Sunday, December 11, 2011

Balls (and a December giveaway) (and I'm not trying to be puerile, it just comes out that way sometimes)

I should probably stop pretending that these actually happen on the first of the month. I do have a giveaway for you all for December. This time it's courtesy of Sarah at Creature Comforts Craftworks.

Isn't it pretty?
Decadent - Merino/Nylon/Stellina
What you would be getting is 50g (half a skein) of her lovely merino/nylon/stellina (for that extra sparkle!) sock yarn in the colorway "Decadent". That's a little over 200yds of soft, glittery goodness. 75% superwash merino, 20% nylon, and 5% stellina.

I hope you'll go take a look at Sarah's shop to see all the other lovely things she makes as well. Her fiber is lovely, too.

To enter this giveaway I'd like everyone to take inspiration from the colorway and tell me what they do in December that's just a little decadent. Something you do to treat yourself, take a little break, get away from it all. December is stressful in a lot of ways, whether it's holidays, family, the end of the academic year, finishing projects for this year and preparing for the next, etc etc etc. In the northern hemisphere the days are getting shorter and seasonal affective disorder can start setting in. So, tell me, what's something you like to do that helps you take a little break from whatever is getting you down? And if nothing is getting you down, how do you celebrate feeling good?

To take a break from all my worries, I like to watch a fun movie and knit something easy. To celebrate feeling good, I like cranking up some music from my heedless youth and dance around like a loon... until I run out of breath in 30sec because I am ridiculously sedentary, and then I sit down again, but it's fun while it lasts!

I'll let this run through Saturday, Dec 17th and have the randomizer pick a winner on the 18th (and the group if you'd like to double your chances). So tell me, what do you do?

Meanwhile, I have been knitting some ornaments and I figured it's a timely topic for this blog. I've admired knit ornaments for a while, the kind that cover a plastic or glass ball, and so I experimented a little with some sock mini-skeins and came up with 2 super simple patterns.

One useful thing is that sometimes ornaments age in storage and look awful once they're brought out again. The white ball I covered with the Happy New Year colorway is starting to shed its frosting like the uncovered one in the picture above. It has strange discolorations and some of the finish is flaking off. Covering up makes that a non-issue.

Follow the jump for more pics and the patterns.

Monday, November 21, 2011

It's November *what*?!

I can't believe it's already November 21. I think someone's playing a joke on me and rolled my whole calendar forward a few weeks. It's not almost December! *cries*

But I have a giveaway to give away! This month the randomizer chose Connie! I've contacted via Ravelry.

Here's what I've assembled so far. I'm waiting on one little component so I can make a glow in the dark stitch marker or two. I can assure you through personal experience that it's really annoying to drop a stitch marker in the dark.

The little green packet on the lower left are some silk hankies I dyed last week just for fun. They're not something I plan to have in the shop any time soon. I love playing with hankies, but it's really just play and I figure that something a little different would help for power outage boredom. The delicates wash and lanolizing wool drops are offered up by my friend Cate of Urbbody (her home shop is Urbhome). I think the lanolizing drops are really cool, even if one isn't treating soakers, and I used a bunch of the delicates wash recently to de-smoke all my wool after a week of wood fires.

Meanwhile, I have nothing of substance to talk about today but I do have my Thanksgiving menu planned so I'll put that behind the jump.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The return to civilization (and a belated giveaway)

Um.... *taps microphone* Is this thing on?

If I flatter myself, you may have noticed my conspicuous absence at the start of this month (well, unless you follow my Twitter acct in which case I was jawing my head off). That would be because on Saturday, Oct 29th at about 3pm or a few minutes earlier, a big tree fell across our driveway taking down our power lines and a utility pole and causing the transformer to hit the ground and break open. We were without electricity and running water until Sunday, Nov 6th. The tree blocked egress until the 4th.

The tree in question:

I spent most of my time knitting or trying to knit, so that's the main inspiration for this month's very belated giveaway. This month I'm giving away an emergency preparedness kit. It's not just any emergency preparedness kit, it's a yarny preparedness kit. Inside, you will find one slightly underweight skein of this yarn - Jackrabbit 4oz in the colorway "Implausible". (I spent the whole week telling myself "this is unreal".)

As well as (not pictured) an emergency light source, some emergency calories, something to get the smell of woodsmoke out of your post-emergency FOs, an entirely facetious "pattern" to knit in the dark, and whatever else I can think to add to the box. This is a seriously plump giveaway, if I do say so myself.

I'm going to let this run a full week, through Sat Nov 19th before I let the randomizer pick a winner. To enter, just comment here with an answer to this thought exercise. How long could you survive (without food poisoning or scurvy) off only the food currently present in your home? Added limiters are 1) no electricity for things like refrigerators and freezers, and 2) no running water so all water needs to be carried in by hand from an offsite tap and heated in a pot on a propane stove if you want it hot. Remember to leave me a way to reach you if you win; a Ravelry id is enough!

Friends of the family lost power for days and ended up visiting a different friend's house each day for food and warmth. For us the reality was too much food rather than not enough. When you have a standing freezer as well as an overstuffed side by side, and over 1,000lbs of vegetables gleaned from a local farm that was scheduled for delivery to local food banks, it's a matter of spoilage and no easy way to wash dishes that cause problems. It was cold enough to make washing dishes in unheated water incredibly unpleasant, but not cold enough to keep food from spoiling.

At one point I was tempted to slather everything with barbeque sauce and throw it on the grill. The mess of it was the main deterrent. I did get reasonably good at cooking rice, however. The key was bringing the rice and water to a boil in a heavy pot on the propane burner and then covering it and letting it simmer over a lit sterno canister for about 30min. Our propane burner doesn't produce a low enough flame for cooking rice, but a can of solid fuel is just right for the slow simmer part.

More nattering about the power outage after the jump.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Down the rabbit hole (and proof I'm a huge dork)

First things first, the winners of my October giveaway are Rebecca with the Pomegranate colorway, and RightAsRain for the random drawing. I've contacted both. Thanks for playing, everyone! There were a lot of great ideas, but I had to go with the one that caused me to go "guh" involuntarily when I opened the picture.

