Saturday, December 29, 2012

Technical Difficulties

Hi everyone! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas/Tuesday, and that you are staying warm and out of the snow this week.

I had a wonderful Christmas with my family, and have been knitting up a storm the last few days. I came down with a cold the day after Christmas, so yesterday I just laid in bed, knitted, and caught up on some TV shows. 

A few days before Christmas, I hung out with my best friend, Hannah. We made chocolate peppermint and chocolate chip pomegranate cookies, and she let me teach her how to knit!! 

I started teaching her in the English style (holding the yarn in the right hand), but she wanted to learn to knit the continental style like her Grandma (and I) knit. I was surprised by how easily she picked up knitting continental, since it took me a lot longer to get the hang out it. I think that it is easier to learn an entirely new skill than it is to change the way you have been doing something for years.

I am really hoping she gets hooked on knitting so that we can be knitting nerds together.

Last Sunday, I had Christmas with my mom, stepdad, my sisters, and my step-brothers. It was a lot of fun, and we spent hours eating delicious food and playing board games. I got a lot of wonderful presents including this gem from my sister and brother-in-law

I am, of course, currently using it to hold my works-in-progress.

On Christmas Eve, Brandon and I both worked all day and then had Christmas with his family, which was also a lot of fun. His parents and siblings got us a computer chair, a new vacuum, and a new set of silverware and dinnerware. Awesome!

Brandon and I exchanged presents Christmas morning. He loves his scarf, and he got me some wonderful presents as well!

He definitely spoiled me this year, with yarn, a new blender and iced-coffee maker, some board games, and a ton of candy. But best of all he got me a webcam, so I can finally start making my podcast. Hannah told me that I can't call it a podcast because it will actually be a videocast, but anyway. It will be some sort of video-thingy. 

Then we went up to my grandparent's house and had Christmas there. It was so much fun to spend time with my cousins and grandparents, and my aunt and uncle whom I don't see very often. Everyone loved their handmade gifts, which made me really happy.

Molly and Brandon

Molly, mom, and Celeste modeling their presents

I love my family

My mom looks great in her sweater!

Celeste and Levi

My mom and Ken

I am always reminded this time of the year how much I love my family. They are so awesome, and so much fun to be around. 

Now, on to the knitting!

Finished Objects

The only thing that I have finished recently is my adorable little monster for the 600 Monsters project. 

He is so adorable. I definitely want to make another one to keep. I made him out of Hobby Lobby I Love This Yarn in the Peacock color, and I used Michele Lugo's Adorkable Monster pattern. I was not completely in love with this pattern, but the result is so adorable that I can understand the fiddliness (my spell checker is telling me that is not a word, but I am too sick and grumpy to care :P)  of the pattern. This little guy will be going out in the mail on Monday, and will be sent with hundreds of other monsters to Sandy Hook Elementary at the end of January.

Works in Progress

This is where the title "technical difficulties" comes in. I was home sick from work yesterday, so I spent all day knitting this:

I'm sorry about the poor picture quality. The camera has been acting funny. This is my first ever sweater for myself. I am using Blue Alvarez's Nutmeg sweater pattern, which is a wonderful unisex top-down, seamless raglan sweater and I am really loving it. I am adding some waist shaping and ribbing at the neckline, sleeves, and hem.  I am also probably going to have to make 3/4 length sleeves because I only have two balls of the Laines du Nord Prancer yarn (in color number 77). I am in love with this yarn. It is very soft and snuggly, and the color changes are beautiful. 

I am knitting this on my size 9, 5.5 mm, circular bamboo needles. Or I was knitting with them, until the cord completely snapped off the needle halfway through a round. I was very upset, but  I cannot say that I am surprised- I bought this needle as part of a very cheap set on Ebay a few years ago, and the cables are extremely flexible, but they do not stand up well to magic loop knitting. So, unfortunately, this sweater will have to be on hiatus until my new needles come in the mail, since I do not have another set of size 9 circulars. 

2) Since I could no longer work on my sweater, I cast on for my first pair of toe up socks

I am using Knit Picks Felici Sport in the Groovy color, and am using size 2, 2.75 mm, dpn's. I absolutely love how soft and smooth this yarn is. This was one of the yarns I got from Knit Pick's black Friday sale. I believe it is still on sale on their website. 

