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Things and Stuff

The Holidays were a strange mix of good and not so good.  I managed to get through without any Vicodin for my foot until last night (but it really did make for better sleep than I’ve been getting).  DH didn’t have a reinsurance of the digestive issues from Christmas Eve, but neither was he really up to enjoying the Christmas fare.  My mother-in-law has broken a tooth, and was doing her best to power through as well.

In addition, a really odd set of coincidences marred my gift receiving experiences to the point where I felt justified in purchasing more goodies for myself come boxing day (both Steve and Dottie enabled this choice on my part).  I ordered a gorgeous Ladakh Phang support spindle from tinasangoras, and am waffling on getting myself an Ashford Sampler niddy noddy as well.

This was our first Christmas with Abby.  We got to Facetime her while she was at the Peace Corps regional headquarters for her celebration, and we called her again on Boxing Day, so both sides of the family got to speak to her, but there was lots of missing going on.

Other than that, the seasonal cheer flowed freely, and the children had a wonderful time, and it was far less fraught than last years festivities were, so that’s good.

Blog Contests and Giveaways

I didn’t win the November/December Luxury Yarn Package from Expression Fiber Arts, so I entered the next drawing (15 January). I didn’t win any of the multiple Phat Fiber or Knitter’s Pride giveaways either.  Nor did I win the indigo dyed shawl from Jennifer Falkowski, or the Susan B Anderson book from Knitting Pipeline.

I did, however, with the Ballpoint Pen yarn from “With Pointed Stitcks”.  According to my tracking spreadsheet, I’ve won more than 4% of the giveaways I’ve entered.  That’s pretty impressive.

Ballpoint Emerald Ballpoint Peppermint Stick

These are absolutely gorgeous.  I’m still deciding what to make with them.  I want to find the perfect pattern to show off the co-ordinated semi-solid and variegated yarns.  The top candidates are the Me and You… and You and Me shawl, Windowpane socks and Syncopated Hats, but I’m definitely open to suggestions if you have any.

The winter holidays are always fraught for me.  Judging from the spike in hit on the ‘depression’ tagged posts here on my blog in the last few days, I’d venture to say that it’s not just me either.  I’m just starting from a position of being on the cranky (and vulnerable) side.

Then, the day before yesterday, I got my first ‘present’:

boot

Because, when I was walking down the steps in front of my house I stumbled, fell, and did this:

MENDEL- LISE - - CR From 12-22-2015 S0 I0

I can barely see it, but there’s a little shadow just above and to the left of my ankle.  Apparently I sprained it so hard that the tendon tore a little chip away from my talus bone.  So I’ll be hurting for three to five days, and in the boot for about three weeks.  I got a flu shot on Tuesday along with the X-rays, so now my arm is sore.  So yeah, holiday fun.

That would have been plenty to deal with, really, but this morning, poor Steve had another flare up of the ‘mystery ailment’ we thought we had sussed out.  Turns out, not so much.  He’s had about four hours of nonstop misery.  Hopefully he’ll be able to sleep today and get through the celebrations tomorrow.

Dottie has been a trooper.  Trying to have a happy family vacation despite the fact that her parents are both on the DL and her sister is in Africa.    The plan is to bake Buckeyes this afternoon.  I texted with Abby this morning and she seems to be having a good time with the other Peace Corp volunteers (they get together at the regional house for the holiday).

So here’s wishing that you have a happy holiday, whatever your tradition is.  I hope that it is full of joy and love and light.  Failing that, I hope that you can keep your sense of humor about you, hold the ice weasels at bay, and remember that the nights will just keep getting shorter and the daylight will return.

 

For Makin’ Whoopee

I’ve just gone to a Pure Romance party.  It’s sort of like a Tupperware party for the bedroom.    One of my friends volunteered to make some themed cupcakes, so I got into the spirit and offered to make some appropriate party favors.

Because this post may not be comfortable for all readers, I’m going to put the ‘last section’ first.

Blog Contests and Giveaways

I didn’t win the Wool Baby pattern book from Knitting Pipeline.  I entered the next one, for a copy of Susan B Anderson’s Kids Knitting Workshop (17 December).