I'll have pictures of Pomegranate to post later in the week when it's dry. Yes, I dyed it already. How could I resist that rich, succulent pomegranate? I love those things, and the sheen of the silk and the silver glitter in the yarn like droplets of juice.... Seriously delicious. I really hope the yarn is as beautiful dry as it is wet because this will be a fantastically juicy colorway.

Meanwhile, I never did post about my trip to Seattle. I went for a really quick little trip and took my nieces to a Keith Urban concert on the 29th. These aren't my concert pics. I was fooling around with my new camera which I'm still learning, and my new phone's camera, which I'm also still learning. Here's a shot of the Space Needle which I like. More after the jump.

I'm really proud of how this one came out. After 2 days of no clouds, a few started rolling in in the afternoon and it just cried out for a picture.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The White Rabbit (or a late giveaway)

I'm late, I'm late! But I promise this is worth it. I got back from Seattle on Friday and my age is showing because it took until today to recuperate. I'm going to post tomorrow with my trip shenanigans but I want to get to this month's giveaway before it's even later because I think it's AWESOME.

It has to do with this:

This is a case of the Arctic Hare base, to be specific 110sk of it.

The reason this is significant is that it is the new Arctic Hare base. For those in the "know", I use Kraemer Sterling for my Arctic Hare base. Kraemer recently decided to replace the silver fiber they were using with a silver colored polyester fiber. The price of silver has been fluctuating wildly, and going up and up for so many months that the producer of the special silver fiber could no longer guarantee it. Thus the switch to this poly fiber. This means that production of the yarn should be more timely and they can keep the price the same rather than raising it to reflect the increase in wool, silk, and silver prices.

So yes, the Arctic Hare dyed in September 2011 and earlier is all the old base with the real silver. All the Arctic Hare I will be dyeing this month and onward will have the 2% silver replaced with 2% silver colored polyester. The rest of the fiber content remains the same.

What does this mean for this giveaway? Well, I need to test it out. I have a few underweight skeins of the previous blend left, and I have this whole case of the new blend. You see where this is going, right? I need to dye up several batches to see how they compare. And then I want to give some away so people can see if it's just as beautiful as the old base. I think it will be, but there's nothing like holding it your hands and working with it.

So here's what I'm going to do. I am giving away AT LEAST 1 skein here, and 1 skein in my Rav group. They'll be about 101g, so borderline and not quite underweight but not quite the safe margin I like.

What I would like YOU to do to enter this drawing is comment here (or in my Rav group) with ONE colorway suggestion for this new base (one per location, so if you have two ideas you can double your chances by posting one here and one in my Rav group). You can describe it verbally, or you can link to a picture, etc. Give it a name, and post it any time through October 8th. On October 9th I'll draw a winner for the yarn. I haven't dyed it yet, but it will probably be in Starry Night or Frou Frou, or some other established colorway as yet undetermined. I'll be dyeing it up this week, you see.

Meanwhile, if I pick your colorway idea to dye up in next week's batches, I'll send you a skein of it once it's dyed up. What do you think? I think this is pretty nifty myself. I'm going to say at this point that I will pick at least 1 and no more than 2 of the colorway ideas I get, because I do need to cap this. But I think it's awesome nonetheless. And I'll add here that it's impossible to win more than one skein, just so we spread the wealth a little. So I'll pick the colorway idea(s) I'll use, and then pick the random drawing winners from the remaining entries.

You know you want to do it, right? Have at it, people! And here is the Rav group post if you want to double your chances.

Oh, and don't forget to leave a way to contact you if necessary, Ravelry username is sufficient if your post doesn't link back to your blog, etc.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


I can't quite believe it's Thursday night already. I have so much left to do. *hyperventilates*

But one fun and quick thing I can do is announce that LadySisyphus was picked by the randomizer to receive September's food safe dye kit. Thanks for playing, everyone! Lots of fall colors in people's suggestions; autumn must be on people's minds! A drier season would be a good thing; the flooding in the region is really bad.

In random other news, I'm almost at another shop milestone and I tend to get myself little presents for those. This time around I ordered a custom hair stick from Hapagirls. I absolutely fell in love with her copper lotus and asked if she could make me a hairstick. And she did! It's so beautiful in person and it slips into my bun perfectly and holds great. I adore it and I don't think I'll take it off any time soon, even if I haven't actually reached my next milestone yet!

Here's a blurry picture of it in. Uh, please ignore the messy hair, etc.

Now I've got to run and get some more work done. I have to label all this and pack it away for the show. This is all the yarn I dyed the last few days of August and then this week, less about 40sk of yarn and also the 2 pounds of fiber I dyed last night.

In some ways I can't wait for the festival, even with everything I still have to do. Once it's here and then done I can go back to normal hours!

Hope to see some of you there this weekend!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

When in danger or in doubt.... (and a colorful giveaway)

Run in circles, scream and shout. Actually, we did none of that, although some crankpants sniping started happening.

I am, of course, referring to the recent visit from Irene. We lost power for 3.5 days, and since we have well water we were without electricity and running water for the duration. Otherwise, we came through unscathed. The gravel driveway looks a bit rough as parts of it are partially washed out, but the worst of it was fixed either by the neighbor who happens to be resurfacing right now or the county when they fixed the (dirt) road on Monday.

All in all, if I have to have some sort of storm inconvenience to handle I much prefer a power outage compared to all the horrible flooding going on in the region. I did have a small nervous breakdown on Tuesday when we were told it could last for a week, but it came back yesterday and I could get back to work.

In more cheerful things, I am up to my eyeballs in hot, wet wool since the Garden State Sheep Breeders' festival is in just over a week. And, since it's Sept 1st I have a giveaway! I am now 3 days behind schedule in my festival prep courtesy of a tropical storm, so I've decided to spread the wealth a little. Namely, I have assembled a little kit so that whoever wins this giveaway can try their hand at dyeing, too.

This is one package of concentrated gel paste food coloring in color primaries, 40g of citric acid, and one 400yd/4oz skein of 100% merino sock yarn. It's the Jackrabbit base, the really sproingy 2ply. All you need to do is add the water and the heat! And since it's food safe, you don't need to worry about special equipment.