I used the figure 8 cast-on method, which was way more difficult than it should have been.  I tried three different cast-on methods before I finally got it right. I don't know if it is my cold, or my crappy needles, but I was definitely having some knitting problems yesterday. 

One of the main problems was that my size 2 needles are super dull, and I kept casting on too tightly. Finally, I just decided to knit the first row in the next needle size down, and that worked perfectly. It also had the added benefit of eliminating the looseness that this cast-on can sometimes cause. I am using Wendy D. Johnson's Sport Weigh Toe-up Socks pattern as a guideline.

Stash Enhancement 

I have actually purchased a little bit of yarn with my Christmas money, but for the moment all I have to show you is this wonderful yarn that Brandon got me as a present.

These are five balls of Bernat Natural Blends Alpaca yarn. He got me the Natural, Lavender, Aqua, Tomato, and Forest colors. They are very beautiful and soft yarns. I am not sure what I will be making with them yet, but I may either buy a couple more skeins to make a striped or colorwork (eeks) sweater, or make a striped cowl or scarf. 

Hopefully I will be feeling (and looking) better soon so I can officially start my videos. It is snowing like crazy outside right now, which makes me think it is a perfect time for a nap.

Have a great weekend!


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Quick post before Christmas

Only a little over four days until Christmas!!

I can't believe how fast this year has gone by. And I still have so many things to get done before Christmas!! I still have to wrap presents, bake two different kinds of cookies and a pie, and buy a few more presents. And I have worked every day this week, and have to work tonight, tomorrow, and all day Christmas Eve. 

So here is just a quick update about what I have been up to 

Finished Objects

I started and finished my first knit hat this week! I don't know how I have been knitting for over ten years and still had never knit a hat before. I guess it's because crocheting hats is so easy and quick that I never wanted to knit a hat. But after dying that lovely yarn last week, I wanted to make something out of it, and I did not think there would be enough to crochet a hat (since crocheting uses up more yarn than knitting does).

Here is the yarn after being wound into a ball

Here is the hat. I knit this on size US 4 needles and I used Julie Packard's Island Wools Swirl Hat pattern, mainly because the top of the hat looks like this:

I will mention again how essential the ninja turtles are to my creativity

 I love this pattern soooo much. It is really quick (I knit this in two days) and easy, and the hat looks awesome. All of the yarn-overs make it fit my giant head much better, as well.

Works in Progress

1) I started knitting the adorkable monster by Michele Lugo. I have been wanting to knit this pattern for a veeery long time, and when my mom sent me a link to the 600 Monsters Strong   project I knew I had to knit it. This group is trying to knit a monster for each of the students at Sandy Hook Elementary. Why monsters? Because there are a multitude of patterns easily available, they are quick and easy knits, they are unique and cute, and they will (hopefully) brighten a child's day. 

I am knitting my monster on size US 7 needles with Hobby Lobby's I Love This Yarn in the color Peacock. The organizers of the 600 Monsters project are recommending that people knit/crochet with acrylic or cotton yarn so that the softies will be machine washable and not bother anyone with wool allergies. 

I am knitting "afterthought" arms, meaning that I have knit 12 stitches on each side in a different yarn so that later I can pull the yarn out, pick up 24 stitches, and knit the arms. This way I will not have to do much seaming, and I can stuff the whole monster at once. I will be knitting the horns according to the pattern, however. 

2) I started spinning this "Pre-yarn" that I purchased from linyarns on Etsy.  It is actually pencil roving, which is wool roving that has been drafted very very thin. It is so thin that I do not have to do anything other than spin it, making it super fast and easy to spin.

I am already about a quarter of the way done. The wool is a little scratchy, but I am hoping that after I ply it and soak it in wool-wash it will soften up. If not, I think I will use it to knit some felted slippers or maybe a stuffed animal. 

That's all from me for now. I hope that everyone who celebrates Christmas has a wonderful day with family and friends. And if I don't get a chance to post, Happy New Year, as well.


Friday, December 14, 2012

a memory of those flowers

I spent most of my day working and wrapping presents so I just recently found out the details of the shooting in Connecticut. I just can't stop crying thinking of all of those lives cut short. My love and thoughts go out to everyone affected by this tragedy.

Sometimes I have a hard time understanding how such a beautiful world can contain such ugliness and cruelty. 


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

So much stash!!

I'm almost done with finals!!

