Friday, December 10, 2010


First things first, the December giveaway!  I loved the stories, thanks to everyone for sharing them.  My favorite thing about this question was how it made me think.  A good friend of mine came up with it and I thought it was easy at first, but then had to really dig to decide what makes a gift I've given special.

I've plugged the numbers into and the winner of December's giveaway is cols journey! Your mystery box will be winging its way to you as soon as I get an address. And I will eventually post a picture of the contents here, but not until later. I want it be a surprise!

Meanwhile, I think I should probably do a recap of the Boston Bazaar Bizarre since it and visiting up in Boston ate my brain for weeks.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Frightful weather (and a December giveaway)

Today it rained so hard that it got brighter from the light reflecting off the sheets of water.  It didn't last for long, but it was definitely startling.  Now the temperature is dropping and it feels like December again.  I'm not sure why it's allowed to be December when I was just getting used to November, but there it is, December 1st, 2010.

This month's giveaway is a bit of a tease. See, I've got these fun red boxes.

So this month, I'm giving away a box. The contents of said box is a surprise.  Think of it as a mini swap box, it will contain at least 50g of fiber or yarn and some other goodies.

This month, I'd like to know about the best gift you've ever given.  I found this kind of a difficult exercise that sounded easier than it was, but that may be because I'm hit or miss with the presents.  So tell us a story! And it doesn't have to be fibery, although knowing this crowd I expect that more than a few will be.

For me, it is possibly this hat I made my cousin for after he had surgery.  Knit out of butter soft fingering weight Dalegarn Baby Ull, it covered up the incision and kept the cold off. Practical and simple, it's not the most impressive thing I've ever knit nor the most complicated or difficult, but I do think it's one of the most appreciated.

Now, you know the drill.  Post here and make sure I have a way of contacting you if you win. I'm letting this one play out until December 8th, since I'm up to my eyeballs in fest prep. I'll pick a random winner on Dec. 9th.  And yes, you can double dip with the Ravelry group. :D

Meanwhile, if you're in Boston this Sunday (Dec. 5), come by the Boston Bazaar Bizarre and say "hello".  It's at the Cyclorama and KnittinK and I will be in booth 110 trying to keep our gigantic piles of yarn and fiber from spilling out from the tiny, tiny booth and into the aisles.  This is my first "away" festival and I'm both nervous and excited.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

*singing along tunelessly*

So my brain is full of sentimentality and a slight buzzing noise.  It's the combination of a new cd on repeat and having caught some bug or another that's making the rounds of the household.  But at least I was productive earlier in the week, right?  I need to get the latest batch of Arctic Hare photographed and up in the shop this weekend, and I'm planning to visit the Princeton YWCA Crafters Marketplace tomorrow to see if I should apply for next year. I have a friend who does it every year and says it's great.

Meanwhile, I've been knitting more.

I finished a baby blanket today, although it still needs a wash and block.  Blocking in this case will be throwing it into the dryer because it's a superwash.  The colorways for this were dyed specifically for this project and are Wine Jelly (red burgundy) and Sweet Tooth (blue pink), and it's in March Hare, my worsted weight superwash merino base.  Would you believe that that shade of burgundy took 13 steps?  I don't think anyone will ever realize just by looking at it how complicated it is to get something that looks so much like a semi-solid but isn't. 

This is one of my typical "organic design" blankets in that there's no pattern. I just start with 8st in the middle and change up the knits and purls on whim.  I decided to do Fibonacci stripes and I ran out of the burgundy one row short of finishing the sequence correctly. Still acceptable, I think, and not bad for not planning anything out ahead of time.  36.5in wide, it's got a slight bulging in the middle of the rows due to the increases creating a sort of slip stitch effect but it should block out.   I lived dangerously on this blanket and didn't even alternate skeins of the main color to minimize differences. Luckily in the case of this colorway they're pretty consistent.

Oh, and I bought myself a present last week.  I got myself a nostepinne/nostepinde.  See, I have 2 ball winders, but I like rewinding small partial balls by hand, often while they're still attached to their project.  While I can do it perfectly well without any special tools I decided I wanted something pleasant to hold that's pretty.  So I browsed around Etsy and realized something.  Nostepinnes can be, hm, naughty looking.  I can't be the only one who sees it.  (I'm not am I?)  That led me by devious routes to asking someone who makes adult toys out of wood to make me a nostepinne.  (What do you suppose has more demand? Going by the selection on Etsy, I'd say nostepinnes must sell better!)

It's actually about 2in longer than I had requested.  I like shorter and fatter nostepinnes than most of the ones being sold because I tend to wind too tightly when I use one, which is why I went custom.  But it fits my hand perfectly the way it is, and has a nice girth.  It has a nice balance when it's grasped around the rings. The narrow part of the handle snugs right along the curve of my hand.  And given the length of the handle, the shaft has to match. It's got a very smooth finish, no chance of snagging yarn on this, and came with a storage pouch. So I'm quite pleased with the results.

Actually, this seller does some lovely work and has a perfectly innocent shop (not that the other shop is particularly shocking): Goodys Folkart.  He's thinking of stocking more nostepinnes after the holiday rush on Santas.  Right now the shop is mostly really pretty wooden barrettes. 

The nostepinne was a nice "reward" to myself for another festival under my belt.  Montgomery Made by Hand was  last Saturday. This was very different for me. I've done the Garden State Sheep Breeders festival twice, and I did well my first year and really well this year.  But MMbH was the first mixed craft fair I've ever done.  They had everything, really, and as far as I can tell the only other yarn was the alpaca farm and no hand dyes.  I didn't walk around, though, as I was by myself for most of it. 