I'm going to let this run through Wednesday the 7th, and pick someone at random on Thursday. To enter, comment to this post with what kind of colorway you'd like to make with this skein of yarn. Now I've got to race over to the Rav group. Have at it!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Time keeps on turning

First things first, the recipient of August's laceweight yarn giveaway is Knitmish! I've msg'd via Ravelry.

It was fun to see how many other people craft in the evenings or even late at night. Especially the late at night part. *insert long analogy that ties in to The Frisco Kid and the term "londsman" here and then delete it because it's just too complicated* Thanks for playing, everyone!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch I've realized that the Garden State Sheep Breeder's Festival is in less than 5 weeks. I... have a lot to do. This week I'm pulling out all my boxes of undyed stock, retaking an inventory of it and deciding just what I'm going to dye up for the festival this year.


Among other things I need to do is aaaaallll my NerdWars knitting, and I've really been letting down my team with regards to housekeeping and cheer leading. And I need to dream up a few simple patterns to give away at my festival booth.

I've also been debating listing finished projects in my old Etsy shop as a sort of shop sample sale, since I'm accruing more pieces than I can display. That's on the back burner but it's been percolating for a while now. Hopefully Etsy will have implemented its multiple shops under one owner changes before I'm ready to do this.

I have managed to do a few things that are long range productive, however. OK, one thing. My concert sock is complete! ... Yes, I know it's just one sock. *looks shifty* I never said I was a sock knitter!

But this sock will be a lovely addition to my festival booth, demonstrating how Three Hares works up and how a colorway like Happy New Year looks. It's 9st/in and I worked it up on 0s. The mill suggests US#2s, but I like my socks, even my display socks to be "bulletproof".

That nifty sock blocker is one of a pair I purchased from SevenYaks. I decided that simply stuffing a sock into the wire of one of my cubes was not conducive to showing off the fabric at all. Now that I have two sample socks, this one and the cabled one in Jackrabbit, I think it's time they graduated to a more polished presentation. I bought the medium size and they're exactly my dimensions as a size 7 wide.

OK, now I have to go back and do some critical NerdWars stuff and work on my listing titles. Etsy is working on its relevancy search and my listing titles are really poorly set up for relevancy as they've described it. Hope everyone's having a good Sunday! I'll leave you with the little Aurora figure I knit up for NerdWars (BSG reference, of course). She's flying high above my work table as a reminder of something or another profound.

Monday, August 1, 2011

After Dark (a fine giveaway)

It's August! When did that happen? July managed to pass in a haze of family and excessive heat. I almost wrote excessive heat and family, but that would imply that there was excessive family, and while that may sometimes be true it wasn't in this case! But I'm still not clear on exactly where all the time went....

Still now it's August 1 and that means I have a giveaway for you! I think this one is particularly fine, both literally and figuratively fine because I'm giving away some laceweight.

The 2ply laceweight I decided to carry is a very precious yarn so it's been difficult to justify samples. However, I had one skein that weighed exactly 100g. You know what that means, right? Samples or giveaway! I decided "go big or go home".

I asked a friend what colorway I should dye to give away and she said "After Dark". So here it is, a skein of After Dark. At 18-19wpi, it's perfect for most lace knitting.

Now, I only have the one skein and each skein is over 900yds long, so I decided that splitting it in half would be a good taste for two lucky winners. And then I decided that no matter how pretty a skein of laceweight is when it's all twisted up with the colors flashing through it, it's even more delicious to be able to start knitting right away. This is especially true if one doesn't have a ball winder! So I've wound each half into a cake.

I'm giving away one of these here and one of these in my Ravelry group, and as usual double dipping is absolutely fine.

Why is this yarn so precious? It's hard to explain to people why a superfine merino and mohair yarn would be worth this kind of effort, especially when they hear "mohair". Most people don't associate "mohair" with "soft". "Strong", yes; "lustrous", yes; "halo", yes. But soft? Not so much. So when I show people this yarn that is strong, lustrous, has a moderate halo that develops upon working up and through wear, and they feel how deliciously soft it is I can practically see their paradigm shifting. When they feel how incredibly light but warm the fabric is, I can see them light up. Unfortunately I can't pull your hand through the internet to feel the yarn!

So here I am giving some away. To enter this giveaway, post here your favorite time of day for crafting things. Mine is After Dark, usually late at night when it's quiet and everyone around me is asleep. I have a very bad habit of knitting long into the night and then realizing the sun has come up when I wasn't looking. In the summer it can also be the only time when it's cool enough to work with wool!

I'm letting this one run through Friday August 5, and the random number generator will pick someone on August 6th. Don't forget to leave a way for me to reach you if you win; Ravelry username is sufficient.

So, when you you like to work on things?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Procrastination (and a concert aftermath July 14 and 15)

I'm supposed to be doing a shop update. In fact, I should have started it on Thursday but between the heat and family visiting I haven't done much of anything useful at all. So, this is my concert aftermath, and then I'm going to start working on my shop update and if I don't get anything listed tonight I'm going to give away some yarn on Twitter. I don't think it'll come to that, but it's a good extra incentive to finally edit down those 400+ pictures I have.

Also, I should say I'm one of "those" fans but I'm not one of "THOSE" fans. I met some of THOSE fans on the 14th and I'm far too mellow to be that way.  Here, have a teaser picture:

Yes, that's a picture of my sock in progress at the Newark show. I am a knitter, after all! I like this tradition a la YarnHarlot and I think I'll continue to do this in the future. That means I need to knit more socks, I think!

More blather and eventually lots more pictures after the jump.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

One of *those* fans.

Hi everyone! I'm sorry this is late. I got back from Boston on Sunday evening, absorbed dinner and proceeded to do nothing of use whatsoever for the rest of the day. But I can announce that the winner of July's giveaway is Lorraine!  Thanks for participating, everyone! I'm percolating what to give away for August, and I have an inkling of a good idea. It depends on what I can get done in the next couple weeks.

