning - Tour de Fleece week two 

Last Saturday and Sunday were almost a blur of spinning. I'd set the spindle down, and take my pic of the day, only to pick it back up and spin more next time I walked through the craft room. By the end of the weekend I'd spun my second single (actually a bit more than I needed due to me not realizing my spindle weighs less than an ounce, Oopsie)
 the major sections of spinning I did over the weekend 
This set me up for plying on Monday. It wasn't as difficult as I'd imagined, but would have been easier still if I had a larger spindle to work with. I know I over spun in a few sections, but overall I think I did good. I ended up with 30.5 yards of (basically) bulky weight.

And in case you missed me yelling in excitement a few days ago, here's a picture of the smooshtastic finished yarn -

After that, I went back to spinning the merino/tencel blend. I had originally thought to try and ply that as well, but my mood and the fiber just weren't cooperating to spin finely enough so I changed gears and decided to just spin the rest of the single I need for my cup cozy. Here's the progress from Wednesday through Friday

Since making this post up took me forever, I've already done my spinning for today too

I haven't taken it off the spindle yet, but I'm guessing I should have enough now. At any rate, I couldn't fit more on the spindle, I already had to resort to creative winding.

Now for some shopping
(since I so rarely get to go with money in my hand, I consider going to the craft store newsworthy) 

Yesterday I went to Hobby Lobby with three very specific things in mind
1. Polymer clay for when I have my friend's daughter over next Saturday. She was so excited over the beads I made her a few weeks ago, I promised she could try to make something when she came over next time. I only have translucent white, a bit of glow in the dark and brown. I figured a few primary colors would make her happier
2. Some more bobbins. I have a couple intarsia blocks on the Sherlock blanket waiting, and all mine are tied up holding yarn for my beekeepers quilt. Very handy for grabbing the yarn to knit on the go, not so good when you realize you only have one free bobbin left!
3. Lion brand Bon Bons. I want this yarn so bad. It would be perfect for a bunch of the little toys and doll clothes I have in my queue. So many of the colors are ones I need just a little of and I don't want full skeins. Plus I think the metallics would be awesome for accents.

You might think with such a well thought out and short list I'd have no problem, right? Weeeeeeeell ... I only ended up with one of the things on the list, and still had a bag of goodies. I blame them being in the middle of stock change and the sales. Can't possibly be my fault. At least nearly all of it was stuff I did need, but just hadn't made my short list. That has to count for something. And I barely hit $30, so it wasn't *so* bad a spending spree.

What I ended up with

1. Nice sized set of colors for the Sculpey. Only cost me $6 after my 40% off coupon, score!

2. Black and purple yarn to make a Dalek hat. I am adding it to my Ravel*****s goals (you get the stars because we can't have the Olympics suing us for hurting athletes' feelings and because I can never seem to remember the new name) I know I needed a third project like a hole in the head, but I kept thinking about this hat and I really really want it. Especially when I saw the perfect Sherlock purple in the right weight. Let's hear it for fandom mashing :)

That's a sexy purple! Which is probably the wrong thing to say about a something being sold as baby yarn...

3. Monkey cotton!! I was so excited to see the skeins of this. I was worried I'd run out on the sock monkey I'm making for BFs nephew, and I had been wishing I could make one to keep. They haven't had it in stock since I bought that one skein, and with it not even being listed in the Rav database I was thinking it was only a limited deal. When I saw it sitting on the shelf I grabbed the only two brown they had, and one of the reds. They actually had quite a few of the red, but it's the brown I really like.

4. Some random pretty blue cotton with no purpose yet. Something for the kitchen, but I'm not sure exactly. It was just too pretty to leave there.

5. Size 8 dpns. These should have been on my list, because I need them to do the arms on my cardi. I just keep forgetting. Luckily I saw them on sale and my brain clicked!

Why did I have list!fail? (other than the pretty shiny things distracting me that is)
Well, they didn't have any bobbins, other than the cardboard floss ones. Kind of a bummer. No mini skeins (the bon bons) either, but they did have a big empty spot where they normally stock kits and such, so I have a feeling their expecting them soon. Either that or they specifically waited until after my visit to stock them. I've also checked two walmarts for them, without luck. I'll find them though, eventually.

Mystery Toy KAL progress  

It has a tail, still no ears. 
Getting closer to finishing, but it's looking like I'll take two months to do a one month project. It is going to be really cute when I'm done, so it's worth the wait. I'll get there!

Finally, I knit a couple more hexi-flats for my beekeeper's quilt 
I'm up to a whopping total of ten. Slow going when they're only used as car projects for long trips and in extreme cases of startitis (and that one I did to celebrate plying my first yarn)

Excuse the loose ends and the fact they have no real arrangement, all the pics will probably look like this until I have a few dozen. I figure it will take at least that long for me to have a better idea about what look I want to go for. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

TDF Day 14

Here's my progress for the day. I'm hoping it will take just one day more to get enough yardage for that cup cozy, but we'll see.

Keeping today's post short and sweet, as it's time for Zzzzz.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Uuuuugh The Heat, Hedgie Wakeup Call, oh yeah and tour de fleece day 13

I am SOOOOOOO tired of the hot. So Very Tired.

Now I know you would be fully within your rights to point out that I, the heat hater, moved to the desert, full of heat, like a big dumb idiot. 
BUT I urge you to keep in mind that I would be within my rights to squirt you directly in the face with the spray bottle I've taken to keeping in the fridge. Repeatedly. At close range. 
So maybe you could just not point out the obvious, and deal with a few days of my whining until the temp finally drops? At least until the highs drop below 100? Please?

