Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Sometimes I get really tired and discouraged, depressed, frustrated. But sometimes, sometimes things click.

This has been a very busy week, and it's not getting any less busy any time soon. I didn't cook dinner tonight because I had to finish updating the shop so I could finish working on my page for the Fiber Cooperative.  14 colorways went up in the shop, I have another dozen or so to photograph yet, and the end of this week is full of dyeing and sample making.  Meanwhile, tomorrow I'll hold another give-away, and then there's the holiday weekend coming up.

I hit 400 sales this month, another little milestone.  Even with a package missing in the mail, even with several lackluster advertising attempts this month and the bills they generated, I look around and feel proud of my accomplishment this week, and it's good to feel good about this and about myself.

And tonight, as I was editing pictures, I got this:

This is the colorway Starry Night and it is the most perfect example of a desire turned into reality that I have ever managed with my yarn.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Fiber Co-op

I'm busy busy busy trying to get things done in the ridiculously sweltering heat, but I'm very excited about something so I'm dashing in to post. What is it, you say? It's The Fiber Cooperative, which will go live in July.

Basically, it's like an online fiber festival, with yarnies and other such folk presenting their "vendor tables" with the best and most representative of their wares each month. It's not a shopping venue, but rather a browsing venue. If you see something you like or are intrigued by the shop, you can click through to the shop and browse everything the shop has to offer.

It should be fun and informative and full of eye candy all collected handily into one location.

It actually reminds me a little bit of the Etsy Promotional Tool someone posted about on the Etsy forums last week, but on a much grander scale.  The EPT is a simple tool that collects the 5 most recent items in one's shop (or the top of one's 'featured' list) and displays them linked back to the shop.  It's very new and very simple as of yet, but it's fun to scroll through.

And in something completely unrelated, I leave you with a YouTube video gleaned from my cousin. Lenny Kravitz crashed a choir performing one of his songs (none of them minded!). It's a delight. Can you imagine being one of those kids? Event of a lifetime, truly.  It goes a little out of sync by the end, but it's still eminently watchable.

Now I've got to go back to editing yarn pictures. I'm planning a big shop update starting tomorrow since it's too hot to dye. Mostly Jackalope (merino/nylon sock yarn) and March Hare (light worsted superwash merino).

Friday, June 25, 2010

An experiment in mini (micro?) s'mores

So, have you ever looked at a Teddy Graham cracker and thought "Teddy Graham, mini-marshmallow, chocolate chip!"

I've had this idea for a long time, I just never implemented it before.  (Apologies for the blurry pics. Unfortunately I didn't get a single unblurry one!)

I overtoasted them, so they were like napalm. We did a second batch with the chips and marshmallows on the same half, and we toasted the marshmallows until they were just turning golden.  That worked better, but the general verdict is that they're too fussy.  Big ones are easier and better.

The biggest problem is that Teddy Grahams tend to rock on their bellies, so the marshmallows roll off.  The second problem is that chocolate chips tend to get stiff/dry when they get too hot, even if they're not burnt. They have less cocoa butter in them than bar chocolate, and lecithin, etc.  Sooooo, these weren't really smooshy.  They tasted good, however. And I tested out an idea that has lurked for a very long time. :D

Thursday, June 24, 2010

An early Midsummer Night's Dream

It's not yet midsummer, but this month's theme for the June Phatfiber box has arrived right in the middle of some mid-summerly heat and humidity.

Before I get into the glories of the box, however, here's a picture of a visitor to our carport this afternoon.  I don't know why it was in the middle of our carport instead of wandering amongst the trees.

It looks like a luna moth caterpillar to me. I put it in the ground cover out of the way and hopefully it's made its way safely to wherever it was going.

Now, on to the box!  Lots of beautiful and large! samples this month.

This was the great "program" Jessie sent in the box to hold the cards and such.

Pictures of the box contents and shop links after the jump.


I received my June Phatfiber box today, and as usual it's full of lovely softness. But I also cooked an off the cuff dinner tonight, and I want to record this recipe for posterity as I think it came out very well. So tonight's another double poster.