Meanwhile, since I've already exposed myself as one of "those" fans, I've decided I should just go with it and talk about my recent visit to Boston and the concert I attended. *cue excessive emoticon use* :D :D :D

Before I get into my concert aftermath, I also want to wax enthusiastic about the lamp I bought on Saturday. It's the Ikea Sunnan solar powered desk lamp. I bought it to see if it would be suitable as supplemental lighting for my festival booth and by gum it is!

My yarn needs good light to be appreciated, and sometimes venues get dim if the weather doesn't cooperate. I've been looking for something battery operated so I wouldn't have to deal with a power supply. This trumps that with its removable solar charging battery. I also wanted the light to be strong enough and warm enough so the yarn pops even if it's dark elsewhere. It's definitely bright enough, and it's immeasurably better than the smaller lamps I've tried. The light is a touch cool, but it's by far the best so far. It's much warmer than the led lights that managed to make even my skin tone sickly. At $20 each, they're inexpensive enough for me to get at least 3, and the flexible gooseneck means I can aim the light anywhere I want. It was a fortuitous discovery and I'm ridiculously happy with it. :D

Now, speaking of lighting up....

This picture is blurry, but I like it anyway. :D

More after the jump....

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Busy busy busy! (And a shiny giveaway)

Summer is here with gorgeous weather and long days that still don't manage to be long enough. I'm working on the shop between family visiting and other family visiting and going to visit family, and in general lots of demands on my time. Keeping true to my promise to update the shop every 2-2.5 weeks, I'll be restocking the laceweight early next week. I have 32sk ready to photograph and I was going to do it this weekend but the niece who takes fantastic photographs will be visiting, so I hope to dragoon her into taking product photographs. This weekend I will be skeining and dyeing up the 6oz skeins of Jackrabbit instead.

But before I natter on about all and sundry, I should get to the giveaway! This month I'm giving away beads and hairsticks. Hairsticks because it's July and what better time to keep one's hair off one's neck? Beads because, well, they're beads! Specifically, these are seed beads suitable for beaded knitting and crochet. Beaded projects have become more and more popular, but it can be difficult to find beads. So, for all of you who ever thought about trying it out but haven't actually taken the leap, this is especially for you.

The giveaway consists of a pair of hairsticks, 40g of size 8/0 seed beads in Iris Silver (a shiny dark grey, suitable for lace weight), and 40g of size 6/0 seed beads in Rainbow Clear (suitable for fingering weight).

The hairsticks may look like knitting needles, but they're not. The tips are flat and start around a US#3 and they gradually grow to about a US#11 instead of having a consistent diameter. Still, if you're not too picky about gauge, they'd do in a knitting emergency. I asked a friend of mine to pick them up for me on a visit to Costa Rica. They have a beautiful grain and wood color, but I don't actually know what wood they are.

I'll let this giveaway run a little longer than usual, through the 9th since I'll be going up to Boston for a few days at the end of the week. Just post here and tell me what exciting things are going on with you this month! And believe me, even just relaxing in the back yard (I typo'ed that as "yarn") with a tall iced tea and a book sounds exciting right now.

As usual, double dipping with the Ravelry group is absolutely fine. And remember to leave a way for me to reach you if you win. Ravelry username is sufficient.

More gabbing about stuff after the jump.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Another milestone

I'm trying to be more disciplined about updating my shop and I plan to update about every 2 weeks in the future. In aid of that, I listed everything. And by everything, I mean everything. Even the skeins of Mountain Hare I was holding from 2009 because it sells so slowly is up in the shop. Which takes me to another milestone. I've passed 200 items listed in my shop. I'm at a comfortable 207 and the shop is well and truly full.

This is lucky #200 (linked to the shop):

It's Frou Frou in the Jackalope base. I know I did a lot of this colorway in May, but I love it.

This week I'll be dyeing laceweight and settling in to the new schedule and then next week my nieces visit. Never a dull moment!

Happy Solstice, everyone!

Monday, June 20, 2011

WWKIP "day"

I wanted to post something quick because I don't post enough, and I finished this today. Properly, I finished knitting it yesterday, but I blocked it this morning and it was dry in time for a picture before it got dark. The light is a little off, which is why the greens are so very green. But the color isn't so bad for all that. It's one 6oz skein of Jackrabbit in the Tidal Pool colorway.

This was the primary knitting I took to Nashville and really the only thing I worked on while there. I brought another project with me; yes I know it was only a 4 day trip but I always do this and never work on them. It's a thing.

The button is reversible since it's just 2 buttons sewn together like a cufflink and slipped into the first eyelet on either side. It's that hemlock ring modification again, only this time it was worked off a base of 7 repeats instead of 9. I think the shape as a capelet is better for showing off the pattern, although 9 works really well as a scarf.

I cast on on the airplane to Nashville and I was on row 37 when I got home. I worked it to row 56, so I got a decent amount done on the trip. I would have been further along but I found a small error and had to rip back several rows to fix it.

But this is about WWKIP "day", which was essentially all last week. It began the 11th and ended the 19th. On June 11th, I was still in Nashville. I had my knitting with me all day and you  know what? There is nothing better than a lazy day wandering around with one's knitting. We sat on the grass and I knit. We sat in a bar and I knit. We walked down the street and I knit. We listened to buskers and I knit. We watched fireworks and I knit.

I spent something like 6 hours knitting about as publicly as one human being can, because after all it was during a festival (although not at the festival). I know I was noticed and remarked upon because people talked to us about it. And I got to tell them it was World Wide Knit in Public Day. I say that's a job well done.

Knitters Represent!

I've got to go finish updating my shop, but I wanted to ask how was your WWKIP"day"? I'd love to hear your stories, however big or small.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Adventures in Nashville

I'm home and chipping away at the work I need to get done, but I wanted to post about this before the details became too hazy.

I haven't gone away on a trip in several years, so I was excited for a lot of reasons and not just the obvious. I had to remind myself repeatedly that I am actually capable of being a grown up in public and traveling to a strange city where they speak the same language as I, without getting permanently lost. Also, I took this trip with an old friend from grad school (Julie) and so would be able to make her navigate. This is very important given how I've turned getting lost into an art form.

