Friday, September 30, 2011

Mechanical Adjustments on the HansenCraft miniSpinner

I found this draft post from earlier this year that I neglected to post.

At the e-spinner retreat in Forks with Judith MacKenzie, Kevin Hansen of HansenCrafts provided some instructions on adjustments for the miniSpinner.

The first has to do with the adjustment to the back of the miniSpinner for noise reduction and looseness of the back plate to hold the bobbin.  Mine was a little loose from its trip to and from Forks so here is the video for the adjustment you can make.
Kevin also showed the brake tension system and demystified the connection.  The knob is free moving and is connected to the spring inside the unit by some braided fishing line.  It is treaded through and around the little metal rod to keep the line from being frayed as well as preventing rubbing on the wood.

There are no knots to be tied and the line to be used to thread the line is a 30 lb monofilament that you can get at a fishing store.

Another area of note is the knob that drives the flyer.
It is possible that if you spin very fluffy, flyaway fiber, some of it may get caught up around this knob.  What you want to do it remove all of the excess fiber that can get caught here.  Kevin recommended using a dental pick which he stated that dental office have tons of that are just sitting around in drawers.  Kevin advised that the next time you are at the dentist, you should ask for one and you will then have a nifty tool to keep your miniSpinner free of problems.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sparkly Roisin

I saw a new pattern for a hooded scarf by Ysolda Teague that was to published in the holiday 2011 edition of Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts and knew that I had to knit it up.

I didn't have the magazine so I had to find it with the pattern and I also needed some yarn for it.

Loopy Yarns in Chicago came to my rescue and I purchased the magazine and a great yarn from Dream In Color called Starry.  It has little flecks of sparkle.
My knitting queue is really long right now and I am still battling the War of the WIPs so casting on will have to wait a bit - if I can hold out!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Dancing Batty

I listen to the Knitabulls video podcast with Diane and she is quite a lot of fun.  Diane decided to do her first knit-a-long and she chose the Dancing Batty shawl which features bats.

I went through my stash and could not find any appropriate yarn and when I was in Chicago at Loopy Yarns, I found this Madelinetosh merino light in the byzantine color way which is perfect.
I did not want to knit with black yarn and this red with black hue would go perfectly with the black beads for the bat eyes.

The knit-a-long starts on October 1 and needs to be finished by October 31, just in time for Halloween.  I can't wait to get it cast on.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Chicago Recap

Adventures in Chicago - it has been almost two years since I have visited the windy city.  I was called back for weapons qualification and some training so I packed up and flew over.  It is a very long flight to be packed in like sardines.

I was able to visit with my friend Bonnie who took me to Santorini in Greek Town.  I ordered lamb of course and Bonnie had chicken.  
The waiter who was very nice comped us an appetizer of saganaki which is a flaming cheese plate.  It was delicious.
We ended the dinner with rice pudding which was also delicious.  I told the waiter they needed to open a restaurant in San Diego.
Bonnie also took me to Loopy Yarns where they were having a 6th anniversary sale so I had to buy some yarn to commemorate my trip.  I also succumbed to a Signature circular needle in US 6.

Work went well (the main reason to travel to Chicago) and I was able to hook up with some staff for information I needed to work my cases and we had our safety briefing.  The next day, we spent most of the day at the range and we all qualified for another year.  Here I am with an MP5.
After a late lunch, I was back on the plane headed for home.  The airport was really festive and they have very good food options.
On the plane headed for home, the cloud formation was like looking at a layer of cotton.
Home safe and sound.  I picked up my babies and we all crashed in our beds.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

On The Hunt for The Elusive Chiao Goo Red Lace Needles

I have been knitting my first pair of socks as I detailed here and here.  I made do with some double point needles when I cast on and fiddled with them for the cuff but it is sort of like wrestling match sticks - I think it is an utter failure and my hands were getting cramps.

For the body of the socks I used a long circular needle in US 4 (3.5 mm) and employed the magic loop method which works great for me and keeps all the stitches on the needles.

So at the end of knitting these socks, I need to undo the waste yarn I placed as a holder for the after thought heel.  
Well, I have decided to buy some needles in US 2 (2.75 mm) for knitting the heels on both these socks and decided to buy a pair of the Chiao Goo Red Lace needles.