More ruminations about the fair after the jump.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Like bubbles in a fish tank

Little thoughts keep rising to the surface. I'm a bit scattered, I've got a festival on Saturday and I'm behind schedule!

If you happen to be in the Montgomery NJ area on November 13th, swing by Montgomery Made by Hand at the high school (1016 Route 601, Skillman, NJ). 10am-3pm, it's a holiday craft fair hosted by the honors society, and there will be 45 vendors in attendance.  Free admission!  Raffles!

One of my yarns was in an Etsy front page Treasury last night. That was a very pleasant bump in views and hearts. Statsy screenshot. I really like the coy little bird print in the top row.

Someone asked a question on the Rav forums yesterday about whether garter stitch or seed stitch uses less yarn.  My gut reaction is to say seed stitch, both from experience and from considering the mechanics of both stitches.  But in a bit of procrastinatory rebellion I also decided to swatch.

Cast on with the backwards loop co, slipped the first stitch of every row, and bound off in pattern. The total number of rows included the co and bo. Each swatch was made with exactly the same length of yarn on the same needles.  Tension differences are sure to influence this, of course.

Now if I can just avoid getting sucked in to figuring out how to adjust for giant holes in one's knitting, like those Swiss cheese holes at the start of the hemlock ring.  For some reason these puzzles are always more interesting to me when I've got a massive pile of other things to do.

In another bit of procrastinatory rebellion, I put together a clip for This Is Handmade.  If you haven't heard about this blog, it collects tedium.  Specifically it collects the tedium of handcrafting (an explanation of the project).  So here is slightly more than 5min of me making stitch markers last night.  It's not a tutorial and it's hard to see exactly what I'm doing, and it's quite dull. But that's kind of the point. YouTube link

And now for something completely different. Some ruminating about cake after the jump.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sometimes you just want closure, and buttons can give you that.

First things first, the winner of the November 1 giveaway is (randomly) ilina! Please let me know where to send your bling!

Now, on to buttons.  My workroom is the coldest room in the  house. Two walls are mostly windows and the glass in those windows is single paned. We shrink wrap the windows for the winter, but the temperature of the space is still very much in synch with the great outdoors.  Because of that I've been cold, and when I'm cold I want to knit everything lightening fast and then climb under a huge pile of the stuff.

Needless to say, a big pile of woollies is warm but not very practical for getting work done.  For that, they need to be more garment-like and stay on when one moves around (and I don't mean like those backward bathrobe Snuggies).   Enter the humble button.  Only, in this case, they're not so humble. They're moderately huge buttons almost 2in in diameter. They're focal points, attractive in their own right, and just one will visually stand up to just about anything.  There's just one problem. I didn't add a giant buttonhole when I was knitting. But wait! There is a solution!  (I'm starting to sound like an 'as seen on TV' advert.)

The easiest, of course, is if the stitches are so gigantic that the button fits in between the stitches even without a buttonhole. To whit:

This scarf is too short to wear without something holding it closed. But at 1st per inch it really doesn't need to be any longer to be incredibly warm. (Buttons are vintage celluloid purchased at the Garden State Sheep Breeders festival this year.)

In this case, I sewed two lovely vintage buttons together like a cufflink, making sure that the shank separating the buttons is long enough for the thickness of the fabric.  It's easily repositioned and I can take it off completely when I want to wash the scarf.  This also means I can switch out which button is facing out.

But what if 2 buttons that go with the piece aren't available?  Or if the piece fits in such a way that a button on the inside would be uncomfortable?  Or even more insurmountable, what if the fabric is too closely knit to admit a giant button?  There is yet another solution! (and it's after the jump.)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Exercising my franchise (and a giveaway)

It's November!  I'm still not entirely sure where all the time goes, but we're due for another giveaway here on my wee blog and this month I have some fun handmade jewelry to kick us off.

I'm giving away this necklace from Lady Sisyphus' Free Time.  Lady Sisyphus brings together all sorts of beads and charms into some really delightful pieces, and she crochets too. *softly chants 'one of us! one of us!*

This necklace is a generous 38in long and will come with a set of coffee bean stitch markers....

... and one of these sets of earrings.

So I did notice that today is November 2nd, but this time I'm starting a day late deliberately.  I don't think anyone in the US can be in ignorance that today is election day.  I don't want to get into the politics of who and what to vote for or against.  I just hope that everyone who can does. 

So, this time, to enter into this drawing, comment that you voted.  If you're a US citizen, have you voted in this mid-term election?  If yes? Comment!  If you're not from the US, did you vote in the most recent government election? If yes, feel free to comment as well.  I'll take comments through Friday and then announce the winner on Saturday.  And if green and blue isn't your style, check out the Rav group to see what I'm offering there.

That's it, nothing more complicated than that and making sure that there's a way for me to reach you if you win.  Now, for me, I have to go to bed so I can get up bright and early so I can exercise my franchise and then run some errands.  There's lots to do and I have another festival to do in less than 2 weeks!

Oh, and to note a little milestone. My shop has reached 600 listings sold. :)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Knitting up the raveled sleeve of care

I've been knitting a lot recently, it's gotten brisk out and my office is the coldest room in the house. Finishing a project as the days get shorter and the nights get colder is a very specific kind of satisfaction, and one I really love.

One of the things I've done recently is work up a variation of the Wizarding Incognito Hat that is a standard Muggle toque.  It's really very simple and works for any stitch count as long as it's evenly divisible by 8.

hat (with gauntlets), 104st, wool.

A general hat recipe after the jump.

Friday, October 29, 2010

In cake there is truth

(Because saying "the cake is a lie" has become a little tired.)