First observation on the plane was that the river does some amazing things to the terrain. Second observation in the airport is that Nashville Int'l Airport is tiny. I realized over the course of the four days just how pocket sized Nashville is. With the car, we were never more than 20min away from anything, and that was if we hit rush hour traffic. Mind you, I realize that I may have unrealistic expectations growing up with New York as "the city" and Newark as "the airport".

So, Nashville was FOURTEEN DAYS into a heatwave of 90°F and up weather the day we arrived. The day we left, they were excited because Sunday was forecast to be "only" 89. It was a heat that just sapped the energy and turned us into melted puddles of people. The normal temperature for this time of year is a good 10-15 degrees cooler.

Thursday was the day of the event and we got up early to visit the Parthenon first. It's a full sized replica of the Greek building, but with all the friezes, etc, intact.

It was just the right size for something to occupy the morning, but I'll spare you pictures of the interior. There's a giant gilded sculpture of Athena inside, as well as replicas of the original stonework, etc.

More chatter and pics after the cut. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Away from home

Hi, everyone! I'm sorry I'm late with the giveaway post. The winner is Andrea! I'll attempt to contact via the blog. Thanks for playing, everyone!

Meanwhile, thank everyone so much for making my shop sale a wonderful success. It's really made a difference in the trip I'm currently taking. I'm slightly fish out of water here in Nashville, and it's been so hot that wandering around has been difficult, but it's a lovely, friendly town and I'm so glad I was able to come here. This is a bit of my Thursday experience:

I've also learned some important things about how I work and how I should continue with the shop. I intend to update my shop with a more regular and predictable schedule, and I no longer have any excuses to procrastinate about editing photos. Editing and listing 43 colorways in 3 days is comparable to weaving in 200+ ends on a project. After that, everything else is peanuts!

I leave for home early tomorrow and I can't wait to get back to working on the shop. This trip has been a bit of a kick in the pants, and I want to keep the momentum up and the excitement percolating.

Now, I just need someone to tell me not to buy that hat....

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Kermitflailing and shenanigasms

So, um, I just learned I won something. It's access to a private event with a musician/band I greatly enjoy.

On the downside, I was a second level winner which means I have to get there and stay there on my own dime, and it's in Nashville which means I can't just hop in the car (and sleep in it either). But dude, I am SO THERE.

In aid of actually being able to fund this trip (IT'S NEXT WEEK!), I'm having a sudden and inevitable SALE. If you know me, you know I rarely have sales; they make me nervous. But given how I'm shaking over this sudden trip, I don't think I'll notice any sale nerves at all.

The coupon code for 10% off is JuneOMG and the sale will run through June 7th so I can mail the orders before I go on the trip. For orders $50 and up, I will refund domestic shipping and cap international shipping at $5, refunding the difference.

A link to the shop.

And to play you out.... ... It autoplays, so I'm putting it behind a jump cut. I thought we used to be able to modify that setting?!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Yegads! (an anniversary video and a giveaway)

It's been another year! This is the second anniversary of my little shop and I've decided to mark this one by giving up some "secrets". OK, they weren't all that secret, but it sounds more interesting if I say they were.

The colorway that won the poll was Nebula, but since I had several pots going, I also included the runners up Red Desert and Purple Peacock. This is how the finished colorways look:

From left to right: Nebula, Purple Peacock, Red Desert, and a new colorway as yet unnamed that shows up at the end of the video. These are actual skeins dyed up in the video

I taped several hours of dyeing on Saturday and then clipped it down to a scant 30min. I hope it's interesting; I tried to be succinct but that's never been my strong point! *nibbles fingernails nervously*

And, since this is the first of the month I have a giveaway! I am giving away a skein of the Nebula that I dyed up in the video. I have two skeins that are on the cusp of underweight, hovering right at 100g. So I'm offering one up here and one up in my Ravelry group. Yes, one of these could be yours!

It's the Arctic Hare base, which is a sock/fingering weight yarn with superwash merino/nylon/silk/and real silver for that added glitz. It's very soft and perfect for much more than socks.

To enter this giveaway, just comment here. If you link to this giveaway in any other social networking venues (blog, twitter, FB, etc) mention it in your comment and each will count as another entry. I'll leave this one open through June 7th and select a random winner on June 8th. And yes, as always you can double dip with the Ravelry group to increase your chances as well. Just be sure to check back on June 8th or leave me some way to reach you if you win, Ravelry or twitter username is sufficient.

I'd love to hear what you think about the video and the colorways. These aren't in the shop yet because it's disgustingly, unseasonably hot out, but I hope to take pictures and get them listed before the week is out. I have a bunch of new colorways to go up as well and there's still a bit of a backlog from the winter, so there's plenty to keep my busy.

Keep cool and thanks for a great second year! I have high hopes for Year Three!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A poll and dinner

So I'm planning to do a demo/tutorial on my dye technique and I'd like to tape it on Saturday. I'm not sure what colorway to show, so I've put a poll in the sidebar to the right ---->. If you have an opinion, please fill it out!

Meanwhile, here I am blogging my dinner again. I tried this thing where I baked chicken pieces on a bed of lentils and liked it so much that tonight I tried it again with a slightly different configuration. It's good enough to record for posterity, although there was no measuring involved. So this is more of a notion of a technique than an actual recipe.

Boneless chicken baked on a bed of lentils, served with rice and kabocha pumpkin.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Things of thinginess

First things first, the recipient of May's shrinky dink giveaway is Sarah of Slinging Stitches! I liked all the posts, it reminded me of all the crafty things I haven't picked up in ages, as well as a few messes I used to make for the fun of it. :D

It's still spring here, and for proof that it's May we had a tiny morel harvest on Friday. Three, we found three morels. Actually, I found a big one off the driveway near where I found several last year, but the entire top had been bitten off by something so I hardly think that it counts. These three were in an entirely different spot at the base of a rotted out stump that had been filled in with dirt.

