Archive for category Daily Life

Pulling out the Jacob

After spending the holiday season and the beginning of the year cranking out some knitting, I’d been craving some spinning time. In a matter of a couple weeks, I finished spinning four 4-ounce braids of fiber and worked on spinning some punis. The first 4 ounces I had been working on for quite a long time and it took about 3 days worth of spinning time to ply it all. As a quick cleanse and to help relax, I spun another 4 ounces on a Sunday afternoon. I started off with M practicing combining treadling with drafting. When she lost interest, I continued while spinning from the fold (folding the fiber over my index finger) with a long draw technique.

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Two-plying from the inside and outside of a center-pull ball

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I also started tackling a few items that will help me reach my 2014 goals. First, my Jacob and I became reacquainted. I pulled out the entire fleece and my combs to assess the situation. I may not have finished prepping it during the Ravellenics, but at least now it is out where I will see it everyday and it should be done rather quickly as I will want the floor space in my living room back!

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My only problem will be holding myself back from starting to spin it before I’m done combing it all. I do not want to spin any until I know exactly what I want to create. I was thinking of trying to spin it in a way to obtain a tweed look by spinning in the white portions throughout the chocolate brown. However, there is significantly less white to work with. Once I have finished combing it all. I will use some of the chocolate brown to do some sampling to decide how to spin and ply it all.

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Holiday Crafting

Though I usually have M make all of her valentines, I decided to do things a bit differently this year.  She has many of the same kids in her class as last year and I didn’t want to give them the same foam heart with foam letters and heart stickers.  Plus, I’m all about gifting things that are also useful.  Often valentines are store bought cards and/or candy.  Which is fine.  But four year olds only need so much candy.

Instead, I decided to use some of my dish cloth cotton to knit heart “scrubbies”.   These nice little hearts can be used to scrub dishes or as wash cloths.  Plus, with their super convenient crocheted loops, they can be hung in the dishwasher or be thrown in the wash.  I did try making a crocheted heart to see if it would take less time and look nicer… but it took at least twice as long… just to do one side of it.  I asked M on Thursday morning which of the two she preferred.  Luckily, it was the knitted heart.  So M’s teacher was gifted the larger, “fancy” heart and I made ten (I promise, even if only eight made it into the picture!) of the little knitted hearts.  In order to give each valentine M’s special touch, she was in charge of writing out the tags with each child’s name and her own.  Which, for a four year old, is a lot of hard work!

i ♥ tawashi's by Julie Tarsha and HDC Heart in Lily's Sugar'n Cream cotton

i ♥ tawashi’s by Julie Tarsha and HDC Heart in Lily’s Sugar’n Cream cotton

M was so pleased with how they were turning out, she started to list other people I should make the hearts for.  Since I was working on most of them during our snow day the day before Valentine’s Day, I told her the others might have to wait until next year!

Once Valentine’s Day was over, I had the three-day weekend ahead of me to craft on whatever I wanted.  I always find that after (self-imposed) “obligation” knitting is complete, I want to do nothing but spin.  Since I was out of the house most of the weekend, I did work a lot on my mother’s sweater.  But whenever I was home, I worked on spinning up some Highland Handmades’ Polwarth (aka Pitch Pine Top) in the SSKers For the Win colorway.

Highland Handmades Pitch Pine Top - SSKersFTW colorway

Highland Handmades Pitch Pine Top – SSKersFTW colorway

On Presidents’ Day, I took advantage of my day off to not only clean my place, but to sew the rest of the fold-over hems on my father’s sweater as well as sew on the six buttons.  One would maybe think this should have been done back in September when the knitting was finished.  But after finishing the hems at the bottom of the sweater, the collar and both the sleeves were incredibly intimidating.  Not to mention time consuming.  I kept fearing I would get nearly to the end of the collar, only to find that I had sewn it askew.  Luckily, I had an easy way to line up the sleeves as the hem portion was continued directly from the rest of the sleeve and I could line up the stitches exactly.  However, the collar portion had been picked up and knitted from the cast on of the sweater, so there was not the same number of stitches and with the raglan increases, the stitches in the sweater were at an angle while the “hem” was straight.  It took some doing and a lot of straight pins (which are incredibly useless when sewing knitting), but the sweater is now finished.  My father, who was over spending some play time with M, was able to wear it home.

