Monday, January 16, 2012

New year, new start, hopefully...

So, yeah, I completely failed in my attempt to spin 52 skeins of yarn in 2011.  In fact I didn’t even hit the halfway mark.  Instead I fell hard into a major depressive episode and spent several months trying desperately to crawl back out of the great, dark abyss.  2011 was easily the worst year of my adult life and there is nothing you could possibly offer me that would be worth doing it all again.  Yes, there were some good days, quite a few in fact, but they were massively eclipsed by the bad.  So much so, that I seriously contemplated my own end on multiple occasions.  I would never actually do that to the people I love, but that doesn’t stop my brain from pondering it. 
The good: I finally escaped the job that was the main contributor to the last three years worth of depression, and landed a sweet job doing work I love for a company I believe in. 
The bad: Practically everything else. 
The other:  I learned some very important things this year, both about myself, and about the world around me.  (1)Trust no one and expect nothing and you’ll never be disappointed, but you’ll never be happy either.  (2)Rely on others for anything and you will invariably hurt and be hurt in turn.  It’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons of loving others.  (3)You can live for a very long time without actually “living”.  I don’t want to do that anymore.  Instead, I’d like to actually enjoy my life.  If anyone has any suggestions on how to figure out how that works please feel free to pass them on.
So, as I slowly roll awake to a new year, I am not setting any goals beyond surviving this one with as much happiness as I can muster or make for myself.  I have started crafting in earnest again, but haven’t spun a single inch since September or October.  I’m just not feeling it right now, so if I post pics they’ll probably be more knitting oriented for a while.  Sorry.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Contest Winner Announcement and an Update

I looked over all the comments for the skein contest and just couldn't decide so I used a random number generator:


Random numbers generated Jul 28 2011 at 17:56:54 by
Free educational resources for parapsychology, psychical research & mind magic.

Which means that Tazja/Liz/SquidWidget is the winner!  How amusing that one chartreuse cephalopodian is sending non-chartreuse fibery goodness to another;)  PM me on rav with your mailing addy so I can ship out your prize!

On to the update: Very important things have happened!!!  My fabulous husband got me the bulky flyer for my spinning wheel!!!
This means I can try my hand at some artsy yarns that were beyond my capabilities before, and I can ply much longer continuous skeins now!  This is a very exciting development, as I hadn't planned on getting the flyer until x-mess:)  Dear husband, you are really quite awesome.  Thank you!
I spun this fluffy coreless corespun up as soon as I got the flyer installed on my wheel, then plied it with the remaining single from skeins 22 and 23:
Some of those tufts are easily an inch across!  This is officially skein #24^.

This next photo is way past due, as these are skeins #22 and #23, which were finished quite a while ago.  I really need to be updating more frequently:
Just under 600 yards of two ply DK weight merino, silk and firestar blend.  The pic is not very accurate color-wise as this yarn is a deeper emerald than it appears here.

This SW merino fluff is all spun up as a lace weight single right now, and will be the next yarn I ply with my new flyer!  The color is pretty close on this one.  I dyed this fiber myself a few months ago, and it turned out very pretty.

Last but not least, this awesomely bright merino/silk blend is what I'm currently working on:

Saturday, July 2, 2011


Do you want skein #20?  This lovely red/orange/yellow skein began as my September 2010 Around the Whorl fiber club selection and was originally called Chervonyy.  It is 50% SW merino/50% tencel, and spun up to 136 yards of N-plied sport weight yarn (ranging from 9 to 15 WPI).  Leave me a comment telling me what you would make with this little skein and at the end of the month I'll pick my favorite comment and mail off "hellfire" to the author!  Easy enough, right?  Well get to it!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Pl(a)ying catch up

