Friday, December 28, 2007

Lace Shawl Envy

My mother-in-law bought Victorian Lace Today for me as a Christmas present, and then took me to Needle Nook in Decatur to buy some yarn.

I picked out some beautifully soft 100% merino in black, laceweight of course. I'm going to start with one of the simpler shawls, so I can get an FO sooner. But my REAL goal is this absolutely gorgeous hexagon shawl, which I intend to make in dark red. It's huge, though: it takes eight skeins of Kid Silk Haze, and it's knit on size 5 or so needles. I think it's five feet across, or something crazy like that.

It will take me a lifetime to finish it, but I really want it. <3

Friday, December 21, 2007

I'm thankful for the internet!

I think 2007 has been very good for me artistically, in a large part because of my online life!

I've done a few Craftster swaps, and now I'm doing lots of Swap-Bot swaps; that keeps me creating.

And for graphic design, I've done lots of avatars, signatures, and icons, plus some banners. Sure, they're usually small, but that means I have to think carefully about color, typeface, proportion, contrast, and everything else. It's hard to design small, and every element must contribute to the design: no freeloaders!

I even found the North Gwinnett Polymer Clay Meetup, which lead to some silver clay classes with Barbara McGuire!

I've really missed having artists in my life, since I finished my degree. I never thought the internet would help fill that gap!

My new goal is going to be at least one new project every week!

See more progress on: Make at least one art/craft project every week

Inchies just seem so fun...

I’ve made ATCs and scrapbook pages, and I’ve made lots of avatars. Inchies are a natural next step, right?

One inch square pieces of art; I love it! Who says art has to be BIG?

Monday, December 17, 2007

I think I've created a monster...

I’ve done two (three?) Swap-Bot ATC swaps, and I’m signed up for about five more. I think I’m getting the hang of this, don’t you? :)

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Thank you, Ravelry!

Well, I didn't find out about ThankRavelDay until today, which is sorta later. So I'll take this chance to express publicly just how impressed I am by what Jess and Casey have done! I'm so glad they have put so much time and ingenuity into it.

If you aren't familiar with it, Ravelry is a knit and crochet community. That's very simplified, though. Ravelry's biggest strength is that virtually everything is interlinked! It has some really unique features, too. The best may be the forum radar: you can watch the new forum posts from all over the site pop up one after another on one page. It's fun.

The quality level of everything on Ravelry is very high. Jess and Casey have done an excellent job!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Swap love

I can't believe I didn't discover online swaps until a year ago! It's so me: I love making stuff, and I really appreciate handmade things other people make. But the best part? I love finding ways to add a little extra something to make my partner smile! It's almost like planning a surprise party...

I remember first reading about artist trading cards sometime around 2005, and I was so excited. I immediately rummaged through my supplies and whipped up a couple. Only one problem: no one–and I mean no one–wanted to do ATCs! How was I supposed to trade my artist trading cards if no one made any to trade with me? So unfair!

Fast forward to early this year. Somehow, I magically discovered the ATC section on Craftster. (Okay, I'm slow; I know it's been there forever...) Suddenly, I could trade with more people than I could ever imagine! Finally, in April, I did my first real swap: Artist's Choice ATCs! Could it GET any easier?

Since then I've done a few different ATC swaps, but I recently found any even better way to swap: Swap-Bot! I can't explain why, but I think I like it even better than Craftster for swapping. Right now, I'm signed up for or already participating in five, ranging from ATCs to saved images to pressed pennies!

My photo shows some of the wonderful goodies I've received this year; sorry about the dead grass, but once I realized how long it would take to find a large enough piece of fabric that was not covered in cat hair, I decided to take pride in my adherence to the watering ban (serious drought in Georgia). So, that a dishcloth, Bible verse, and chocolate from anxiousdog at Ravelry; a glass jar of goodies and PotC cross stitch kit from Jenlar at Craft Wonderland; ball of yarn to contribute to my Rapunzel scarf out of a big box from Swap-Bot; and an owl ATC and tea from Raven, also at Swap-Bot.

And speaking of Swap-Bot swaps... If you're one of my Blog Love 2 partners, welcome! :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

As if ATCs aren't addictive enough...

I just discovered inchies. Yes, inchies. What's that, you ask? Well, best as I can figure, they're little one inch square pieces of art. The ones you see here are by soleclaw23; I found them on Flickr. (And yes, they have a Creative Commons license!)

You thought ATCs were challenging? That's almost nine square inches! Now make one square inch visually interesting and unique!

I think I'll like these, too. Just think, I can make inchies, and then put them ON ATCs, which I can then use in a scrapbook page...

