Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Best deal ever

So I've started my spinning expedition (pictures later...too lazy) and it's going pretty well. I read and read and then went to A Tangled Skein's monthly Sit n Spin, where I felt both part of the community and an outsider at the same time. Some would knit in between spinning and talk knitting terms, but then all of a sudden I would hear strange words like "draft" etc and would have to look them up briefly in the dictionary in my head. I sat there quiet for a while spinning nervously, as I hadn't manipulated roving around a spindle in about a year. I felt like a novice knitter. Whenever I made a mistake like a break in the yarn I felt like stopping and putting up my hands and saying "ahhh I made a mistake," fully expecting a spinning aficionado to come to my rescue, much like my students do with me. But I didn't, I kept on chugging quietly at the end of the table, occasionally watching others' rhythmic movements making yarn. I also listened to them totally supporting Jay and dissing Conan and thought...am I the only representative here from my generation?

A woman my age entered with her wheel, carried by her boyfriend, and parked it next to me. She wore this beautiful sweater that she had handknit, and which everyone fawned over, and whose pattern I have since bought and added to my queue. It's #396. It was around that time that I made a mistake and someone asked me how long I'd been spinning. I looked at my invisible watch and answered sarcastically, "how long have we been sitting here?" They were shocked not because of my quality of work, but because starting to spin is such a momentous occasion for a person, much like knitting is.

It was an overall successful night. I got some tidbits of advice without feeling that I pushed someone into a free lesson, which I wanted to avoid doing (the drop-spinning teacher was there). My new friend with the wheel let me try hers, but it was too overwhelming at the time. I'll try again at MDSW.

* ~~ * ~~ *

I have been inspired all month by craftzine's Make Space for Crafting theme. I decided to embark on the brilliant idea to use one of those cylindrical wine bottle gift boxes to hold my spindle and fiber. I thought Michael's would be a great place to look since I saw them there before and thought, "why the h e double hockeysticks would I ever need that?" Well now I do. I went there on Saturday morning, passing the Christmas merchandise in those metal cage bins outside; crap that they were practically paying people to take home. I circled the store 4 times trying to find those dang wine gift boxes and none could be found. I thought looking near the 1000 shoebox photo boxes would have been a good idea. Nope.

And then...

I remembered a Christmas item I had seen outside. An ugly wine giftbox that had a plush reindeer head glued on, as well as arms. I hurried outside and saw that they were only 49 cents! Jackpot! I grabbed two.

Here is a picture of the transformation from wretched to chic:

Yay :)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Fun fun fun

Over the past few days I been more creative and productive than usual. I present my three acts of fun:

Fun 1: I have been on Team Conan from the beginning and thanks to Vickie Howell's blog (via Craftzine) I can show my pride:

Fun 2: Also via Craftzine, I made my own gummy candy yesterday! This tutorial is from Skip To My Lou and requires only a small box of your favorite jello, 2 packets of plain gelatin, 1/3 cup of water, and candy molds:I will definitely leave my core gummy candy needs up to the masters, but this was fun, easy and cheap.

Fun 3: This will be a long-term fun project. In reading my new book, Respect the Spindle, I have been revisiting my small group of spinning and roving related crafting stuff that I have picked up from MDSW the past two years (which were my first two years). With knitting as my main passion I have ignored my spinning, a dynamic which I hope to be resolved with Abby's new book. I realized with help a few weeks ago that the yarn I had started spinning (on my $4 CD drop spindle) was in fact felting wool and not intended to be spun. This plus cheap spindle plus not really knowing what I was doing has produced the following--Ladies and gentlemen, I present what I will now refer to as "before":
My first and absolute only attempt at spinning. It's beautiful and totally unworkable at the same time. I will always keep it around, just like my first crochet project; the measly skein isn't enough to knit anything, really.

So at this point I'm reading the book, and have a new spindle and roving ready for when i am brave enough to start. Meanwhile, I am finally getting to some needlefelting that I bought from Thistletown Alpacas last year at MDSW, and am thinking up what I will use the rest of my needle-felting wool for now that I will not spin it.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Call me old fashioned...

So I have been waiting and waiting for a package to arrive and it finally did!

Background story: I have a Blackberry Storm (not bc I can afford it. i happened to stumble upon it when a family member partook in a buy one get one free sale)

Complete with a picture of my mom's cat taking a self-timeout.

So to help lighten up my purse I transferred the information from my Moleskine datebook into my Blackberry and stowed the obselete paper product away. The Blackberry calendar was ok but there was something about the moleskine that just drew me to Amazon.com to buy it for this year and undo my act of technology addiction manifestation. And finally it arrived!

I outfitted it with a Knitty sticker for a personal yet sleek touch.

