Tuesday, December 13, 2005

a bazaar bizarre success

We had a great time at Boston's Bazaar Bizarre on Sunday. The crowd was amazing - the line was around the block, so it's a good thing that it wasn't as ridiculously cold or snowy as it could have been. It was, however, cold enough to sell a plethora of hats. There are many days of hat knitting and dyeing ahead before Crafty Bastards next October. Not sure if we'll do summer fairs, unless we think of useful things to sell there.

My favorite new addition to our inventory is odds and ends skeins. These are small bits of yarn from that last bit of roving that we spun, or leftover dyed yarn after reskeining a batch to a useful length. It's a great way for folks to try out a new yarn without the full-skein commitment, or to have just a bit of trim for a project. And, it's a great way for us to use our little oddball bits.

If I drove and didn't mind not having a steady income, I would craft fair across the country.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

the reveal

Okay, so back in October, a month ago in fact, I went to Rhinebeck. I posted about Rhinebeck. I put up some pictures. But, the most exciting purchase that I made had to stay off the Internet until today.

Today is my little sister's 21st birthday. She has been knitting for longer than I have, and took up spinning quickly and intuitively. She spent many hours spinning on my Ashford Traveller when she visited, and she drop spindles on the train in Chicago (so if you see a small Asian with cute hair and a drop spindle, feel free to say hello).

Anyway, today, the wheel is being gifted to her (well, a picture of it is, and she'll be here for Thanksgiving when she can claim it in person). That means that I can show off its replacement, which came home with me from Rhinebeck.

She's a Lendrum, Double Treadle, scotch tension, plus I have the lace and bulky flyers to go with her, although I haven't tried them yet. I had to watch Chelsea talk about her wheel (which happens to be the same make/model as my wheel), and convince myself to wait until now to talk about mine. My last three yarns have been spun on the Lendrum, and we're learning to get along. The action is much smoother, and I love that the design means that I can see the yarn as it builds up on the bobbin so easily.

Of course, I will miss my Traveller, which has taught me so well the basics of spinning. But, I know that it will have a good home, and be a good gift for the sister.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

lazy dyeday

The dyebath is percolating, and Tim is off to purchase some vinegar so that I can do some steam dyeing with the rovings. The colors come out nicely, but they do need the acid wash to set. The yarns are cycling through the pan on the stove. I'm even wearing gloves to prevent my looking like a dye artist at work on Monday.

My Clapotis yarn is being ornery. I wound it into a center pull ball, and somehow it ravelled itself around itself so that when I pulled, two extra strands of yarn came along with the one I needed. Ended up rebaling the whole thing. Better work this time. Grr. I am five repeats into the body of the pattern, and have found many instances to pull it out and work a few rows (before meetings at work, while signing home insurance paperwork, etc).

We close on a new house in a week. I've been working at the new job for 3 months. It's no wonder that I'm not writing here as much as I'd like.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Getting things done

I've joined a local group of creative type journallers in a challenge to do some creating every day in November, as a kind of answer to the National Novel Writing Month phenomenon. Apparently, this has helped to motivate me even more than reading other knitblogs. I've actually finished projects that are months old, and have done some work toward the craft fair; namely, I have re-entered the mouse knitting season:

That little stack is the beginning of a larger menagerie that will be stuffed with catnip and on sale. If only they reproduced like their real-life counterparts.

I've also completed the arm warmers based on the Mikado fingerless glove pattern, except mine are fuzzy Suri Merino:

and I've embarked upon my fourth (they're addictive! they're good for xmas gifts!) Clapotis:

That one's hand-dyed superwash yarn, just like this stuff.

Progress! Woo!

Friday, November 04, 2005

craft fair strategizing

by this time next week, i hope to have completed:
-1 set handspun armwarmers with reasonable pattern that can be given away with handspun
-10 felted mice, ready for stuffing
-organization of the inventory spreadsheet

Bazaar Bizarre Boston - Sunday December 11, 1-9pm!

Come see Paula and I be excited for the reasonable hours! We shouldn't have to get up at 5:45am for this one!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

less than two months?!

Holiday knitting is upon me, and caught me completely by surprise. I have at least four projects that I'd like to complete before xmas, plus I'm desperately in need of a pair of pop-top mittens for myself, and I'm 3 inches from finishing my Plymouth Odyssey hat and currently out of yarn (grr to my big head). The four projects? A scarf, long opera gloves, a lace shawl, and a multi-yarn garter shawl. Also possibly a leaf lace scarf, but that one's on hold in an attempt to remain realistic. Plus, spinning up 4 more ounces of silk/merino that I'm spinning on consignment, of sorts, plus another craft fair. *whimper* Time for a game plan.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


Yay! My pal received her first package. It was yarn that I dyed, but I was all paranoid about telling her that, in case she could track me down online via woolarina or some such. I have been a slacker with the mail since moving here, so I'll have to motivate myself to get the next batch of stuff out soon.

As for my secret pal -- are you still out there? I got one email, but I haven't heard from you in a bit, and your email address was undeliverable...

Monday, October 17, 2005

Fiber in the Mountains

Much fun was had with bloggers, livestock, and friends this weekend, but I gotta say that the fiber took center stage for much of the time. Rhinebeck felt more fiber-centric than Maryland Sheep and Wool did -- I'm not sure if it was the location, all pretty in the fall and far from home, or if it was my particular focus on looking at fibers rather than yarns, but it seemed like there was less commercial yarn and knitting ephemera, and more spinning and weaving and handspun or otherwise artisanal yarn (i.e., from smaller dyers/spinners rather than the big companies).

I got to the fest on Saturday at opening, and braved the gloomy, misty/rainy weather to wander through the first few barns. I serendipitously ran into these lovely ladies of the Maryland blogger/Mayorga meetup contingent, and was able to connect them to their roommates for the night. Paula and I wandered around for most of the day, and I filled my big bag with 6oz fiber balls. By the end of Sunday, I was getting pretty good at holding balls of roving in my hands and approximating their weights. Another nifty party trick for me, I suppose! Paula picked up a drum carder, which means new ways for us to blend rovings! I got lots of fabulous merino and merino/silk and other fibers, and some other goodies that will remain a mystery until my sister's 21st birthday, if I can wait that long. I am pleased that the only yarn that I purchased was from Brooks Farm (2 skeins of Four Play, to make a nice, soft scarf). It was hard to pass everything else up, but I stayed within my budget (I had all of 78 cents left when all was said and done), and I will be set for spinning for quite some time.