I basically made up a mango chicken recipe as I went along and it came out a very pleasant sweet/savory combination. The mango was too ripe for this application, so the texture suffered but it tasted good. We had it with a simple salad dressed with oil and vinegar, and rice.

Recipe after the jump

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mundane mysteries

Cleaning the house instead of dyeing yarn today, and I have two mysteries.

Why is the pink yarn I dyed last night so firm compared to the other skeins? It feels almost hard. It's not felted (superwash, hasn't lost length, isn't felted in appearance). The only thing I can think is that the strength of that particular dye changed the hand. I've never used that dye at that concentration before. If it still feels so dense and firm after it dries, I'm going to have to list it as a second, I think. It's really disconcerting.

The second mystery, how did I miss that big pile of spilled catnip under that rack? Sad to say, I haven't had catnip in the house for a really long time, which means that's a disconcertingly ancient pile of catnip. I've never seen the cats so intrigued by a dust bunny before. Dusty cats are pretty typical, however.

In the midst of this scintillating day, I discovered I won something! I never win things! :D In this case, it's a fantastic monogrammed calendar from the Manolo for the Home's Dabney Lee at Home giveaway. The months are all different and they're so fun and bright. I'm really looking forward to receiving this.

Oh, wait, I have a third mystery! Fourth if one considers winning something a mystery. This little butterfly was flitting about today tasting the dirt and being ineffectually chased by one of my cats. I haven't noticed this variety before so I haven't the least idea what it might be. I should try looking it up at

OK, back to cleaning. Hopefully there are no more ancient and kitty intoxicating dust bunnies lingering in the corners. I'm just glad it missed the rug.

Monday, June 21, 2010

A milestone and a book

It's a very small milestone. I've used up a container of dye, and switched it over from holding dye powder to holding dye stock. Here's my brand new dye stock jar of Jacquard Sapphire.

This is the second jar of dye I've used up. Yellow went first.

I'm slowly making progress on the yarn I need to dye up, but it's been so hot I've decided that plodding is acceptable. As long as I can get it all done by June 28, I'm still in good shape.

Meanwhile, I got a book today!

5000 Years of Chinese Costumes by Zhou Xun, ed. Gao Chunming, 1987.

I was looking around for a book of historical dress, and this one looked like it had the right balance of schematic drawings, photographs, and artistic representations from the periods in question. It looks like a really enjoyable survey of the major periods in China. I'm looking forward to reading it.

It's out of print, so I went to Bookfinder to see who has it, and I nearly choked on most of the prices. I ordered the least expensive one from a bookseller in the UK. Since I stuck with standard shipping, I expected it to take longer than a slow boat to China (:P). I ordered it late on the 14th, and it got here today. A scant week, all told. So, good show, Henry Pordes Books Ltd!

Happy first day of summer, everyone!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Summer is for ice cream

The winner of the first Ice Cream Social giveaway is Renee G.! A bunch of fun and interesting stories came of it, and I had a really good time reading the responses. I highly recommend reading through them! Some are laugh out loud hilarious.

The next giveaway is scheduled for July 1, and is something I hope you'll all enjoy. A bit of pampering for hard working hands is what I'll leave it at for now. :)

Meanwhile, here's another little teaser of what I've been dyeing up.

The colorway in the middle is a new one I call Starry Night. I love how it came out. It's realized what I wanted to achieve more beautifully than I had anticipated, and I'm debating attempting it in a different base.

I'm pretty strict about not crossing Jackalope and Jackrabbit colorways. The different bases all take dye differently, so it's very unpredictable moving a colorway between bases. Still, I love love love it, and all I can think is how the heavier texture and brighter sheen of the Jackrabbit base would be more suggestive of oil paint than the Jackalope it's currently presented in. So, we'll see. Perhaps if I have a few skeins left undyed at the end of the next big push.

In other things entirely, today is Father's Day and we had a pancake lunch with hot smoked salmon and assorted tasties. More and a pancake recipe after the jump.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Ouch, that's hot!

I need a new pair of insulated gloves. There's nothing quite like handling hot yarn and having that creeping certainty that very shortly one will want to dance about going "OW OW OW!!!". Still, it's not bad for nearly a year. They're still usable, just not so great for protecting my hands from boiling water anymore!