Hmm...seems inchies might make interesting adornments for the fronts of my album-style books, too. There's an idea for my (still empty) Etsy store! I really need to photograph my books and get them listed!

Monday, November 26, 2007

I <3 Knit Picks Options!

I've been meaning to try magic loop for practically forever. Er, six months. Whatever...just glad I finally got around to it.

Anyway, I never tried knitting in the round, because I couldnt' justify buying a totally new set of needles! Think what else I could do with the money!

But it's my favorite needles that finally got me going. I use the Knit Picks Options needles, and now I have a couple of the Harmony needle tips. If you aren't familiar with them, they are absolutely wonderful interchangeable needle sets. The Options needles are an incredibly smooth nickle-plated brass; the Harmony needles are wood. Beautiful, and very high quality.

The great thing about them, though, is that they have the most wonderful cables: incredibly flexible. So they're perfect for magic loop, and it's only a few dollars more! I can't wait to buy more needles, and a second set of long 47" cables, so I can jump projects more.

Wait, maybe that isn't the best idea...

Friday, November 2, 2007

Magic Loop for the Win!

2007-11 Magic loop leg warmers_002I've never learned to knit in the round, but I've been meaning to. But frankly, double-pointed needles seem a bit unappealing to me: they're unwieldy, and I would have to buy whole new sets of needles. So I decided months ago that I would learn to knit small-diameter items on long circulars.

Finally, I followed through. I'm doing magic loop, and I love it! For one thing, I only had to buy a new cable to go with my Knit Picks Options set, which is great! I would much rather buy a $6 set of two cables and be set to knit with whatever needle size I need.

But really, it's kinda fun! And it's easy to keep track of the beginning of the round, since your knitting stays in two halves. I'm making the leg warmers out of One Skein, and it's turning out great. I'm incredibly slow (no news there), but it's great.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Fluffy Tribble!

Port Wine-Swiss Alm TribbleI crocheted a tribble today. What did you do?

Yes, that's right. For reasons I can't even begin to explain, I decided to crochet a tribble. Finally a use for that eyelash yarn I bought in a fit of insanity last winter!

Anyway, if you want your own tribble, it's a very simple pattern. I'm only posting it because a friend wants it.

Yarn Bee Wild Child, Port Wine (one half skein)
Yarn Bee Wild Child, Swiss Alm (one half skein)

K hook
Yarn needle

Three handfuls of polyester stuffing

Hold two strands together throughout. It can be the same yarn, or two different ones.

Top half
Round 1: Using the magic adjustable ring, ch 1, then sc 8. Join.

Round 2: Ch 1 for the turning ch, then sc 2 in ea sc. (16 st)

Round 3: Ch 1 for turning ch, *sc 2 in next sc, sc 1 in next sc* repeat 7 more times, then join. (24 st)

Round 4: Ch 1 for turning ch, *sc 1 in next 2 sc, sc 2 in next sc* repeat 7 more times, then join. (32 st)

Round 5: Ch 1 for turning ch, *sc 2 in first sc, sc 1 in next 7 sc* repeat 3 more times, then join. (36 st)

Round 6: Ch 1 for turning ch, sc 1 in ea sc, join. (36 st)

Round 7: repeat

Round 8: repeat

Round 9: repeat

Leave a very long tail on this, three to four times the circumference of the piece; you'll use it to sew the pieces together.

Bottom Half
Round 1: Using the magic adjustable ring, ch 1, then sc 8. Join.

Round 2: Ch 1 for the turning ch, then sc 2 in ea sc. (16 st)

Round 3: Ch 1 for turning ch, *sc 2 in next sc, sc 1 in next sc* repeat 7 more times, then join. (24 st)

Round 4: Ch 1 for turning ch, *sc 1 in 5 next sc, sc 2 in next sc* repeat 3 more times, then join. (28 st)

Round 5: Ch 1 for turning ch, *sc 2 in next sc, sc 1 in next 6 sc*, repeat 3 more times, then join. (32 st)

Round 6: Ch 1 for turning ch, *sc 1 in next 7 sc, sc 2 in next sc* repeat 3 more times, then join. (36 st)

Round 7: Ch 1 for turning ch, sc 1 in ea sc. (36 st)

I won't even pretend this is the best way to sew together a tribble; but it worked.

First, look at your tribble pieces and decide which side you want to be on the outside. It's quite possible that the wrong side will be fluffier; it was on mine. If necessary, use a yarn needle to pull the tails from the adjustable ring to the inside.

