Thursday, October 25, 2012

Oh WoW!! Yarn

No, despite my BEST EFFORTS I did not get the vest done in time to enter it into the fair.  I knit & knit & knit all day and until after 9:30pm the night before it was due and came to the realization that, despite having spun more yarn, I was going to run out again with just inches to knit and further, the whole thing looked a bit incredibly wonky.  The wonk-i-ness might be solved by a proper soak and blocking, but there wasn't time for that and so I went to bed, slept soundly, and put the vest in time out.  It's still there . . . probably plotting to not be completed for fair time again NEXT year.  

Since it's fall now, and since that is prime knitting time, I've taken a partial inventory of my yarn stash.  Oh WoW!  I have lots and lots of onesie and twosie skeins that are fit only for small projects--while those yarns make quite a mountain, they are not the subject of an oh WoW.  The piles that evoke oh Wow-ness are those where the number of skeins of one type and color of yarn exceeds 10 and the yardage exceeds 1000 yards, or 1500 yards, or in one case 3000 yards.  These piles are the sweater-worthy piles.

The sweater-worthy oh WoW yarn might have been purchased with a particular project in mind, but more likely because it was a good price.  (or my favorite color, as most of it is green).  I have spent hours days pouring over patterns and have assigned suitable patterns to each pile. So, right now I have 3 cardigans, a vest (or two) and a shawl assigned to the oh WoW yarn.  I've documented the yarn/pattern pairings in several places so I won't get off track.   Thus, I  am FIRMLY committed to stopping the endless pattern search, going with what I've decided, and ACTUALLY knitting the stupid lovely sweaters.   (the success of this plan is not hampered in the least by the fact that for the third Christmas in a row I'm knitting on the same sweater for Sister Daughter). 

BUT, as I was writing this post I noticed a new book on the shelf:  Top Down Sweaters.  I  cannot proceed with my plan until I have ruled out making any of those sweaters with the oh WoW yarn.  

And this may be  EXACTLY why I have piles of Oh WoW yarn. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

This Time I AM Going to be MATURE

What I mean by that rash statement is this morning I decided good enough is good enough.   I am not going to make myself (and maybe Kelly) completely crazy by attempting something that, while possible, cannot reasonably be accomplished in the time allotted. I feel really good about that. 

It is Thursday.  Saturday is the turn-in time for entries into the Tulsa State Fair.  (Yeah, we know Tulsa isn't really a state).  I signed up to enter two skeins of handspun yarn and a vest knit of handspun.  I could possibly get the vest completed, but I'm going to run out of handspun.  So, to complete this task, I'll need to spin more yarn AND knit between now and Saturday.   

I've calculated the waking minutes from now (Thursday) until the turn in date (Saturday) and subtracted the time wasted in working for a living and attending things I cannot reasonably dump.  So, in a RARE flash of maturity, I have abandoned the attempt to complete the vest. The yarn CANNOT be spun and plied and washed and dried and knitted and then the vest washed and dried in the remaining time, plus I don't have a button--the vest needs a button. 

Two skeins of handspun will have to be it for my entries--I'm mostly OK with that. :(

THEN, I got to work and looked at my calendar.  AND maturity just moved to the back burner.  

I am attending a continuing education seminar tomorrow, which is pretty much 8 hours of uninterrupted knitting.  The place is well lit and the chairs aren't too awfully uncomfortable--there is LOTS of coffee and it would be perfect except the coffee cups aren't very big and they have speakers that keep blabbing about stuff.   BUT, I'm pretty sure I can get the knitting done in that amount of time.

I only need about 50 yards of 2ply yarn, so although I'm not getting home until after 7:30 pm, I might try to get that spun and washed tonight.  I gotta figure out how to get it to dry quickly, but this IS do-able. 

I'll need a cool button, but I kind of have this idea that I might make some pounded copper wire affair.  The button wouldn't necessarily need to be functional for the fair. I hope I still have the copper wire at home where I think it is. 

Yeah, I'm back in business.


Monday, September 3, 2012

No Dirt on MY Hands

Yes, in fact I do know that a bar of soap can be purchased for less than the amount of change left in my jeans after a weekend.  