I thought I'd show some in progress pictures of my yarn today, since I'm in the middle of dyeing up yarn for June/July. But first up, a reminder that the Ice Cream Social giveaway is still open and will be so through tomorrow. I'll pick someone out of a hat on Sunday. C'mon, you know you want it. It's free ice cream!

Also, I'm in another Treasury. Americana Cat in various fun shades of red, white, and blue.

Now, on to the yarny goodness!

Mmm, the smell of hot wool and vinegar....

These are 3 of my crockpots, in the middle of the dye process. I usually dye three 100-114g skeins or two 170g skeins at a time. That's the most I can fit into the pots and still get results I like.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Eating well

(Don't forget, the ice cream giveaway here!)

Today is Duanwu Jie, the Dragon Boat Festival. A day when one traditionally eats zongzi or bamboo wrapped sticky rice dumplings.

Commercially made frozen red bean zongzi.

... I made eggplant rollatini for dinner.

Eggplant rollatini with braised flounder over zucchini and penne.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ice cream social - A giveaway

A friend had a really great idea. Why not just give away something yummy once a month? So this is a "silly" giveaway. It's frivolous, and only fiber arts related in the most tangential way. But I like the idea a lot, so here is the first of my ice cream giveaways for this summer.

a Ben and Jerry's free pint coupon on the lawn

Comment to this post by Saturday, June 19th to be included in the random drawing for a Ben & Jerry's free pint coupon. This time, I'd like people to tell me a story about their family or a family story. It can be anything, really, and please do use all sensible internet discretion.

The coupon expires March 1, 2011, and is only valid in the US, sadly. But I don't want anyone international to be left out! So comment anyway, and if you win I'll send you a small surprise instead. :) I'm giving away another coupon through my Ravelry group, and I will accept an entry here and there, but folks can only win one of the two being offered up this month, in order to spread the joy a little.

A family story of mine, learned at dinner last night, after the jump.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Exhibition, exodus, and loot

Once again the realization that lots to blog about means not enough time to blog percolates to the fore.  This weekend, I knit in public for the first day of World Wide Knit in Public day(s); I noticed that there was the annual mass exodus of toadlets from our pond; and I went cherry picking and once again demonstrated my passionate devotion to Prunus cerasus or the sour cherry.
 A close up of freshly picked Montmorency cherries, without stems.
They're like jewels. I can't resist them.

I'd best get on with this before it's Monday! (Oh well, I tried!)

First up, WWKIP day! I drove up to Ridgewood, NJ and spent the day with an old friend. We sat in the outside area of a Starbucks and chattered on for hours as we knit. We did speak to a few people who seemed interested, and one very pleased woman who was excited to see someone else who does this craft.

I twitpic-ed from the Starbucks, but here is photgraphic evidence:
An ice cream pint cozy in pink and cream with a ball of yarn stuffed into it to hold its shape, an empty Starbucks iced drink cup, and a knitting notions box. A cotton breadcloth being worked from the center, in the round, in medium tan cotton.
The yarn used for the cozy was Knitpicks Merino Style in cream held doubled, and a Phatfiber box sample of handspun merino from Spindipity. The combination reminds me of strawberries and cream, even though the handspun has blue and green in it, not just pink and red.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Blibbering humdinger

I managed to eat half a pint of ice cream without really noticing how it happened, and take and edit some pictures.  So, I updated the shop with some stitch markers.  I think my favorite this round are the agate ones. They glow in the light, and are just so cheerful.

Stitch markers in Australian jasper, dalmatian jasper, green line quartz, and agate.
Clicking on the picture will take you to the stitch marker section of my shop.

I'm not sure if I like how that gallery image turned out. It's a little too busy, and consequently slightly crazy making. But I'm going to leave it as it is, because I still have trouble drawing straight lines in Gimp. :P

This weekend is busy busy busy.  Saturday is the first WWKIP day weekend, and I'm going cherry picking on Sunday.  Cherry picking for sour cherries, mind. Which means I'll be canning cherries when I get home.  I missed sour cherry season last year and was incredibly disappointed. This time I added it to my calendar and then started stalking the u-pick about 2 weeks ago. Between sour cherries and local peaches, a few weekends of canning means I have summer in a bottle all winter long. Now I just need to find all my pint and half pint jars!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Cooking again!