Finally! I can relax! I just have one little paper left to write, and then I am done for the semester.

I have to say, this was a tough semester. Not because of my classes, or the work load, but because of me! I usually have no problem focusing in class or on doing homework, but this semester I found it almost impossible to make myself work on school work. Because of this, and wanting to save up more money, I have decided to take next semester off. I will definitely be going back in the fall, but I think I just need a little break. After sixteen years of getting straight A's, I am exhausted! 

I have not gotten a ton of knitting done lately, due to finals, but I did finally finish one project!

Finished Object

1) I finished Brandon's scarf! Finally!! I am so sick of scarf knitting. My next project is going to have to be in the round, or I will go crazy. 


This was made with Knitpicks Brava Sport and some recycled sweater yarn. It's really soft and long (over 70 in long after blocking). I will post more pictures of Brandon wearing it after Christmas. 

So now I am finally done with holiday knitting! Woohoo! I was going to make a couple more things for people, but I am totally burnt out on knitting for other people. I almost never knit for myself, which is ridiculous. I think my New Year's resolution for next year is going to be to only knit things for ME! Selfish knitting all the way.

2) I also finished spinning the singles of the undyed BFL that I have been working on FOREVER! I was really proud of how even and consistent it was, until I started unwinding it onto a "bobbin" (AKA toilet paper roll). Somehow I managed to spin a very consistent lace weight for a third of the fiber, then a few dozen yards of a fingering weight, and finishing with a very consistent, very thin, lace weight. I have no idea how I am going to spin the other 2 oz in order to make it an even and balanced two-ply. I think I'm just going to have to accept that my first yarn is going to be a little thick and thin. 

3) Last night I attempted dyeing a gradient yarn in green, and it did not work out so well. It may have been the yarn's fault, and the fact that it was white instead of natural  yarn means it does not soak up dye as well as I would like. Or it could be that my dyeing skills have not been perfected yet. But anyway, this morning I over-dyed the yarn with blue, and I love it!!

It is still not done drying, but I will post another picture of it in a hank or ball so you can marvel at the beauty. This was a yarn that I bought on Ebay for about two dollars a long time ago. It's a Chinese yarn, so I have a hard time finding the information about it to share with you, but it is a silk, merino, and (apparently) cashmere blend. It is very very soft and smooth. I am not 100% confident about the fiber content, since the yarn is so cheap, but it definitely has wool in it (it smells like clean wool when wet) and it feels soft enough to have silk and cashmere in it too. Who knows. Here is the page on Ebay.

Stash Enhancement

I have a hard time justifying this, but I will try. 

As you can see, I have a lot of new yarn and fiber. So much that as I was photographing it all my boyfriend was sitting on the couch shaking his head at me in shame. BUT, as I tried to explain to him, I am not crazy! Everything in this picture cost me less than 40 dollars!  Let me explain.

Way back in October, I bought a bunch of yarn from a Chinese yarn company on Ebay. I couldn't resist the low price! It took over a month to get here, but I am very happy with the yarn. It is the same brand as the yarn that I dyed in the picture above. I am planning a sweater with these lovelies. 

Then, on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, I had a bit of a yarn buying relapse. I had managed to avoid buying yarn for SO LONG, but how I am supposed to resist awesome discounts and free shipping!? I CAN'T!

Brandon bought me some yarn as an early Christmas present from the Knitpicks Cyber Monday sale (or should I say, he gave me permission to use his card to order myself some yarn). I got some lovely Stroll and Andean Treasure for under ten dollars!


Then, the next day, when I saw that the sale was still going on, I couldn't resist buying some more, for myself. I got three balls of Palette for only ten dollars. So beautiful!

I actually bought two more skeins of yarn, but Knitpicks ran out of it before they could put my order through. And, because they are such lovely and wonderful people, they sent me a coupon for ten dollars worth of yarn FOR FREE!!!!! And, of course, they still had a bunch of fantastic yarn on clearance. I got two skeins each of Felici Sport and Shadow Tonal, for TEN DOLLARS!!

So I got all this fantastical wonderful beauty and only spent ten dollars (plus shipping). 

THEN I was on Etsy, and saw some beautiful fiber on sale that I could not pass up. 

This is the Topaz Tempest wool from The Joyful Sheep . It is a wool and mohair blend, and I cannot wait to spin it. The shop owner also sent me a cute little button and a little sample of fiber as well, because she is fantastic!!