Other highlights: enabling a new fiber geek; fried dough and irish creme coffee; a clear sky even for a brief period; a free pound of fiber; lots of beautiful shawls; apple wine that tastes even better warmed up. and the goat? He's made of cashmere. Mmmm...

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Rhinebeck Bound

Today was my last day in the office (we get Jewish holidays off sometimes, and then I'm going to a workshop thingie on Friday), so my mind is already on the weekend. I'm headed to Rhinebeck for the Sheep and Wool goodness. This will be my first visit, but since it's closer than Maryland Sheep and Wool from where I now live, it'll probably be the fest of choice.

I'm throwing around ideas of what it is I want to buy. I don't think I'll be able to pass up Brooks Farms' yarns again. They're just so amazing, and the colors really drew me in at MDS&W. Pictures don't really do them justice. Tomorrow I plan to do to reality check on how much yarn I actually have, so that I remember how much I don't need a lot more...

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Crafty Success!

A fine time was had at Crafty Bastards '05, and now much restocking must be done, which means more fun with dye in the near future - hoorah!

Here's a pic of the booth with two of our intrepid crafty vendors:

Blogger can apparently do something with images that I haven't tried before, so let's hope this works.

In other news, thanks to the new job, travel, and possibly dim sum on Sunday, I have spent the last four days horizontal and fighting a virus. All is not lost, though -- I finished knitting three hats, and got some work done on the boy's scarf. Knitting was about as much focus as I had, but it was enough! Kids' hats = instant gratification.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Craft Fair this weekend!

Saturday, October 1, 2005 • 10am–5pm

Without even meaning to, I have two small grocery bags full of stuff -- one is all handspun, the other is hats and scarves and a pair of mittens -- plus the three wine cozies and three nalgene holders drying on the table. I don't even remember what we actually have in Maryland, but I know that we've created over 200 skeins of yarn at this point. Phew! I guess I was reasonably productive.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

wrist woes

9-10:30am -- walk around neighborhood yard sale day. pick up some puzzles, a table, a gas grill, a book. spend whole time knitting a wine cozy. i was about 1" in when i ventured out, and halfway done by the end.

10:30-11:30am -- drive to Cambridge, watch the kids that the boy teaches in high school play soccer (they won - yay!), spend entire time knitting wine cozy. finish cozy.

11:30-12:55pm -- head to beer store, cast on hat while boy is driving, work on hat while in beer store, stop for pizza, knit while waiting for pizza, finish about 4" of hat (on size 13 needles), drive to A Good Yarn.

12:55-2:30pm or so -- alternately browse through fabulous yarn store and chat with fabulous Anne, picking up and knitting hat a bit, but not much. purchase Lavish Lace with Handpainted Yarns, which will hopefully help me in both my yarn and my lace designery. I like that it provides examples of swatches of the same patterns knit with different yarns. Nice lesson in the differences the yarn can make.

2:30-3:30pm -- drive to Jamaica Plain, drink bubble tea, finish hat, start another hat.

3:30-6pm -- drive home, stopping at our new favorite produce store (leaving knitting in car), home, watch some tv, finish spinning 125 yards of two ply worsted weight merino, finish a couple more inches on hat.

6-6:45pm -- play tennis.

6:45-8:45pm -- eat dinner, spin an ounce or so of merino, work hat a bit.

is it any wonder that my right wrist is killing me right now? i'd like to think it's a good hurt.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

craft fair dilemma

Argh, so, Crafty Bastards is October 1, in DC. I am in Boston(ish). I want to go, but I'd be paying about $200 to be there for about 36 hours, and giving up a weekend in the middle of crazy working like a mad person time (I'm doing two jobs right now - my old one and my new one - so I work a good 55 hours a week). But we're all set to go, and I wanna see Paula, and help with the booth, but then I also want to go to Rhinebeck, and I have to go to a wedding on Oct. 8. I need a magic 8 ball, and a lot of money.

more q and a

11. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?
I'm married (for 4 1/2 years -- crazy that it's been that long) to a math geek/high school teacher/dissertation writer. I'm trying to finish a scarf that I've been knitting him for way too long now. I have a Border Collie named Jasper and a Dalmatian/Pointer/Garbage Disposal named Cassie, and they're 7 and 6 years old, respectively. We're all getting old.

12. What are your life dreams? (really stretching it here, I know)
I wouldn't complain about owning a fiber store. I love to arrange shelves full of stuff, and I imagine having cubbies and cubbies of yarn would keep me happy for a long time. Until I can afford to take such a risk, though, my life dreams are mostly focused on enjoying now, but not to the extent that it leaves me broke later.

13. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with?
I wish I could afford my favorites in any great quantity! Debbie Bliss Cashmerino, Cherry Tree Hill merino, Koigu, Reynolds Odyssey. I've wanted to try Schaefer's Helene, Laurel, Marjaana... and I guess my favorite yarns that stay within my budget are Brown Sheep Prairie Silk and Karabella Aurora 8.

14. What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?
Scratchy non-wool ones :) -- the scratchy wools I can always felt. Oh, and mohair without coordinating non-mohair yarns. I'm just not sure what to do with them.

15. What is/are your current knitting obsession/s?
Spinning is my current obsession, really. I covet Paradise Fibers' Rhapsodies. I'm also working an afghan along the lines of the Ab Fab kit -- just a lot of my scrap yarn in deep purples, blues and silver. It's been awhile since I picked it up, though - it was too warm to work on in the summer!

16. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?
Hats and arm warmers for the instant gratification, sweaters for the longterm usefulness.