Place the wrong sides together. Thread your yarn needle with the long tails from the top half. Line up the stitches, and whipstitch the two pieces together using one or two stitches per pair of single crochet stitches. (Your two halves will probably have slightly different diameters, but both have the exact same number of stitches. As long as you line up the stitches, it will all work out.) Leave enough of a gap to turn your tribble right side out.

Once you've turned the tribble, stuff it. You don't want it packed firm, but you will probably need more stuffing that you think. (Unless you've made lots of stuffed toys.) Once you like your results, stitch the opening shut.

Knot the ends, then thread the needle with only one strand of the yarn. Squeeze the tribble flat, then push the needle into the seam near the knot and pull it out through the top or bottom of the tribble. Still squeezing the tribble, trim the end close to the piece. Once you let it go, the end will disappear into the body. Repeat with the other strand of yarn.

The seam will probably be very visible, but you can fix that. The long fluffy pieces will be stuck in the seam. Use your needle or fingers to pull the fibers loose, and the stitching will disappear. Take care, though, that you don't snag the body of the yarn (the thick part you crocheted with.)

And that's it. This is my first time writing out a pattern, so I hope it makes sense.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Using what you knit...

You know, it feels really great to make a special project and finally get a chance to wear it!

For instance... A few weeks ago my beloved husband took me to the Atlanta Opera, at their new home, no less. We saw Turandot, which I definitely enjoyed. I wore a spaghetti strap black velvet dress, but it can get a bit cool in the evening (occasionally) in October. So I decided to wear my Gothy Scribbling Shawl from Mason-Dixon Knitting, for the very first time!

It felt so special! I felt really fancy, too. It was the perfect choice. :) And I felt even more special when the opera volunteers started handing out these really gorgeous Asian fans to all the ladies!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Wheel of Time Scarves

Pevara Sedai ScarfI love CraftBorg, which is a really fun, totally geeky podcast. The hosts, Rosemary and Julie, are big fans of both Harry Potter and Star Trek (yeah, no surprise there), as well as all sorts of other fangirl stuff. Sadly, they haven't updated in months, but there are seventeen episodes available.

Anyway, they both make Harry Potter socks. No, not socks with the Harry Potter characters on them, or house-striped socks, or socks from the movie. They make socks inspired by and named for Harry Potter characters. They choose colors, patterns, and yarns to reflect the character's personality, interests, and tastes. As soon as I heard that, I thought, "Oh! I love that!" Of course, I have no interest in making Harry Potter socks, but I love the concept: letting the characters from your favorite fiction shape your knitting!

Now think about the Wheel of Time...there are so many interesting characters! And Robert Jordan always puts such effort into each character, so there's plenty of material to work with. So, I've decided to make some Wheel of Time scarves... I love scarves, so it's going to be fun!

My first scarf is for Pevara Tazanovni, an Aes Sedai of the Red Ajah. As a novice, she was close friends with Seaine Herimon, but had to break off the friendship upon gaining the shawl. When Elaida charged Seaine with searching out the Black Ajah, the White recruited Pevara to help.

Pevara, a pretty woman with dark eyes and a cheerful nature, is not your typical Red: she actually likes men, and she's quite notorious for her belief that Reds would find Warders useful. She is open to Aes Sedai of other Ajahs, even though the Red Ajah strongly discourages friendships outside the Ajah.

I'm doing the Turkish Stitch version from A Trio of Scarves. I chose South West Trading Company Bamboo in Red Jester. The deep reds represent her ajah, of course, and the Turkish stitch is lacy buy restrained, which reflects the balancing act that has so shaped Pevara: the demands of her ajah versus the demands of her heart.

So far, I'm having a blast!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Warm Hands for Late-Night Gaming

Late-Night Gaming WristablesI'm a total night owl, so most of my online gaming (Guild Wars or Diablo II) happens late at night. Cold hands are the bane of my existence in the late fall and winter, and we've already had a couple of cold-ish nights. So I decided to pull out my Andean Treasure 100% baby alpaca from Knit Picks and headed to Ravelry to comb through the handwarmer and fingerless glove patterns.

I decided to crochet a pair, since it's quicker. I'm making a modified version of the Wristables from Crochet Me. I'm pretty happy with the results so far: I've finished the first one, and I'm about halfway through the cuff of the second one. :)

Can't wait to finish! After that, I have to move on to my Christmas crafting...

Monday, October 1, 2007

100 Themes...Will I ever learn?

I have got to stop visiting Craftster! On a whim, I decided to visit the ATC section and just browse around. Big, big mistake! The artist trading card bug has bitten me again...but now I want to work on the "One Hundred Themes" project.