Knitter’s Pride has a two weeks of giving giveaway, and there are a couple of days left (18 December).  Jennifer Falkowski is giving away one of her shibori indigo dyed shawls (they’re lovely) (21 December).  With pointed sticks is giving away two color coordinated skeins (16 December – TONIGHT)

The photos which follow the cut are not appropriate for all audiences, but I promise no actual flesh is involved… Continue Reading »

Diamonds in the Ruff

One Project off the Christmas Knitting List

I’m the first knitter on Ravelry to finish (or even start) the Diamonds in the Ruff collar.  The pattern was published last March in Defarge Does Shakespeare from Co-operative Press, and I want to thank Heather at Craftlit for getting me hooked on both the series and the publishing company.

Diamonds in Ruff materialsKnitting

This is the project which helped me improve my beading method. As I mentioned before, I picked up the seed beads from Bead Biz.  I also got ribbon, focal beads (rose and leaf) and hook and eye clasps from Jo Ann Fabric, and just a couple of beads from stash.

There was lots of beading involved in this one, so the knitting took longer than such a small project normally would.  Not that the beading was that difficult, but it made the project completely non portable.  Too much set up before knitting and clean up after, too many little bits to make a mess.  So I could only work on this one at home.  It took me nearly three weeks from cast on to finish.

Blocking

I have heard many people say unblocked lace supposedly looks horrible, but honestly, I just don’t see it myself.  It’s bumpy, true, but I usually find it interesting.

Diamonds in the Ruff Unblocked

This is another piece I blocked using wire.  I threaded one thin wire through the cast on stitches and the other one at the end of the “A” chart.  I threaded a thicker wire (because I was out of the thin ones) through the bind off.  I pinned the first two to the target measurement, and stretched the remainder of the ruff out to really display the lace.

Diamonds in the Ruff blocking

Finishing

Once the piece was blocked I stitched 3/4″ ribbon to the wrong side, and sewed two hook and eye clasps on.  If I do it again I’ll leave slack at the short ends of the ribbon, and attach the clasps between the ribbon and the lace rather than on top of the ribbon, but it is acceptable as is.

Diamonds in the Ruff baubleMaking the faux clasp was a lot of fun.  I took a large silicone stitch marker and crocheted around it with the Knitpicks Gloss Lace I’d used for the ruff, beading as I went, and left a tail, which I then beaded.  I attached a second length of yarn and beaded it as well.  Then I sewed the whole assembly onto the ruff so that it hides the hook and eye clasps.

The final product is a very dainty and delicate piece, almost more jewelry than anything else.

Of course the person I’m giving it to probably expects a much bolder ‘infinity scarf’, so I bought one at Kohls to give her as well.  Because if I gift this to her and she seems disappointed I might just have to kill someone…

Diamonds in the Ruff FO

Blog Contests and Giveaways

I didn’t win the last Michelle’s Assortment name that pattern giveaway, so I entered the next one (20 December).  I’ve missed some, but I’ve caught a couple of the Knitter’s Pride series of giveaways (20 December) and the Phat Fiber Edgewood Garden Studios BFL roving giveaway (also 20 December).

 

It’s Like This

What was I Thinking?

I’m working on at least four projects with due dates, only three of which I have started, and I’m starting a new craft.  This seems crazy.

Honestly, I wasn’t.  Thinking was something I was unable to do.  Spinning, I could manage.

I couldn’t think for the past few days, because I had a migraine.  Yes, a migraine which lasted (on and off) for about two days, which mine generally do.  So while I wasn’t lying down in a dark room, or scalding my head under pounding hot water, or shuffling around in a haze of uselessness and despair, I still wasn’t in any shape to knit.  True, I’ve got a couple of decent ‘no brain needed’ projects going right now, but even those would have required more ‘cope’ than I could possibly muster.

Alphyn

On the other hand, my drop spindle didn’t require much brain power.  At least, not at my level of expectation.  And the spinning was relaxing, almost hypnotic.  So, basically, my migraine meant that I finished that half ounce of sample yarn which came with the Alphyn spindle very quickly.

Full Spindle

See, that’s  lot of yarn, volume wise.  It’s also (supposedly) a single.  Yup, fuzz brain, needed the round and round, couldn’t make anything thin and fine and delicate, and you know what?  I don’t care in the slightest.  I took this big chunky single and wrapped it around my hand.

andean windThis weird little cat’s cradle looking thing is the beginning of  an Andean Bracelet.  This is a technique which lets you reach both ends of the single at the same time, to easily ply them together without tangling. IAndean bracelett didn’t take very long at all to transfer the whole spindle to my hand.