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I might not be completing my intended goals during this Olympic season, but at least I seem to be staying on track with my overall year goals of completing these sweaters and using up stash!

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Holiday Wrap-Up, Part 2: Crafting Goodies!

Though Christmas has come and gone and we are now well into the new year, I want to quickly rave about the wonderful crafting presents I received.  Now, I’m not one to brag – but these are seriously awesome gifts.  That being said, I will only quickly touch on each crafting related present and how some of them have already made such an impact.

First, I received three awesome books, two of which I very strongly dropped some hints about.  Knitter’s Almanac, The Principles of Knitting and Finishing School. I have already begun reading Knitter’s Almanac and paging through the other two.  The wealth of knowledge in these three books is just unbelievable and I cannot wait to try to absorb it all!

Next are the two presents that have become incredibly helpful in my life.  It’s crazy to think I’ve been knitting for over ten years and I didn’t have a ball winder and swift… but I decided to be patient all these years and wind my yarn into annoying balls that would roll around everywhere.  Most annoyingly, my hand-balled yarn loved to roll away from me whenever it could be the most embarrassing or inconvenient.  For example, when I’m in a meeting, waiting at the doctor’s office, on public transportation, etc.  But now, this is a problem no longer.  Knitting from my center-pull yarn cake is like a dream come true.  But these embarrassing truths were not why I finally sucked it up and put these items on my wish list.  No, the dreadful hand-wound, center-pull ball I tried to use to two-ply, pulling from the outside and inside of the ball, when trying to use up the last of my hand-spun singles and ending up with the biggest, gnarled mess is why I gave in.  I love my spinning and after putting in so much time and effort into this one particular project and watching a good deal of spun singles be wasted nearly broke my heart.  No longer.  I have already used my ball winder and swift to ball up several projects-worth of yarn, of which the projects are all already cast-on) and used my ball winder to create a perfect center-pull cake for me to two ply on single onto itself.  No mess, just joy.

My third, rather large, present was a bulky Woolee Winder.  When my family first started asking me what I wanted for Christmas, aside from the previously mentioned, I didn’t seem to have much I needed and therefore didn’t want to ask for items I thought I maybe might want and find I don’t use later.  But eventually, I realized that was silly.  I have batts and bumps of fiber that I would like to spin bulky and some beautiful color gradient braids I would love to spin continuously, but wasn’t able with the bobbins and flyer that came with my Ladybug.  Plus, with a Woolee Winder, I don’t have to worry about stopping to change the hook to ensure the yarn goes on the bobbin evenly.  This has proven to be a difficulty of mine. Though, in all honesty, I did have to send the Woolee Winder back for some tweaks so that it fits my wheel perfectly, I couldn’t be happier to have received this present.  My Loop Bullseye Bumps better watch out, because as soon as my Woolee Winder is back, they are all being spun up!  Ooh, and my two braids of Fiber Optic of one gradient colorway that I have very big plans for.

I already have insane goals for this new year and I’ve started at the year in full force.  I’m just glad that I have some wonderful presents and tools to help me through it and make my crafting experiences that much sweeter!

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26 Days ’til Christmas

Projects in Progress: 7

Projects Complete: 4

Total Presents to Complete: 26

Despite all of my planning – eventually real life takes over.  Including last night, where M stayed up until 11:30 pm, when I finally gave up trying to put her to sleep and went to bed myself only to have her crawl into my bed and fall asleep in under a minute, I have had little to no knitting time this week.  So I reevaluated my present list and somehow, when I was supposed to be cutting presents, I mean postponing them until people’s birthdays or next Christmas (obviously), I instead ended up only reducing by four presents, but also decided that two completed presents would not actually work as presents.

The items I decided to hold off on are for people who are already getting at least one other Christmas present this year, so they still won’t be presentless.  The two completed projects were removed from the count because they are cowls made out of wool.  Not superwash wool, either.  I just couldn’t think of anyone on my list that would hand wash a cowl that didn’t have a wool sensitivity.  That being said, they might get added back to the list when I decide to give them to M for Christmas just to add to the number of presents she gets to unwrap… clearly every three year old’s favorite part.

