Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve Business

Well, here it is, the day before the new year.  And here is my resolution:

I will not buy new yarn all year.  I will be shopping from my stash - both for yarn and fabric, I expect.  I don't know how long it will last, but hopefully, I'll be spinning more.

I've also joined a Craft-along on Craftster about doing 50 projects in the course of the year.

Here's the list, which I'm sure will be revisited often!

1. spin purple/red sock yarn
2. spin yellow/orange yarn
3. spin green/black yarn

4. crochet wagon wheel bag
5. pink woven scarf
6. giant pinwoven wallhanging for baby's room
7. cat quilt
8. rainbow bag
9. hat for myself

in the queue:
10. make lap loom
11. sun and moon modpodge screens for screen printing

12. two or three abstract screens for screen printing
13. scarf for baby
14. skirt for older child
15. decoupage boring spindle(s)
16. woven creature with pile technique
17. mitten pattern for size 2 needles (& resultant mittens) 2-3 pairs?
18. worsted weight linen stitch mittens from scrap yarns
19. mittens from silk/wool yarn
20. mittens from pink yarn
21. turquoise socks
22. mittens from purple yarn
23. rainbow lace socks
24. spin up lots of brown/blue batts - weave into army of creatures
25. comb and spin romney yarn
26. comb and spin lincoln locks
27. weavette scarf
28. ghost screen for screen printing
29. rag rug (or 3)
30. spin up orange roving and make into mittens (what else?)
31. spin up remains of Shetland fleece
32. tiger screen for screen printing
33. dye yardage

new/resurfacing ideas:
34. pouch for business cards
35. use new placemat loom (!)
36. paper making
37. dishtowels
38. dpn storage
39. felted sweaters into stuffies
40. portable knitting kit
41. green child sweater
42. red roving rug
43. knitting project bag
44. weave kitchen curtains
45. scarf loom
46. beaded santa kit
47. crochet snowmen
48. upcycle green sweaters into christmas trees
49. dye silk scarf
50. redo sewing room

Some of that has been on the list for years, so.... not sure it will happen now. I'm only surprised there is so little sock knitting!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Crafts - Part 2 - shirts

These were made for my nieces and nephew.

purple, green shirt with alligators

Printed, eyes waxed, then stitched shibori style, then dyed green, unstitched, soy wax applied to alligators, and finally dyed with a light purple.

green shirt with slug
same basic process, except overdyeing color was blue.

pink ladybug shirt

Waxed eyes, then shibori stitching, then pink dye.  It didn't get a second color because the shibori was too good at keeping the dye out...

These are prints of my own design.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Crafts - Part 1

lion toy
growl... roar!
I didn't do much Christmas crafting this year; my parents and a few others decided not to exchange gifts, much to the relief and surprise of me and my sisters.  And it has cut down a great deal on what I had to do, my initial list was much more complicated...

First - the knit and crocheted items:

Mario Brother's Mushroom
dee dee dee...

The pattern is here. Mine is much larger, I've added rows (basically I crocheted three rows for every two in the pattern) and increase it to about 100 stitches around at the widest point.

lion toy

This lion was for my youngest child.  I started the mane three times, and swore that if the third did not work out, I'd do it with crochet, but I managed it at last.

The pattern's ravelry page is here. But I am not really recommending the pattern... it's alright, but I went my own way with the face. And the ears are too big!  Also, the back of the head looks a bit- under designed.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve dessert

Every year I intend to do a Buche de Noel.  I'm not certain I manage often.  There was one last year, and I at least remember making it at my mother-in-law's house one Christmas when both I and my sister-in-law were pregnant (with our respective elder children)... and carting the recipe to Texas, but being stymied by the lack of jelly roll pans.

This tradition is a French one, an idea I caught a passion for in French class (perhaps the only thing that remains with me from French class...)

At any rate, one bakes a flat cake - my recipe is basically a sort of meringue - the cake is only eggs and sugar with cocoa powder and vanilla, and then one puts a layer of flavored whipped cream in, roll it up, then ice it.

Buche de Noel (yule log cake)
you have labored to produce...