And last, but not least, I purchased some of this 

This, my dear friends, is possibly the softest, squishiest thing I have ever felt. It is eight ounces of faux (yes, that means it's synthetic. AAAAAH!) cashmere from Yarn 2 Spin on Etsy.  Since it will be a very veeeeery long time (if ever) that I will have the means to spin real cashmere, this is the next best thing. Seriously, when I say soft, I mean floating on clouds made of marshmallow puff and baby kisses soft. I am planning on dyeing this wonderful rainbow colors and spinning it up to make a shawl or hat/gloves/scarf combo. 

That is all the news I have of the knitting/yarn variety. I am currently also working on a recycled T-shirt quilt that I started sewing two years ago and have yet to finish. I am setting a goal for myself to finish it by the end of the year. EEP. I will update you with it's progress in my next post. 

Now that I have showcased my gluttony and yarn addiction, I think I will head to bed. Boyfriend and I have lots of Christmas shopping to get done tomorrow. :P
Have a great weekend! I will post again next week, barring any unseen obstacles like more Christmas shopping or the Mayan Apocalypse


Tuesday, December 4, 2012


I dyed some fiber today instead of working on finals

Because for some reason, I am finding it impossible to work on school this semester. I do not know what is wrong with me! 

For example, today I really needed to study for a test I have tomorrow, and to start writing a paper that is due Friday.
Instead, I did like an hour's worth of research, and then spent the rest of my time watching podcasts, doing chores, and dyeing fiber. 

In my defense, I have had a really bad headache today, which has made it hard to motivate myself to do any real work.

And I really should be studying right now, but instead I'm going to tell you about how I dyed my fiber.

I used the other half of the BFL  from Three Waters Farm on Etsy that I have been spinning on my drop spindle. I am almost done with the undyed portion

When I am done with this half,  I am going to spin up the dyed fiber and ply them together. Based on the weight the singles, I am probably going to end up with a heavy fingering weight yarn that will be up to a sport weight in some areas. 

I realized today that the weight of the spun singles adds to the weight of the spindle. I was reminded of why they call it a "drop" spindle when my spindle fell for the fourth time. :-P

How to Kool-Aid dye Fiber

You will need:
  • Undyed fiber
  • A large oven or microwave safe dish
  • Several packets of Kool-aid (a good rule of thumb is to use at least one packet for every 50 grams of fiber or yarn, depending on how vibrant you want it to be). I used Grape, Fruit Punch , and Blue Moon Berry
  • Containers for Kool-aid water
Optional: A small amount of vinegar or lemon juice

Step One: 
Gather your materials, mix each packet of Kool-aid with around two cups of water, and preheat the oven to around 200 or 250 degrees.

My oven's temperature gauge is way off

You could also dye your fiber in a large soup pot, crock pot, or heat proof dish, using boiling hot Kool-aid, but since I did that when I dyed my yarn, I decided to try the oven dyeing method this time. 

Step Two: 
While your oven is heating up, soak your fiber in warm water for at least ten minutes. I added a few tablespoons of lemon juice to the soak water, and a tablespoon to each of the Kool-aid mixtures, to up the intensity of the dye. Most dyers recommend using vinegar for this, but I can't stand the smell, and I figured that the acid of the lemon juice would perform the same function. I will just have to make sure to keep my fiber safe from bugs until I get a chance to wash it. 

Gently squeeze the water out of the fiber, being careful not to agitate it too much.

Step Three:
Arrange the fiber in the dish, and then pour the dye over it, in whatever way you want the dye to pool.

Then pop it in the oven for an hour.

From looking at that picture, you would think that the fiber would have ended up being mostly blue, right?

Step Four:
Take the pan out of the oven and let it sit until it is completely cool. While it is hot DO NO TOUCH IT!! I accidentally agitated one of the ends the fiber, and now it is all felty and matted. 

I am not thrilled with how the colors turned out. I used even amounts of each color, but the red really over powers everything. I will definitely use much less red next time. 

Step Five:
Once cooled, gently squeeze out the excess moisture and then lay the fiber out on a towel. Roll it up and step on it a few times. Then hang the fiber to dry. 

Step Six:
Look at how perty!!!

Alright...I guess that I better go work on school stuff. LAME