I know, I know.  I may very well be the lamest blogger ever, but I figure so long as I don't outright quit I'm still making progress, right?  I've been spinning and knitting fairly regularly, I just can't seem to make my self post about my progress.  I'm working on it, I swear. 
I did finally finish my mini skeins from my planetary batt collection from Hampton Artistic Yarns.  They turned out great:
 This is a shot of all 9 skeins in planetary order^
 Here they are all stretched out^
This is Mercury, which I spun as a super fat corespun over cotton crochet thread.^
This is Venus, which I spun thick n thin, then 2 plied.^
Earth was spun as a lace weight single, then chain plied to retain the "stripey-ness".^  (It's my blog, and I'll make up words if I choose to.)  I love the way this one turned out.
I added red, orange and yellow goose feathers to Mars, then plied the single with metallic copper thread to "lock" the feathers in place.^  It was a royal PITA and I don't think I'll be doing another feathered yarn anytime soon, but it does look really neat.
Jupiter is a lofty lace weight single, and it has a nice halo from the little bit of mohair that was in this batt.^
Saturn was spun as a super fluffy coreless corespun.^  It turned out looking like cotton candy:)
Uranus became a tight, loopy single with a heavy bias.^
Neptune was spun without any preconceived idea of how to proceed, which resulted in another irregular single that looks like a kiddie birthday party cake.^  I dig it.
Poor Pluto, the very big rock/very small planet, was spun as a really fine single and auto-wrapped with silver metallic thread, threaded with blue metallic seed beads.^  This one turned out great and I'll definitely use this combination of techniques again.

So there you have skeins 11 thru 19, which I'm counting separately based on the fact that they each took almost as long as a regular skein, with some taking way longer.  (Spinning feathers into yarn is a much bigger production than you might imagine!)

Skein #20 started out it's life as a fiber club selection in Kimber's Around the Whorl club.  I can't remember what it was originally called, but I renamed it Hellfire.^

 Skein #21 is my first ever Polworth yarn.  I liked it a lot.  It was smooth and slick, but not shiny at all.  The final yarn has an earthy feel to it and I think after a few washes it will be squishy soft.

Also, I finished my first real lace:

It's the ginko shoulderette shawl pattern knit in kauni wool effektgarn.  I loved this pattern ad will probably knit it again in a larger size with handspun yarn.  I hated the kauni wool.  It is really weak, and broke repeatedly with no provocation.  There were several breaks/ties in the skein and most of them were harsh color changes.  I will not buy this again, nor would I recommend it.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

No (good) excuses...

...for my long absence, but I can offer some fairly lame ones; I was in an Odd Ducks Doctor Who swap that took up a lot of my time and I switched jobs!  That's right friends, I've left the misery of the corporate world behind and have embarked on a new and exciting career path with a small local remodeling company.  Wish me luck!

Also, as you may or may not know, Maryland Sheep and Wool was last weekend!  I went down with my husband and a friend and we had a great time!  Giant crab cakes at G&M on Friday night followed by two full days of retail therapy.  It was particularly blissful this year as the weather was really, really amenable.  Here are a few pics of my haul:

 And now, after a long absence from spinning, I realize just how much it's become a part of me.  It may seem silly but if you ask me who I am I'll probably tell you first and foremost I'm a spinner.  It is just how I identify these days.  I didn't realize just how important it has become to me until I took almost six weeks off to make a really great swap package and get my shit together at my new job.  I spent this afternoon spinning with my dear friend Krystn and had an excellent time.  I have relearned my passion for this crazy art and am really and able to throw myself back into my challenge with vigor.  Skein #11 should be up soon!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

I'm a machine but I'm in need of a tune up.

I've had a very productive weekend thus far- I went to a fiber retreat yesterday and managed to finish three more skeins!  I'm now at 10 of 52, which means I'm back on schedule. 
Skein # 8 is my favorite from the challenge so far.  It's 228 yards/4 ounces of squishy goodness which I've named Pocket Money.  The original fiber was a smooth art batt from bohoknitterchic, content unknown.  I spun it as a lofty single then plied it with metallic copper thread.
Skein #9 is 130 yards of a merino/bamboo blend that Dory got me for my birthday last year:
And finally, skein #10, (which is actually three 40 yard skeins) is a romney roving over a cotton crochet thread core:
In other crafty news, we got a loom!  It's a 20" Schacht four-harness table loom, produced in hades by the king of all evil himself.