Since there were only three, I ended up making a mushroom side dish with additional white button mushrooms and some fresh shitake mushrooms. I cut them all up and sauteed them with lots of garlic in olive oil with a bit of thyme and freshly cracked black pepper. It never ceases to amaze me how small morels shrivel when cooked, yet still retain a kind of crunchy texture.

Meanwhile, today I made a lunch of crepes and I like to record recipes when I tamper with them. These crepes were whole wheat and are quite robust in tooth. They're not exactly the delicate buttery things that most people anticipate when promised crepes, but I like them. I think they would be better with a savory filling but we had them with strawberries and whipped cream.

Strawberries were dressed with agave syrup and a bit of cognac, and the whipped cream was lightly sweetened with agave syrup as well.

Recipe after the jump.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Slightly less bad for you chocolate chip cookies

A small baking and knitting post tonight.

I'm constantly on the lookout for cookies that are satisfying but have some sort of redeeming dietary merit. So I took a chocolate chip cookie recipe and changed a few things and I liked the result enough to record the recipe here. These cookies still have butter and sugar in them, but they also have fiber, iron, whole grains, and protein.

1c (2 sticks) butter, about 1/4 melted.
1c (200g) sugar
1/4c (80g) dark molasses
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
2c (280g) white whole wheat flour
1/2c (24g) bran (wheat or oat)
1c (90g) rolled oats
1 tsp baking soda
1/2tsp nutmeg
1/4tsp cinnamon
1c chocolate chips
1/2c raisins
1/4c toasted sesame seeds
1tbsp toasted flax seeds

Cream together the butter and sugar and then stir in the molasses, vanilla, and eggs one by one until it's thoroughly blended together. Stir together the dry ingredients and then mix them into the butter mixture until thoroughly combined.

Drop by heaping tablespoons full 3 inches apart onto pans lined with baking parchment and bake in a 375°F oven until deep golden brown. They will be soft to the touch. Cool on a rack before storing. The cookies remain soft and slightly cakey once cool. Makes about 4 dozen.

Substitution is the name of the game, of course, so butter subs, egg subs, sugar subs can all be worked in. As it is this recipe is soft enough to accept more solid things like chopped nuts that won't change the essential nature of the dough. Additional oatmeal would result in a firmer cookie, but it should be able to accept another half cup of rolled oats without becoming hard.

Meanwhile, back at the knitting, I'm working on a modified Arabesque top, translating it into a dress with a different yarn at a denser gauge. I finished the waistband tonight and I'm very chuffed at how it's turning out. Yes, I know it's nothing more than a ring of cabled fabric. What can I say, I like that ring of cabled fabric! Aside from the tension difference in the rows around the graft, I think the join is decently invisible.

Considering that I'm not normally a sweater knitter and I prefer working in DK to worsted weight, this is a bit of a departure for me. Of course I would decide to break that trend with a dress knit at 7.25st/in. But I'm excited and I think it might even look flattering on (once I offer concessions to self consciousness and toss a light linen shirt over it like a jacket or knit a shrug). So I'm not going to examine this urge too closely but feed it for as long as I can, because I really want to wear this! :D

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Spring has sprung! (and a childish giveaway)

It's sprung all over my car if the thick chartreuse layer of pollen is anything to go by. But it has gotten very pretty out.

This is looking up the hill to one side of the house. A downed tree back near the white dogwood has allowed a lot more light into that part of the woods, which is why that white dogwood is so full. The pink flowering tree in front is a redbud.

The tulips are almost past due to some extra hot days, but these pink and white ones called "Angelina" (not the fiber!) are hanging on and looking very festive. They're almost like roses.

It's most definitely May. Of course, May 1 means a giveaway here on my little blog. I was fooling around with shrink film last week and feeling like a kid again, so I've decided that this month I'm giving away shrinky dink plastic film. Yeah, you heard me right. I used to cut down those plastic clamshell packaging for things like baked goods and stuff and shrink them in the toaster oven, but in this case I have the "real thing".

That's 6 sheets of frosted shrink film, one sheet of opaque white inkjet shrink plastic (not pictured), some pre-punched circles, and a box of colored pencils.

They're suitable for making all sorts of knickknacks, and there's nothing easier for personalized stitch marker charms. Colored pencil is permanent once the pieces are shrunk and the color remains bright and vivid and won't transfer. Just make sure to punch a hole (1/8in or bigger) for the jump ring before shrinking the plastic down!

To enter, please comment here with something crafty you enjoyed doing as a kid, and if you still like doing it. I'll randomly pick a winner next Saturday, May 7th. This month's Rav group giveaway is identical, but as always it's fine to enter both.

Happy May!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A day late and a...n update!

First things first, I should have done this yesterday but I was figuratively snowed in under digital photographs. The recipient of this month's giveaway of itty bitty needles and yarn miniskeins is Rebecca! I'll be emailing.

Meanwhile, back at this also figurative ranch, I have finally updated the shop again, and will continue to do so as I can get the pictures done. Not with the entire backlog, that's still overflowing. I have pictures for a few more things including Silksheep fiber and some Arctic Hare, and I want to get that done asap. Still, I've listed the entire backlog of Jackrabbit. It feels really good to have 6oz skeins back in the shop.

I'm still amused by the Cobalt colorway in Jackrabbit.

I did a few "looks like a semisolid even if it isn't" in what could be considered a straight "color" instead of a "colorway" for the festival last autumn. Mostly for completeness' sake because I always have big gaps in my spectrum. Of course no one paid any attention to those colorways. I should really stick with my strengths and leave the rainbows to other people.

Still, I'm rather proud of Cobalt as I think it manages to capture that almost cadet blue of the lighter portions but the inky purple tones in the deep parts that cobalt colored glass has. Well, depending on what one considers cobalt blue, of course.

More nattering under the jump cut.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A day that can't be misconstrued as a bad joke (and yes, a giveaway)

April fools' day is one of those days I enjoy but also find a little dismaying. On the other hand, the ouroboros of irony in this Reddit prank is sort of amusing, if only that the second pick for "most boring video" was a knitting tutorial. I think a link to This Is Handmade would have been more appropriate.

Then there was this:

This was around 10am yesterday and it snowed for hours. It was all gone by the evening after it warmed up and rained, but it wasn't exactly what I wanted to wake up to!