This is late, because I actually baked this cake a week ago for a reception on the 23rd. Cake is an evanescent art form, and also participatory.  I'd go so far as to call special occasion cakes performative.

It tasted really good, although it fell apart when cut due to several factors. And I should have used more syrup to moisten the layers all the way out to the edges. And I rolled the fondant too thin for the first tier I covered, so it ended up being overly pleated. 

But, cake!

The next big baking I have to do is a teetotaler's rum cake for my father's birthday banquet in December (teetotaler because we can't send people home drunk off cake, mostly), but that's only one layer, even if it's big.

Details of the wedding cake after the jump.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

In other things

I haven't posted about food in a while because I became swamped with festival business and then fell into a blue funk.  I'm actually still in the blue funk but I'm working on snapping out of that.

In the meantime, one of my two favorite kinds of food needs to happen and I need to make it happen.  I like two kinds of food, which may or may not be clear by now; the really simple and delicious, and the really complicated and delicious.  Really, I just like delicious food but this falls into the latter category.  My cousin is getting married this month. I'm baking the cake.  I've had very little notice (which would be why I am baking the cake), but that's actually OK. Three weeks is actually plenty of notice given that I don't have a scheduling conflict.

I'm fond of spectacle food as long as I don't have to be too creative with the decorating.  I can do the actual baking and such, but I've never really practiced the art of compound moulding or piping or any of the delicate bits that elevate a cake or pastry into a sculptural art form.  But damned if I can't make it melt in your mouth.

He and his fiancee are stopping in today to talk cakes so last night I stayed up and baked a test run of the preliminary idea for proof of concept.   It allows me to test out how the raspberries in the filling will hold up, and quantities. It's already a good test because I've decided 2 layers is plenty per tier and that the whipped ganache holds up perfectly. It's quite fluid until it sets.

This it the 9in test run, rather haphazardly decorated as I don't have the fondant yet and I wouldn't have used it for a test run anyway.  I'm still undecided about raspberries in the filling, and I'm a little concerned that the whipped ganache is too stiff. It's as firm at room temperature as chilled buttercream (and I'm not talking those gritty powdered sugar buttercreams, but a proper buttercream made with whipped egg yolks and a boiling sugar syrup).  But I'm used to those silky room temperature buttercreams, so I could be biased.  The frosting on this cake is quite literally a whipped truffle, after all. The whole cake exhales chocolate.  The final cake will most likely be 3 tiers, 6in, 9in, and 12in, and covered in chocolate flavored rolled fondant over the ganache.  Recipes for all the components are coming from the Cake Bible, except the fondant. I'm purchasing that as making it from scratch is simply too much work for not enough return.

I've also baked a few wedding cakes in my past.  I figured I might as well put up a little gallery.  So, after the jump are some Cakes I Have Known.

Friday, October 8, 2010


First things first, the winner of this month's fibery giveaway is OneOfTheHive!  Please let me know where I should send the top and I'll get it right out for you. Thanks for all the great ideas, everyone!

Meanwhile, I've got interlocking cubes on the brain.  See, I'm supposed to do the Bazaar Bizarre Boston with KnittinK in December.  The problem?  The space is 1/4 what I'm used to filling.  For two of us.

You can see where this is going, can't you?  My own stuff fits comfortably into about 24cu.ft.  That's just my stuff. In 18 wire cubes. Comfortably.


At the height of the madness of trying to eke out some extra space without making it impossible to assist shoppers, I came up with this. Please disregard the mess that is the room and look instead at the blatant crazy.


The one good thing coming from all of this is that I'm getting really good at figuring out how to assemble these cubes without having to remove the ties and reposition them. But any more of this and it's going to be like when I got hooked on Tetris in undergrad. I started seeing interlocking cubes everywhere.

ETA:  Oh yeah, today I reached 1,000 Etsy shop hearts.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

It's what? It's October already? (a slightly late giveaway)

I can't even believe it. I'm not sure where September went, but since I'm wearing a shawlette I finished this week, and a sweater and socks, it must be true that it's October.

I was going to give away some fun bling from lovely Lady Sisyphus this month, but I'm going to save it for next month when we can all use a bright pick-me-up.  Instead, today I'm giving away fiber.  I think you'll forgive me for being a day late when I show it to you.

American Silksheep, in my attempt at the Poseidon colorway.  Pictured here is white roving and brown top that I wound together and dyed at the same time in the same pot.  What I'm giving away here is the top on the right, about 2oz.   The Ravelry group is getting the roving, and yes, you can enter for both.  Here's your chance to try out this wonderful fiber. Hopefully I haven't done any mean, nasty things to it in the dye process.  Personally, I want to make a bed out of it. I can't imagine anything more cushiony and cozy.

I've made a few inroads into dyeing the silksheep fiber:

Some of this was pulled into Phatfiber samples.  Some of it was divvied up for swap recipients. Some of it I'm giving away here, and some of it is destined for the shop once I dye up some more.

I have my own ideas for colorways (I always do) but I'd like to hear what kinds of colors keep other people awake at night.  Sooooo, to enter this giveaway, please comment below with any colorways you'd love to see. Remember, the roving is white but the top is brown!  Respond by Thursday, October 7th, and I'll get the random number generator to pick a winner on the 8th.   And remember to leave some way to reach you, or come back on the 8th to see if you've won!

Meanwhile, the shop is getting a little bare as I haven't updated in far too long, but I have done a few things recently that I wanted to mention. Maker Faire and knitting below the fold.  And I promise, I'll update the shop this weekend.