So the current project breakdown: 3 sweaters, 2 pairs of slippers, 6 pairs of mitts/mittens, 5 hats, 6 neck-warmers/cowls and 3 wraps/shawls.  Completely more reasonable than before…………..

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My Little Crafter

After struggling to put out a post that captures all of my daughter’s enthusiasm towards crafting, I decided to dedicate the majority of this post to photos and videos.

As a single parent, I try to do my best to balance normal toddler activities with my daughter and crafting time. But let’s face it, she’s growing up in an environment revolved around crafting…. that is the part that isn’t revolved around her. Luckily, she really embraces it.

Giving some love to a swap gift

She even loves modeling finished projects when I forget to have someone take a picture for me:

Beyond creating any form of art with craft supplies, she has found that they are some of her new favorite toys for imaginative play.  Just last night she decided to dump out all of our buttons and sort them into families, having the buttons talk to each other and “find each other”. Little buttons went searching clear across the bed for their moms, dads, brothers and sisters, asking for help from other buttons along the way.

M also partakes in her own knitting during my knitting or spinning time.  She often takes out some of “her” yarn and sits with me, pretending to knit.  She often creates projects that she’s making and let’s me know to whom the finished items will go.

That being said, she definitely has a love for a ladybug in our lives – my spinning wheel.  Back in the days when I would take a spinning break during her naps on weekends, she would wake up and sneak into my lap, slowly sliding her feet down to the treadles to “help” me.  This has now evolved to her going up to my wheel asking to spin.  I set it up so that any project I was working on was entirely on the bobbin so she could treadle by herself and nothing would get in the way.

Recently, she asked if she could spin her own yarn.  After months of treadling by herself, I decided adding the next step wouldn’t hurt.  I predrafted some fiber I had received during my wheel spinning class so that she could spin without needing to draft at the same time.  She sat down and went to it:

I think her first handspun is beautiful and definitely going in the scrapbook…. though I might be biased.

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Jumpstart Into Fall!

Everything.  No, really, everything is inspiring my knitting right now.  Every time I turn around, I see something that even slightly reminds me of a project I am knitting, a project I want to knit, or a design I have started mulling over.  I am not a huge fan of summer, so just the thought that it is ending is sending my head spinning over all of the possibilities.  I keep planning trips in my head to go apple picking with M, wine tasting at my favorite local vineyard, and heading to a pumpkin patch for some extra fall fun.  But even thinking about these wonderful fall activities, reminds me of all of the knitting I want to accomplish.

So I just started casting on everything.  To the point where I am running out of needles.  I asked my father to purchase an interchangeable needle set for me for Christmas (along with some sweaters’ worth of yarn) and nearly broke down when I turned them over to him after the package arrived.  “I NEED THOSE NEEDLES NOW!” I keep screaming in my head.  It doesn’t help that M and I managed to break two sizes of my current interchangeable set, so I’m already down two potential projects!  Not to mention, a lot of these hopeful projects do require the same size needles.  I have been pretty restraint in my needle buying over my ten years of knitting, and there are only a few sizes where I have more than just the one interchangeable size.  Then there’s the problem of how many cables I have for the interchangeables.  

Since everything keeps getting in the way of me casting on every project that’s ever existed, I am trying to set timelines for me to actually finish the projects I currently have on the needles.  The first project, though technically off the needles, is a button up cowl… that only needs the two buttons.   This would maybe take me five minutes to complete so I could gift it to its recipient, and yet, I just cannot seem to do it.  Then, I have a finished shawl, awaiting to be sent off to another friend, if I could only weave in the ends.  Completing this project would take, max, ten minutes, and that includes printing a shipping label.

As for the projects on the needles, I am proud to say I finally picked up for the button band of a baby sweater I’ve been working on since the beginning of July.  The goal is to finish it by Friday, or everyone in my life can yell at me.  I’ve already told my daughter, “an acceptable time to yell at Mommy, when she doesn’t finish this baby sweater this week.”  She’s totally on it. She’s already started practicing yelling at me.  Just in case.