Then I could have just held the two ends together, and plied them directly.  I was cowardly, however, and didn’t want to be stuck with the bracelet still around my wrist if I couldn’t do it all in one sitting, so I wound the two ends onto my nostepinne as a center pull ball.

Plied SpindleThen I just attached the two ends of the single to the same spindle and spun it in the opposite direction.  Here you can really see how fat the yarn is.

Since I don’t have a niddy noddy to neatly skein and measure my yarn, I set my umbrella swift to a one yard diameter and kept track of how many times I could wrap the plied yarn around it. skeining

As it turns out, I had almost (but not quite) seven yards.  This is from a little less than half an ounce of fiber, that’s a lot of weight for a little length… A quick check counting WPI (wraps per inch) told me it was ‘super bulky’ yarn.  In my migraine fuzzed state I didn’t believe it, so I weighed it, and took a look at the bottom of my Knit Picks yarn scale, which also told me it is super bulky yarn.

So I soaked it, and whacked it a few times to even out the twist.set

Then I hung it up to dry, and wrapped it neatly up.

geode one

So here it is.  Super sloppy, bulky, uneven, not very much of it…  I don’t care.  I think it’s beautiful and I really love it.  I’m pretty sure I’d have had to rip out and reknit any of my ‘on a deadline’ projects, so I don’t begrudge myself the time ‘wasted’….

On the other hand, this Jacob/Alpaca fleece which has been hibernating in my stash for years (not always under a cat) is just going to have to wait.

Jacob Alpaca

 

Blog Contests and Giveaways

I didn’t win the tea from Lisa Bogart.  She’s not doing any December giveaways, but please check out her blog, she’s putting up wonderful Christmas album covers you won’t want to miss. I entered the Phat Fiber Drawing (20 December) for a skein of handspun hand dyed yarn from Willow Fairy Wool.

Spinning in Circles

All the Fluff

I started spinning a little bit, a few years ago, but it never became a habit.  I eventually destroyed my old spindle, but I kept coming across my fiber stash.  I used up a fair amount of it when I made my “Thrums of Doom” mittens.

Thrums in progress

These were such a success that Abby claimed them for herself.  I’m sure she didn’t take them to Senegal, but I don’t know where they ended up.

but I still have a fair amount of alpaca fiber and jacob/alpaca blended fiber left over.  Every so often I’ve thought about starting it up again, but I was worried about destroying another spindle.  I really do tend to do better with keeping ‘nice things’ than I do with ‘perfectly servicable’ ones.  But still, start up costs for (essentially) a new craft are high, and hard to justify.  Every so often I’d look.

Oh, my, the pretty!

Alphyn

A while ago I happened upon Alphyn Trading on Etsy.  Seeing all the pretty things in this shop got me thinking (semi) seriously about spinning again.

OK, the spindle is pretty enough with my inexpert product picture, but just take a look at it in decent light (photo below downloaded from the shop)

Alphyn Geode

She had it listed as “Agate Geode Slice Sandalwood”.  Visit her shop for a lot of gorgeous and amazingly well priced spindles.  Many of them are under $20.  She has top  whorl, bottom whorl and supported spindles for sale.

My skills are not good enough to really know a ‘good’ spindle from the action, but with the minimal experience I had (from a few years back) I was able to produce reasonably fine and even singles in no time.  That’s even with the visible irregularities of the whorl, it’s balanced very well.

If you’re at all curious about spinning this shop is more than worth checking out.

Blog Contests and Giveaways

I entered a “Name the Pattern” contest for Michelle’s Assortment (6 December).  The prize is a copy of the pattern in question.

Happy Thanksgiving

A happy holiday wish to all of my fellow countrymen.

Dottie is home for the holiday, and Abby plans to call or Facetime from Senegal (assuming the Senegalese phone network and/or the Peace Corps Training Center’s wifi network cooperate).  We will be having dinner with Steve’s family today, and lunch with mine tomorrow.

Tomorrow is also ‘buy nothing’ day in our household.  This is a tradition we’ve been following for about fifteen years.  I think we’ve broken it twice – once, years ago,  because we would have run out of gas otherwise, once last year because Dottie needed antibiotics.  Not a bad record at all.

Of course, this year some retailers are joining in, starting with REI.  Here’s a list for your approval.

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