Monday, December 12, 2011

Weather Delay means you get the Cute!

I was going to share some pictures of my lovely shawl that I received from my Plurk Swap buddy today but the gray weather and lack of light is not very conducive to taking good photos and the beautiful shawl really deserves better than that.

Instead I've decided to show you a picture of one of the cutest things ever.
This is hubby, crocheting. He's working on an undisclosed gift for an undisclosed recipient. He's helping with the Christmas gift creating this year.

Isn't he cute?! (I'm pretty sure he has no idea I have taken this picture since I didn't use flash. that's why it's not super bright either. It is super cute though!)

Friday, December 09, 2011

Plurk Swap from My Side

Since I'm heavily ensconced in my Christmas knitting there isn't too much for me to blog about right now. Although, there will be at least a few things I can show off because I know the recipients won't be stumbling near to get a peek. That comes later though. For now, let's take a trip back in time. (It won't take long, just a little jaunt.)

A few months ago I joined the Plurk Swap and then sort of forgot about it. Well, I remembered to look for fiber in Wisconsin and I remembered to spin it into some lovely laceweight but when people started posting about how they had started their shawls and weren't we getting close to the deadline, I panicked slightly, pulled myself up and finally made a decision on the pattern.

I knit the Holden Shawlette. The pattern was in my recipient's queue so I knew she would like the pattern at least. The start is just stockinette and it flew by. Of course by the time you get to the patterned section the rows are longer so it seemed to take longer. I always think that's partly because they are patterned too so I need to pay more attention. I finally cast off and blocked it. It turned out lovely.

I think half of what I liked about it was how the colors moved through making almost stripes in some places and smooth transitions in others.

The patterned section was actually pretty fun to knit but the picot bindoff took some fortitude. You manipulate each stitch several times to make the neat little bumps. I did not pin each one out although I think it would have added something.

Then I started assembling all the other bits and bobs to include in the package. We had a spending limit so I tried to be reasonable but I made a few things too so I could send off what I thought was an awesome package. (Hopefully as good as the awesome package I had received.)

My swap buddy has received it already and (I hope) liked it so now I can blog about it all I want.

One more picture, just because I can!

I really like the way it turned out and I actually had a lot of fun with the swap. Right now there's some real life stress going on so I don't know that I would rush right out and sign up for another swap but I certainly would consider it if another swap came along.

Hmm, I never posted about what I received did I? Well, maybe that will have to be an upcoming post. In the meantime, I'm going to try to get my Christmas lights working so I can decorate. So far, it isn't looking too good.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Distressing Paper

I've been talking about doing more artwork and occasionally mentioning it on the good old blog here. Today, since it's my birthday and I'm not feeling too hot, (Bad headache for days and fighting a cold, somehow related probably) I decided to do a little painting and I started thinking about texture. I love texture and something that looks interesting on an art journal page. I had a great idea and I tried it out. It worked really well so I thought I should share.

Please note:
  1. I have not looked to see if others have done this technique and do NOT claim to be the first, I just know I thought of it and did it today and had tons of fun!
  2. If you are a fiber person and are therefore not interested in artsy paper stuff, scroll down, there's yarn at the bottom of this post.
I took a break from my art journal today to play computer and suddenly remembered a super fun craft I did as a kid. You take a regular piece of paper and distress it. I thought it would be super fun for art journaling or any art really so I made a little tutorial. Enjoy!

Start with a sheet of paper. I used an ordinary sheet of printer paper. Nothing special at all.

Then I tore a section out so it wouldn't have perfect and straight edges

As you can see, I'm working on my dining room table since my office desk is a mess so I've laid down a sheet of wax paper to protect the table cloth. I recommend it for this even if you don't care about the underneath surface. You'll see why.

Next, crumple it up into a little ball

Now unfold it and flatten it out (it doesn't have to be perfect at this point)

The reason it doesn't have to be perfect is because you're going to repeat these two step a bunch of times. Crumple, flatten, crumple, flatten until the paper gets softer and well worn.

Can you see the little holes worn in the paper? That's what you're looking for, a very stressed paper. It's much softer like a tissue almost and as you can see, very distressed.
Now you want it to be fairly flat, not that you need to really flatten it but lay it out so it isn't folded over and such.