Friday, September 17, 2010


At least I'm a pro. :P

Before I get into the why of all this procrastination, one very exciting thing and one fun thing. First off the exciting thing; my yarn was recommended in the Knitcircus Holiday edition gift guide on page 15.  It looks rather lovely with all those other beautiful yarns, I think.  And if you didn't see it when it came out, two of my colorways were used in a gorgeous sock pattern in the Fall 2010 edition, as well (pgs 70-71 and 90-91). They happen to be two of my favorite colorways, too.

Secondly, the fun thing. There's a gallery of pictures from the festival over at Most of the shops I purchased from are pictured in some way, at least the fiber shops. Here's a closer-up of the handspun angora plied with beaded silk which I bought. And the two giant vintage buttons that I adore.  The angora shop was pictured, but the button shop was not.

Anyway, on to the procrastination. :P I'm feeling a little attenuated and blocked. It could be post festival blahs, but I think it's mostly because I want to play with the new fiber and my continued lack of netting means I can't. I went to every shop in the area that might have had it, and none of them did. So now I've ordered some and I'm waiting impatiently for it to arrive. Really, I should have got into the car and made the trek to Fabricland. It would have been a drive, but I would have my netting!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


So, yes, it's Wednesday and the GSSB festival has been over for days and I haven't said a peep about it until now because ZOMG I feel a little like a hamster in a ball rolling around with So Much To Do!

First things first, the festival. The festival was wonderful. This was my second year vending at it, and it's bigger, better organized, better advertised, and all around a great weekend for me. I met lots of great people and saw some old friends, bought some incredible fiber for the shop, spent far too much money on treats, and sold twice as much as I did last year. To say I was pleased would be an understatement.

This was the morning of the first day when we were all busting our butts to get set up in time. The weather was gorgeous, brisk and clear and not horribly windy.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Better late than

I meant to do this yesterday, but it was the last push to get everything dyed in time to dry for Saturday's festival and I never managed to do so. But I'm here today! (Cannily avoiding inventory and labeling, too.) And I get to announce that picked cthulhulovesme to win the giveaway of lovely LylianMae Fiber Arts fiber.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I did a quick test of my new booth setup today and this is how my wall o'yarn looks.

It's most but not quite all of the yarn. The laceweight is still drying and there are some odds and ends lurking in a box that I haven't excavated yet.

Those are my giant homemade needles on the table in front of the yarn. I decided that the roving was thin enough to knit with straight and so I'm going to make a scarf with some that got a wee bit felted.

I also have a card table to lay out the samples I've made and such. And since I'm in the booth alone this year I'll be bringing some extra chairs so people can relax. There was a definite lack of indoor seating last year so I think it'll be good. I'm leaving the dress form home this year, though. I didn't dye up any more of the colorway I used in the shawl so I don't feel right displaying it quite so prominently.

Oy, OK it's time for me to catch the rabbit and put him away and then I need to finish this inventory. One more day!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Nocturne, and a giveaway!

It's September already and I'm dyeing up a storm. But I'm taking a break from the dye pots to plug LylianMae Fiber Artistry and offer up some of Emily's lovely hand dyed roving for this month's giveaway.

These are three 25g samples in Falkland/Corriedale cross colorway Quarantine; superwash merino colorway Brown-eyed Girl and Rambouillet colorway Morgaine: Lady of the Lake. With these braids comes a sample of Eucalan grapefruit wool wash, two sushi erasers, and an assortment of teas.

Emily is a spinner and a dyer, and her shop is full of lovely handspun and fiber, as well as these really great lap aprons for spinners who prefer their fiber in their yarn rather than all over their clothes. So please stop by LylianMae Fiber Artistry and find something you like and come back here and tell us all about it any time through Tuesday, Sept 7th. I'll pick someone at random on Sept 8th.

Don't forget to leave a way to reach you, or come back on the 8th to see if you've won. And if you love her handspun, I'm giving away a sampler at my Ravelry group, too.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, there are certain things one doesn't wish to see at 3am.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Moon faced and pie eyed.

It's 3am and I should be doing all sorts of other things including work, but I just spent over an hour outside looking up at the sky.  You see, my father received an email a while back talking about the August "Two Moons" effect of Mars and the moon. While the phenomenon is actually not true, what was true is that the sky was clear, the moon was gloriously bright, and there was a bright speck of a planet visible as well.  I think it's actually Jupiter but I'm not sure.

The night was so clear, not a cloud, and the moon was bright enough to not need a flashlight. So we took the big telescope outside to take a closer look.  I took some truly awful pictures with my little point and shoot.

In the second picture, that smudge of light to the right is the light bouncing off the edge of the roof. I kept this picture to give an idea of how bright it actually was.

And these were taken through the telescope.  There were what looked like 4 visible satellites to the planet, which is why I think it's Jupiter, all in a little string of 3 with a 4th further out and not visible in the picture.  Since I don't have a bracket to attach the camera to the telescope, nor a motor to allow it to track, my pictures are never very good.

While I find internet hoaxes and false excitement over non-existent phenomena annoying, I was glad for the reason to look at the sky tonight. It was fun, and the weather is perfect for it, and the moon was absolutely lovely despite not being full. We really don't use the telescope enough. It's a terrific 114mm Newtonian Celestron telescope and perfect for looking at near space. I bought it for my father when I was still earning a fat paycheck and it's been gathering a lot of dust.

I enjoy the sense of wonder that comes from looking at the craters and shadows on the face of the moon or seeing the pinpricks of light spring into visibility around the glowing speck of a planet. And since our spotting scope is out of alignment there's also a sense of victory when we can actually find anything!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ice cream social III - the end of summer draws nigh

Summer is coming to a close here and the weather has turned cool and drippy. We'll no doubt get another blast of heat to remind us that it's not done with us quite yet but it's almost time for apple picking and pumpkin pie again.