Yep, one hundred. I have to make one hundred artist trading cards. I was so inspired I made a little checklist, sized to fit in an ATC sleeve, of course! Download it and use it if you want. I figured I might as well convert it, since InDesign makes is so very easy!

I've done number twenty-three, Cat, number sixty-one, Fairy Tale, and number sixty-three, Do Not Disturb. The first one is very literal, but the other two aren't really.

Let's see, that's ninety-seven to go...

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Gearing up for Anime Weekend Atlanta!

My friend Ishy and I from Craft Wonderland are selling some of our stuff at Anime Weekend Atlanta in two weeks. Boy, am I busy…

Saturday, August 25, 2007

My Bat Shawl is finished!

Almost Complete: My Bat Shawl!
I finished it! With almost a week to spare!

Okay, I didn't exactly finish it, because the finishing isn't done, or the choker and wrist bands. But...I finished knitting it in the car today, five minutes after leaving the Peachtree Handspinners Guild meeting today!

The yarnovers down the center are a bit uneven, (because I shifted it by one stitch at one point), and there's a dropped stitch I need to tack, but I'm still very happy with the results. It's not quite as wide as I expected, probably because it's only one strand instead of two, so I'm not going to slip my fingers through the yarnovers along the top. Besides, it looks like it would quickly stretch out, and I suspect it would get in the way when gaming or even eating.

Instead, I'm going to make bracelets to match the choker, and attach them at the ends. I really hope it works!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Bat Shawl Update

I have finished twenty-eight out of forty-eight rows on my bat shawl. It looks like I really will have it ready for Dragon Con! (Yay!)

I've had a great time working on it, even if it took eight or ten rows for me to understand how the pattern works! I've made a rough sketch of the shawl, to try to convey the style. I'm excited...

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Gothy Scribbling Shawl is finished!

I finished my Scribbling Shawl from Mason-Dixon knitting about a week and a half ago. I love the colors: dark red and black.

Then again, I always love those colors. But it was fun. I did drop a stitch about halfway through, so I have to figure out what to do about that. I also snagged it, but that will be a very straightforward fix, if a bit time-consuming.

I used Lang Venezia for the red and Doucier et Soie for the black. Both behaved themselves very well. :)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Ravelry Addict

I've been on Ravelry eight days. EIGHT DAYS. And I have fifteen projects entered, twenty projects queued...and forty-one stashed yarns.

That's not even all of it; I have a big bin of stuff (about half of it cheap, actually) in my basement that isn't entered yet. And yet I feel a great desire to pull it all out, catalog it, and photograph it. Yes, I want to spend an hour or two or three taking photos of yarn! I have LOST MY MIND!

It has cemented my burgeoning Flickr addiction, which, believe me, needed zero help. And I think discovering Moo Cards is going to be very bad for me. Way, way bad.

Maybe I should make Moo Cards of some funky yarn photos. You know, cropped in close...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Knitting gone gothy...

Believe it or not, I was goth in high school. Yes, really. Perky me. Where did you think my predominantly black wardrobe came from?

Anyway, I have tons of cool jewelry, tons of black clothes, and naturally pale fair skin. And I need another costume for Dragon*Con. What to do?

Enter Not Another Teen Knitting Book by Vickie Howell. I had seen it in the stores, but..."teen knitting?" Hello! I'm over thirty! Sure, I look younger, but not by that much!

Let's just say I've learned an important lesson...Never judge a book by its title! My friend Jenlar actually bought the book, and brought it to church to show me...the Goths Bat Shawl. Yes, a bat shawl! Eureka!

I bought the book the same day, and ordered the yarn the next. Now, with two weeks to go until Dragon*Con, I'm hard at work on my shawl. It will be finished. Oh yes.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Almost there...

So, I signed up for the Ravelry Beta after hearing some podcasters gush over it. I signed up on June 11, and have been eagerly anticipating my turn. Well, look at this:

Nine people ahead of me. Oh yeah. I can't wait.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Main Street Yarns and Fibers, Watkinsville, Georgia

Wonder why I write so often about yarn stores I've visited? Because I wish more people wrote about the yarn stores they have visited!

Seriously, if I'm going to go out of my way to visit a place, I want to know if it's worth it! So far, I have reviewed every yarn store I've visited (few as that is)...except the one near my church! Hmm...guess I should do that, huh?

On to the review!

Saturday, my husband had to take the first of two tests to get his non-renewable provisional certification as a school library media center specialist. Since my brother-in-law and his wife live there, with my three month old nephew, we turned it into a family thing.