Now, make a wash with watercolors. Use any color that you like of course, I'm using a nice bright cerulean blue. Brush it onto the paper using a nice sized brush, as you wet the paper you will find that it sticks down a bit and flattens out, just keep smoothing the paper with your brush as you paint it. You may find it absorbs more paint than you expect, just keep loading your brush and brushing it on.

I recommend the wax paper or something else because the paper is pretty fragile at this point and leaving it on the wax paper to dry helps keep it from totally falling apart. Depending of course on how much you distress it.

Add other little bits of another color if you wish and then press a paper towel onto it to absorb some of the excess moisture.

If you need to or want to, flip the towel and press it down again. Leave the paper to dry on the surface and check out what you made!

Here is the one from earlier with the one made in the tutorial. (I apologize for the bad lighting, dim evening in my living room)
As you can see, the paint absorbs more in the creases giving it a very cool mottled appearance (especially if you add bits of another color) and when it dries it has a very interesting texture that's not totally perfect and flat. It reminds me a little bit of handmade paper in that it's totally unique and unusual.

If you're into art or art journaling at all, try it. It's super fun!

I promised you yarn too didn't I? Here is some BFL I just finished spinning the other day.

It's 8 ounces of Frabjous Fibers in Moulin Rouge and I got about 538 yards. I think it's about a sport weight 2-ply. I like it but I'm not completely in love with it so I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it yet. I was thinking socks, (Knee-high of course) it might have to marinate in the stash for a bit before I decide.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Startitis Strikes Again

I finished my handspun Gritty Knits socks in the October 2011 colorway and lest you think I'm slacking, I'm already spinning another colorway. It's coming along but it takes time that I haven't had too much of lately.

The toe-up heel flap went okay but since these were a little bigger gauge than I usually knit I think the flap itself came out a little short.

The socks themselves came out a bit short too but I love them anyway. The ends aren't even woven in but they're on my feet.

What I should really be doing is knitting up some Christmas presents but I'm not. Rather than do that, I'd like to cast on something new. I've got some lovely NOM lying around begging to be something and I am fairly itching to cast it on but I'm trying to resist.

Since the startitis virus is going so strong all my other projects do not sound appealing at all and as such, I'm not getting much done on them either. I should just cast on some quick little thing and get it done so I can get back to gift-knitting. After all, I need to get something done.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

A Story of Socks

I like knitting socks, I may have mentioned this a time or two. I like how portable they are. I can shove a partial pair in my purse (almost any of the many purses I own) and whip them out to knit whenever I have a minute. Plus, I love designs on socks, lace, cables, interesting things that take time to knit but that means I usually have several pairs going at once.

Right now however I seem to have a problem. I seem to have a few too many pairs of socks going at once. How many you ask?

Well, let's take it one at a time. I like to have a plain pair of socks in my purse for odd little moments I find when I need a bit of knitting.

These fit that bill nicely. They're just plain old socks knit out of some handspun dyed by my friend HandOverTheWool. I love how they're turning out almost rainbow-ish. Not at all expected.

I recently decided I should have a plain pair for reading too. Like sitting around the house reading a book or something. That's what these are for:

Although I did take these to the movies the other day because the others were at the heel and I couldn't knit that part in the dark.

Oh, you noticed that little tabbie huh? It's a tag from a bag of bread or whatever. I use it to hold the tail (there's usually a good sized one since I like the long-tail cast on) while I knit and keep it out of my way, then I can undo it and weave it in later. If you ask people, they'll save them for you. I have lots. My mom usually gives me a big handful every time I go there.

I was also doing a self-imposed sock club. Using yarn I had been meaning to knit and patterns I had been wanting to knit, I matched up twelve yarns with twelve patterns and set them aside in January. I was pretty good about it but sort of got stalled in September. Where did I leave off? Right about here.

It's pretty sad that a half a sock is all it would take for these to be finished.

They're turning out pretty nice too. I love the stitch definition. I didn't even cast on socks for October mainly because these weren't finished but also because the Tour-de-Sock was starting.

Oh yeah, that brings me to another pair.

This pattern is called Calable. It's the first pattern in the Tour-de-sock. Where's the other one?
Um, yeah, here.

Still yarn. I didn't get very far on these. I'm not sure what it is. The pattern is okay but I'm not loving the yarn in it or something. It's even sparkly. How do you not love knitting it?! I don't really understand it myself.