This picture isn't indicative of the weather at all. I took it earlier this summer, when I wanted to melt. But ice cream is always appropriate. So here's another ice cream giveaway.

This time I'd like people to talk about what fibery, crafty goodness they're starting up. It's not the end of summer everywhere, but a change of seasons is creeping ever closer and that tends to shake things up a bit.

Just comment here any time through Sunday, August 29th, and you'll be entered in the random drawing. Please leave a way to get back in touch with you, or check back here on Monday, August 30th to see if you've won. On September 1st, I'll have another fun giveaway with some lovely items from LylianMae Fiber Artistry.

Once again, this coupon expires in 2011 and is only good in the US.But don't let that stop you if you're outside the US. If you win, I'll send a little surprise instead.

And as another reminder, my Help Pakistan fundraiser box auction is here. The value of the contents of the boxes go up as the bids increase, and at this point the boxes will be fantastic

Meanwhile, back at the ranch I'm very busy indeed. I have a festival in less than 3 weeks and it's gotten to the "eep!" point where I need to get too many things done at the same time.  Once I finish a bunch of really important tasks this week, I'm going to go into a solid week of dyeing yarn just for the festival. Then the last week before will be full of labeling and inventory, and bajillions of little tasks that always fall by the wayside until the last moment.  Fingers crossed I do well there this year. I'm by myself this time, so it's a lot of space to fill with little ol'  me!

And somewhere in all of this, I need to prepare and ship out my Phatfiber samples.  I will get another update in the shop done this week however, hell or high water. I want to give everyone a good chance at the skeins of Arctic Hare I have dyed up already, before I take everything to the festival. 

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Bleat (and a tiny video tutorial)

I'm working on lots of things to gear up for the festival next month, and this one keeps cracking me up so I have to share. But before I get into that I just want to remind everyone that I have two yarny fibery swap boxes up for auction at the Help Pakistan LiveJournal community.

Now, on to the thing that's been amusing me for days. See, I like to hand out free patterns when I do a craft show. Ideally they're made out of my own yarn and I can display the finished product around the booth. It draws interest and is a great ice breaker.

So I wanted something new this year. This time I decided to make a sheep mug cozy based on a discussion in the Ravelry forums. I had intended to do something rather different at the start but the idea grew and evolved and... well, this is what happened:

One sheep mug cozy on a standard mug, before blocking.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A plug for Help_Pakistan

So, I know a lot of people are cash poor, I certainly am. I also know that there are a lot of people who want to help when simply awful things happen, like the flooding in Pakistan.

Sometimes people come together and make a whole greater than the sum of its parts. Help Haiti did that. It raised over $115,000 in just a few weeks. All by matching up people with goods or services they could donate and people who wanted to buy them.

Help Pakistan is trying to do this. It's a new LiveJournal community hosting an auction for flood relief efforts. No money ever changes hands between offerer and winning bidder. Everything goes directly to the aid organizations which can be selected off a master list.

I'm offering up two "swap" boxes of fibery goodness. I did one for Help Haiti and it went over well so I decided to offer them again, this time with the option of spinning fiber. It's all the fun of getting a swap with no risk. My listing can be seen here: Yarny Fibery Swap/Mystery Boxes

This was my Help Haiti swap box (less a knitted tea cozy that was still drying when I took the picture).

The recipient and I overlapped in Harry Potter interest, so I was able to add lots of little doodads to the box to give it character.

Help Pakistan is taking listings starting today, and on Monday the 23rd it opens up for bidding. People can still list new offerings once the bidding has started, the few days lead time is just so the offerings can build up a bit. ETA: They've opened bidding early. Listing new things will be open through the 27th, and bidding ends the 28th. Delivery of offerings is expected by Oct. 1. end ETA

I hope you'll take a look. These auctions are usually lots of fun to browse; the scope of the offerings can be astounding. And please do spread the word if you can. It takes a critical mass of interest both in offering and in bidding to get these things really rolling.

There are a lot of disasters right now. The flooding and landslides in China come to mind, too. It's not on the same scale as Pakistan, but it's still horrible. It's hard to say "I can't help." I have a roof over my head and all the comforts of home, but my reality is that I can't spare the cash. But I can spare the stash, and the effort, and some base yarn or fiber to dye up something custom. So, this is what I'm doing.

Thank you!

Monday, August 16, 2010


I'm a bit swamped right now but I wanted to pop up a post to say that KnittinK and I were accepted to the Boston Bazaar Bizarre in Boston for their Winter Fair.

I'm very excited about this. It's the first festival of its sort that I'll have done, and it's supposed to have great vendors and amazing attendance. This also means I get to go up to Boston and see friends! And, since I poked around with setup today, I realized I can get everything I need into my little car with the gps. So I won't get lost! For me, not getting incurably lost is a requirement for having a good time.

So we will be in Boston on Dec 5th between noon at 7pm at the Cyclorama with much yarn and fibery goodness. If you're in the area, stop by and say 'hello'! :D

Meanwhile, I'm still in the throes of a big update. It's going very slowly as I've proved to be extremely distractable. Also, I took the pictures for these listings over the course of 5 days, so sometimes finding the correct one takes a bit of doing. I realized I had 4 whole colorways (12sk of yarn) that I'd completely neglected to do because I thought I'd already done them *facepalm* So yeah, I'm working on it.

Here are two of my unexpected favorite colorways from July, though. I liked them out of the pot, but they've really grown on me as I've looked at them more and more.

These are Coffee Cup and Asphalt Jungle.

