Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Third Time's The Charm

For the weather at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival that is. This past Sunday, my family, my fiancee, The Wench and her husband, baby and mother, The Teacher and a few friends from work all descended upon the Howard County Fairgrounds for the 38th annual MD Sheep and Wool Festival. The weather was perfect, the lime-aid tasty, the sheep cute and the fiber gorgeous. I was really lusting for a spinning wheel, but I think I will give my drop spindle more of  a chance and reassess buying a wheel next year (also cuz they're EXPENSIVE). That being said, I did walk out with some pretty fantastic stuff, AND a good time was had by all (even the guys).
The Wench, Me and The Teacher

Much of the crew at the end of the day.

Fiancee: OMG IT'S SO FLUFFY!!!
Me and my sister.

8oz Merino to spin.

Blue Heron RayonMetallic (It's SOO pretty)

Crazy Zauberball!

Laceweight Tencel/Cotton/Linen blend.

Miss Babs Yarn sample! (I love Miss Babs)

Lotion, soap and honey sticks from The Bee Folks

Never enough snarky pins.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Paper Stash

AKA: Magazines. Everyone likes them, whether you read Glamour, Vogue, Popular Mechanics or Time we all pick up magazines now and then. So of course there is a slew of knitting magazines out there including; Vogue Knitting, Interweave Knits, Debbie Bliss and Knit Simple. Two of my favorites are Vogue Knitting  and Interweave Knits.  Both of these magazines have pretty good articles, gorgeous photographs of beautiful knitwear and fantastic patterns. Not that I really need to have more things that I want to knit (that I'll probably die before I have a chance to make) especially considering there's about 300 things in my Ravelry queue. Anyway, my only gripe with Vogue Knitting is that it's still a Vogue magazine so even though there are a bunch of normal looking, beautiful knits and then there's something like this that NO ONE in their right (or wrong) mind would actually consider wearing off the runway.
However, I did decide to invest in a subscription to Interweave Knits. A) I like mail and B) I like knitting stuff, so today I got the Summer 2011 issue and there's some really great stuff in it. There's a blurb about this man who takes knitting to performance art, an article on how to design your own lace patterns, yarn reviews and of course, many beautiful patterns to knit. So I would highly recommend that if you're interested in learning more about knitting or the knitting world that you pick up Interweave Knits or any other knitting magazine and get reading!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Level Up +1 Yarn Dyeing

Dyed Yarn
Today I dyed yarn with food coloring. I'm pretty happy with the results. In the past I've dyed yarn with Kool-Aid, which is great, they make bright colored yarns, AND it smells like fruity sheep. However, if you want to have darker or richer colors you need to up the game. So, food coloring it is. I used McCormick NEON! Food color and egg dye on Red Heart Heart & Sole. Mixed the colors up with the ratios that were suggested on the box for turquoise, apricot and raspberry. I had soaked the yarn in water and some vinegar overnight so that the yarn would hold the dye better. Then I used a medicine dropper to get the dye onto the yarn while it was in my crock pot. The dye immediately took to the yarn, because I was able to suction up excess water and it was pretty much dye free. I thought that was pretty cool. Cooked in the crock pot on high for about an hour and a half so the dye would set then rinsed and squeezed out as much water as I could. It's still going to be a day or two until it's fully dry though. I think I'm going to make these Elphaba hand warmers out of the yarn.

Roxanne after Clue #2
Also, finished all of Clue #2 of the Roxanne KAL. I like how it's looking so far. The textured sides are nice, though I'm hoping when it gets blocked it looks a little more lacy than it does now. Also, it ain't all that big so far, so I'm really looking forward to seeing what Clue #3 brings.

Riley figured out the the shawl was cozy.