17. What are you knitting right now?
That afghan, the scarf, a bunch of stuff to sell at craft fairs, a pair of Prairie Silk wristwarmers... plus I'm conceptualizing holiday gifts that will need to be done soon.

18. What do you think about ponchos?
They look cute on some people... I'm still on the lookout for a perfect half-circle shawl for myself. I'm getting to like shawls. I wear my Clapotis everywhere. I might even wear a cape if I ever made one of those, but ponchos and I don't really get along.

19. Do you prefer straight or circular needles?
circs. I knit almost exclusively on circs these days. Straight work I try to do on 16" circulars. It has something to do with the way I like to hold the needles.

20. Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?
Bamboo! Or addi turbos.

21. Are you a sock knitter?

22. How did you learn to knit?
At a college where I worked. From this lovely lady.

23. How old is your oldest UFO?

24. What is your favorite animated character or a favorite animal/bird?

Umm... I like dragons, I suppose.

25. What is your favorite holiday?
Christmas. The family-centric, decorating, gift giving and eating variety. I could take or leave the media hype, the overblown retail madness and the religion.

26. Is there anything that you collect?
Non-knitting related? Not really. At least I try not to. I refuse to throw out any back issues of Real Simple, but I've convinced myself that I can cut select articles out of other magazines rather than keeping every issue.

27. What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?
Spinoff, Interweave Knits.

28. Any books out there you are dying to get your hands on?
There's a special section of my wish list devoted to them.

29. Any patterns you have been coveting, but haven't bought for one reason or another??
The shawl I mentioned above, mostly 'cause I haven't found a good one yet.

ETA: 30. What are your foot measurements, and what kind of socks do you like?

Oh lord, my feet are huge. I wouldn't wish sock making on anyone. They're pretty much a foot long. Size 12.5ish.

Monday, September 12, 2005

I have finally gotten around to participating...

...in the secret pal-ed-ness. Behold the button:

And in that spirit, the beginnings of the survey:

1. Are you a yarn snob?
I do prefer wools and blends, especially really soft ones.

2. Do you spin? Crochet?
I spin and dye. A lot. Mostly merino, but all kinds of fibers. I don't crochet.

3. Do you have any allergies? (smoke, pets, fibers, perfume, etc.)
Mmm.. I don't know if I have a smoke allergy, but the smell makes me pretty irritable.

4. How long have you been knitting?
Since February 2001.

5. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?

Indeed. here 'tis.

6. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products etc.)
I like lavendar, lemongrass, chamomile...

7. Do you have a sweet tooth?
Not as much as some, but sure.

8. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do?
I stick mostly with spinning/knitting/dyeing. I do make a lovely mix CD, though. And I bake, occasionally.

9. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)
Folksy types with good lyrics and harmonies like Indigo Girls and Kings of Convenience; bluesy-folk women like Emmylou Harris; fun, eclectic "world-like" stuff like Pink Martini.

10. What's your favorite color? Or--do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer? Any colors you just can't stand?
I tend to stick with deeper colors and earth tones. I'm still looking for a perfect combo of browns and dark greens. I love blue-based purples, forest greens, cobalt blue, greys/silvers. I just bought some Reynolds Odyssey in Granite Mix and I looooove it. There was a loose ball at a yarn store, and I bought it because I loved it that much:

I may have to track down some more, or maybe just make arm warmers. I tend to stay away from pastels and super-brights. But then again, I love all of the Noro Silk Garden colorways, so I guess brights in moderation are okay.

Tired now! more soon!

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Not quite as tall as me

I have corraled my entire yarn stash:

I guess it could be worse.

From top to bottom:
Roving, spindles, yarn baller, niddy noddy
Neutral wools and mohairs
Various larger lots of wool, mostly purples (some Patons grey, a bunch of Karabella)
Novelties and non-wools
More wools, including most of my hand-dyed, plus some cotton

I'm down to one tub of non-natural fibers, and I hope to keep it that way. Even my projects are all in these buckets (a tank top, a scarf, a sock, an arm warmer, I'm not sure what else). It's about 5'7" tall, all stacked up. Also note the motor oil in the bottom right hand corner, with which I grease my spinning wheel.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

wheel to be packed last!

So we're moving in less than a week! Phew! My local knitting circle list is going to have to change substantially (although kniterati will now, finally, be accurately in place). Woolarina North will be located in Waltham, Mass. (I need to learn how to spell that state name consistently). I'll be back down in the DC area for Crafty Bastards in October, though, and I'm sure I'll make it back for Sheep and Wool!

The knitting and spinning have been on hold, more or less, for the past two weeks. Our last dyeing session was a couple of weeks ago (stuff to hit the webpage soon), and I'm packing my dye equipment today. Won't pack the wheel til the last minute, though - whenever I'm feeling overwhelmed, it's still the place I go to unwind (although this week, the wheel has lost out to the bed on many occasions -- at least I've been sleeping well in preparation for the move).

Those of you in the Boston area, any and all suggestions on things to do (and eat!) and places to shop (and eat!) are welcomed.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

one house for sale

First and foremost, check out all the work Paula has done at woolarina.com! The yarn pages are getting updated with all new pictures, and they're much easier to see now. The sock page, for instance. Mmm. We're doing some more dyeing this weekend, so if anyone has color requests, speak now!

In other news, our house is now officially on the market, and Tim will hopefully be signing a lease in the Boston area over the weekend. We still have no official move date, but I will be starting a new job on August 22, so it'll be before then. There will now be a Woolarina North post, and I hope to continue dyeing (and will definitely be spinning and knitting) up there :) I think the wheel will be the last thing that I pack up. The boy is a little concerned at potential buyers coming by during a dye day this weekend, but they will just have to deal. I think that the yarns hanging on the porch make the house look that much more festive.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

retreat into spinning

I can tell by my sidebar stats that, in this time of stress (both good and bad stress, but stress nonetheless), my spinning production goes up a bit. It also helps that it's way too hot to keep knitting on my lap for very long, and the wheel is set up in front of the air conditioning vent.