Technically, it should look realistic, but while I puzzle and sweat over the notion for a few days beforehand, in the end, I just dye some coconut green for moss, and make lines in the frosting with a fork, and sprinkle sugar over it (this one has four colors of fancy sugar, plus powdered sugar on it, plus snowflake shaped sugar decorations).

same, after dessert
Merry Christmas to All!  And to all, lots of sweets.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Close encounters of the clawed kind

My family and I went out of town last weekend to see more family before Christmas.

My aunt and uncle always have at least three, generally two (large) dogs and a cat; but these days, there are two dogs and two cats.  The cats are siblings, and just around a year old; a male and a female.  Skinny little shy things, and you'd hardly notice they were there, most of the time.

Unless you're a knitter and you leave your knitting bag unattended.  And, say, go to bed.


I was working on a pair of fingerless gloves, as it is a quick, small project - perfect for travel, and I use my size 3 dpns, of which I have two sets, which I like to keep together.  I had one glove mostly completed, attached to the ball of yarn.

In the morning, the yarn was broken into a few balls, and sitting on the kitchen table, having been gathered from the far corners of the house by my aunt and uncle, and not only that, two of the needles were chewed straight through!

The glove itself was in fairly good shape, and once I was sure all the stitches were there, and had substituted new needles for the broken ones, I packed the bag up again, and put it somewhere so I could have breakfast. Two minutes after that, a cat went over to it and stuck its head in.  :P

My aunt, somehow, is no longer doing much knitting... she's had to throw away skeins and skeins of yarn due to tangles beyond human patience.  They wait until no one is looking and steal yarn and then drag it to the basement, and chase it about.  And it doesn't matter if you button up your bag (which I did!) because they just ooze in around the sides.

I locked my bag in the suitcase that night.  And I was able to keep knitting (whew!), because I did have those extra needles, though they are not so extra now... I've only two of my original hardwood needles left and I'm too rattled to use them. (The two that were broken were hardwood ones, the bamboo needles were untouched.)

I also, apparently, need a new more catproof knitting bag.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Crafts of the Past -handspun handknit socks

Spinning has been much on my mind, as I've been trying to find time to do it (hopefully, Christmas crafting will soon be over!) And what I've been spinning, recently, is superwash merino.  So.  Here's the result of the first handspun superwash merino I ever spun.


Also, the first socks I ever knit, strange to think that it isn't something I've always done.  The puzzling thing, though, is that although I spun up just 4 oz of the stuff I had enough for just about two pairs of socks!  I have spun more yarn for socks... with in the last year or so, but I have not yet sat down to knit it (them?).

The colorway is (was?) Waterspout from Sakina Needles.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Crafts of the Past - beaded pin

The thing I loved about craft swaps was the freedom to experiment.  The thing I hated about craft swaps was just about everything else.  So, I don't do them anymore.  And everything is fine.  But as I was downloading pictures from my old blog hosting thing (I'm no longer going to pay for it, so I may lose picture hosting?) and uploading everything relevant to Craftster.org and then relinking all the pictures to their new urls (alright, that sentence is not accurate, but you get the picture, yeah?) for hours, I found this little gem, which apparently, I never even posted a picture of...

the word knit inside a heart
knit = love

That pretty much sums up my opinions on the subject.  Made on a bead loom, sewn to some sort of backing, I guess, with a pin.  My memory is foggy!

Also, I apparently haven't posted to Craftster in like 9 months?  so crazy, Craftster was my life for a long time.  Then again, my baby is 9 months old.  A coincidence? Maybe... not.  :)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tis the season to ask oneself what one wants

Christmas list!

Placemat Loom from CraftSanity
- and hey, she's got a 12" square loom, I wouldn't mind owning. :D
Crochet hooks in sizes F and G
fancy pretty drop spindle (top whorl only, please.)
(Even if you don't spin, go ahead and look, some are just jaw-dropping!)

I could do with a few more bobbins for my Majacraft Suzy
I'd like to get a sample of California Red, Masham, and/or Polwarth wool for spinning (all available from the Spinning Loft)
I'd like a flick carder
Also: dude we were totally discussing how to build this contraption that one time!  And it's the first one I've seen that I'm not fainting over the price.  :P

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

still more shirts!