The lighter color on Coffee Cup isn't white. It's actually the palest of pale minty blue. And Asphalt Jungle reminds me of the colors of the movie posters for The Asphalt Jungle. But aside from matching those black and white with splashes of color posters really well, I think it will work up beautifully in a project, with the predominance of the grey.

OK, off back to the Gimp mines. I have something like 43sk of yarn with pictures still to edit. *facepalm* Gimp waits for no one! Or, well it waits, but it doesn't do anything while it's waiting, more's the pity!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Shop update and a note on prices.

The number of times I have to retake pictures because the color temperature is off is really starting to annoy me. I have to retake some pictures this weekend, while I try to finally get all the skeins I dyed in July listed. This, so I can dye up more this week and then list them. I have a lot to dye up before the Garden State Sheep Breeders festival in September (Sept 11 & 12, in Ringoes, NJ).

Additionally, I wanted to give everyone a heads up that my prices are changing. My yarn costs went up considerably in March and sadly, absorbing the difference has become impossible. So a month from now, on Sept 13, I'm going to raise all my yarn prices 6%. For example, Jackalope and March Hare are both going from $18.80 up to $19.95.

I'll be taking all the yarn to the festival in September and vending there with the old prices. The shop will be empty of yarn for the weekend. Then, all the stock returned to the etsy shop on Sept 13, the Monday, will have the new prices. Meanwhile, I do intend to stock the shop as full as I can before the festival so there will be plenty of selection at the current prices.

Please do ask any questions you may have. It's always an uncomfortable sort of thing to have to raise prices, but I'd rather not spring it on people unannounced. This way, it's like a long sale.

Phatfiber colorways, clockwise from the upper left: Red Desert, lapis lazuli and brass widgets, Agate, and Papyrus.  Image links to the shop.

The theme this month was Africa, and these were some of what I contributed.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Through the roof

Last night was full of moment. There was a lot of not getting enough work done (which is why my next shop update starts tomorrow come hell or high water), mangoes with coconut rice, and a mystery. The mangoes with coconut rice will be at the end of this post because I'd like to talk about the mystery. If you just want the recipe, click through the jump cut and page down until you see the food picture. :)

So, the mystery has to do with visitors to my shop and shop hearts. I check Craftcult several times a day to see my shop hearts. I know that hearts don't equal sales, but I think of it as a general barometer of how appealing my shop is. And really, it just makes me feel good. It's a bit of harmless affirmation.

Last night, the number jumped. It jumped so much that I thought it was a glitch and wondered if Craftcult was having problems. There was more than a page of new hearts. That is not typical for my shop! So I went to Craftopolis to see if it also had the anomalous hearts.

Look at the visitors, views and hearts for Aug 9. 821 unique visitors, 2611 page views, and 44 new shop hearts. I was gobsmacked. And I still thought it might be a glitch.

Keep in mind that in May a skein of my yarn was in an Etsy front page Treasury. That day I netted 300+ unique visitors and 26 shop hearts. This blew that day away.

I was still skeptical so I checked and everything kept saying it was real, so I started hunting for the source. I googled my shop, I checked for any more front page treasuries, I checked treasuries in general, I checked Ravelry, I even checked Etsy finds on the slim chance. I came up blank everywhere. There was nothing to explain why people had suddenly decided to heart my shop right and left starting 8:48pm last night.

I waited for midnight so I could check my analytics, and there was the completely unexpected source. Facebook.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Pigment, not dye

I'm covered in pigment ink. My new stamp pad came today so of course I had to drop everything and try it out. Trying it out led to stamping 25 shopping bags until I could reliably produce something halfway decent.

I did say "halfway". This is actually one of the first ones I did. I consider the "oopses" as part of the rustic charm. *cough*

As long as I'm careful, they turn out well. If I get careless, then I forget and lift the stamp before I've checked that all the points have made contact. This is where a flexible stamp works *really* well. I can lift just the corner and check, and press down on just one spot to mould it around the handles and creases.

All in all, it does what I intend it to do and it's colorful and fun. I'm very happy with it. Even if I'm covered in ink.

Luckily pigment ink wears off after a few washes. This is quite unlike the turquoise dye I spilled all over my hand earlier today. That's going to linger. Not exactly how I want to have a green thumb!

Oh, who am I kidding? All us crafty sorts know that getting messy is half the fun.

So this is one more thing done. I've signed up to accept credit cards, I purchased new insulated gloves, and now I have logo shopping bags. Can you tell I'm excited for the Garden State Sheep Breeders Festival? :D

Friday, August 6, 2010

Dye lots

First things first, I get to announce the winner of August 1 Giveaway! There was a lot of fun discussion of favorite cartoon characters, and I was reminded of a lot I'd forgotten. But, on to the winner! has chosen Nephnie to receive the skein of Jackrabbit in the Red Desert colorway. Congratulations, Nephnie!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I've been pondering dye lots and my ability to reproduce colorways. Mostly because I had a batch of Heirloom Tomatoes come out nothing at all like the past versions. And I've noticed this with certain of my older recipes from last year; they're not working out quite the same. It's a bit disconcerting.

However, I have pretty good success with current colorways.

These are two batches each of Starry Night and Long Walk laid out on foamcore boards. I could have arranged Long Walk slightly better to demonstrate the interval, but I think it's still clear that these are essentially the same colorways, despite the inevitable differences. The biggest difference between the two batches of Starry Night is where the yellow intervals occur, and that has to do with how I tied the skeins before they went into the pot. They tend to match within a batch, and be wildly different between lots. And that makes sense since I try and make them match when I'm dyeing the batch, but I don't have the previous batch to reference.