I did finally give up a little this afternoon. Power bills be damned, I've got both the little window AC units going nonstop along with the ceiling fans and have strategically placed our one standing fan so we have air circulating through the main rooms (I've given up on the kitchen/dining and the craft room) 

Since the spot where Henrietta originally was ended up being too hot, I had already moved her setup. After today that put it directly in front of the fan pushing the AC out, so I worried she would get too cold (even my Hedgie has first world problems) That meant it was time to move her again, but in the middle of the day, when all the good hedgies are meant to be sleeping. Now she is in the cool but not too cold range, and happy. During the move though? I tried to wake her up nicely, because I know from experience she likes being startled awake even less than I do. She was not a happy camper.

Because I'm a meanie with a camera, here are the stages of Princess Pricklebottom's wake up

From balled up asleep so sweet, to the evil glare of "WTF is going on!?"

To the feigned indifference of "I'll ignore you until you put me back down to sleep" and then the stink eyed glare of "Who are you and why are you bothering me??"


Then finally she is awake enough to realize I'm talking to her, and "Oh hey! I do know you!" quickly turns to "Let's play! Let's explore! I smell a treat! And a new table!!"

And off she wandered to explore, until she turned sleepy once more (it was the middle of the day after all). 


Now she is back into her newly relocated home and snuggled up in her fleece filled plastic igloo, happy as can be.

I'm a bit happier now too, because at least two of our rooms are at 75. I'll be less happy when the bill for the power comes next month, but if I turned into a homicidal grumpasaurus from overheating, I'm pretty sure that would be more costly in the long run.


I managed to get a bit more spinning done too, but not all that much. And not that thin either. 

The lone bad side effect of the fans moving the air was that all the floaty fiber bits were a little harder to manage, but it's okay. I've decided instead of trying to ply this batch when I'm done, I'll just add it to the singles I spun at the tour's beginning for my cup cozy. I was needing more yardage anyway.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

TDF Day 12

Today I've got a serious case of the grumps, and I think it's 91% to blame on the heat. I'm just not made well to deal with it. Blerg. 

Suprise surprise - feeling hot, sticky, tired and irritable is not actually a good combination when spinning. Like I said, surprise surprise. 

I gave it a good effort, but after realizing I was getting more thick and thin spots instead of less (and dropping my spindle twice, the bad drop where you drop it fiber and all) I decided to call it a day. 

Here's my sad sad little progress

Just reminding myself that (unlike the Tour itself) spinning is not a race and that I can try to do better tomorrow. It's better to slow down and get the results I want, than to try and power through.

Instead I spend the rest of my afternoon playing with our herd. I know I said this blog was for my crafty stuff, but surely a couple more animal pictures won't bring the Internet crashing down...will it?
I suppose I could be kind and put it behind a cut...if only I knew how to do that from the iPad. No cool icon button thing like when I use the laptop.

Sadly, Charlotte seemed more interested in laying in the sunny spot of the room than playing. Like it isn't not enough, without sitting directly in the sun.

She is clearly deranged.

Sadie played fetch for awhile, but then turned her attention back the Henrietta. The Hedgie gets over half her attention these days, since she's new.

This picture is from the other day, but Sadie does basically the same sit and stare every time Henrietta is out.

I finally let them get close enough together that Sadie could sniff her though, so maybe that will change. She didn't care for the prickles on her nose and quickly wandered off after that to chew on her duck toy.

Snack time for Henrietta, and today was bell pepper bits. Nom nom nom!

We can add those to the list of things that make her anoint along with the sugar snap peas from yesterday.

For anyone who doesn't know what anointing is, it's when your hedgehog plays pretend that it is both rabid and having a seizure by foaming at the mouth and then twitching all around trying to cover itself in said foam. 

It's a bit gross, but totally normal with new scents they go crazy for. It's also kind of freaky, and would have been terrifying if I hadn't read up on hedgies and known to expect it before getting one.

The foaming contortionist herself

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


No, smooshies is not some bizarro little known ailment -no need to worry!
SMOOSHIES is my very own first timer proper plied yarn.


It's a good thing I'm happy enough just toting it around and enjoying its squishability, because I'm not sure what else can be done with just 30 yards of bulky weight yarn.
Must spin more!
(but not today, because it's a Tour de Fleece rest day)

Monday, July 9, 2012

TDF - updated Day 9 and Day 10

Okay, so this should have been my *real* progress shot for yesterday, since I went back for another hour of spinning last night

Good news, bad news. 
Bad news -  You know how I was thinking I had a 1oz spindle? Turns out my spindle is actually .89oz, so I ended up spinning more than I needed to on the second round.
Good news is that means I went over, instead of under. 

Even better news is that I'm ready to try plying!

I'm going to pretend Henrietta is cheering me on for such good progress
(but really this is just how she looks when she's eating)

Okay, on to Monday (day 10) - 

The yarn is all plied up, and daaaaaaaamn did that spindle get full! 

I started out wishing I had spun the singles for longer, but I honestly don't think I could have fit much more on there. 
I ended up with 30.5 yards of (basically) bulky weight. To go any further I would need thinner singles or a bigger spindle. I'm going to work towards consistently thinner singles. 

The yarn is currently hanging to dry. 
Tomorrow ... which autocorrected to 'To Oreos' is that a sign? Mmmmmm Oreos cough Moving on!
TOMORROW (there, I spelled it properly) is a rest day for the Tour, so no spinning scheduled. Doesn't mean I can't sneak an ounce in if I want, but my only plans are to twist my skein into a tidy little hank and do some knitting. 
Oh, and tackle Mt Laundry, but I'm pretty sure you don't care about that so much.