Just got these out of the dryer.  Some well timed naps got me to where I am, also, soy wax totally comes out with hot water and soap!  So, you can skip the "wait for the shirt to dry and then iron out the wax" steps!  And do the whole thing in like two days!  Or one day if you get up early enough.

OMG I want to marry soy wax...

Anyway, the picture:

blue shirts
batik on the left and shibori on the right

Left shirt was low water immersion dyed a light green color, then I used a stencil borrowed (with permission) from my child's preschool to do the snowflakes, the dots were done with a brush and the top of a spice bottle.  The right is just stitched shibori.  I was considering adding a print on top, but I like the look... for now, I could always go back, yeah?

More shirts!

I've got two in the dye bath now, I'm hoping to finish them before we go to Texas on Thursday, but that time line may be a bit ambitious... with two little kids underfoot.

red shibori shirts
the color's not right! they are red!

These are 7-8 rings of stitching in half-circles (the shirt is folded in half for dyeing) 2 rings pulled tight, dyed yellow, 2 rings pulled tight, dyed yellow orange, 2 rings pulled tight, dyed orange,  the last rings pulled tight, then plunged into red.  It sounds simple but it took weeks!  Also: I should stop taking pictures in my basement at night. :P

low water immersion dyed shirts
low water immersion dyed shirts + batik-style wax resists

The guy on the left was designed by my elder daughter.  The white eyes and squares on the pink shirt are Soy wax, which is awesome!  It melts at a low temp (for wax) and comes out easy.  They say you can get it out with just hot water and soap, but I've been ironing it out before washing, so I can't say if that's true.  Very excited with the mottled look of the low water immersion dyeing!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

new shoes!

actually, they're not new.  I got them a while back, but have been waiting to break them out until I was fairly sure the baby had stopped spitting up over everything. (sigh)

new shoes
new shoes!

The shoelaces were dyed by me, dyed yellow orange and over-dyed with a hot pink.  Not as awesome as I'd hoped, but I think it works nicely with the shoes.  Understated.

I finally broke them out yesterday as part of my "working at the sale" ensemble.  The sale went alright.  I sold more than I feared, though less than I hoped, but I suppose that's always the way.   At least I spent less money than I made. :D

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Crafts of the Past: Curtains!

As I'm making new screens, my thoughts drift back to the old.

I made a set of curtains for my elder daughter's room  before she was born. Printed on white cotton fabric, then colored in with crayons, and then the crayons melted via iron. Very simple, but neat.

hand printed curtains
still makes me smile

close up of same
close up of same.

I also made several onesies (?) with the same designs of which I think we only had one left when second daughter arrived.  You may recognize the snail from "Yellow" a few days back.

Recent work

I posted a few more woven animals to the gallery, as well as several pairs of fingerless gloves (but more on those later!)

The snowman:
oh, sweetie!

His scarf is crocheted, the brim of his hat is unspun mohair. And I adore him!

The chipmunk:

I don't know about you guys, but our house is menaced by a very possessive chipmunk, who stands on our porch for hours and chirps, so I suppose I could never have made a cute chipmunk.

Anyway, they will be for sale on November 13th!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

In lieu of progress

I've been playing the long game, which isn't a great idea (ask my bank balance!) but means I've been doing some fiber reactive dyeing. For the first time ever. I'm not entirely clear on many aspects of it yet, but I think I've mastered solid color tub dyeing.

So, I present: Yellow!

yellow shirts

These got thrown in because why waste a half-used dye-bath? The stamps and stencils are old, and so were my fabric paints. New paints are on order, new stamps and stencils are underway...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fiber Expo!

Today we went to Fiber Expo with some friends.  That was us, the group with the four little kids!  ;) We like to look at all the animals.

Anyway, it was awesome, though I never get to browse as long I'd like, I even managed to purchase some things, though not everything on my list.

My list: small lap looms - under 6" - (didn't see any), wool yarn for warp I could dye (lots of choices but nothing was perfect), and Michigan sourced dyeable roving (I got some! a BFL/coopworth blend.)