Lastly, I have started crocheting a kippah for The Fiancee. He has a big head. It's going to be a BIG kippah. It has made me realize why in the 5+ years that I've been with him that I haven't made a kippah for him until now. They're SO EXCRUCIATINGLY SLOW! All the TEENY stitches!!! AAAUUGH!! Hopefully I wont stab myself with the 1.3mm crochet hook before it's finished.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Artistic Yarn

This past week, the Baltimore Jewish Times ran an article about a local man named Sam Barsky. Mr. Barsky has been knitting his own sweaters for years, and not from patterns. He makes his own designs for pictorial sweaters and they're beautiful. His sweaters are representations of places and different Jewish holidays. He said that he doesn't make the sweaters for money because they would cost far too much due to time and effort, which I can completely understand. Even if you buy cheap yarn, all the time spent making teeny stitches, especially to create a wearable piece of art. I have a lot of respect for Mr. Barsky and his beautiful work.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Really I Need A Better Camera

Because the current pictures I have of my shawl do not nearly represent what the colors are in real life. Today Liz Abinante released the second clue for the Roxanne KAL (a day early! squee!). I of course needed to knit through the repeat at least once, and I'm sharing my progress with you so far. Side-note: doing this KAL has made me realize that everyone has prettier stitch markers than I do, nicer needles, better cameras and better knowledge and tools for blocking. I would just settle for some pretty stitch markers.

Also, I finished a hat that was a request. I had to order the yarn from a company in ENGLAND because of course, it's pretty much discontinued. I hope my customer doesn't want any more hats made with this yarn (Louisa Harding Fauve) because it's gonna be dang hard to get a hold of. Either way, I'm pretty happy with the hat and my ability to pretty much recreate something off the top of my head (this isn't a written pattern, just something I monkeyed around with). 

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Because I did the craft show at a synagogue, I got some people who were interested in having hats made for them. Fantastic. Except that one person is being picky about what yarn I use for the hat and she keeps calling it "fabric".

It's seriously pissing me off.

Friday, April 15, 2011

It's Better To Have Loved And Lost...

In other words, sometimes it's better to suck it up, and frog a failing project then to try and see it out to something that you're not going to be happy with. Sometimes you just have to cut your losses. That was the case this week with another hat I started. I realized Tuesday night that I had to go to my "other" job the next day and needed something to knit while at work. I decided on Sweet Sassafras's Buttercup Beret in NaturallyCaron.com Spa in Misty Taupe. Some 34 rows later, I realized, my gauge was way too small, and I was not really a fan of the cables. To the frog pond it went. I think I'll try it again on slightly larger needles and changing the cables to something I like a little better.

Also, the Roxanne Mystery KAL started today! I already cast-on and did all of the instructions so far. There was a slightly wonky spot in the first two rows where it seemed like it needed another k1, but I just followed it too a T and moved the place markers as needed. I ended with the right amount of stitches that she says we should have so I'm not going to worry. A lot of people on the Ravelry forum seemed to add the stitch though. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011


I am knitting woman! Hear me roar! I have a sweater! Of course, I finished it right in time for it to start getting warm but it'll look great when I wear it next year ;-)

Also, I finished this lovely pair of socks. I started them back in December when the sweater got to be too big to knit while at work (this is the advantage to wearing an apron as part of a work uniform. Big pockets make it easy to stash portable projects.) but they got put on the back burner when I signed up to do the craft fair.

Well, this leaves me down to one active project right now. The pre-tied bandanna that I'm making up. I really have no idea if this is going to turn out how I see it in my head, but hopefully it will. However, here's what there is so far.

Oh yeah, one more thing: Less than a month until MD Sheep and Wool! GET EXCITED. Oh jeez I'm such a yarn nerd. BUT, I'm hoping that this year, (if it's not too expensive) to buy a small spinning wheel. I do like the drop-spindle but I want something that will go a little faster, and be a bit more uniform (I hope).

I'll leave you with this fun tidbit: " There are more than 300 references to sheep and lambs, more than to any other animal, in the Old Testament, on of the earliest written records of sheep." (National Geographic, May 1988 Pg 566)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

From Brain To Fingertips

Pre-Tied Bandannas
In the world of Orthodox Jewish head coverings there is something that exists called a pre-tied bandanna. These are basically cloth bags with a bit of elastic at the nape of the neck to help them stay on. there are also tails at the nape of the neck if you wanted to tie it underneath where your hair is so that it's more secure, or tie it around where the hair is to make it look like a bun. Anyway, this past Saturday, while sitting in synagogue and looking at everyone's head coverings, I thought, "what about a knitted pre-tied bandanna?" And I itched to start it, but since it was the Sabbath, I waited until it was over and then started knitting. I'm using NaturallyCaron.com Spa because it's light and drapey. If it works, and I make what I actually intended to make, I'll share the pattern with all of you. We'll see!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Fearless Knitting

I'm gonna do this. I'm going to use the yarn I got in the last swap. I'm really looking forward to this!