Anyway, then there was this incident with this fiber last month that I couldn't resist and started spinning right away and I sort of accidentally cast it on too.

I got the first one past the heel (I'm doing toe-up but trying to do a heel flap heel on it. I've had troubles with it before but I think it may work out this time. It fits my foot at least.) and took the other end of the ball and cast on the second one. I'm making my way slowly up the foot on it.

Then there's the real trouble. Christmas knitting!

Sorry, did that scare you? I'll give you a minute.

Yeah, these are supposed to be for Christmas.

As you can see, they aren't very far yet. Let's not discuss how close Christmas is okay?

We will also be ignoring socks that are hibernating including the entrelac ones and the pair I started on New Year's Eve.

Do you see the problem? I have so many and I need to get to work. Yet, it's NaKniSweMo and I could be knitting a sweater. I may have accidentally wound some yarn for that today as a matter of fact. Oops. Not sure how that happened.

If you need me I'll be over here pretending that Christmas is coming in about 7 months okay?

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

To Knit a Sweater

I'm considering doing NaKniSweMo again (that's National Knit a Sweater month for the uninitiated) but I'm just not sure. I'm almost done with most of the things making me crazy with knit-stress.

I'm out of Sock Sniper, I've pretty much given up on Tour de Sock because I just couldn't keep up and I'm making speedy progress on the shawl for the Plurk swap. I didn't even try knitting socks of the month for October because I knew it wasn't going to happen so I've got 3 patterns for socks, matched up with yarn waiting to be knit but I haven't even dragged them out. I'm thinking I may put them off until next year or something.

I don't think I'm going to do much of anything for Christmas knitting this year so I think I could swing a sweater but I just can't seem to decide which sweater lot of yarn to knit and what pattern to make it. Maybe that means I shouldn't commit to it huh?

Anyway, I'm loving the yarn and how it's knitting up for the Plurk swap shawl but I don't know if my swap buddy wants to know so I'm keeping it under wraps. Makes for very boring blog posts though.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Photo Walking

I don't talk about it a whole lot but I consider myself an artist of sorts. I know there are those out there who think you are only truly an artist if you have "paid the rent" as it were with your art. I actually have. I went to school for Graphic Design and worked for a time as a Graphic Artist.

It was during that time in my life that I knew I always wanted Art to be a part of it. Time of course moves on and you don't always have that choice, life tends to get in the way. I still find myself yearning for something sometimes though, that artistic seed never goes away and unless you nourish it and allow it to grow, it becomes a little hole in your soul. That's my opinion at least.

Last weekend it was my brother's birthday and I traveled to my parents' house where we spent the weekend.

The birthday boy. We had a short lumberjack competition and here he is mid-swing. This one turned out REALLY well. I love it!

It's hard to squeeze anything into that time with nieces, nephews and cousins coming and going but while out in the woods on the 4-wheeler, it struck me how beautiful the sunlight looked streaming through the trees. I had to capture a small portion of that and bring it home, something to keep my spirits alive during the winter and so, the next afternoon as the sun was setting, I took a walk in the woods with my camera. Here are some of the pictures I took.

I love the pink berries in the foreground of this one.

Although there are trails in the woods, I tried to capture just the natural parts of it.

Fallen trees, that were fallen naturally, and little touches that make you feel almost like you're completely alone out there.

This is my favorite of the ones I took and the first one, as a matter of fact. I love the sunshine streaming in, it almost makes me feel it on my skin.

Then of course, I had to have a picture of the fire, as the sun set and we all settled in for the evening.

You should note that I don't have a fancy pants camera. Just a little Canon but I set it to landscape for the woods photos and quick shutter for the fire and my brother and I love the way these photos turned out.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I May Be Addicted

Almost everyone that knows me knows that I belong to Gritty Knits Merino of the Month club. I talk about it all the time. Often because I'm spinning the lovely fiber I've received of course. Let's ignore that for a moment though and talk instead about the NOM club.
NOM is sock yard. It's not just any sock yarn though. It's amazingly wonderful sock yarn. The fiber content is 80% Merino 10% Nylon and 10% Cashmere. As if that weren't enough, the yarn itself feels amazing. So soft and smooth and lovely! Well, a few months ago our lovely Gritty Knits purveyor started up a NOM club as well. I couldn't resist at least trying it 0ut and I'm so glad I did! Every month you get a skein of NOM in that month's colorway. I have loved every one. Some of them I've had to think about what they'd like to become and (very rarely) do I think that it just isn't my colors. I love almost all colors and that really helps of course, but honestly I think the color sense in my fiber and yarn shipments are just amazing. I just can't say enough good things! You want to see what I'm talking about?


