Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Mere Yarn

As I posted here about my new spinning project, it was a very productive weekend for crafting.

I plied a lace weight yarn for The Mere shawl and it is a lovely blue gray color.  The first 2 ounces resulted in 368 yards with 20 wpi.
I'm patiently (drumming fingers against the desk) waiting for the beads to arrive already so I can start knitting.

I guess I can spin some more yarn so I won't have to stop knitting when the beads come....

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Barad Dur Redux

At the end of May, I finished my first attempt at knitting the Barad Dur shawl.

That shawl turned out well and flew out of the closet as a gift.  Since I had another color of the same yarn that I used, I decided to knit another one.

The knitting went much faster this time as I had already made all my changes on the pattern from the first time.

After blocking:
Another battle in the War of WIPs conquered.  I'm lifting up my needles in preparation for the next skirmish.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Bosnian Sock Update

Following along with my Craftsy sock knitting class, I have made progress with my sock.

I was totally defeated by the double point needles and had to break down and use my 40" circular needles for the magic loop method.

The sock is very thick and a little big but pretty.  I probably should have stuck to the size medium, but since the sock is so thick, I will be wearing them around the house as slippers.
There was a little error on the instruction sheet for the Make 1 stitch.  The correct terminology is in bold.

Make 1 (M):  Insert the left needle from front to back into the bar between the stitches on the right and left needles.  Knit this through the back loop to twist it so it doesn't create a hole.

Next up is the after thought heel waste yarn row after knitting 7.5" of the sock.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Lanikai Bikini Battle

Another update on the War of the WIPs....I watched an episode of Knitty Gritty on the DIY network back in September 2007.  The episode included a bikini and a sarong.  The bikini pattern is called the Lanikai bikini and the designer is Tina Whitmore.  I was really taken with the idea of a knitted bikini but I don't think I ever really considered wearing one.

So I gathered some Cascade Fixation yarn made of cotton and elastic and started knitting.

Significant progress was made on the bikini and for whatever reason, the knitting stopped and the project went into the closet.

When I pulled out all of the WIPs in the closet, this one came with.  This was the progress I had made.
All I really needed to do was to finish the back of the bikini bottom and knit the I-cord to finish.

Here is the finished project.
I'm still not sure what I'm going to do with it.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

New Spinning Project

I received my latest pattern in the Two Towers series from Sunflower Designs and decided to spin the lace weight yarn for it.

The Mere is an organic stole in beaded lace and is based on "The Mere of Dead Faces" where Frodo and Sam cross on their way to Mordor.

I have some merino/silk 70/30 Ashland Bay fiber in the MacKensie color way.
I have 8/0 Noir Lined Crystal AB Miyuki seed beads on order from a sale at Goody Beads.

I'm spinning this lace yarn on my Matchless that has been neglected for a while. Here is the first ounce of singles.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Frango Chocolates

The first time I went to Chicago, one of my co-workers took me to Macy's on the magnificent mile where I had a sample of Frango Chocolate mints.  The samples were not mini pieces either.  You actually got one entire mint!

I think these are the best chocolates I have ever tasted and every time I go to Chicago, I stop by Macy's and buy a box or two.

Due to travel budget constrictions, I have not been back to Chicago since the beginning of 2010.  It has been a long drought for me on Frangos so when my boss informed me he was coming out for a review, I begged for chocolate.  Here is my boss getting puppy love.
I have a great boss and he purchased and transferred two boxes of chocolate for me - dark chocolate mint and dark chocolate.  These boxes should last for quite a while.
If you have a chance to visit the windy city, you have to try them out if you are a chocolate lover.  They are the perfect after dinner bite.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Craftsy Sock Update

As I reported here, I signed up for an online sock knitting class.  I bought some Knit Picks yarn to knit the Bosnian Slipper socks.

I think the contrast will work out will with the greenish color way called Rainforest Heather and natural.
Following the instructions for the Bosnian toe, I cast on and knit the square by using a variation of the I-cord.
I then picked up the stitches all around for a total of 48 stitches.
I then ran into a problem as the color work chart for the medium size (which is close to the measurements I took of my foot) is off by 2 stitches - one stitch on each side.