Ahh...feels like home.

Friday, January 8, 2010

New danger zone

Today I went to The Yarn Spot, the new yarn store that opened up recently in Wheaton, MD near the intersection of University and Georgia. For those of you unaware, that is freakin up the street from me. I see empty bank accounts in my future.

It is in a new strip mall off of Georgia perpendicular to the road. The parking lot is a little tight. The first thing I noticed when I walked in was the subtle industrial feel; buffed cement floor, high ceilings. They also have the Expedit bookcase (comme moi) to organize all their yarn on. They just have a few more than I do. There were a handful of women sitting and knitting at the large table in the middle of the room. I think one person was a vendor. They were welcoming yet not too in-your-face, which was great (I'm saying this because a post on Ravelry said there were too many employees or something).

But of course the best part was the merchandise. Only about 10% had I seen before. All the rest were yarns and even brands that I had never heard of in a wide price range. I bought a beautiful skein of alpaca/wool superwash sock yarn from the Alpaca Yarn Company for $11 which comes with extra coordinating yarn for the heel and toe (called Paca-Peds), and when I want exquisite luxurious yarn for a special project I'll remember their wide array of Jade Sapphire brand yarn. Here were my purchases:
Said sock yarn in purples on top, 2 skeins of Classic Elite Jill Eaton 100% extra fine superwash merino, and a cotton tote with their cute logo. It's only $10 but is discounted depending on how much you buy. I got out with three skeins miraculously under the discount threshold, but I put out the ten bucks for the bag.

Great customer service, great selection, great location. I will be going back. And my credit card whines.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A neat trick

I'm no magician, but I wanted to share this neat trick that you can do it when working with natural, feltable yarn. It's called Spit-Splicing and can be used mid-garment when you have to add another skein of yarn. It replaces the knot and subsequent ends to weave it. You can also use it if you come across a knot made by the manufacturer.

Step one: Fan out the ends of the yarn you want to attach together.
This is a single ply but you can of course use it with muli-ply as well.

Step two: spit into your hand and put one of the ends right in the pool of spit. You heard me right. About 1/8 to 1/4 a teaspoon of spit should do. Don't do too much or it will be just wet and floppy and won't really work. If you mess up, you can just cut off that one or two inches and try again.

Step three: Lay the other end on top and sort of intermingle the strands. Then rub the bunch between your palms really fast. Some heat will be generated. This is essentially felting the two strands together.
Step four: Tug lightly on the two ends to make sure they are secure. Tada! Encorporating your new non-knot into your knitted fabric will secure it even more.

I used the method when making this cowl today. It is with my favorite yarn: Blue Sky Alpacas Bulky. It is so very thick and squishy.
And no, this wasn't on my list. But it knit up so fast! I discovered another trick today while knitting this: when changing colors in seed stitch, knit the first row of the new color plain instead of in seed stitch and continue with the pattern on the next row. This will make the color change cleaner.

On a different note, since last May , I have been looking for a good starter book on drop spindling. Needless to say, I became interested in spinning while attending the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival and therefore have the two basic supplies, but the difficulty of the craft has led to the spindles and roving gathering dust amongst my knitting stuff. I still am interested in picking up the skill and have had my eye out for a good book to get me started (I can't take a class at my LYS mentioned below because it happens to interfere with an obligation).

While at a Sit n Stitch at A Tangled Skein last night, I found the hand spinning book of my dreams: Respect the Spindle. I love that it not only tells you about how to spin on a drop spindle, but goes over the history, science, best practices, and more. I learned while reading it in my bath this morning that the author first learned to spin at 5 while growing up in rural Peru, where it was as expected to be a skill as being able tie one's shoes. I noticed that the book is by my favorite crafting publisher, Interweave. They really do come up with great stuff.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

One step forward and one step back

One step forward:

I finished knitting the French Press Slippers... One WIP off the list.

I knit everything during Little Miss Sunshine and the Price is Right:

To be honest, I did go to the first commercial break into Law and Order SVU. You know, the one after that one shocking scene. But then I was done. Gimme a break, I had to frog one piece and knit it over.

Then the next 1 hour and 45 minutes was spent seaming and creating a pile of ends post weave-in:

Tada!Now they just need a little quality time with some jeans in the washing machine. Which will have to wait until I make it over to mom's in the near future.

So now that I'm riding the productive wave I think I will start my next project. Don't be mad... it is not currently on my list! BUT it is a great stash buster and works up fast. Since I have 3 other identical skeins, I might just make it some brothers and sisters...