Is October's NOM. It's called Autumn and it is! It's all the lovely shades you think of in Autumn without being garish or overdone. It's not the first colors I would have chosen but I think it's lovely and subtle anyway. I am thinking a lovely shawlette would be so nice in these colors. As soon as I finish some of the MANY other projects haunting me right now of course.

What I really want to mention though is this month's Merino. It is amazing. I was so excited to pull it out of the package.

I can't explain it. It's deep rich black and navy blue with hints of soft aqua and occasional bits of white thrown in. I was in love from first glance! It arrived (with my NOM, they get shipped together, saving on postage) last Thursday and my love of it sort of explains why it doesn't look like that anymore.

It doesn't look like this either really, it looks like this:

A really terrible picture of finished yarn.

This one's a little better only because you can see the yarn better. The flash washed out the colors entirely but it's 296 yards of soft, sproingy heavy fingering weight to sportweight and I'm so excited to knit with it that I cannot believe it still isn't dry! I'm fighting the urge to wind it into a ball damp and just start. Yes, I know there are tons of other WIPs glaring at me but...I seem to be helpless to resist the charms of this amazing fiber turned yarn. I just love it. I want it to be my own. Good thing it is huh?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Really, Truly Done

Do you ever finish knitting something and while you know you would love if it were completely finished, for some reason, you don't finish it?

I have a tendency to do this a lot. I joined a SAL/KAL for a lovely Cowl from the Zarzuela group. I knew it would be wonderful to have it truly finished but it took me months and months to finally do the simple little task of sewing the buttons on I finally did that today.

Isn't it lovely. It started out as a simple braid of fiber, then I spun it into a lovely two-ply yarn. I love the way the colors blend in this process. I knitted it into a lovely cowl and now, finally, here it is. Finished, done, complete. Buttons and all. I actually might add another button, making it three total to keep the flaps from well, flapping. I'm wearing it now and it makes me feel lovely and cozy and warm.

I didn't have much time to procrastinate on the other project I've finished.

Isn't it sweet? I knitted this lovely baby sweater over the last couple of weeks for some friends from church who were due to have their baby. If it weren't for the fact that I set it aside for a bit I would have finished it right after starting. I knitted it with yarn I think is extra for the sweater project I'm planning (Cascade 220 in Pacific Heathers) I think the color is quite lovely and would have worked for a little boy as well but they had a lovely little girl. I whipped up the sleeves on Thursday and blocked it Friday so I could give it to them on the day of her baptism, that was yesterday. I sewed the buttons on yesterday morning. It was cutting it a bit close but it will be quite awhile until she fits into this lovely little sweater. It came out to the size the two-year old I babysit wears. As a matter of fact I had her try it on and she didn't want to give it back!

Whew! Two projects finished. Now I'm off to work on some store samples for Crafts Direct. I get to try out the ruffling yarn. It's all very exciting!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Spinning Frantically

Lately I haven't been doing a ton of knitting. Well, I should amend that. I've been knitting a lot (and crocheting really) but not finishing anything. It's very difficult to have anything interesting to talk about when you don't have finished objects.

I did manage to finish my Travelling socks though.

They are VERY fraternal but I love them anyway. I knit on them over about a year whenever I was in the car (as a passenger) and whenever I was out somewhere that wasn't home. I didn't work on them with any sort of speed because I love that they travel with me and get knit in all kinds of interesting places. They were knit in Duluth while camping and at the Air show last year, again in Duluth for our Knitting class with Three Irish Girls and in Wisconsin. Then this year they spent a good deal of time in the armrest of my hubby's car and finally made another trip to Wisconsin where they were finished. Lots of memories and beautiful socks at the end too! Really they should have their own post, of all the amazing places they've been but I really want to talk spinning today.