After posting a question on Craftsy, it appears that there is an error with the color work pattern and Donna Druchunas recommended just picking up 2 less stitches.  I'm now concerned that this will make the sock even smaller and might not fit my foot which was going to be a tight fit as it was, so I think I may just knit the large size instead.

I also seem to be missing one of the double point needles in the size I need and I put a call out to my knitting peep and she will be loaning me a set of needles to work on these socks.

I also bought a knit kit specifically for sock knitting.  It is a really cool compact tool that I can throw in with my sock yarn and needles.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Fondle This! June Project Battle

So back in 2010, I had joined the Fondle This! spin/knit club where Spinning Bunny sent out a package from January to October with fiber and a pattern.

It is now August 2011, and I still have some of these packages that are not completed let alone started.  Somehow I have lagged way behind hence I'm not participating for 2011.  I think I will never tie myself to another "club" like endeavor because I now can't stand the pressure.

Anyways, as part of my War of WIPs I undertook to clear out some space in my closet (where I will be able to store more fiber and yarn instead of these pesky unfinished items), I pulled out the excess yarn ball from the June package where I received 5 ounces of Falkland fiber dyed in the Evening Star color way.  The pattern that came with the fiber was for the Cuddly Hat pattern, which I did knit.  
Since I had such a large amount of left over yarn, I decided to make the Maine Morning Mitts from Clara Parkes' The Knitter's Book of Yarn.  It started quite a while ago and just sat around with half a one cuff done.

Well I battled and was able to finish the mitts.  I'm glad I won that round.  Onto the next battle in my effort to win the war.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Dyeing Behind Lovechild's Back

My friend Lovechild decided to make the BeeKeepers quilt and since she does not knit socks, she really does not have enough sock weight yarn.

She purchased a "ton" of fingering weight yarn (made of wool, bamboo, and nylon) from my fiber pusher, Fluffysgarden, which was delivered to me this weekend.

Since I was doing some indigo dyeing, I snuck a skein of her nice clean bare yarn into the dye bath.

After one rinse:

After a vinegar rinse and multiple rinses where the dye exhausted:
Lovely if I do say so myself.

She will be here this weekend to do more dyeing.....and with another shipment of yarn.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Indigo Dyeing

At spin group this weekend, Juliblue got out her indigo dye kit and set every thing up in the front yard.  It was a beautiful day with sun and our usual San Diego weather.

I have a pair of jeans that I purchased a number of years ago and it was not really dark blue to begin with, but it has since lightened up significantly due to normal wash and wear.
The first step is to soak it thoroughly (for maybe an hour).
We then squeezed out the excess water and slowly lowered it into the dye vat.
The pants sat in the bath for about an hour and then we pulled them out and hung them up for a while.  It was cool to see the jeans come out of the bath as a green shade and then slowly turn blue.
Juliblue then put it in the dye bath a second time and after another 30 minutes or so, pulled it out and laid them on some plastic on the lawn.  We also dyed a pair her husband's jeans so both came out of two soakings about the same color.

In the washer they went by themselves where they were rinsed and spun.

After a regular wash and dry cycle, here are the results.
The jeans are a bit darker and it is really noticeable where the fabric has worn as those spots are still white.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Craftsy - Knit Sock Workshop

My spin bud, Juliblue, sent me a link for a special deal on an on-line sock knitting class.  She had previously tried to teach me how to knit socks and those socks are in a time out (see War the WIPs).

So I clicked on the link to Craftsy.  It is an ingenious idea and I went ahead and ordered this class.  It is taught by Donna Druchunas and it takes you through basic sock knitting methodology with two socks patterns to be knit - a lace knee high sock and a color work calf sock.

The great thing about this class is that even though it is not "live" with live chat, you can ask questions in each segment and there is a place to leave notes for yourself.  Whenever you watch the class and ask questions, Donna is right there to respond to your questions.  The class never expires and you can review it as many times as you need to.  I recommend watching the whole class through at full screen (in high definition) and then re-watch with needles and yarn in hand.  

I just started watching and it looks like Donna is great at explaining and showing the how-tos.  I need to order some yarn to start the socks.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Dollar Coins in the Wild

I listen to the NPR: Planet Money podcast as it has great stories that are easily understandable about money and the economy.  A few weeks ago, I listened to this story - Ecuador Needs Your Dollar Coins.  It was very interesting since I only knew about the Sacagawea coins but had not seen these in person.  As the story continued, I found that the U.S. Mint has been minted new dollar coins following the presidential order - Rutherford Hayes just minted this month.