My favorite roving of late was the Cormo/Alpaca. It's hard to go wrong with Corriedale, Merino, and Alpaca, all in one. Plus, it was a natural roving, so no random felty bits from overly enthusiastic washing and rinsing. The roving is fabulously soft (I've heard the term "buttery soft" applied to yarn a lot -- why is that? Is butter that soft?) and easy to draft. One oddity, though -- there are quite a lot of little slubs in the roving, so my yarn isn't nearly as smooth as it is with a lot of other fibers. I don't think I was being lazy about my drafting -- I think it was just a quality of the roving. In any case, I will be dyeing the yarn and knitting it into gloves for myself, I think. My first pair of handknit gloves. I'm pretty sure it's a thin enough yarn to work on 3s or 5s, so that should make not-too-bulky gloves.

Plus, I will be moving in a month to the Boston area, so it's time to start thinking warmer garments and accessories! I am quite excited, and with the decision made, the stress is going down a little (although the spinning, I think, will continue).

I leave you with a couple of links to Knitted Superhero Costumes and the ElevenEleven gallery, the latter of which is in DC, and I really should get there some time soon...

Sunday, July 10, 2005

*thump thump*

When felting a Nalgene holder with a Nalgene bottle in it, the washing machine makes some funny thumpy sounds. I'm curious what it'll do during the spin cycle.

Felted Nalgene Bottle Cozy (which needs to be tweaked).

Great for keeping your Nalgene from "sweating" water all over your stuff when you shove it into your bag, fresh from the fridge, in the morning.

CO 40 sts worsted weight yarn on a size 11 circular. Join.
Knit around for 11" (but I think it should be closer to 10"- this guy seems a little long)
Decrease every other round, starting with K6 k2tog, until 20 sts remain, then decrease every round until 5 sts remain. Pull through and secure.
Pick up 6 sts at the top. St st for two rounds, then garter for 10.
Decrease to 5 sts and work strap: K3, yf, sl 2 pwise.
Continue in pattern til the strap is almost as long as you want it.
Go back to garter, increasing one stitch, garter 10 rounds, st st for two rounds (i.e., make a mirror image of what you did on the other side). BO. Sew to opposite side of holder.
Felt til it's done.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

facelift and new fluff

I gave up on trying to coerce this journal into being a three-column format, because I don't know enough about html and css to keep from breaking it on a regular basis. Someday, I will take a class. The problem with the classes I've tried to take is that I know about enough of the basics to get me through the first three or four lessons, and once I've made it through those, I'm bored because I haven't learned much new, and I've lost interest before getting to the useful stuff. I also hope to learn to use Microsoft Access at some point. Not at all intuitive to me, that program.

Anyway, aside from giving in to a new format on this journal, there has been much activity, although not as much fiber-related as I would like. I have managed to procure new balls of colorful and soft merino:

We've sold a few skeins, I've spun up a few more. We dyed lots of merino sock yarn for the store, including this guy:

We also dyed 6 or so skeins of worsted wool yarn for making felted totes. I bought a smallish (16 or so ounce) Nalgene, which I plan to knit a cozy for soon. I also knitted a larger Nalgene-sized cozy, and will felt it up this weekend as a prototype for some of the stock for Crafty Bastards.

So, I guess that's some progress. I'm also learning that there is a lot about knitting that I love, and a lot that I just plain don't like. I'll revisit that later, but for now, I know I don't like ribbing on double pointed needles. I like ribbing, I like dpns, but I just can't deal with both of them together -- too high maintenance, or something.

My favorite thing right now? Simple, memorizable patterns, with some variation in what you do with the rows, but also some plain knit and purl rows to take a break from the patterns. I'm working on a scarf for Tim right now in a woven sort of pattern that only has four different rows, one knit, one purl, and two 2x2 rib variations, and it's easy and it makes a pretty pattern. It's a dark yarn, but I'll try to get a picture up some time soon.

Friday, July 01, 2005

spinning stays constant

Things are very up in the air in my life right now, and I have very little control over which way they're going to go. I do, however, have control of the tension of my wheel, the weights of the yarns I'm going to spin, the rhythm of the treadle, and all of this has been very comforting over the past week or so.

Every day, coming home from work, I'm faced with many tasks around the house that I could, and perhaps should, be doing. I've been trying to get a load of dishes, dirty in the sink, to clean in the drying rack, or I don my workout clothes and brave the humidity that makes my lungs poke at me and ask me what I'm doing, biking in 87 degree weather. But mostly, I sit at my wheel, which has found a permanent place in my tv room, turn on a disc of West Wing, and spin from the beginning of a ball of roving to the end.

This week, I've made these:

They will make the fluffiest, softest hats, and they are what has kept me sane.

This weekend, Paula and I will dye some more merino, which is great, since I'm out at this point, and I will once again have pictures of big, bright balls of yarn potential. And maybe I'll be able to stop thinking about everything else, just for a few hours.

Thursday, June 23, 2005


Time is racing by, perhaps even wearing rollerskates or some such. Between travel, work, an upcoming wedding, and an ill family member, much has kept me busy, but has also kept me knitting for my sanity. I have been toting Clapotis III around with me, and am about halfway through. My dye job on this batch of yarn (darn superwash - never dyes quite as I hope it will) is lighter in one skein than the other, and it stands out to me as I look at the last 25 rows or so that I've finished since switching skeins. I don't think it's feasible to rip back a Clapotis, so I will just have one swath that's a little less color-intense than others. The way that it hangs, I don't think anyone will notice much. Of course, I'll know, which is enough to make me slightly insane, but eventually, it'll just become part of the character of the piece.

Back to Chicago this weekend, and then a week in the basement of the library, helping new students put together class schedules. The excitement never ends.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

weekends in fiber!

Sunday was the Mount Pleasant Craft Fair, at which I gave out many of my personal knitting "business cards" (thank you, free offer from VistaPrint), so hopefully I've had a couple of new people surf by -- if so, please don't hesitate to introduce yourselves! and, if you bought yarn from us, send along those pictures of whatever you make, and we'll be glad to post them on the woolarina.com site!