I can honestly say that getting started in the realm of weaving is an exercise in frustration.  Never before has a crafty pursuit made me feel more stupid or inadequate as the act of warping a loom.  It took two days, four people, five books, two websites and a lot of cursing before we actually managed to get the damn thing ready for weaving, and miraculously it did not result in us getting divorced or maiming each other.  Infinite thanks again to Dory for helping us understand the process and getting us up and running. 
(An aside to all people who might ever consider writing a "how to" on any subject- Complete instructions are appreciated and required for your reader to have any modicum of success.  Leaving out very important information like "cut the warp threads now" is simply not acceptable.)
Once the dangerous portion of the adventure in weaving was over we managed to do this:
It is just under 10 inches wide and has the potential to be 24 inches long if we did our math right.  We'll see how things turn out. 
That's all the craftiness I think I can handle for today, but hopefully I'll check in a bit sooner next time.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

New and improved update with pics

I have so much to tell you but my mind is a bit mushy tonight so I beg you please ignore my non-linear blathering.  I am still spinning but my production has been a bit slow lately.  I've got a lot of shit going on, and I've chosen an odd spinning project which takes a bit longer than the last several have.  I am finally spinning up my Solar System batt sampler from H.A.Y. into mini art yarn skeins.

I'm spinning each planet with a different art yarn technique.  So far I have Mercury, Venus, Pluto and Uranus spun up.  I'll post pics when they're all finished.  I decided to spin these because I needed a little break from all the tedium of fine, even singles I'd been spinning and that last core spun skein didn't quite meet my need for fun.  On to other things...

Last Saturday Krystn and I went to the Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival just to have a relaxing day away from our lives.  The festival was much smaller than last year, and the wares were a bit lack luster in my informed opinion.  There was very little spinning fiber available, and the yarn selection leaned heavily towards novelty yarn and pre-packaged kits.  While novelty yarns certainly have their place in the knitting world, I would also like to see some unique vendors with products that aren't necessarily going to be available at an online superstore.  There were a few interesting vendors carrying pretty yarns and notions, but overall I found the experience rather disappointing- especially considering that I drove halfway across the state and paid a rather excessive entry fee to attend!  I did manage to find a beautiful, squishy skein of TARDIS blue worsted weight SW merino at the Shady Side Farm booth and have since knit an adorable TARDIS nook cozy for Brad.

Fear not, dear reader, as the sadness of the festival was quickly replaced with merriment as we met the spectacular Steven Ambrose for lunch at a cute little veg-friendly cafe called Quiet Storm.  The food was great and the company was brilliantly engaging, as always.  We discussed knitting, dinner party preparations, and the pleasantly unexpected success of the recent I <3 Knitting event.  It was a great time all around.

From the cafe we headed to Natural Stitches, Pittsburgh's answer to; Where can you find a great yarn shop in the city?  While this is Steven's place of employment, I swear to FSM that I did not allow that to impact my judgment of the shop in any way.  What follows is a completely honest and impartial review, so read on.
I have seen the inside of many a yarnery in my day, and I really must say this is how a yarn shop should operate.  The entire staff greeted us warmly upon entry, and gave us a quick run down on how the yarns were organized.  Did you hear that local yarn stores?  I said organized!  That's right, those crazies at NS actually have their yarn sorted by weight and displayed in easily accessible cubes that don't make a chore of skein shopping.
There were a number of content looking patrons knitting away on some truly spectacular projects while sitting on comfy looking furniture in a well-lit social area near the front of the store.  The staff were pleasant, helpful and ridiculously funny, not to mention knowledgeable about their products and services.  I felt very welcome and wished I had saved my entry fee from the festival to spend on more malabrigo at NS.  Oh, did I forget to mention the huge selection of mmmmmaaalabrigo?  You had me at Twist, but the Rios and Silky Merino were a lovely bonus;)

They also have, I shit you not, a whole wall of Cascade 220 in spectral order!  It was truly a wonder to behold!  I may have drooled just a little, but I slyly dabbed it away on my collar.
All in all, I'd say Natural Stitches is definitively the best overall yarn store I've ever visited, and I'm looking forward to another trip soon!
In other, completely unrelated news, I am now the proud but befuddled owner of a Schacht 20" table loom.  As soon as I figure out how to warp this bitch I'll post a pic of my new (free!) loom.

In closing I have a quick question for all ten of my regular readers; how do you feel about seeing pics of my knitting projects?  Yes, bring it on, all fiber is good fiber or no I'm not really all that interested in what you do with yarn after you spin it.  Your honest feedback matters my lovelies.