They have gotten pretty good reviews and seem to be what I need to finish my first pair of socks but they are very elusive.

I posted on Ravelry in the San Diego Knitter's Thread asking if anyone knew of a local shop that carried them and I went on the hunt.

I went by Yarning for You when someone posted that the store carried them.  I was in luck as well since they opened late the night I went by since they have a knitting group.  I was unsuccessful in acquiring the needles but I met some really great women with excellent skills.

My next stop was Chicago since I was called back to the mother ship for some training and I hit Loopy Yarns and there they were - in little cubbys on the wall.  I snatched them up and ran to the register.

I should have taken my socks along for the ride so I could have maybe finished knitting them on the plane ride back.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

10,000 Page Views

I had not ever considered a count of page views when I started this thing called a blog.

I have been posting entries since that first one back on August 7, 2009.  It only took two years and I have hit the magic number of 10,000 page views.  It is also amazing to me that I have readers from all over the world.

Thanks so much everyone for reading about my little part of the world!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Wolf Pup Scarves

As I previously mentioned, this cute wolf pup loom followed me home from Orange County and I warped it with some handspun yarn from my Avatar spinning project.
Well, the scarf is done and it was so much fun and so easy to use that within an hour another warp was on the loom.  
This warp was from some of the left over Avatar handspun yarn but also had some other merino handspun yarn from who knows where.

It is a great two toned scarf and a bit wider.  This too flew off the loom within a few hours.
Next up was some handspun alpaca yarn from a local ranch in a pattern.
And here is the finished scarf.
Can you tell I'm loving this loom?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Mohair - The Experiment

As long as I have been knitting, I have had a love hate relationship with mohair.  Mohair is from angora goats and while the fiber has luster and softness, my skin just does not like it.

At the last spin get together, I was talking with Lori Lawson of Capistrano Fibers and she stated that she found some mohair that was fabulous and recommended that I try some to see if I had a skin reaction.

So off I went to Eureka Mohair and I ordered two ounces of their mohair locks in a lime rind green color way.  You all know by now that I'm a sucker for anything that is green.
I got a nice message from Allen Mesick stating that he hoped my skin would not react to his mohair.

The package came in the mail and the green locks are beautiful and soft to the touch.  In my package, I also received a gift of some maple syrup mohair with a eucalyptus overdye.  Both samples are very lovely.
Now the ultimate test will be to spin and knit and see what the body has to say....wish me luck!

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Every year on my birthday since I started knitting, I cast on a new project.

This year I saw the Multnomah which is a shawl by Kate Elsa.  The pattern has a beautiful green color as the sample but I dug around my stash and ended using a pink and purple variegated lace merino yarn from Ella Rae that I purchased when I was last in Seattle.

It seems to be a pretty fast knit since it is mostly straight garter stitch with a feather and fan pattern.

Here is the progress so far.
I confess that I'm less than thrilled with the coloring on this shawl.  Last week I went by Yarning for You and they are holding a breast cancer event called Knit for the Cure and are asking for donations of items for sale to benefit the Susan G Komen Foundation.

The deadline for the donated items is November 1 and I'm pretty sure that this will be finished by then and it will probably be donated.

I will need to find another yarn to make another one of these shawls - maybe something in the green color way.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

$5 Challenge

I'm a member of Slow Foods here in San Diego and they have issued a $5 challenge.  The premise is to take back the value meal with a healthy alternative for the 'happy meal.'

I have always considered my home cooked meals value meals since I cook from scratch with fresh ingredients.  It can be done and I'm always amazed when people think that good food is more expensive than fast food.

Back in the day when I worked at USDA with their wonky food pyramid, every summer we would have a challenge for one week to live on the equivalent of what a family on food stamps would receive.  I'm pretty sure that there was a contest in the Fresno Bee newspaper each summer with this challenge.

There was always an argument that the amount of food stamps (a USDA program) was too little to feed a family and Congress should be petitioned to increase the amount to a more realistic figure.  I was always had money left over.

I believe that it is all about education - how to shop, where to shop, and scoping out weekly grocery ads and using coupons.  I'm not even talking about nonmeat options.