After lunch at the State Botanical Garden, we decided to visit the local yarn store, which I just "happened" to have directions to. My mother-in-law is learning to knit right now, so she had never been to a real yarn store.

And this was a great first visit! Main Street Yarns is such a pleasant place to visit. It's in a renovated barn, with a wonderful side porch, and has plenty of space to sit and relax. It's spacious, and everything is very well organized. Even my brother-in-law and father-in-law didn't mind the visit.

The wall to both sides of the door is full of needles and hooks of all sorts, from the plain to the fancy. By the register, they have a small display of needles with beautiful polymer clay tops. I believe they are locally made.

The yarn selection, too, is great. They had a wide variety of nice yarns; the site lists Alchemy, Art Yarns, Blue Sky Alpacas, Cascade, Debbie Bliss, Elsebeth Lavold, Ironstone, Jade Sapphire, Jo Sharp, Laines Du Nord, Lorna's Laces, Mango Moon, Manos del Uruguay, Noro, O-Wool, Opal Yarn, Plymouth, Rowan, RY Classic, Skacel, and Southwest Trading.

My mother-in-law bought two balls of Jo Sharp Infusion Kid Mohair in Twilight, to make a scarf similar to the sample in the store. I bought two balls of RYC Soft Tweed in a slate blue color, on clearance; it's been discontinued by the Rowan. (I limited myself to the clearance wall intentionally!)

The two women who were there were so nice! They chatted with the guys and offered them Cokes. The website mentions their commitment to Southern Hospitality, and I believe it! One spins, one weaves, and they both knit. We had fun talking about what we're working on, and one woman, Stephanie, is a fellow devotee of book arts, too. Who would have thought it? We exchanged links and blogs, which was fun. (Stephanie, if you read this, HEY!)

All in all, it's a definite must-visit if you're in the Athens area. It's so close (ten minutes from the Botanical Garden), and there's a wonderful orchard store nearby with delicious homemade ice cream. (I recommend the lemon custard. Yum!)

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Thanks, Peachtree Handspinners!

Thanks to y'all, I have filled my bobbin! Thanks, too, for all the fiber-obsessed time, including the chance to some dyeing. I had never used cochineal, and now I have some lovely dyed yarn to play with.

Seriously, the Peachtree Handspinners Guild was so fun. I plan to go again next month, and join once I'm sure I'm going to stick with this.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Spinning and felting and crochet, oh my!

Well, on the spinning side, I received a very prompt, very helpful reply from the Peachtree Handspinners Guild. It turns out that Interweave has a couple of free, downloadable brochures on spinning that look helpful. The kind woman who responded suggested that I attend their next meeting (at the end of the month), too. I'm really afraid I'll learn to do it horrendously wrong, so I think I'll put the spinning aside until then.

So, needle felting. Emily Barnard of Colorado Fiber Arts has the most amazing needle felted animals, at Art in Sheep's Clothing. Wow. That's intimidating. Someday, maybe, I can do that sort of stuff. Now, I'm more up to the cute little needle felted birds she teaches in her class. Or a needle felted ball, maybe.

Oh, I know! How about an eyeball, like the crocheted one at Monster Crochet? Big round ball, two concentric colored circles in the center...I can do that!

Did I mention I'm insane? I have to finish a crocheted Saturday. Somehow this slipped my mind. I'm using Simply Soft in Dark Country Blue (I looks darker to me) for the body, with Berry Blue and Dark Country Blue in concentric circles for the little bumps. I hope to make it (semi) functional... Really, the pattern is just a really big crocheted ball, sort of like this one. I'm crocheting it with two strands held together, using an I hook, for the body; I'll probably use just one strand for the bumps.

I'll post pics when it's finished.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Spinning woes!

I'm trying to learn to spin with a drop spindle, but so far the results aren't exactly spectacular. I finally, after many tries, made a yard of something that resembles yarn. (I'm afraid that's the best I can say about it...)

It took a very, very long time, though, and it wasn't exactly done correctly. Plus, it has now mostly untwisted.

Oh well. I'll use that fiber for needle felting. You can use pretty much anything for the core... In the meantime, I've emailed the Peachtree Handspinners Guild to see if they can refer me to classes or recommend a good video.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Vacation crafting

Okay, I took several knitting and crochet projects on vacation with me. I figured, "All those hours in the car? I'll get tons of stuff done!" Uh, yeah. Apparently being on vacation means I'm suddenly unable to knit! About all I could do was crochet, though I even had to frog some of that!

Here was the plan: finish the backpack I was crocheting, start and finish the MagKnits Saturday Market Bag (modified in a manner similar to Disdressed's), work on my dragon stole, maybe start a new project.