I've been doing a bunch of spinning lately and almost none of it has been posted about.
This is the lovely Spin-Along with the Zarzuela group. It started like this:

(This picture is awful because it was taken with flash at night) You can see though that it's 3 braids of 2 ounces each. Two are semi-solid and one is made to stripe. You chose your colors and your fiber, mine is BFL, and the lovey Zarzuela dyed it for you. I have a purpley-pink with a lovely grey. I spun and spun and spun. (This took a good long time!) Then I plied it up and ended up with this:

A lovely 3-ply yarn, the color is much more accurate in this picture. The goal was to spin each braid onto one bobbin each and then ply the three together. That's what I did. I really love the look of the finished yarn but I'm a little disappointed in my spinning. I only got about 366 yards out of 6 ounces! I can usually get much more yardage but I love it anyway.

After that, I needed to get my Plurk Swap fiber spun for my swap buddy.
If your name is Sairy, look away!

Last Chance.....

I chose a lovely (BFL again) fiber in Wisconsin and set about spinning it. I ended up with this:

A beautiful laceweight yarn. It's a two-ply and I got about 600 yards. Now I need to find a pattern and get knitting it! I'm so excited about it and this yarn is so pretty I'm so tempted to keep it for myself.

Finally, I took advantage of CJKopec's Free Shipping sale and made a couple of purchases. One of them was this beautiful Superwash BFL. It was a little different than I was expecting when I got it and I just wasn't sure how it would spin up.

I know fiber can look way different after spinning though so I took a chance and set to work.
I made a two-ply because I thought the yarn would look lovely with the colors all blended together.

It came out lovely! It's somewhere between a sport and a worsted weight at 280-something yards. I'm not sure what it wants to be yet but I think it's gorgeous!

I did start on my Christmas knitting but I haven't gotten very far. Good thing I decided not to do a whole lot of Christmas knitting this year!

Here are some socks for my Dad, knit two-at-a-time with some lovely Regia Kaffee Fassett Design Line. They are going to be fraternal though because they started at a different place in the yarn which I didn't realize at first. Oh well, he should enjoy them anyway!

Friday, September 30, 2011

September Recap

I can't believe what a slacker I've been in the blogging department lately. UGH! I finally am here and getting something written about what I've been doing though.
So, here we go.
On September 18 it was Worldwide Spin in Public day. Spinners all around the world went out to public places and spun to bring attention to their craft. That it's still done, that it's amazing and fun and you get to make yarn. I did too!
My knitting/spinning group actually set up ours as a coffee crawl. We started on one side of our city and moved from coffee shop to coffee shop across town (at intervals in case anyone needed to meet up with us at some point, we did have a plan) and brought lots of attention to our group and to spinning.
We spun at the coffee shop in our library, at the coffee shop in the mall, all over and we had a blast!
Here's a taste of our group:

This was also our lunch stop so most people got some food too.

I love how people brought all different sizes and styles of wheels and how rapt the attention of the kids was. Although the people in the mall stared at us skeptically most of the time.

I'm also participating in Sock Sniper this year and my target received her socks so I can finally post the picture I took.

It's really awful actually but I had forgotten to take one so I snapped a quick pic in the car with my cell phone before I dropped them in the mail. They turned out very nice and I'm so happy my target received them, likes them and they fit. Bang bang.

Now, I'm off to knit a baby sweater for a friend from church who is so close to having her baby. Tour de Sock begins tomorrow too so I may have to dig out some yarn to wind.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Wisconsin Adventures of William

As you know, earlier this year, William traveled to Shepherd's Harvest Festival with me and had a little fun. He met some sheep

and in general had a pretty fun time.

Then we decided to go to Wisconsin for the Sheep & Wool festival again and he started bugging me to go along. He's a pesky little traveler and wanted to see all kinds of things. Luckily we drove into Madison and while looking for a certain yarn shop so Wool Princess could get the one more skein of yarn she needed to finish a sweater, we saw all kinds of things.

The capital. Pretty cool building with carvings on the top like greek figures. We even drove across a lake.

This is apparently a natural lake that they created a road across.

There was lots more too. Like all the places where you can rent bikes near this lake. It was a pretty cool trip and eventually we did find the yarn store.

We headed back to Jefferson and William even got to shop at the Piggly Wiggly.

Not every little knitted doll can say that.

Placated, we headed back to camp and I wisely left the little guy in the tent while we did a little shopping.

Overall, it was a great trip despite the 7 1/2 hours in the car each way. It didn't rain this year and we had wonderful weather for sleeping in a tent. I can't wait to do it all again!