And, two people can only use so much soap. 

Yet, I spent most of this holiday weekend and untold dollars making soap.  


Why?  Well, over the last few months, I made one batch of soap at a friend's house, I've read books, bought ingredients, looked at web sites, took a DISASTROUS class, bought more ingredients, joined forums, bought molds, read some more, and soooooo . . . it was finally time to get my saponification on.  

I planned to make shaving soap for a birthday gift for some old duff  :) I'm related to who just happens to lather up with a brush. The recipe I had made 5 pounds but the mold I bought only held 3 pounds so I had to adjust the recipe by dividing by 5 and multiplying  by 3.  That was pretty easy math, and all was well until I poured the hot oil into the crock pot I planned to use and realized there was no room for the other ingredients (lye & water). So, I had to change the method from cooking in the crock pot to cold process.    

In cold process you mix lye and water and melt the solid oils and then cool everything to the same temperature pour them together and mix like mad until the stuff looks like pudding, pour into a mold, wrap in blankets and wait for a day, unmold, and cut into bars.   That was so much fun I had to make more.  

Next I made another cold process batch, but that recipe made 3.375 pounds (things are VERY exact in the soap world), but the mold I wanted to use was for 5 pounds.  So,  back to the calculator to end up with 5.6 pounds.  This batch was made with sunflower oil and was scented with lemongrass, and rosemary.  

Well, I had lots of ingredients left and I thought I should try to use the crockpot. So I went to Whole Foods and acquired ingredients. No calculations were necessary, I just followed the recipe (except for the scents which were orange, a bit of lemongrass, and rosemary) Cooking the soap in the crockpot was less trouble than cold process.

 Cooking in the crockpot & finished product

cooked in the crockpot

cold process
I like the result from the cold process better.  The bars are very smooth.  You can compare the photos and see the difference.   
Soap waiting to come out of the lamb mold
Baa! I made it!

I must have miscalculated--the shaving soap was a mess!

I made a bunch of these from the shavings
The soap has to sit around and cure for 6 weeks (actually it's just drying out so it will last longer--it's pretty soft at this point).  I should really be ready for a bath by then.  :)

It's back to the drawing board for the shaving soap--I haven't given up on that.  

Anyway, when you make soap the resulting mess is interesting to clean up because it's soap.  Right now my hands and kitchen counter are REALLY clean. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Weave Every Day

For the umpteenth time I am implementing a NEW plan.  This one involves keeping my small rigid heddle loom continually warped and actually weaving on it EVERY day.  

My first offering involved some silk yarn which I think is gorgeous but is miserable to knit with.  It became this scarf in less than a week.  

It's actually not completely finished.  The fringe has to be twisted and the ends knotted--I really hate doing that part.  


Then, I warped up the loom again.  This time with some wool and silk Warping the rigid heddle loom is  f a s t  but it takes up the length of the family room.  Keeping the dogs out of the yarn is the hardest part of the process.

Here is the result of the second week's work--again not completed, fringe twisting to be supplied later.  

Meanwhile . . . The larger rigid heddle has been warped too.  The weaving here is not going so rapidly.  The secret to actually getting weaving done seems to be having it in the way so I work on it a bit every time I walk by.   Kelly has NOT agreed to let me move the big floor loom downstairs though.  

BUT wAiT, that's not all . . .

The plan continues well into its THIRD week.  This warp is yarn dyed by the very talented Denise of Lost City Knits.  The colorway is called  "primitive."  The weft is Ann spun yarn (that is handspun by me).  The roving for this was purchased from Donna of The Weavery at Indian Meridian, the color is "jungle fever." (actually that might not actually be the name--that might just be what I call it).  It was handy that the colors actually went together as well as the names of the colorways.  The handspun was chain plied to keep the colors distinct.  It was a surprise to me how evenly striped the woven scarf is as a result.  It is not exactly what I expected, but it seems to work.  

 The colors are quite washed out in the photo--they border on garish in person, but I like 'em.  