Uh yeah. Right. Best laid plans and all that.

What really happened: work on backpack, frog, redo until I like the way the shape is working out. Figure out I'll never finish it in time to go hiking. Stop with one strap begun, but only two inches long.

Cast on market bag. Frog. Cast on market bag. Frog. Cast on market bag. Knit two rows. Frog. Cast on market bag. Knit two pattern repeats (eight rows). Put in lifeline. Knit three rows. Put down. Start fourth row. Almost fall asleep. Put away. Pull out knitting and realize I've lost stitches. Try to fix. Frog to lifeline. Knit four rows. Realize something is wrong before lifeline. Frog to beginning. Cast on. Knit seven rows. Frog. Cast on. Knit six rows. Frog. Cast on. Knit ten rows. Frog. Cast on. Knit six rows. Get to Atlanta. Knit six rows perfectly while riding bus and walking home.

Yeah, it was frustrating. And now, one row from a pattern repeat (and lifeline), I've messed up. I was talking to my husband, and I have no idea what I did.


Friday, July 6, 2007

So little time online...

I miss Craft Wonderland! Without me posting left and right, no one is talking much. :( The down side to my vacation.

The only one, actually. :)

Shuttles, Spindles and Skeins in Boulder, Colorado

When I posted on Craftster about visiting Colorado, everyone said Shuttles, Spindles and Skeins in Boulder was a must-visit. I was a bit confused by this, since I said I was visiting Pueblo, Colorado Springs, and Denver. Well, silly me. Boulder is only half an hour from Denver! So off we went.

When I walked in, I was floored. It was far, far more than I expected--and I couldn't even see the back area or the other room! There was fiber everywhere, in every form: cones for weaving, balls, skeins, and hanks, and roving. In front of the window: probably two dozen hats, each with a note attached detailing the pattern, yarn, needles or hook, everything! Nearly every yarn had a swatch, and the number of colors available for each yarn was astounding.

It was like a big playground, with fiber, patterns, tools, needles, hooks, looms, spindles, books, more fiber...but no one offered to help me. No one greeted me. No one even acknowledged my existence, except a nice women knitting at a table who said hello and said to let her know if she was in my way.

There were at least three employees in the store, all at the checkout and talking to each other. I believe one was on the phone with a vendor or something, so she was busy. But the other employees didn't speak to me, either, for half an hour. Ten minutes before closing, one woman asked if I needed help.

She was very nice, and when I asked about drop spindles she quickly found someone with more spinning experience to help me. The second woman was quite nice, too, and reasonably helpful. She didn't really offer me much advice on choosing a spindle; she said it was mainly personal preference. But if you've never spun, how do you know what you prefer?

I showed her the Schacht Hi-Lo Spindle, which I had looked at online. She told me it could be a good choice, since it would allow me to try both high whorl and low whorl spinning. The price was comparable to what I've seen online, so I decided to go with it. (I like to support local shops when I can.) She showed me which roving was the cheap "starter roving" and helped me decide on a quantity. (She suggested two to three ounces, but I don't have an easy local source, so I bought four and a half ounces. It will probably take at least that much before I make anything even sort of decent...)

If you're going to be in the area, I definitely recommend visiting Shuttles, Spindles and Skeins. I haven't seen a yarn selection like that since the weaving supply room at college; it simply has to be seen to be believed. But because of the service, I decided to skip buying anything I could get elsewhere, and only bought four skeins of inexpensive yarn (besides the spindle and roving) and a thread cutter (easier than scissors when travelling). Next time I find myself in Denver, I will definitely visit again. Hopefully, the service was simply a fluke, and everyone will be nice and helpful.

Maybe by then I'll be an expert spinner with a good loom. (Hey, let me have my dreams!)

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Colorado Fiber Arts, Pueblo, Colorado

Colorado Fiber Arts in Pueblo was one of my planned stops. I found it doing a Google Search for "yarn store" near Colorado Springs. Well, we were going to pass through Pueblo, so...why not stop?

It was my third yarn store of the trip, and there was still new stuff to see. First, they had an actual selection of needles for needle felting, not just the standard single tool. Plus, they offered the colored roving in little one ounce bundles; many places only offer pre-packaged selections, which force you to buy colors you'll never use, and still have left over from the last package...

So guess who bought a felting needle and two different colors of roving? Yep, me: two bundles of red and one of a very dark navy. I'm thinking dragon... (Big surprise, huh?)