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

"Last post was on August 14, 2009" Wow. I think that's a record for me. I have been feeling guilty and incomplete about not blogging. I was raised Catholic so I guess that's where the guilt comes in. As I was making crackers today (new Kitchenaid mixer for Christmas!) while on the first day of my staycation, I was thinking, "gee, I have time to spare today. maybe I'll blog. Ohh, I could blog about my new year's resolutions." Then, *lightbulb* "I can add 'blog more' to my new year's resolution list! It's not that long. Totally doable." So here I am.

So I will present my resolutions then explain. Ahem:
1. Exercise at least 3 times a week
2. Bake something at least once a week
3. "Consume"
4. Blog at least once a week

Ok, time to explain

1. I am too poor to enroll in another exercise class. Cardio ballet was fun and all. Ever since they came out with Fluidity I've been yearning for cardio ballet. Then tada it ended up in the Montgomery County Recreation Class guide. It was fun for about the first and last 5 minutes of each class. Then I'd get tired and then lose balance and look like a So-You-Think-You-Can-Dance audition reject. Then there was the false alarm that I might have asthma. Oops, I'm just out of shape, which proves that if you're skinny doesn't mean you're in shape. Ack. Nevertheless, it was fun overall. I just can't afford it. So I am including in this resolution that doing an exercise tape of yoga in my apartment counts as exercise. I can do cardio on the other 2 days.

2. I discovered this year about myself that I love baking and don't really like cooking savory items. Something about following a recipe and watching ingredients completely turn into something else. Probably why I like knitting so much...
And as stated above, I got a fancy schmancy Kitchenaid for Christmas. Note: If you, reader, are someone I am close enough to talk to at least once a week, you will be getting free homemade baked goods sometime in the near future. I just can't eat it all.

3. "Consume" to me means to use up all the crap I have around my home that's usable. Crafting items that I've hoarded (including yarn), pantry items, which will also assist in resolution #2, and above all else...all those dang body products. I've actually gotten through most of my BBW items. I worked there for 7 years and bought way too much. But I have accumulated more from other places now that I wouldn't be considered a traitor shopping somewhere else. I want to get rid of crap because if this year is anything like the last 2, I will move. And I will not move excess crap again.

4. Well there's nothing to say about this. I just want to blog more regularly. Like once a week. Two reasons I have been procrastination central about blogging is that it takes time away from crafting and that loading pictures is a pain in the ass. Let's see if it still is.

Yes it is. Oh btw this is my grandma holding up a blanket I crocheted for her. I know what you're thinking. That's backwards. Well shut up she's old now.

You might have noticed something related to #3. I did not resolve to knit more. Although it is always a goal of mine to complete my neverending WIPs, I don't want to make knitting a chore. Maybe I'm bitter from just finishing a Christmas season, (I'm even still knitting a Christmas gift for my mom about 1.5 years late from when my knitting group did it as a KAL). But I am part of a group on Ravelry called LOTSAFOS10 where you list every WIP less than 50% done.

Here is my list, minus the things that are almost done such as

Panel Jacket in Classic Elite Classic Silk ~ 60% done
Socktopus in Random Stash Yarn ~ 80% done
Diamonds and Shells Alpaca Scarf in Blue Sky Alpacas Royal ~ 75% done
After-Dark Robe in mystery cotton from stash ~ 80% done

Current WIPs:

  1. French Press Felted Slippers in Lion Brand Fisherman’s Wool ~ 15% done
  2. Sam in mystery stash yarn ~ 25%
  3. Grove in Patons Classic Wool Merino ~ 50%
  4. Transitioning Gloves in Patons Kroy Socks ~ 50%
  5. Clapotis in Arucania Atacama ~35%
  6. Jeanie in Knit Picks Stroll ~ 15% ~ This is my Mount Everest
  7. February Lady Sweater in Patons Classic Wool Merino ~ 15%
  8. Easy Ripple Afghan in Caron Simply Soft ~ 20%

In the Queue:

  1. Another Drop Stitch Lap Blanket in Noro Iro
  2. Sideways Grande Cloche in Plymouth Baby Alpaca Grande
  3. Citron in Malabrigo Yarn Lace
  4. Central Park Hoodie in Cascade 220 Heathers Superwash
  5. Hope Hat in Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Worsted
  6. Another Noro Striped Scarf in Noro Silk Garden
  7. Petal Halter in Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece
  8. Another Go Go Garter Stitch Scarf in Lion Brand Hometown USA
  9. Crafty Earrings in Aunt Lydia’s Fashion Crochet Thread size 3


I will now venture to make the goal to not CO anything besides these things until they are all finished.

Ok, that's all for today. I'd say Happy Knitting like a usually do, but... I feel it's overdone and I've seen it on some other blogs. So.. See you next time, I guess! :)