I've been playing with the BIG loom too.  Warp was measured and everything looked GREAT!!!  And the threads were evenly spaced and the colors were perfect.  I didn't buy any new yarn.  This was all stuff I had squirreled away.  I had visions of the jacket to be this yarn would become.  And then . . . 

I began winding the warp and threads began popping and breaking and I grabbed the scissors and  . . . 

There you have it--six yards of warp all tangled and nesting in the trash peaceably where it belongs.  Not ALL plans work out.  

Thursday, August 16, 2012

I Can Do Stuff Like THIS . . .

I now have a new laptop, one that doesn't freeze up and tell me that the program is "(not responding)" every third keystroke.  (Why the old computer put the message 'not responding' is put into parenthesis is inexplicable.)  

 And, this one lets me load photos AND actually edit them.  I don't even care that everything takes me three times longer than it should because  I don't quite "get" the MacBook yet and so far the experience of toggling my brain from the PC at work and the Mac at home has made me inept at both venues.  I don't care about that because 


Saturday, August 11, 2012


Last Saturday I attended weaving guild and was once again blown away by the creativity and productivity of the members.  As for me, I never seem to finish anything.  Oh, I visit my looms, stroke them, make plans for them, buy or spin the yarns I'll eventually use but then . . .

Yeah, that's a big blank space there.  I always seem to be doin' stuff, but never get anything done.  So, I decided I need a plan-- another plan, maybe one I'll even adhere to.   

My plan, to be revealed later herein, was inspired by the tapestry diary of Janette Meetze.  Janette weaves a little or a lot every day on a monthly diary on her tapestry loom.  Each day she weaves something symbolic of the day or what's happening in her life.  Check out the link to her blog, she does some amazing stuff.  Janette talked about how maybe we could explore the idea of a weaving diary using forms other than tapestry.  So, I got to thinking. . .

AND . . . I got to winding and warping and weaving.  I did a little something every day this week on my small Cricket rigid heddle loom.  And, today I cut this silk scarf off the loom.  

I have bins of lovely yarn, handspun and commercially spun that is just not getting used.  My plan is simple:   keep the Cricket continually warped with yarns on hand; keep the Cricket in the family room where it is easily accessible; and weave every day.  At a minimum I should be able to get a few inches done while I have my morning coffee.  Unlike my usual plans that involve big sweeping proclamations of easily derailed impossible-to-achieve intentions, this plan has a some chance of success.  

That's not all though--I have another plan too.  I'm winding a warp for the big loom to make yardage to sew a jacket and have it done by the guild meeting on September 8th, even though Sister Daughter is visiting for a week later this month and even though I work full time and even though  .  .  .

Saturday, July 14, 2012

That Was A Surprise

I don't think I've ever left a yarn store empty-handed, but yesterday I did. I dropped into a local yarn haunt to procure fingering/sock weight yarn for the Shawl knit-a-long I'm doing. Luckily the shop was having a knit-in and everyone was doing the same shawl I am, some were far enough along that I could see how the colors were going to play together.

While perusing the shelves I noted a few things: 1- the shop is not carrying the yarn I wanted any more; 2- yarn manufacturers seem to have changed their packaging of sock yarn from 100 gram skeins to 50 gram skeins, you need 100 grams to make a pair of socks or a decent shawl, so you now need to buy TWO packages--much of the yarn is in the $17 range, that's a big price increase NoT masked by the packaging shenanigans; and 3-my handspun has better colors and more nicely spun than the shop's yarn.

So call me cheap, but I wasn't going to pay $70 for yarn I didn't love. I left the shop without buying yarn, went home and tossed my yarn stash and found the PERFECT yarn to make TWO shawls. I call that a surprising (and mature) turn of events.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, July 13, 2012

THIS might be why I never really get ahead of my messes

I am once again participating in the Tour de Fleece, a yarn spinning event that coincides with the Tour de France. I have roughly 10 pounds of washed wool ready to spin. That 10 pounds does not take into account the tonnage of gorgeous commercially prepared stuff that is ready to spin.

I don't feel like spinning.