I also bought one skein of Candy by Artful Yarns, in Jelly Bean, which is a blend of blues, greens, and white. It's definitely going to be a hat for one of my nephews; there's an adorable baby hat pattern on the label. I saw a sample hat in the shop, and it's perfect! Candy is 64% cotton, 32% acrylic, 3% nylon, and 1% elastic, which results in a nicely stretchy fabric which returns to its shape quite readily. (Seems like a great idea, since little ones pull and tug at everything...)

The lady who helped me was very nice...which seems to be a pattern for yarn store employees! There were a couple of ladies working on projects at a table in the back, but other than that it was empty. She was helpful and knowledgable, and showed me all sorts of cool stuff!

...Empty, except for the five guys I brought in with me! Dredd and all three of his brothers came in, as well as my husband. A couple of the younger guys were amused by the copy of Knitting with Balls they found on one of the shelves. (Two teenagers and a preteen...LOL) They hung around a while, then headed down to the public library, less than a block away.

It's a beautiful library, with a reflecting pool and everything. We went there for coffee (Dredd, my husband, and I) and smoothies (the guys). Very yummy. So if you visit the store, be sure to stop by the library if it's open. There's even a museum on the top floor! Too bad I didn't get to see it.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Oodles Yarn and Bead Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico

I knew there had to be a yarn shop in Santa Fe, since it's a very artistic city. Sure enough, we checked into our hotel Sunday night and I found a flyer for Oodles Yarn and Bead Gallery!

So, my husband gets to the hotel room and there's the flyer, in the middle of the floor, right in front of the door. Gee, how did that get there? Tolerant man that he is, he immediately agrees to take me there, Tuesday morning, on our way out of town.

Oodles is small, but they have good stuff! The front two-thirds of the room is given over to a sitting area and tons of fiber. When we stopped in, a good bit of the floor was also given over to yarn...there was a sale. :)

And, to my husband's delight, there was also a guy there, knitting away on the sofa. So my husband chatted with him (and sometimes the owner), leaving me to shop. The gentleman, who's a friend of the owner's, was funny and nice, as well as a skilled knitter. Very cool; glad my husband got to see a man knitting! (Though he enjoys listening to David Reidy's Sticks & String podcast, he's never actually met a male knitter! Not that he will ever start knitting...)

I found some Classic Elite Bam Boo yarn (on sale) in a bright blue; it may be China Blue, but I'm not sure. It's my first bamboo yarn! I also bought a skein of something else, but I can't remember what. Typical...

In the back, there's a big table with beads, and more beads on the left wall. The back and right walls had more yarn. I bought some pretty glass beads for my magic yarn ball swap partner, Kel. (We're doing our first mwb swap at Craft Wonderland, and I have to mail it out as soon as I get home.)

The owner was very nice. She was helpful, but she wasn't pushy. (I don't like pushy. Southerners usually equate "pushy" with "rude.") She was knowledgeable, so I could tell she knew what she was doing. The finished samples around the shop were proof!

One cool thing about Oodles: there's lots of handpainted yarn! There's lots of high-quality fiber, but she has a good selection of novelty fibers, too, if you're in the mood for something a little frivolous. I'll definitely be back if I return to Santa Fe.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Serendipity Needleworks, Tuscaloosa, Alabama

I spent about an hour and a half at Seredipity Needleworks in downtown Tuscaloosa this morning (actually, yesterday morning, but I haven't been to bed yet). I had a great time. There were so many beautiful yarns everywhere! I wasn't really optimistic when I saw the "Needleworks;" I figured it would be mostly embroidery, with some yarn thrown in. But to my surprise, there was tons of yarn and a great selection for embroidery, too.

The owner was so nice. She was knowledgeable about yarns, both those she carried and those she didn't. She greeted me cheerfully when I entered and offered help, but was never pushy. When I needed help finding a yarn substitute, she was was able to offer me several options, and give me advice on needles. When she needed to step to the back, she checked first to see if I needed anything.

The customers were great, too. I chatted with some of the women there for the Sit 'n' Stitch, and they were all cheerful and enthusiastically discussed their projects and mine.

So, my purchases... One of the projects on my dream list was the Scribblin' Shawl from Mason-Dixon Knitting. When I saw the beautiful red Lang Venezia yarn, I knew the shawl would be my next project! The owner helped me find substitutes for the Rowan Kid Silk Haze used in one of the sample shawls; I went with Douceur et Soie in black, for the body of the scarf. It's only a few rows long (I need to finish my backpack), but so far I'm happy with it!

Other purchases: Classic Elite Cotton in red and Berrocco Cotton Twist in Satin Beige (a taupe-ish color) from the bargain bin, plus three ball-ends for $1 each.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Knit Picks is taunting me!