Shortly after hearing that story, I was in a parking lot in Orange County with one of those pay kiosks.  I think the fee was $4.00 but I only had a $5.00 bill.  When I put the bill in, the machine did some weird rattling and then switched to Spanish before returning one of these dollar coins as change.

I carried this coin around for a while and recently used it to pay for some postage at the U.S. Post Office.

The next thing that happened was a follow up story at NPR: Planet Money called Dollar Coins in the Wild.  I thought it would be cool to see what happens when you release coins around in the normal course of business.  I remember in Junior High School science when we released balloons with notes to see if we ever got a reply and from how far away the reply came.  Sad to say that none of my notes got any responses.

So I logged onto the U.S. Mint site - it was too late to take advantage of the credit card miles since they changed their policy to only accepting checks.  Off my check went and the coins I ordered were of Abraham Lincoln.

It took a few weeks of processing and the box arrived at my door step in a non-discript brown package.  Here are the coins in their pristine condition.
I'm going to start keeping track of where I spend these babies.  It is too bad I can't track where they will end up.

*Purchase quantity is one batch of 10 rolls of 25 $1.00 coins.  Shipping is free.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Cashmere Dimma

When I was at Black Sheep Gathering, I took a class on spinning cashmere (which is now my favorite fiber).  After finishing spinning all the samples and adding a ply of merino/cashmere during Tour de Fleece, I decided to knit a scarf using the yarn.

I finished knitting Dimma and it is very soft.  I really like the changes in the colors as the samples are changing.

Monday, August 15, 2011


At spin group this weekend, I was able to start and finish spinning some lace weight singles of the purple merino/silk blend that I discussed here.  I wound the first ounce off on a storage bobbin.  I got my spin mojo back I'm happy to say.
I also bought some llama roving from one of the local llama farms.  I had previously spun some llama roving from this farm a few years back at the Del Mar Fair.  It was lovely stuff and I tagged it for a hat project on my hairpin lace loom. That project is in the War of WIPs that is currently being waged.
I got 4 ounces of Bardo's Garcilaso llama fiber with Tussah silk and Merino Wool for $4/ounce.  It is soft and squishy.
I also got 4 ounces of Bueno Chico llama and merino wool with Bombyx silk.  The silk strands are a light pinkish color and the llama is a very light tan, almost a cream color.  This was a bit more at $5/ounce.
Even though I really don't need anymore fiber, I couldn't resist supporting a local fiber source.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Winning Prizes from Tour de Fleece

As I proclaimed last month, I won prizes in two categories during Tour de Fleece.

I got my prizes and the first is about 4 ounces of dyed fiber of unknown origin in a pretty red and purple color way.
I also got a gift from HansenCrafts.  It is a zipper pull and it was wrapped in some drafting paper with some hand writing.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Farewell and Enchiladas?

Today is sort of a sad day for me and probably a happy/hectic day for Val.  This morning she is on her way to her new life in Colorado.  Last night, she arrived with her sister and the two kitties who are beyond traumatized.  There were last minute errands to run before leaving San Diego so her sister and I made enchiladas with Terri's famous recipe (throw in everything you want and make it work).

The key is to start with enchilada sauce (green and/or red), warm corn tortillas, green chiles, and cheese.  I added grilled chicken slices and taco seasoned ground turkey, cilantro, onions, and jalapenos.

Here is the method for wrapping.
The enchiladas are crammed into the pan (9" pan will hold about 8 crammed together) then covered with enchilada sauce and cheese.

We cooked one of the pans to eat for dinner and I was able to make two additional pans before I ran out of tortillas.  When Terri saw I only bought 30, she gave me a pitying look and said it wasn't worth starting a project until you have at least 90 tortillas.  I had left over ingredients so I will be off to the grocery to pick up some more stuff.

It was early to bed for everyone and this morning saw the drugging of cats for the long drive to St. George for the first leg of the trip.

The cars are packed to capacity.
Here is the transfer of the cats to the BIG carrier where they will have room to move around.
Here are the final photos of Val, the soon-to-be non-resident of California.
I'm glad I have spin group today to keep my mind off being sad today.....