I think what's happening is that the variables are greater when there's 9 months between this time dyeing a colorway and that time dyeing a colorway. The way I mix the dye stock is a little different, the dye lots on several of my dye powders has changed, and then there are the innumerable differences in temperature, acidity, and even invisible differences in the base yarn.

It is a little frustrating, however, to have a recipe that worked time and again and then stops working. Luckily, it's very difficult to have something that's completely disastrous. Even if it's not the original intended colorway, something beautiful is possible.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Busy busy busy

Remember, tomorrow is the last day to enter the most recent giveaway in this post.

I've been very busy and not very productive. We have family visiting which makes it difficult to get things done, and the weather has decided to get ridiculously hot and humid again. I had to bring in all the yarn I dyed over the weekend and crank up the dehumidifier. This means that my workroom is unbearably hot, but at least my yarn is all dry. Once the room cools down, I have to label all the yarn so I can photograph it.

One thing that was dry enough to photograph, however, is the sample I received from the mill. It's a beautiful merino/superfine mohair blend in a DK weight. It's all domestically produced fiber, and it's not a superwash.

100g/300yds of DK weight merino/mohair in the Poseidon colorway. The reduced saturation of a non-superwash really shows how the Poseidon colorway is a darker version of the Cleito colorway.

I love how it responded to my usual technique, and I'm really happy that there was no felting or matting. I'm not actually in the market for a DK weight for the shop, but this blend is also available in a laceweight. I'm definitely considering the laceweight for the shop. I know the mohair will put off some people, but personally I prefer mohair to alpaca and I love how this blend takes dye. I'm keeping this skein for meeeee.

But before I can think of adding new things to the shop, I have to take care of the current stock. Which means it's back to the Gimp mines for me. I have to list my August Phatfiber colorways and stitch markers and clear the path for the next big update.

Monday, August 2, 2010


First off, don't forget the giveaway happening in this post, taking comments through Thursday.

Now, on to cake!

We have family visiting and one of my nieces asked for cake. Since we're in the middle of a slightly cooler patch of weather, I decided to go for it. The request was chocolate cake with vanilla frosting and raspberry jam filling.

I decided to go with a simple chocolate cake using oil instead of butter, vanilla cream cheese frosting, and tart raspberry sauce to go in the filling. The cream cheese frosting is one I devised when I made my cousin's Red Velvet wedding cake (it wasn't hard, it's just a basic frosting). The raspberry sauce comes from Rose Levy Beranbaum's Cake Bible.

The cake is chocolaty and very moist. I prefer the flavor and texture of butter cakes and this is definitely not a butter cake, but it's plenty good enough to satisfy a craving. Other than the softness, the frosting and filling were tasty as well. As long as I keep the cake chilled when we're not serving portions, it should be fine. Otherwise, I'd do a standard buttercream for warm weather (the kind with egg yolks and soft ball stage syrup, not powdered sugar). But a buttercream was more work than I was willing to do today.

Recipe after the jump!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

August 1 giveaway -

For this month's giveaway I have a skein of the colorway I dyed up for the August Phatfiber box theme of Africa.

Jackrabbit 4oz, colorway Red Desert.

This is a 4oz skein in the Jackrabbit base, a 2ply superwash merino in a fingering weight. 400yds, this is plenty for a pair of socks or a small lace project. I love this yarn; it's incredibly springy and has a lovely sheen. In this colorway, it's like a sunset over stones and sand.

My sister's family is visiting from the other side of the country, and I asked my niece for what folks should do to sign up for this giveaway. So, to sign up comment here with your favorite Looney Tunes character (or any animated character, really) any time through Thursday, August 5th to enter this random drawing.

This actually does have an obscure tie-in to my shop. My favorite animated character right now is Prince Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender. However, my shop name is a reference to the Bugs Bunny cartoon where Bugs falls for a mechanized rabbit on a greyhound racetrack. My usual username around the internet is "djinnj" which is very close to "djinn" which is where we get "genie" which works with "Jeanie, the light brown hare" variation of the song Bugs sings, which is a punning reference to the song Jeanie with the light brown hair.... Well, I said it was obscure!

So, pull up some pixels and let's talk about cartoons! :D And don't forget to leave a way to reach you or come back on Friday to see who won. Thanks!

Meanwhile, I'm giving away fiber on my Ravelry group.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Doughnuts, only not. And putting my stamp on things

I have two things today! First up is the hand carved rubber stamp I purchased from Brown Pigeon on Etsy. It's a representation of my logo in a 4in square stamp and I love it.

Mynah insisted on joining the picture.

Meagan does great work and I received the stamp a mere 12 days after I initiated conversation about the design and what would be possible.

It's a big, beautiful stamp that I intend to use on my shopping bags for festivals. I still need to decide on what kind of pigment ink stamp pad to get. I'm thinking that rainbow might be the most fun but it will depend on how expensive the pads are and how visible the finished image will be on the brown paper of the bags.

The other half of today's post is Doughnut Muffins. Or, in my case, Doughnut Hole Muffins. Picture, recipe and chitchat after the jump.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Gulf fundraiser

A bunch of us have donated goodies to a Gulf fundraiser box that Jessie of the Phatfiber box has been coordinating. It's a big, beautiful box of spinning fiber, yarn, gift certificates, cards and stitch markers, a shawl pin, and Jessie has even included a shawlette she designed and knit. Donations should be sent to, each $5 increment counts as an entry in the drawing. For specifics on how to enter the drawing and to take a look at the box contents, visit Gulf superbox!

