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. :)