Friday, April 1, 2011


"A bale of raw wool, or grease wool, straight from the sheep, can contain as little as 50 percent wool, the rest being wool grease, burs, seeds, and other vegetable matter, body salts, and dirt." (National Geographic, May 1988 pg 580)

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Adventures In Blocking

"Although its scaly surface tends to repel liquids, the wool fiber's core is highly absorbent, taking in as much as 30 percent of its weight in moisture." (National Geographic, May 1988 pg 556)

Oh boy Larry, this is SO true. The Behemoth sweater that was finished yesterday got blocked tonight and I'm telling you, I thought it was heavy before, but wet? It weighs A TON. For those of you who don't know blocking is when you wet something you knit to relax the stitches and shape it into how the piece is going to live. I do this a lot with my slouchy hats and it makes a HUGE difference. Take this pink hat for example:

I don't know if you can really tell, but before blocking, the hat is kind of small, and very puckery, afterward the stitches relaxed and smoothed out, making for a much nicer hat.
Anyway, my first dilemma was, where am I going to put this damn sweater while it dries? I had a moment of inspiration. A few years ago I interned at The Jewish Museum of Maryland and for some reason I took (they were going to throw it away, I promise) a rather large foam-core poster of Jewish immigrants at the port of Baltimore. This poster is the PERFECT thing to block the sweater on.
The Poster/Blocking Board

Pre-Blocked Sweater
The next task was to get the whole thing wet. Into the tub it goes. It's really important to get the whole thing wet, usually with warm water, but you can't agitate it too much, if you start really trying to wring out a wool item it will felt, which is not what I wanted in this case.
The best thing to do when you're trying to get all that water out is to gently squeeze as much as you can out, and then lay it on a towel and roll up the towel, doing your best to get the towel to soak up the water.
Rolling the Sweater in a Towel
The last thing to do with the damp sweater is to shape it into place. Personally, I like it a little tighter around the boobs (show off the assets) and a little looser over my tummy so I made sure to stretch the bottom half a little wider, without stretching the chest too much. I also tried to stretch the sleeves a little wider so they wont be too tight on my EXCELLENT BICEPS! I also stuck one of my wig heads in the hood so it will actually be head shape, instead of something resembling kale. Then I pinned the whole thing to the board with T pins to hold it in place.
The Sweater

Now we wait until the sweater is dry. Hopefully it won't take too long. In the meantime here's a question for you reader. I have a whole collection of yarn leftover from other projects. Most of these are not enough to make a whole other item, but too much to just chuck. What should I do with it? Crazy scarf? Start a granny square blanket? Got a super idea? Leave it in the comments! I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

It's Done!

I finished it! The giant behemoth of a first sweater! It's done! It's done! (Well, except for minor seaming, weaving in ends and blocking) Pictures to come!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I Feel Like I Apologize To You Guys A Lot

I have been totally off the grid from you guys for almost three months. A lot has happened since then, and I'm hoping, with the inspiration of the BrassyLibrarian that I can really get back into the swing of posting. That is, if anyone is still willing to read :-P

Here's a quick rundown of the BIG stuff that's happened since my last blog post: The Boyfriend is now The Fiancee, I got a job as an actual Librarian AND I'm not working as a pharmacy tech anymore (for those keeping track, was working 3 jobs, now back to 2. YAY!) I started and nearly completed a sweater, and made a hella buncha hats for a craft fair that one of the synagogues was holding here in B-more. I even sold a few of the hats that I had in the craft fair! So here's a whole smattering of pictures in hopes that it will keep your attention long enough for me to post again (hopefully soon).
The Ring!
The Office!
Someone bought this!

And someone bought this!

And this got bought!

This got bought too!

And this one!