It is symptomatic of my week that this blog post has disappeared once. And that I found a mouse nest in the cupboard under the oven today.  *sigh*    But it's my night to cook and I'm kind of pleased with it, so I'm going to post anyway.

No recipes really, today, because all of this is stuff I make without.  I just toss things together.  The menu is breaded chicken baked in the oven, zucchini stewed with onion and tomato, and couscous because I didn't have time to make anything else starchy. Late starts will do that. 

I only took half a chicken breast. Those were big pieces of chicken.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Things of thingness

Thinking up catchy subject lines is hard.

Ahem, anyway yesterday I went to the Renegade Craft festival and decided it is not the appropriate venue for me.  It was hot and humid and there was a tornado watch.  Dude, Brooklyn?

No pictures, because it was seriously gross out.  A storm blew through in the late afternoon and washed a bit of the heat away, and by 9pm the whole area was in the embrace of a totally different weather system that dropped the temperature by 15-20°.  That kind of temperature is much more conducive to yarn buying!

I did grab a few pictures while sitting in Manhattan traffic, though.  I like the contrast between the buildings and the clouds. And the reflections off the buildings in the one struck me as really cool.

More chatter after the jump.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Treats for you and me

It took me a while to code everything, but now that I have I can post who won the drawing for this skein of yarn.

Congratulations, AbsoluteGillian!  Email me to confirm your address, please, and I'll get this in the mail for you on Monday.

Thanks for playing, everyone!  You all left a fantastic list of really wonderful and varied Etsy shops. So I've included the list after the jump. Please do go visit and ogle the lovelies!  I hope you'll be back again soon. I have lots of plans for fun giveaways in the future. :)

Meanwhile, I'm going to the Renegade Craft Fair in Brooklyn tomorrow to see what it's like. If it's yarnie friendly, I might try and get a table next year. Here's hoping it's cooler and doesn't rain on us all!  And next week I'll be dyeing up more yarn. :)

Before the list of fabulous shops, I shall leave you with a "sample" of what I'm treating myself to tonight - Chocolate pudding, frozen in my Donvier ice cream maker, sprinkled with toasted pecans. So easy and decadently delicious!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Existential pudding

Last night, I had the dilemma of having pudding and yet not having pudding. Because I had made pudding, but it was not yet chilled and ready to eat. So this morning I had pudding for breakfast.  I am not ashamed.

A sliced banana and home made chocolate pudding

The recipe after the jump.  And don't forget! Today is the last day to comment and enter my yarn giveaway here, and my stitch marker giveaway over in my Ravelry group.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Time to cook! And if you haven't yet, check out my June 1 post for the yarn giveaway. :)

Tonight we're having a sort of "white" burrito composed of grilled pork that's been slivered, a white bean concoction, white rice, and white extra sharp cheddar. This comes from the fact that it's a bit warm and very humid and I'd rather not steam up the house. Add to this leftover grilled pork that needs to be eaten, wheat tortillas in the freezer, and leftover rice, and it all sort of comes together into this:
The discerning will note that there's no rice in this picture. There isn't any rice in my "not burrito" either, and it doesn't need it. I feel no guilt.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

June 1 - What a year! And a giveaway.

A year ago today, I officially opened my Etsy shop and tried to make a real go of this yarn dyeing business. And in the last year I've learned so much and done so much that my head it buzzing with all of it still. I vended my first festival, I made my first ad banners, I sent my work out there and people came back for more.

When I think about where I was a year ago and where I am now, I'm glad and hopeful and grateful. I came to this out of near desperation and it's giving back more than I can express. And I have so many people to be grateful to as well, good friends and family who've put up with this thing eating my brain and my time and my patience, and gone well above the call of duty helping out.

So thank you to everyone who has participated in this whirlwind of a year. I have so much still to learn and do to grow this business right, and I hope you're all with me through the next year as well. :)

And to celebrate all this and to launch this blog officially with something fun, the giveaway! Specifically, this skein of yarn:

Three Hares, colorway: Colonial Day, hanging out in the persimmon tree

Details of this giveaway and more pictures after the jump-