I also got some jewel toned locks of long wool, and some black striped roving (2 oz each, orange and teal).

roving and locks
mine mine mine

And now, this is the part of the show where I feature some vendors I thought worth seeking out:

Color Bug Yarns I loved three colorways, and being unable to choose, I ended up not buying anything! :(

Bricolage Studios Her yarn and jewelry are amazing. Also, she shared a booth with the excellent Hands and Notions, from whom I bought some fiber at Maker Faire this summer.

Happy Fuzzy Yarn. Very cool stuff, lots of hand dyeing.

The Counting Sheep Farm Carded batts and hand-dyed fiber.

Friday, October 22, 2010

on roving presentation

When I started in this business (well, that sounds silly! I still feel like I'm starting in this business) I thought that braiding roving was the way to present it for sale.

But a friend set me on the path of using the crochet chain method instead, and I've not looked back.  First of all, it's easier!  Instead of holding three strands for the braid, you only have to work with one.

But, compare this same piece of roving done up both ways.


roving in a braid


roving in a chain

Apart from the convenience from my point of view, it's easier to undo as well.  It also shows the how the piece was dyed.  For instance, this particular roving progresses from blue/green to pink/purple, but when it's in a braid, you can't tell that.  Also, it's a more compressed form, so that you can store more roving in the same place (which is important for me; I'm a bit of a roving hoarder).

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Dyed and Carded

First, the carded batts. I finished up carding up my spare merino rovings; I had some (most dyed myself, but one or two purchased) that I was subsequently less than happy with, and I broke them up and carded them... and I just did this week the last 10 oz of that, 4 oz into a rainbow batt (well, pink to blue), below:

rainbow batt
it's a shade of red that refuses to photograph!

And 6 oz into 2 batts each of these fall colors (somehow, it was most brown and yellow left over, and the other is that same red and pink as in the rainbow):

three batts
well, the color isn't right. :P

Although, they look better than the picture suggests, they're not the world's most appealing things, however, I am planning on using them; I'm just debating how.

Plan A is to divide the batts into quarters, then each quarter in thirds, and for one ply spin 3 red, 3 yellow, 3 brown (4 times) and the second ply spin 2 red, 3 yellow, 3 brown, then 3 red, 3 yellow, 3 brown, and tack the last red on the end.  Plan B is to divide the batt into eighths and spin one ply 2 red, 2 yellow, 2 brown (etc) and spin the other 1 red, 2 yellow, 2 brown, 2 red, etc... 1 red.  Yeah.

Most exciting is this falkland roving I dyed a few days ago.

falkland roving, green and purple
everything's coming up irises!

It's not a new technique, but not one I'd done before.  I made the roving into a spiral in a roasting pan and poured the dye on.  I didn't have the water hot enough to start so there was a bit more spreading than I'd hoped, but I'm fairly happy with it.

In effect, it means there are larger areas of dye on one end then at the other, but the same colors are throughout.  Although the roving is in a crochet chain for easier handling, you can see that better here:

roving, laid flat
purple side = center, green = outside edge

I can only say that this only reinforces my desire to do more dyeing, especially as my neglected dye stocks are getting weird. (They're gelling, I think is the term.  It goes away when they are warmed up, but still, it's odd).

Also, I need to find more time to spin.  Hopefully after this week I can start to work it in.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Crafts of the Past - Blue Hat!

I'm just featuring this because I found a neat picture of the yarn on my old blog:

blue yarn with teeth
artistic, no?

That is a cast of my teeth before I had braces.  Also, this is apparently the first yarn I spun on my current spinning wheel, so, that neat, too.

I dyed 4 oz of superwash/nylon roving, half light blue, half dark blue.  The colors were carded together so they sat side by side in batts:


Then the batts were unrolled stretched out into a roving like substance, so the colors still were side by side.  Then spun and made into the two ply yarn above.

Then knit with my go to pattern for hats: Jared Flood's Turn a Square.

blue hat
well, it's a bit big on me.

And, this shows you the neat shaping details of the decreases.  These details really show up best with stripes, for which the pattern was designed.

flat hat
you see the square?

This was made in the fall of last year, so I'm not going to reminisce much about that time in my life!  This hat became a Christmas present, and I haven't seen it since.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Pathology of Photography

I don't know how anyone else feels about their digital camera, but let me sum up my emotions thusly:

car wreck!
car wreck!