The fair was a big one, with food vendors, music stages, and a couple of blocks' worth of vendors (I don't know how many to be exact, as I tried to keep myself from doing too much shopping -- shopping negates the point of selling in some respects, although I'm always interested in trading with other crafters). I applaud all of the knitters who, like me, would brave 85 degree weather to sift through wool yarns. We sold a couple of my favorite handpaints, which is great, because it means I can make more to replace them!

Paula and I have purchased new dye colors, so keep an eye out for even more color in the near future -- and if you have any requests (e.g., "ooh, I'd love to see what you'd make with colors x and y," or, "there's this great Miro painting, and I wonder what its colors would look like in a yarn"), don't hesitate to let me know!

This coming Saturday is the Takoma Park Jazz Fest, 11am-7pm. We will be there, wearing our sunscreen! Stop by and say hello.

And so that you aren't deprived of a picture, here are some of the felted wine totes that have since gone to new homes, but never fear, more are being knitted as we speak (I'm currently working on a pink/blue/purple) and will be available on Saturday!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

crafty alert

Come and visit me and Paula and possibly Christina at the Celebrate Mount Pleasant Craft Fair!

Sunday, June 5, 10am-6pm

Entertainment stages and craft vendors galore!

Mount Pleasant Street between Irving St and Park Rd. Mount Pleasant is a seven-minute walk west of the Columbia Heights Metro Station on the Green Line. Mount Pleasant is also served by the the 42 and H buses (check with WMATA for re-routing on the day of the festival), and is just a block west of the S bus lines.

Our booth will include some knitted items, stitch marker tins, magnets, and other goodies, as well as our mountain of dyed and spun yarns, including these guys, plus a ton more, some of which aren't even up on the website yet:

103104 8587 8384 5758 9092

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

so about that yarn...

I like this feather and fan/wave scarf pattern, but will also head to the library and browse through the books. I'm thinking a semi-circular or faroese-type pattern would be fun to try, if I can find one that isn't too complicated/fluffy looking. I really don't need another shawl, though. Maybe Charlotte will be gifted away to a deserving relative at some point, since I don't wear her very often.

All of the newly-dyed yarns are up on woolarina.com now, including these cool worsted merinos:

They're spun such that one ply picks up color differently than the others, so there's a darker stripe running through. Observe the blurry close-up:

There are a couple of different blues, the pink/purple highlighted above, a red/green/blue/purple, and green/blue/purple that I LOVE that didn't photograph that well. Must take Yarn Photography 101. I'm sure they offer that at a school near me :)

Monday, May 23, 2005

shawl ideas?

I have 850 yards of this lovely merino, in its impressionistic handpainted loveliness, which knits at 6sts/9rows = 1":

What shawl pattern would you recommend for some/all of it?

Sunday, May 22, 2005

(much) more dyeing madness

So many people came over that I actually cleaned my living room! Paula, Christina, and new-to-blogland Libby, with boy in tow, descended upon my dye kitchen, which is really just my regular kitchen, with all gadgetry, dish racks, and sharp objects moved into the dining room, and all surfaces covered in newspaper. From about 10 a.m. until about 9 p.m., there was much dyeing, eating, learning to use niddy noddies, and other general fun. Thank goodness for nice weather - it would've been awfully stuffy if all of us plus the yarn had had to huddle in the house. As it was, the yarns got their dye treatments, and then bathed lazily in the sun to dry. In all, I think we must've dyed four 12 miles' worth of yarn. I haven't actually added it all up, but the share that will go into the store is about a three miles' worth:

The details should be up on the website in a few days!

Monday, May 16, 2005

tools of the trade

One of the purchases that I made at Sheep and Wool that I hadn't pictured yet:

The contraption on the right is my fantastic ball winder, which I prefer to call my yarncake maker, since it makes pretty little cakes of yarn, fresh off the wheel. They fit much more happily on my scale as cakes than they do as skeins! This one is handspun from awhile ago. I took some roving and just dribbled dyes all over it in no discernible pattern. I may have used a few more colors in a few more intensities than could have produced a really pretty yarn, but boy, is this one colorful. I'm actually knitting these days, for a change (I've been so spin/dye focused recently), and this cake will finish off a second kiddie hat, and hopefully get me through a third, before it runs out.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

more spinny

I spent most of the weekend playing Scrabble, but I did manage to get some spinning in today:

I plied some wool that I dyed with the black merino from Sheep and Wool. The colors include red, orange, green and purple, and they stand out nicely against the black. The beginning of the colored wool had gotten a little felted in the dyeing process, so I had to coax it into drafting and spinning. I imagined a stubborn, technicolor sheep as I spun it.

Also finished up some merino dyed awhile back:

Each skein is about 120 yards, and will self stripe from blue/purple to greens and back to blue/purple. Both should go up in the store some time, and we'll also be doing more dyeing next weekend, so there should be more sock yarns and others soon as well!

Sunday, May 08, 2005

MDS&W, Part II

Returning early this morning rather than staying later to brave the crowds yesterday was a good choice. I'm possibly getting over whatever illness I had, but I'm coughy, and after walking around the Fest with the boy from 8:50-10:40, was more than ready to go.

It was much, much calmer this morning than yesterday morning. The Koigu booth was closed (rumor has it they sold out yesterday), so the only ridiculously long line was for Galway. I walked right by -- I didn't even want to know what was in there, because today was about taking my time and just wandering, rather than kamikaze shopping.

We started the visit with a trip to the sheep cheese people, just like yesterday. Got some farmer cheese that I actually like, which is surprising -- I'm not a goat cheese person at all, and usually not fond of sheep milk, either, but this stuff is light and smooth. I took more time in the Main barn today, stopping by to chat briefly with Jen at her very cool booth. Made it all the way to the ends of the barn, feeling lots of roving as I walked around, and showing things off to Tim that I'd seen on Saturday. I ran into a wool booth that I'd completely missed, and bought some black roving with silk noils:

It should spin up into a neat, textured yarn. I may even ply it with some of the pure black merino that I also picked up today. I've been wanting to experiment with plying thicker singles of my variegateds with thinner singles of black, so that will be the next thing to go on the wheel, after my current batch of fluff is spun.