I already have two very large Christmas presents on the needles, both almost halfway complete.  Luckily, one is my commuting knitting.  It is traveling everywhere with me so that I can get in a few random stitches here and there and work on it during my lunch break.  This is not a project I’m worried about completing.  The other present was coming along, until I realized it was going to be a present… and not for me.  Then it took a back burner to the baby sweater.  But it’s looming over me.  So as soon as the first is off the needles, this will move into it’s place as the commuting knitting.

However, the most important and time sensitive knitting.  The one thing that should have a clear external and internal motivator is proving to be the most difficult to be consistent on.  M’s birthday sweater.  She turns three at the end of October and has been asking for a new sweater.  I have had the yarn for said sweater for almost a year and a half.  It’s time.  After casting on and then tearing out one cardigan, I finally found one worthy.  And it is the most complicated pattern.  Clearly, I want to knit all of the things in the world… and use absolutely NO brain power to do it.  I want this cardigan done.  To the point that I have printed out the pattern multiple times, cutting and pasting charts, writing and rewriting row numbers along the charts, and thinking about completely rewriting the entire pattern to try and make it a more portable project.  It’s just not happening.  But I LOVE this pattern.  I NEED my daughter to wear this cardigan.  So I have planned out a strict schedule for knitting this project that gives me a finish date a month before her birthday, so when I utterly FAIL I’ll still have a month to get it done.  Here’s hoping!

Then of course, I have a couple other projects going for christmas presents, ideas for holiday gifts for all of my coworkers (which is just absurd and likely to not actually happen, but they will be cast on…), and an idea for my Christmas door decorating that will be addressed in a future post.  I’d also like to knit about five sweaters for myself. I don’t think I have ever made so many lists over and over again of what I want to knit.  Trying to prioritize and desperately trying to NOT LET MYSELF CAST IT ALL ON! But Fall gets to me and, for now, I don’t see an end in sight until after the holidays.

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Is It Getting Hot in Here?

The next major event in my summer crafting was Tour de Fleece.  It’s a large event corresponding to the Tour de France where spinners set goals of either how much they want to accomplish or how much time they want to spin per day.  The general idea is to spin every day the cyclists ride and challenge ourselves during the Tour’s challenge day.

I knew well in advance exactly what I wanted to accomplish: the pound and a half of magenta Romney/Bamboo fiber I purchased at the Vienna Fiber Farmer’s market earlier in the year.  As a new spinner, it’s clearly a good idea to spin for a sweater, only three months after purchasing my wheel.  But I had the fiber and I knew I would want to knit a sweater for myself this fall.  However, this being the first year I was participating… and, you know, spinning at all, I was certain this was a very  ambitious goal.  I planned out every single day.  Sunday through Thursday every week, I would spin one ounce and Fridays and Saturdays, I would spin two ounces.  This would give me a few days to ply everything up at the end.

 

Before the Tour began, I started preparing.  I went through every inch of the fiber, picking out veggie matter and separating the fiber into one ounce balls, ready to spin.  I made up ziplock bags with four ounces each so I could be certain each bobbin had four ounces of singles.  I had a lot of traveling back and forth to my parent’s house planned during the Tour, so I wanted everything to be easy to grab and go and be able to pick up without wondering where I left off.

The night before the Tour began, we had the epic storm where seemingly everyone in Virginia, DC and Maryland lost power. I had planned to be at a kickoff party Saturday morning to get a head start, just in case my planning wasn’t good enough.  The last thing I wanted to do was spin wool without air conditioning, especially given the summer we’d been having.  Luckily, the event wasn’t cancelled, but instead was held on a balcony that remains sunless for the first half of the day.  I spun nearly eight ounces those first two days of the Tour… without air conditioning.

Luckily, the rest of my Tour de Fleece experience went quite well.  There were several days where I couldn’t spin, but every day I did, I spun so much, it made up for it.  It was this experience that taught me how much faster and thicker (as was my goal since I typically spin a lace weight two-ply) I can spin when I spin in a long-draw, woolen style.

 

I came out with an almost, maybe a little bit, consistent DK/Worsted (with some little chunky spots here and there) weight two-ply of 1288 yards.  Plenty for a simple cardigan, that I may have just cast on! I cannot wait for fall!

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