Here are a couple of meals at my house broken down.
Elbow pasta with mushrooms and sausage - 
    1 lb package of store brand elbow macaroni - $1.00
    2 links of hot sausage from a package of 5 (16 oz) - $1.20
    1 8 oz package of fresh cremini mushrooms - $3.00
    1 lb 8 oz jar of Ragu pasta sauce - $2.00
Total cost of meal - $7.20

I can get 5 meals out of this recipe which takes each meal down to $1.44.  All of the prices were at the local grocery store using the club card that you get for free.  No additional coupons necessary.  Even if you decide to include the entire package of sausage this would only increase your individual meal cost to $1.80.
Steak with broccoli and rice - 
    1 6 oz sirloin steak - $1.50*
    1 head of broccoli - $1.81
    1 cup of rice - $1.00**
Total cost of meal - $4.31

I guess if you get really fancy ingredients, the cost will increase dramatically, but for everyday meals, food is very inexpensive.  It is a conundrum to me on why people are hungry.  Just my personal take on the cost of food.

I think it is cheaper to make food at home than to eat out at a fast food place, but on occasion, you pay extra for the convenience.  It does take time to prepare meals and I have had times in my life where I cooked all weekend and prepared meals for the rest of the week due to long work hours.  So my view is that it can be done even if you are busy.

So take the challenge and see if you can prepare a delicious meal for $5 today!

* Steak cost was $2.99 per pound at the club price.
** 10 pound bag of rice was $10.00 so I just rounded the cost of 1 cup to $1.00.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Awesome Hexi-Puffs

Lovechild fell in love with the Bee Keeper's Quilt on Ravelry and decided to make one.  That was one of the reasons she bought sock weight yarn from Fluffysgarden and we dyed a bunch of yarn when she visited.

Instead of just knitting puffs, she is now adding artistic touches to them.  I think they are totally awesome - what do you think?
She thinks she has fallen down the rabbit hole...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Mere Update

After spinning and washing the yarn for The Mere, I started knitting the pattern.  After the border, I finished two repeats of 14 of the pattern adding the beads.  It is sort of hard to see in the picture, but the beads add a bit of sparkle but are not jarring to the eye.
You can also see that the border as an almost 3-D effect and I think I will forgo blocking the shawl to keep that cool effect.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Where To Be In a Crisis

I received some sad news that another local yarn store was closing on thursday.  Knitting in La Jolla was one of the first stores I visited when I first started knitting and it was crammed full of lovely stuff.  The parking was not so great, but the stuff inside was wonderful.  I didn't go as often due to the traffic congestion and parking but I'm sad to see another store close.

While I was fondling all of the lovelies and picking up some cashmere, the lights slowly faded and we were soon in the darkness.  Suzanne went out to see what was what and determined that the entire building was out.  That meant no computers and no credit card machines.  I browsed more to my credit detriment while waiting for the power to kick back on....

However, it was soon determined that the power outage was region wide and there was really no point to waiting around anymore and since the air conditioning was off, it was starting to get uncomfortable.

Suzanne was nice enough to tally and bag up my purchases and set it aside until power could be restored and I headed home.  What usually takes about 20 minutes ended up taking about an hour as traffic was snarled everywhere.  The power went out around 3:30 pm and I got home about 6:00 pm.  While most drivers complied with emergency procedures since all stop lights were out, some more aggressive drivers decided not to stop at all or only performed a cursory stop assuming they had the right of way.  I cringe to think of all the fender benders.

As I suspected, power was out at home too and since it was a bit cooler at home, I opened all of the windows for a breeze.  Dinner ended up being a sandwich and it was off to bed as there is not much to do in the darkness.

Power came back on around 3:00 am and the next day, I headed back to Knitting in La Jolla to claim my stash.  Here are some of the items I bought.  I decided to splurge for my birthday.
I have concluded that this could have been so much worst especially with the scepter of 9/11 hovering over us.  I determined that the best place to be in a crisis is at a yarn store where you can be soothed by lovely yarn.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Trader Joe's Linguini with Clam Sauce

I dug around my freezer and happened upon a frozen entree from Trader Joe's of Linguini with Clam Sauce.
I was craving some noodles so I took it out of the freezer and pulled out a saute pan and poured out the contents.