I sat at a Lendrum castle wheel to test out the Woollee Winder. Yep. Still want one. Also want a Lendrum castle wheel. Someday, perhaps.

Also spent more time watching the Sheep to Shawl competition, and petting the non-sheep livestock -- alpacas, llamas and bunnies, like this guy:

...and puzzled over the booth that included commercially-produced yarns like Noro, plied with other yarns:

I don't really understand... if you want to knit something with Noro and mohair, can't you just hold the two together and knit? Do you need them to be plied for you? I guess it lets the sellers show off what they think are cool color combos, but still, just seemed kinda odd.

Anyway, more pics in the slide show, and a couple more of the stuff that came home with me:

firesong rovingKoigu for AnneKoigu for meCorriedale roving

Saturday, May 07, 2005

MDS&W, Part I

So, in three hours of Sheep and Wool, I managed to overspend my budget (but not by as much as I easily could have), and exhaust myself enough that I took a two hour nap this afternoon. I've been feeling under the weather all week, so I guess I shouldn't have been too surprised, but there was also the combination of not being able to sleep until the alarm (too excited!), tree orgies, not enough caffeine (I refuse to wait in the bathroom lines and squander that fibertime -- even at 9:30, it was getting long). If it wasn't for the adrenaline, I think I would've climbed into one of the sheep pens and snuggled up against a nice, fluffy Ovis aries.

My friend Nadine and I arrived around 9:15. The line was already queueing to get down SR-144, but still, the parking was reasonably close, and the traffic wasn't so bad. The weather was perfect -- my Clapotis and a t-shirt was just the right amount of layering. Nadine had never been to S&W (this is only my second year), so it was fun to see her surprise at the immensity of it.

Of course, I missed much of that initial wonder, as I made a beeline to Koigu, to try to score some for Anne and me before it got too daunting. I probably spent my first 45 minutes standing in that line, but at least I had company -- Michelle was also there, and during the time she stood in line, she went from yarn for one pair of socks to at least two, and maybe more, since I was a few people in front of her. I scored enough purples to make just about any shawl or scarf I want, when added to the Koigu I have left over from my Charlotte.

From there, I wandered the barn a bit, and picked up a new spindle for my sister, a hand-turned threader for my spinning wheel made of purple heart wood (it pulls the leader out through the wheel orifice, so that I can attach fluff and have it feed on to the bobbin -- my current contraption is a piece of coat hanger on a thread, so this is much prettier), and some beautiful Corriedale roving from Carolina Homespun. Since Nadine had wandered through the main hall for the better part of an hour, we left, picked up some kettle corn (at $1.50, possibly the best deal of the day), and proceeded through the vendor and sheep barns.

I think this guy was my favorite, 'cause his apparel reminded me of Tim's fancy running gear:

This one was also cool -- pre-variegated fleece for spinning!

I picked up my ball winder and a simple spindle to replace the one that I gave to a new spinner, tried to say hello to Dalis at Dancing Leaf's booth, but it was too packed, ran into Sarah (I think it was Sarah! and I don't even know if she has a blog to link to...), drank water (to lighten my bag as much as to stay hydrated), and grabbed some BFL roving at Firesong. So pretty.

By noon, I was feeling a little delirious. We had been through all of the barns and buildings, and were doing the outdoor vendors. Had to stop by Cormo, at Sarah's recommendation, and picked up a lovely 8 oz. of white Cormo/Alpaca blend. I can't wait to start spinning it. I will reserve all spinning, though, until Paula returns, in case she wants to split/score any of it. I think one of my favorite parts of the day was shopping for other people! Too bad 'yarn personal shopper' isn't a real job. I bet there are some celebrities out there who would pay for such services...

So, the inventory in all -- 8 oz Cormo/Alpaca, 8 oz. Firesong BFL, 8 oz. Corriedale, 37 ounces of Koigu (17 of which is for Anne), threader, two spindles, ball winder. Oh, and some smoked sheepie cheese for the boy. Pictures of the loot soon!

Thursday, May 05, 2005

The Game Plan

Friday: finish either Clapotis II (with scrap yarn, 'cause I ran out with 10 or so rows to go. Boo), or tank top. Pack bag (water bottle, sunglasses, wallet, wish list with yardages, Harlot book, directions, cell phone, cookies). And, Linda Eder concert!

Saturday: leave home at 8:30ish, arrive 9:15ish (gates open at 9). Head to Koigu first, stand in line if it seems reasonable, grab enough goodness for a decently sized project (maybe a multi-directional scarf) if it's not ridiculous. Wander through the barns with Nadine. Try to convince her to stay til lunch with various people, including Christina and Libby. Get book signed by Yarn Harlot, get inspired by award winning stuff in the Bingo Hall. Find spindles, unfinished niddy noddy from the same place as last year, and I have to figure out where that was...

Sunday: early again, with boy in tow, because he loves me that much and I have no other ride. Try to see if I can find Lolly, watch sheepdogs at 11. Hit barns I missed the first day, and backtrack to stuff that I coveted on Saturday to decide if I really want it.

Curious what you might find at Sheep and Wool? check out my photo album from last year.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The Wish List

Spindles: one 1.5ish ounces, top whorl with grooves for Kim, one basic to replace the one that I gave away, maybe an extra for teaching people
Roving: merino, white, 21ish micron count; corriedale, bfl...
Yarn: enough for a summery tank (Ballet Neck tank = 750 yds 18sts/4" on 7s; Soleil = 700 yds 22 sts/4" on 6s; Cleo = 700 yds 16 st/4" on 9s); Koigu depending on how slammed the booth is; something dyeable, or that can be made into a good xmas gift shawl for my grandma
SpinGear: Ashford drive band, maybe a jumbo flyer, or other fancy attachment (like a WooLee Winder, or some new bobbins...
Paula and Woolarina: Louet S10 DT winder; larger niddy noddy; dye; undyed yarns; ball winder!
What NOT to Buy: Yarn without projects, shirts, Angora bunnies

Sunday, April 24, 2005


The craft fair was a success, thanks in part to Lolly, who stopped by to say hello and pick up some yarn. It really makes a difference when people we know come by (even if we don't know them in real life!) -- breaks up the day a little, and gives us another fiber-holic to bond with. One of the women working at another craft table also works at Woolwinders, so we got to chat with her a bit about yarn, and she grabbed a skein of our fiery worsted wool yarn, kinda like this one. We glanced over at her table a little later and saw her winding it up, while a friend dutifully sat with the skein draped across her arms.