We bought the camera roughly 15 months ago, after the old one broke.  It has about 1000 pictures on it, all of them family photos (I tend to deal more promptly with the craft related stuff).  That's roughly two pictures a day (and I've deleted some!)  But what I haven't done is the usual sort and save and delete off the camera, and now it has become a task of Herculean proportions.  And yet not pressing, as there is still room for 3500 more pictures on the memory card...

So, I have two children.  For nearly the first three years of the first's life (let's call her B) I meticulously curated the museum of her photographs.  Then I lost my job*, and now, as I spend most of my time with her, I no longer relish the idea of spending my free time combing through her archives, or those of her baby sister, A, with whom I spend even more time.

Which makes part of me long for the old days and the expense and inconvenience of film camera, at least for family photos.

Of course, this does make me feel guilty!  To be the parent rebelling against the system!  But I do take pictures, I just don't look at them afterward.  And according to my calculations, it'll take 4 years to fill up the the memory card, so I have plenty of time to procrastinate.

But, there is, of course, much to be said for being able to take hundreds of pictures.  Not having to settle for out of focus or extremely washed out or people making weird faces because now you can take 10 pictures where you used to only take one.

There is the unexpected joy when an experimental shot pays off:

birthday cupcake

There is the odd picture that says so much about someone's personality, taken while you were waiting for the subjects to take the task of being photographed seriously:

kid and bird
will no one look at the camera?

And there is the fact that being a craftsperson or a knitwear designer in this age means having and using one's digital camera.   Sigh.

* I didn't lose my job, it was taken from me...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Crafts of the Past: Hand at the level of the eye of your needle...

Here is a treasure of my childhood!  He has a place of honor in my jewelry display (which involves monkeys!).  My jewelry is much more displayed than ever worn, I regret, I'm not that kind of girl!
the phantom of the opera

I'll admit, like many girls of my time, in our early teens in the early 90s, that I had a thing for Phantom of the Opera.  That was back, long ago, before we had the Internet (I guess, it was around, but WE didn't have it) and before werewolves and vampires started appearing together in books and/or movies.  Also, before wizards were being educated at boarding schools.  So, what choice did we have but Phantom?

I've even seen the show!  I suppose that helps.  There was a timely marching band show rendition of the musical, not our school but a rival, and dude....  I listened to the soundtrack constantly (even branched out to Cats, I shudder to remember), had a book with pictures and the score, even made a Phantom themed cross-stitch sampler that I was horribly embarrassed by months after finishing, but now I sort of wish I still had.

It is, however, likely that my sister made this particular guy, he's a pin, made from sparkly scrap fabric left over from a witch's cloak from a Halloween costume.  The rose came from the little independent craft store, one of the few shops in town we could walk to, apart from the gas station.  They seemed to specialize in plastic doll parts, from what I can recall.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

To dream, perhaps to spin

On a day like today, which was the Spinner's Flock Guild's Fleece Fair, at which I incidentally increased my roving supply, I thought I'd share my to be spun pile (mostly dyed by me and all done on my drum carder):

A. sock batts (superwash wool with nylon)

semi rainbow sock batt
too pretty to spin?

B.yellow & green with a touch of violet, merino - the third in a series of green toned batts, created one day when I was staring at a number of merino rovings I didn't like, and thought - hey, why don't I separate the colors and mix them up?  The other two were more successful....

yellow merino batt
it's just as horrible in real life!

C. Superwash wool with glitz, my most recent carding effort.

yellow and orange batts
orange = love

The current project hasn't been photographed yet...

Monday, September 13, 2010

First post and up to no good

I don't have a lot to say today, but that it's in the middle of that monthly fiber week where all the guild meetings line up like the planets in a fairy tale involving astrology.  (You know the ones!)  So.  I've a month to line up stuff for sale at the Ann Arbor FiberArts Holiday sale, and two months to do for the Black Sheep guild, and it may very well end up that I have four things for sale at both.

Last night taught me I still have a lot of product development work to do, and I guess I  just have to live with that.  However, lying in bed I had an idea that may fix the current issue and not cost me more money, so, that's cool.  Sorry to be cryptic!

Anyway, the blog seems to work!  So.  I'm hoping to take some pictures soon for a blog post on spinning.