I've been longing for CotLin in Moroccan Red for almost two months. I bought some for Ishy last month, in Royal Plum. It's very pretty, and it seems practical too. But every time I check the page, red is out of stock. I go back and it's not in yet. First it was early June, then June 15, then June 18, and now June 25.

I just want the pretty red yarn! Is that so much to ask?

Sigh. I love Knit Picks, but this is driving me nuts!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

More on Kool-Aid dyeing...

Well, I have photos now. First, my dyed samples...which were originally Winter White (Paton's Classic Wool).

I decided to start out playing with cherry and black cherry Kool-Aid, because I wanted red. (Yeah, what a surprise...) On the left is my first sample, straight cherry. It turned out to be a pinker red than I like, and a bit bright. But, that was sort of what I expected.

The middle sample is straight black cherry. It did turn out darker, which is what I expected, but it was still rather pink. How to fix that?

As luck would have it, I bought six (seven? eight?) different colors (um, flavors) of Kool-Aid, including lemon-lime. I wanted it less pink, and green is the complement of red, so logically it would tone down the pink.

It worked, but I overdid it a bit, so I overdyed with a bit more cherry. I like the color--a nice brick red--but it was darker than I wanted. But I'm still very happy with it; that's my third sample. Pretty, right?

I've droned on and on about the colors, but I haven't talked about the magic of Kool-Aid dyeing, which is the most addictive part. I used the "simple" version, which I've seen on several sites. It's really, really easy.

First, soak your wool (or other animal fiber) in lukewarm water. Leave it soaking while you prepare your dye. You'll need about one packet of unsweetened Kool-Aid per 1 oz of yarn...according to the websites. I think you'll need more to get decent (read "non-pastel") colors.

Anyway, mix the Kool-Aid in lukewarm water until it dissolved. Use enough water to cover the yarn plus an inch or two more. You can use as much water as you want, but more water means more time cooking your fiber. It's the amount of powder in the water that matters.

Transfer the wet fiber to the dye bath and press it down to submerge it. Place it in the microwave, and microwave it for two minutes. Let it sit for two minutes, then repeat until the magic happens.

And the magic? As you heat the dye bath, the fiber absorbs the dye. As the dye is absorbed, the water turns clear! It's amazing...

The first photo shows the fiber with the dye about half absorbed. In the second, the dye has been totally observed; note the clear liquid! See? It really is like magic...

Oh, be sure to let the yarn cool before messing with it or agitating it. Don't add cold water water to try to speed the process, either. We don't want random felting, do we? No.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Are there not enough colors of yarn in the world?

Apparently not. Because I decided last week that I really needed to dye my own yarn.

So, it's Friday night. I've finished work for the week, and my husband is out of town. What do I do? I microwave a few yards of yarn in Kool-Aid. Then I try it again, with another color. Then I try to blend colors and make a more custom color.

For the record, black cherry with some lemon-lime added makes a nice dark red; you can use straight black cherry (lots of it, though), but it will be a pinker red. If you overdo it with the lemon-lime, you can overdye it with some regular cherry to tone down the brown.

I still haven't uploaded the photos...I guess I'll have to do that tonight.

Monday, June 11, 2007


Why start yet another craft blog? Because I'm obsessed with making things, and I think my geek friends (who are more than half male) could care less about my craft ravings. Well, okay, they were completely amused when I told them about Kool-Aid dyeing my yarn, but that was just the novelty value of it...

So, what do I do? Um, what don't I do? The answer would be, "Not a lot." I'm a lifelong craft addict, which turned into an art degree and a graphic design career. (Which was a surprise all its own, since I was nearly finished with my junior year of a physics degree at the time...) My mom was a Girl Scout leader, but we were all addicted long before then, if we're being honest. I was also the craft aide at one of the Girl Scout Day Camps.

Okay, what do I really like to do? Well, my first love is paper crafts, mainly my scrapbook and book arts. But those take lots of space, and I can't work on them in ten minute chunks; I don't have a dedicated space for crafts! Hence my addiction to knitting and crochet. I learned to do both as a kid, but there weren't any interesting patterns, really, once I made granny square baby blankets. Fast forward, and now there are. So I'm learning to do both "for real."

I've done weaving and ceramics, and I loved both but don't have the setup; ditto for printmaking. (Maybe someday.) I also play with polymer clay, beads, jewelry, and sewing. Plus lots of weird niche stuff, including candlewicking and stuff.

Anyway, I think the site my friend Ishy and I started, Craft Wonderland, will keep me with lots of material for posting.