My contribution is a skein of the Jackalope base in the colorway Butterflyfish. Butterflyfish are mostly tropical reef fish and many have bright coloration. I really love how cheerful this colorway is.

I really recommend taking a look over at the Gulf superbox post. And if you can, please consider donating to

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A video (p3tog combined)

So, someone asked a Combined knitting question over in the Ravelry forums. I put together a quick little video and decided to put it here, too.

I don't know how helpful it will be, but I think of Combined knitting as a constant state of mind, so this will show some of the process I go through when deciding how to work a pattern written for Western oriented stitches. And if you don't know what Combined knitting is, well this will demonstrate that, too.

I also made my first Etsy Treasury. It's full of fibery goodness from other Phatfiber contributors: Kubla Khan. It was fun but time consuming. I can really see getting sucked into making Treasuries.

Friday, July 23, 2010

And the noms go to....

I have a long blog post about selling on Etsy that I've been percolating for days, but it's not ready for public consumption yet. And really, that rant should be saved for another day. I've got much more pressing and pleasant things to do tonight. Specifically, I need to announce that Emily N. is the recipient of the latest Ice Cream Social!

Myself, I'm not having ice cream tonight. Instead, I'm valiantly refraining from eating an entire bag of tanghulu which my brother brought us from Shanghai.

These tanghulu are preserved haw as opposed to fresh, in a candied sugar shell. Some have sesame seeds or pine nuts or peanuts, and some are plain. They've gotten sticky with humidity, but are still delicious. It just means they want to cling to my teeth and get all over my fingers.

I've had haw candies before, I grew up eating haw flakes, and was always annoyed when the last one stuck to the paper. And more recently I've had fruit leather made from haw, which is chewy and delicious. The first time I had tanghulu was this spring when a cousin brought us a mixed bag of candies. I had one little packet of 2 and was hooked. And then I couldn't find them anywhere on the internet to order.

And this is why I'm resisting eating the whole bag in one sitting. They're very sweet and satisfying, chewy and fruity tangy without tasting quite like anything else. I think the closest I can get to describing the flavor is a cross between apple leather and cooked jujube. The texture of the preserved fruit is soft and sticky, a little bit like almond paste but more delicate and not as dense or syrupy.

Aside from the large quantity of sugar, the hawthorn fruit itself isn't particularly bad for one. But dipping it into a thick shell of sugar isn't exactly great for my teeth or my metabolism. And while they're not big, they're not small either. So I'm trying to spread them out. We'll see how that goes....

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Hammer and a Box

 First up, a reminder!  Today is the last day to enter in on the Ice Cream Social giveaway.  Free ice cream, what's not to like?

Secondly, I bought a new hammer. I decided to upgrade my stitch marker making tools and retire the hammer I've been using. It's a serious upgrade, too.  Before and After.
That would be a dollar store hammer on the left, that I had to pound nails into because the head wanted to fly off every time I used it. Yes, I used a dollar store hammer. What can I say? It served me faithfully all these months.  Meanwhile the new hammer has 4 interchangeable heads and is much heavier and smoother. I haven't tried it out yet, but I think it's a good change.

Thirdly, I received my July Phatfiber box yesterday and I have pictures of course!  July's theme is Seaweed, Ships and Scallywags.  Arr thar mateys, thar be hidden treasure in this here jump break!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Ice cream social II - Another giveaway

It's that time again! Today is National Ice Cream Day and I've got another coupon for a pint of Ben & Jerry's up for grabs.

Just comment here any time through Thursday, July 22, about your favorite summertime treat(s), and you'll be entered in the random drawing! Please leave a way to get back in touch with you, or check back here on Friday, July 23 to see if you've won!

Once again, this coupon expires in 2011 and is only good in the US. However! Don't let that stop you if you're outside the US. If you win, I'll send a little surprise instead.

Myself, I love the bounty of fresh fruit the summer brings. One of my favorite extra special treats is a ripe, juicy peach or two cut up and smothered in vanilla ice cream. I've also been known to take a slice of chilled watermelon, straight through the melon like a wagon wheel and laid out on a plate, and go at it with a spoon. Or sit me down with a big bowl of cherries and leave me alone; I can never get enough cherries. Or I'll have a rootbeer float if I want something that instantly throws me into childhood nostalgia. What can I say, I love sweet treats!

I'll leave you with a picture of a melon. The farm gave us a few of these yesterday. This one is on the small side, but they don't get very big. 1-2 pounds is normal.

They're known as xiang gua in Mandarin, or "fragrant melon". After a bit of Googling, I found the English name is early silver line melon. They're small and hollow, white-fleshed and crisp, sweet and mild in taste like a honeydew. The skin is smooth and can be eaten. They're a bit underwhelming if they haven't ripened enough. We're going to let this one sit for a few days to improve.

Now tell us about your favorites! :)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

An update and Ice cream month

I've been updating the shop in bursts for a few days, and last night I finally redid all my listing titles. The old versions were too wordy and it was difficult to keep straight which was which base. Hopefully the more succinct titles will work better.  Let me know what you think!

Picture links to the shop.

Now, on to the sweet, creamy good stuff. Did you know that in the US July is National Ice Cream Month?  I only just found this out.  Not only that, but the third Sunday in July is National Ice Cream Day. That's tomorrow!  So it's very appropriate that I am making ice cream today.  Tomorrow, I'll start the next ice cream giveaway.

But today, my niece and nephew are over and that alone is reason to make ice cream.  I'm using the same recipe I used for the mango ice cream, but I'm using beautiful, ripe peaches instead.

Peach ice cream with cherry topping, in a wine glass so the layers can be seen. It could have been frozen a little longer, but I was impatient.
Recipe chatter below the fold.