After both of the craft fairs that I've done, I've been inspired to knit and spin. Last night at Barnes & Noble, I picked up a copy of Stephanie's book, which I look forward to reading for the next little bit, and getting signed at Sheep and Wool. This morning, I worked up a bobbin of rainbowy roving. I'm also hoping to cast on a wine tote later today. Time to restock them for the booth! We'll see what my hands think of Lamb's Pride during the summer.. maybe I'll try em out with Cascade instead this time.

Friday, April 22, 2005

craft fair prep

Last night, I skipped out on the opera (Julius Caesar -- I'm a little sad to miss it, but I'm going to La Boheme tonight, so I will get my fill). I spent a good hour banding yarns and sticking labels to them so that our yarns would be all ready for the Visions in Feminism craft fair:

I like the look of them - not too cluttered (I have a habit of cluttering up any space that I have, both in my closets and in my design concepts for things), pertinent information, descriptions of yarns that aren't too cheesy.

I also made up a little sign to tell potential customers how much yarn they may need for different projects:

How much yarn does it take to make…

A kid’s hat? Sport weight: 160 yards/Worsted weight: 120 yards
An adult’s hat? Sport weight: 220 yards/Worsted weight: 180 yards
Kid mittens? Sport weight: 95 yards/Worsted weight: 75 yards
Adult mittens? Sport weight: 220 yards/Worsted weight: 160 yards
Kid socks? Fingering weight: 200 yards/Sport weight: 150 yards
Adult socks? Fingering weight: 400 yards/Sport weight: 250 yards
A baby sweater? Sport weight: 500 yards/Worsted weight: 450 yards
A kid sweater? Sport weight: 900 yards/Worsted weight: 800 yards
A 6” x 40” scarf? Worsted weight: 150 yards/Bulky weight: 100 yards

I mostly used the Ann Budd yarn guide card thingie, and rounded the numbers a bit. I guess I could double check through some patterns to be sure that these seem accurate.

I'm getting excited for the prospect of craft fairs. I like the prep, I like setting up the booth, I like talking to people about knitting. Selling things would be nice, at least enough to cover booth fees, but mostly, I just like it for the atmosphere, and to justify my new yarn dyeing habit.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

nifty knitting math factoid

So I just learned, although it isn't confirmed by anything, the following: "if you take the gauge of one strand of yarn and double it, then divide by three, that would give you the gauge if you doubled it. So for example - if you're working with Plymouth Encore at a gauge of 4.5 sts per inch, and decide to double it, the resulting gauge would be 3 sts per inch or (4.5 X 2)/3."

I will have to test that formula! It'd definitely be a good rule of thumb to know.

Sunday, April 10, 2005


Lots. Of. Roving.

It's going to take the better part of the year to get through all of this. Part of me just likes to look at it, and would rather decorate with it than spin it...

As it gets spun, there's a good chance you'll find it for sale at woolarina.com with its friends.

I think I may have to get myself some actual spinning lessons some time, so I can learn more about what I can make my wheel do, and not just what it does right now.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

bright and early

The problem with getting up for work at 6 or 6:30 is that it's hard to sleep in past 7 or 7:30 on the weekends. Hence, I've been up for an hour. I've even been productive -- some strange cleaning bug has hit me, and I'm in the process of washing the dog pillows. This required pulling all the stuffing out of one of them, so that I could wash the case. Jasper isn't too pleased about it.

And, for your viewing pleasure, the beginning of Clapotis II -- I'm much farther along, but this picture shows off the color better than more recent incarnations:

Friday, April 01, 2005

a weekend away

I left last Friday for Chicago, returned at midnight or so on Tuesday, and am still in catch-up mode. I can only imagine the aftermath of Daylight Savings Time. I suppose I'd rather have the daylight, though - my biorhythms will catch themselves up.

Clapotis-the-first was bestowed upon my mother as a birthday present. Clapotis-the-second, which I will most likely keep for myself, has just entered the decrease rows. Not much else is getting done right now, because of the above-mentioned trip, but much is going on in my head, re: a small business of my own.

I grew up in small business land. My grandparents opened a jewelry store 50+ years ago and still work there, at 80 and 87! My mom also works there, and I help out when I'm home over breaks, although I'm not of that much use. As a baby, they set me up in a display case under the fluorescent lights to keep me warm as I napped. As a toddler, I hung out under the desks with a German Shepard who served as a watchdog. I've always tried to support small businesses (although I admit that I indulge in the Ikea and amazon.com on a regular basis). Now that I'm loving the dyeing and spinning (and knitting and...), and I'm possibly going to be moving to an area that doesn't have many yarn stores, I can't help but throw the idea around in my head.

In an ideal world, I will be moving late this year. I would work for the year or so after that at 20-30 hours per week, while also getting a business plan together, and continuing to do craft fairs, online sales (side note: new yarns are for sale at woolarina.com), and general research on fiber. I'd find the perfect, downtown location, not too far from the local campuses, and open my cafe/fiber store, which would also feature other random trinkets that I like... two floors, upstairs sitting room cafe, downstairs shop and coffeebar, airy, spacious... mmm.

In the mean time, craft fair season here approacheth. Yarns to be dyed this weekend, maybe, and inventory to get sorted. We'll be at the Visions in Feminism Craft Fair/Punk Rock Flea Market at the Nyumburu Cultural Center, University of Maryland College Park, Saturday April 23, 1-6pm. There's a $2 entry fee. Should be fun.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

to dye for, part 3

mmm.. dye party... 3 more pounds of yarn and a couple of pounds of roving, all prettied up and drying in my bathroom and on the porch. I think we may have accidentally dyed the porch a few different colors today.