I was also out all day yesterday having a delightful fibery time with some far flung friends. By the time I got home this blog post just wouldn't coalesce, (a cocktail might have contributed to this fact). But I have a giveaway to give! This month I'm giving away something a little quirky, to go along with April 1 (a date which I've now avoided).

This month, I'm giving away this:

No, not the plate. Look closer. I swear there's something there sitting on the yarn. Really! OK, it's a set of double pointed needles I bought from China a few years ago. They're a set of 4 steel needles about 9.5in long, size 16. This size 16 is, I believe, from the old UK scale and so these needles fall between size 00/1.75mm and size 000/1.5mm. I'm also including the 5 mini-skeins of assorted sock yarn in a mostly blue palette. Just in case the idea of knitting with 1.6mm needles is daunting, you know?

When I was in Shanghai I would see women knitting elaborate single colored sweaters in the round on long dpns like these or longer, with one or more strands of lace weight yarn. The smallest sized needles I could find were 18s. Since I was running around with a short US#7/4.5mm circular needle and a heavy worsted weight yarn, I felt very fish out of water.

The knitters were often sitting outside their booths in assorted marketplaces, and I once saw a woman winding yarn with a vertical wire swift. Most of the yarns being sold in the markets were unlabeled and in big hanks sorted by fiber content. This was very different from the yarn and fabric shop I visited where everything was in a glass case or in boxes along the wall, looking very much like the balled yarns we see here, and with heavier weights available.

I'm going to let this one run through Friday, April 8th, and I'll pick a random winner on Saturday. This time around I'd like to hear a story about yarn craft in public, either your own or seeing someone working on something in public. Comment here with a story or anecdote to be added to the drawing! And yes, double dipping with this month's Ravelry group giveaway is fine. And remember to leave a way for me to reach you if you've won.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Chocolate noms

I made a dessert tonight that was so fast and simple and delicious that I have to share it here. Molten Chocolate Cake, also known as chocolate lava cake. It's fast and easy to make, has a short list of ingredients, and it's sooooo good.

I dare you to keep decorum past the second bite.

Recipe with my modifications after the jump.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Some things.
Help_Japan on LiveJournal, along the same model as Help_Haiti etc. An auction where people offer things and other people bid on them, and the winning bidders donate directly to aid orgs and the offerors fulfill the bids. No money changes hands between offeror and bidder unless shipping costs are figured in, but that's at the discretion of the individual offerors. The comm is also collecting links to charities and of news value here.

I have four auctions up. Bidding is open, and the comm is still open to new listings. The auction will be open for new offerings through the 26th and will close bidding on March 31st.
Custom yarn or Corriedale spinning fiber offer - 2 100g skeins of wool/nylon sock or superwash worsted or 12oz of fiber.
2 skeins of 2ply New Zealand Gottland wool in natural grey. (I've decided to match this donation myself to NZ earthquake relief.)
Autographed Equus playbill, signed by Richard Griffiths.
Knitted dumpling toys, catnip optional.

And some links I've collected from friends, etc.
Global Voices Online - Waiting for the right moment to help - this is addressed to people who could conceivably get up and drive to the affected areas, etc, but I think it's worthwhile to think about what it says regardless. Aid efforts have to be coordinated to be useful.

Oregon Live blog - Helping Japan: how your knitting can (and can't) help. - I pretty much agree, so I'm putting this here. I've seen a lot of people eager to knit for Japan and I know that impulse too. It's a generous one and it's not coming from just knitters but all sorts of people who feel helpless and that cash is not enough. Still, misguided or unfocused assistance can cause more difficulties than it alleviates and it can divert energy that eventually goes nowhere instead of into actual assistance. Which is actually what the previous article was kind of saying. So really, my plea is that we all be thoughtful about giving and whether or not we're actually helping, or if we're making more work.

AsiaJin blog - lots of interesting content about internet efforts since the disaster began.

MIT NSE Nuclear Information Hub - There's a lot of scaremongering about the nuclear power plants, as well as misinformation, truncated information, etc. (including the jerk who spread the fake nuclear fallout map). This blog is updating regularly with more information as they get it, but of the greatest value to me was the first post at the bottom explaining how reactors of this type work. The entire blog is useful, however, in explaining and contextualizing the actual information, rather than saying "radiation contamination" and leaving us to wonder if things are going to start glowing in the dark.

Scientific American - Radiation's Complications: Pinning Health Problems on a Nuclear Disaster Isn't So Easy This article is talking about Chernobyl and is interesting in its own right, but it's additionally topical now of course. For another interesting read, check out The worst nuclear plant accident in history: Live from Chernobyl.

ShelterBox - they're not taking directed donations, but they are on the ground in Japan working to get their boxes to the critical areas. I'm posting this here because I'd never heard of it before this event, and it's fascinating what they're doing.

I know some people want their money to go to whatever cause they specify. I'm comfortable with MSF/Doctors Without Borders being my "go to" charity in situations like this even without a directed donation set up. I'm not so picky as long as it's an organization I trust to actually spend the money wisely instead of eat it up in administrative costs. There's so much need, after all. New Zealand and China are both still recovering from recent earthquakes. Haiti is still trying to recover, and there's no lack of disasters both natural and human created before or since. CharityNavigator is helpful when making choices as well as weeding out potential scams.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Blogging my dinner again

So, yesterday was my birthday and for my birthday I decided I wanted to cook a very complicated dinner without concern about costs. Some of it was very successful and some of it could have been improved, but all in all I had a fantastic time shopping and cooking and cooking some more. Dinner was tasty, my plan for how to prepare and serve everything went almost without a hitch, and we ended the night full but not in distress from overeating. Considering the meal had 8 courses, this last was probably my greatest achievement!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Whoops! It's Tuesday

And I was supposed to announce the giveaway recipient yesterday. *scrambles*

The winner this month is Jamie! I'll contact via Ravelry regarding the McMorran balance.