Today the first clue (release of part of a pattern) for a mystery knit-a-long was released. The pattern uses sock yarn, I have a number of balls of sock yarn (double digits). I have "some" handspun yarn too. By "some" I might mean more than one tub, but tubs vary in size so some is descriptive enough. Yet, even though I don't know what the mystery knit-a-long will look like (I do know it's a shawl), I am absolutely certain NoNE of the yarn I own is suitable.

So, I'm probably (definitely) going to scoot out at lunch time to get more yarn. However, as soon as the yarn is procured, I'm fairly certain the urge to knit it will pass and I'll decide to weave or refinish furniture or rearrange the attic instead.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, July 5, 2012

New Toy

Blog posts have not occurred due to the shady disposition of my nearly 6 year old laptop and my resultant lack of enthusiasm for wasting the amount of time required to use it. Besides that, I've been too busy doin' stuff to spend time blogging.

Now however, I'm hoping to combine doin' stuff and more frequent blogging through the use of a swell app (that has probably been out for years). This post is a test to see if said app, Blog Press, will enable me to post from my iPhone.

I think the test should include a photo--here's one of me pouring the first batch of soap I made.

That seemed to work, here's a word from Chai:

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzz

Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, March 18, 2012

I could have CAMPY

Yesterday I sold Bertha. 
Yesterday my first ever loom, the behemoth 60" wide 8 shaft LeClerc commonly known as Bertha, left my house for her new home in Berryville, Arkansas.  She was purchased by a lovely lady who happens also to be named Ann and who knew enough to lovingly pat her when they met and who has plans to add 4 more shafts and more treadles to Bertha and who really does need her to fill a big empty space in the newly built loom room at her house. 

As a result of said sale, I have a little cash to spend which is tucked away and absolutely, positively earmarked for a new loom.    HOWEVER . . .

Whilst riding today mostly into the wind along the west bank of the Arkansas River and embarking on the uphill haul that would take me to Turkey Mountain and praying that the hit-and-miss (mostly miss) operation of my worn out Shimano (circa 2001) shifters had just a few more downshifts in them, IT HIT ME, like a large bug between the eyes at 25 mph--

I could have a whole new gruppo, and beyond that


I DO need (or really really want) another decent sized floor loom. 

And I DO NEED, really need, new shifters because the ones I have are just a little past the borrowed time category of worn out and I know very soon they will just stop working and I'll have to move the chain by hand or just ride home in whatever gear I happen to be in when they quit. 

I could just replace the Shimano or Sram it all and go that way.  I'm far from a "performance" rider and rode for YEARS with downtube shifters without complaint so Campagnolo components would be a pure waste on me. 


Thursday, January 26, 2012

California Variegated Mutant . . . Sheep

Or, CVM for short.  Who wouldn't love sheep with that name? 

Just today I got a packet of fiber samples from Marushka Farms.  You probably can't tell by looking at the not-so-swell photo, but the fiber is absolutely luscious. I'm hesitant to share because I know EVERYONE will want this fiber before I get a chance to order.  But, I'll take the chance--here goes: 

 The first photo shows SIX colors of lamb fleece roving taken from the first shearing of these babes and each roving is from a single fleece--a CVM fleece!  

This photo shows five colors of combed top.  Multiple fleeces are blended together in this preparation. 

The colors are so gorgeous, I won't even be tempted to spoil them by having more dying disasters (see earlier post).  And, May is just around the corner so I'll need some especially fine fiber to spin during the RennFaire.  Plus, I'm just really convinced God is gonna stop making sheep, in which case the wool I have on hand probably won't be enough(I haven't decided enough for what exactly, since the winter weather in Oklahoma can't seem to get much colder than 50.  I'm guessing the really awful weather is waiting until May while I'm outdoors trying to spin at the RennFaire).  

There, now that I've completely justified the purchase of YET MORE WOOL, all I have to do is decide how much of which colors I want.  It might take me a day or two to decide, so since I've been nice enough to share don't run out and buy the stuff I want. 

Notice how mature and restrained and non-cliche I was in not noting how long it's been since I've blogged and wondering where all the time went?  Yeah, I'm mature and restrained like that. 

My Tattoo

My Tattoo
A bike chain tattoo, that is It's chain lube ya know