The noodles were nicely organized as nests and the instructions stated to space out the nests and then pour over the rest of the contents.
After 2 minutes, the noodles were to be turned over and cooked for another few minutes and once the noodles were cooking through, then the entree was ready to serve.
I found that the dish was a little dry so maybe if I purchase this again, I will need to add some water.  It is missing the creamy taste that I equate with clam sauce but overall it hit the craving spot.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Lily's Shawl

A while back, I had purchased a kit from Just Our Yarn called the Lily's Shawl.  The kit came with 1000 yards of yarn, matching beads, a crochet hook for the beads, and the pattern.
It has sat in the cupboard for a while and I decided that there are not enough WIPs in the house so I cast on.

The fiber is a beautiful purple blue color in tencel called Almaza.  I cast on provisionally and knit through two repeats of the lace pattern.
It wil be lovely when it is all blocked out.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Bosnian Sock 1 Complete San Heel

At last reporting, the bosnian sock I was knitting as part of the Craftsy online class was moving forward.

I can now report that the first sock is done except for the heel.
The cuff is knit only with one strand of yarn and in a 2x2 ribbing.  I was a little concerned that after all the double stranding of yarn on the body of the sock, the cuff would be too light weight but it seems to be fine.

I decided to start knitting the second sock before tackling both heels at the same time.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Storing Knitting Tools

I am a sucker for bags and compartments and organization.  When I was a kid, my favorite thing to do was to go to the office supply store and look at everything.  I confess I still do this sometimes.

Anyways, my friend Lovechild knows about my secret love of containerization.  I think she and I are in the same club.  When she visited, we had to go to the Container Store to check out all the cool storage items.

She brought me two cool accessories to store my knitting tools.  I have gone through a few iterations looking for the right thing but she is a genius and found something small and compact for storage.

First is the box of little compartments.
Second is the cool zip bag that will stand up with tools.

I can fit the first into the second and am ready to go forth and knit in public with all the tools I need.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Warped Weekend

I spent the holiday weekend hovering over my looms...yes that is plural.

The first project was another Aloha Scarf on my Eolia loom.  I still had enough yarn left over to make one more scarf.
Next I warped a new pattern called Color and Weave Dishtowels on my Ashford 8 shaft table loom.  I think after weaving a bit, I will probably regret that it is not a floor loom with treadles.  Using my hands to manipulate the shafts will probably get tiresome.
Val requested the Greta towels for her house warming gift for her new home in Colorado so she selected the yarn colors and I warped that on the LeClerc Artistat.
Then for the Wolf Pup loom that followed me home from Orange County, I warped it with the last scarf from the Avatar spinning project.  I had posted about the spin theme and the contest.  The previous two scarves I wove were sold and I have enough left over for one more.
Lots of weaving for September.

The weather was crazy as it rained on the holiday but stayed cool.  It seems like winter has hit already after an almost non-existent summer.  I was able to spend some time volunteering at the library and wash a couple loads of laundry, but the banana bread baking and weed pulling went by the way side.  

It took quite a bit of time over the weekend to wind the warp and dress the looms.  I'm hoping that as time goes on, it becomes easier and faster.  

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Basic Sock Revisited

As I have posted in the past month, I have been taking a sock knitting class from Craftsy.

I have made significant progress and placed the waste yarn for the after thought heel.  I decided that I would pull out the basic socks and see what was going on when I stopped.
I determined that the increase in the gusset was not smooth and there were a couple of stitches missing so I tried to tink back and use the after thought heel instead of the gusset increase with a heel flap.

Well that was a dismal failure and I ended up frogging the entire mess and re-skeining the yarn to be washed and dried to remove all the kinks in the yarn.

I went into my stash cupboard and pulled out one of the skeins of Online Supersocke 100 in the Indian color way.  I weighed the skein and came up with 102 grams.

After winding 51 grams onto the ball winder, I started a new pair of basic socks.
I was careful to start both socks at the same color place on the yarn so they should be very similar as I'm knitting them toe up two at a time on magic loop.

I used Judy Becker's Magic Cast on with 16 stitches each sock and used Cat Bordhi's increase to get up to the 60 stitches for my sock.  After that it should be mindless knitting until the waste yarn for the after thought heel, more mindless knitting until the sock is long enough for the cuff.

This sock will go into my new sock project bag I posted about yesterday.