I'm going to blame my lack of focus on dyeing yarn inside. All those fumes, you know (not really). This is why I'm mostly seasonal and usually do my dyeing only in the temperate months. It's both easier and harder than when I can set up my station outside. For one thing, there's half as many pots going, and everything takes an interminable amount of time. And while it may be more comfortable, it's also cramped and messier.

That's two measly pots and all that will fit in the bathroom where I dye in the winter. I managed four batches of yarn yesterday. 12 is typical of a normal day when I've got 4 pots cranked up. *sigh* So instead of 2 days dyeing, I'm going to do three and hope to finish up properly tomorrow.

I have to finish by tomorrow because Thursday is set aside for shopping and cooking because Friday is my birthday. I decided this year that I just wanted a nice dinner at home, but I wanted DINNER, and I wanted free rein to go to the supermarket(s) and buy anything I wanted to make anything I want whatsoever, and damn the cost. Which, given how I can shop for food will be not inconsiderable.

I have a menu already and it's 7 courses. I've got my shopping list and my prep schedule and I'm debating what to drink with dinner and if I can include a new bottle of gin in the total. We'll see. But it should be good.

More after the jump, including a very limited time coupon code for the shop, so click through!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

It's that time again (a well balanced giveaway)

So I may be a little flaily because I have so very much to do and never enough time in which to do it, but that doesn't mean this post can't be well balanced, like a healthy breakfast.

Or this McMorran balance.

Yes, today I am giving away a metric McMorran yarn balance. These nifty tools are used to determine the meterage of a given quantity of yarn. The balance is very precisely weighted and when you drape a bit of the yarn over it and then trim it until the arm is level, the length of that remaining bit of yarn will tell you how much yarn per gram you have. Weigh the remaining yarn, do a little basic math,and Bob's yer uncle. The instruction sheet is included, but it's really that simple.

It's not as accurate with yarn that's slubby or thick/thin, but it can still generate a good ballpark figure. Can you do the equivalent with a scale sensitive enough? Yes, but do you have a scale that goes to at least 2 decimal points to the gram? If so, then you don't need this. Which would also be the reason I'm giving it away.

I'm a little fried and crispy around the edges so just comment with anything to enter this drawing, and remember to make sure I have a way of contacting you if you win. If you've got a fun yarn or fiber (horror or otherwise) story, even better. I'm going to let this one run all the way through Sunday the 6th and pick a random winner on Monday March 7th because my plate runneth over all this week. As always, you can double dip with the Ravelry group giveaway. That one is foam display heads this time around.

But hey! I finished my weaving.

It came out 54in long after soaking it in hot water and the silk bounced back to it's pre-tension length. Ahh, relaxation shrinkage, at least I have a name for it. And I have decided I can never complain about weaving in ends in knitting again. I wove back every single warp thread along itself to finish the piece. I'm sure there's a better and faster way to finish a piece of fabric without fringe, but I was too impatient to research it. After all, it only took me 6 hours to weave in 100 warp threads. *facepalm*

The scarf is really light, but the silk gives it a bit of body so it doesn't feel insubstantial. The wool softened up as well and I'm really pleased with it. And I doubt I will ever need to weave anything again. That particular urge is well satisfied and my mother likes her new scarf.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Short attention span

Deadlines in February always have a sort of headlong quality to them. The month is only short by a couple days, but those extra hours add up when March 1 is within sight.

I've been participating in Nerd Wars all month, and I have a weaving project to finish. This was it last week. I have 18in left to do and not much time to do it in. We'll see if I get it in on time.

It's a backstrap loom warped with some matka and noil 2ply silk I have, and I've been weaving with some 2ply Gottland wool. I've started splicing in extra silk where the warp is thin, so we'll see how that changes the character of the fabric. I do like how it's turning out, but I will never really be a weaver. I much prefer my knitting needles.

I've also wanted to post the most ridiculously easy warm apple deliciousness ever, and since I had three overripe Golden Delicious apples and the desire, I made it this morning. I've got the method after the jump as it's not really a recipe so much as a thing to make when the ingredients match up with the inclination. There are two ingredients, apples and butter, and it can be eaten by itself or as a condiment.

Monday, February 7, 2011

I should learn to luge

First things first, I forgot to do this yesterday. The entries for February's giveaway really cracked me up and the winner of the giveaway stitchmarkers is Bretta! I'll contact via Ravelry.

Meanwhile, this winter is certainly full of enough ice and snow. We've been on ice since the sleet storm, with an impassible driveway. Rather, we could get down but getting back up again is always the kicker. This was the top of the driveway this afternoon. This is after a couple days of thaw, but it hasn't dented the inch thick layer of compacted snow and ice pellets.

Digging around in the shed revealed a bag of rock salt and a bucket of sand, so everything visible in the picture was given a going over. This allowed us to get out and, more importantly, back up again with staples like milk, eggs, and cat food. That last one is really important. We are perfectly capable of surviving until spring thaw with what's in the freezer and pantry, but the cats are more particular than we are. :P

Not only that, but there's been a stranger cat visiting late at night since the 3rd. It's a large black and white long hair, very skittish and it runs away whenever I turn on the light and go out to look for it. But it lingers around the house and cries and cries. I think it may be a housecat that got out and is now lost in the wilderness of ice and snow. I've been putting food and water out for it, so hopefully it will become less skittish over time and I can see about finding where it belongs.

Being iced in gives me a weird sense of limbo. I've been knitting up a storm and getting not much else of worth done. I'm separating some 6ply silk into a 2ply and a 4ply for a weaving project I want to do (which is a special sort of tedium since I don't have a wheel) and I've been making stitch markers, but there's no urgency to anything. Getting to the mailbox has been hard enough, let alone the post office. With the second half of the week expected to go back down to single digits overnight, our driveway is unlikely to improve very much. I feel like I'm hibernating.

Still, one thing I did do was post my free knit jiaozi pattern to Ravelry, and I made a little instructional video, too. Both links are in the sidebar, too.

Ravelry pattern page
Ravelry pdf download link
YouTube supplemental tutorial

These dumplings were a good idea, actually. The cats have been going stir crazy indoors, and so I've thrown a bunch of these around and it lets them blow off some excess energy. Not all of them have catnip in them and they still seem to work.