Things we learned:

  • Steam Dyeing is a very good way to dye roving. Less mess, less unintended felting, better color bands.

  • When steam dyeing, lots of dye will sneak out of the packets and into the pot, so don't use your pasta pot thinking the dye is contained and you'll still be able to use the pot for cooking.

  • Colonial Blue from Prochem doesn't take very well.

  • Mohair blends eat up color beautifully.

  • Fingernails also absorb color well, even when wearing gloves.

  • Superwash sock yarn doesn't eat up color unless you force feed it.

  • After 5 hours or so of dyeing, your back will hurt.

  • Putting dyes in plastic squeeze bottles saves a lot of grief.

  • Keeping the squeeze bottles in a Grooming Box makes them easier to carry back down to the basement.

  • You can never have too many layers of newspaper protecting the counter.

Friday, March 18, 2005

nearing completion, yet no pictures...

My camera has run off to Michigan with the boy. Have no fear - both are scheduled to return. Until then, alas, no new pictures.

It's too bad, too, because after being stuck in traffic for an hour longer than usual on my morning commute, Clapotis is almost done. I think I'm down to 9 stitch repeats. Campus is a ghost town, so I think I'll sit outside and knit for awhile this afternoon in the springiness. The few days as winter is ending when you can really tell that spring is likely going to stay are some of my favorites, so I should savor them while I can.

More dyeing is likely this weekend. The creamy colored wool in my living room is taunting me, and I think I'll start work on another Clapotis on the plane to Chicago, where I will visit my family next weekend. Maybe greens with a bit of yellow and blue, if I can get the blue dye to take for a change. This time, I'm going to dye the wool with shorter "stripes" so that it looks more mottled than patterened, I think. We'll see if the dyes agree to that plan. It's always an adventure.

Friday, March 11, 2005


I am wary of talking about my job in a public forum, but, thanks to the flexibility of working in academia, I think I can at least mention it without getting myself fired. I work at a college near Baltimore, Maryland. Specifically, I advise students, helping them choose classes, figuring out how soon they can graduate, working with them through medical school applications -- good stuff like that. Right now, we're in a lull period on campus. It's a week and a day before Spring Break, students are studying for midterms, and there isn't much going on in my office. So, on Thursday afternoon, I pack up some work that I can do in the comfort of my pajamas, and put in my 8 hours or so over the course of the weekend, which lasts from Friday through Sunday. It's a good deal, to only go in 4 days a week. Additionally, I'm currently working 8-6 M, 8-5 W and 8-3 TR, which also makes two of my days feel blissfully short.

So, today, I will drink some coffee, spin, do some work, knit, watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer on DVD, and maybe work a bit more. And hopefully go for a bike ride. My spinning is all rovings that Paula and I dyed last weekend, and most of it is springy, to get me in the mood for the new season, if winter ever finally lets go:

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Clapping Along

My Clapotis begins:

I dyed some Henry's Attic Kona Superwash Merino, which makes my Clapotis of a lighter, thinner yarn variety, and I'm knitting it on 7s instead of 8s, at 4.5 stitches per inch, which is almost the gauge that the pattern calls for.

It's a fun project, but I like all of the beginnings of bias-knit projects, because they go so darn fast. I now have sixty-something stitches on the needles, and can see the rows setting themselves up to be dropped, and the rows are taking considerably longer. Even so, definitely a worthwhile project.

Monday, March 07, 2005

yarn chosen

I have enough yarn to make a skinnier, airier version of Clapotis. My yarn is a sock-weight 2-ply merino superwash, all prettily dyed up yesterday:

The picture makes it look like there's a lot more red than there is -- just the pieces of the yarn that got highlighted, I guess. The actual colors are maroon, reddish-purple, bluish green, green, and blueish purple. As soon as it dries, I will swatch and knit. I will also have to figure out which yarns were dyed in which dye baths, so that I can switch back and forth between them and make everything nice and blendy.

Highlights from the February DyeFest can now be purchased at woolarina.com, and the new ones will go up after jetsetting Paula returns from her whirlwind European tour.

I have almost finished the lengthwise scarf as well, just in time to wear it with a springy light purple cashmere sweater that my mother sent for valentine's day (my family is notoriously a couple of weeks behind on care packages, but I'm not complaining, 'cause any care package is welcome at any time).

And now, it's time for bed!

Friday, March 04, 2005

clapotis color conundrum

So I've purchased some Kona Superwash Merino, undyed, from which to craft a Clapotis. I can achieve most colors with my dye collection, so now I just have to decide what color to Clapotis with. I already have a Charlotte in purples, so I guess I should stray from my usual base color, or at least mix it up quite a bit with some other shades and hues. I'll likely wear it with either black or earthy tones. I'm considering something in browns and greens, but I'm not sure that I trust my ability to mix brown dye... Suggestions? Links to your favorite variegated yarns?

Thursday, March 03, 2005

mds&w-along, of sorts

Mia is putting together a list of blog-type people going to Maryland Sheep and Wool on its very own blog. There is talk of meeting, and of tote bags. Granted, I only know of Mia through Lauren, who I've never even met, but it'd be nice to put some faces to names! And bags! Whee!

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

in case you were curious

I've knitted this as a bias-knit, as an alternating 2 rows of each yarn garter stitch on big and not-big needles, and holding the two together. I think I've settled on 4 rows of the solid stuff, alternated with a row of drop stitch with the fancy yarn, like this:

Speaking in pattern, that means:

R1-4: K across
R5: k1, yo across
R6: K across, dropping purl stitches

I also think it's going to look better lengthwise, which means ripping out one more time.

Monday, February 28, 2005

okay, okay

because someone is a whiner :P here's me in the sweater, for pete's sake, with a bonus Tim dancing in the background:
In my defense, I wasn't trying on the sweater 'cause I was all cozied up in my footie pajamas:

and I gotta say, the stylesheets and I really just don't get along very well. I have no idea why my font got so big just 'cause I put it in a table. Grr.