Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Why I have not been so crafty and why I might have to start again (or The TV knows me too well)

So I’ve been the third and rather quiet one here, and that’s because I’ve been rather slow on the crafty front for a while. No big projects, just a small stroller blankey for a friend who just had her first baby (modified version of the Sock Monkey from Happy Hooker) and seriously not much else. Instead of craftyness, I’ve been more into cooking recently, but that’s the topic for a different post or even a different blog.and I’ve been in 2 weddings and all the prep for them, all sorts of family stuff from my side and the BF’s and works been cookoo. And miss kitty, Her Highness Spyro Von Mittendorf has been making a royal fool of herself recently in her tiny little cone after getting fixed.

But now I don’t think I can use the excuse of chilling in front of the television to veg out, because, well, I think I’ve spent a little too much time there. It’s now responding to my thoughts.

See last night, I was curled up on the couch, nursing my cold and the BF gets up to go to the bodega next door. I’m reading but he has the Mets game on in the background.

BF: “Do you want anything?”
Me: “I kinda could go for some ice cream”
BF: “Well they have the bars downstairs”
Me: “Nah, I want like a tub of Ben and Jerry’s not the tiny little bar”

Then I SWEAR I hear one of the Mets announcers – pretty sure it was Ron Darling – say “Did I just hear you turn down Ice Cream?!?”

The TV is now not only listening to my conversations, it’s commenting. I had to hide from it for the rest of the night because I was freaked out by it.

I think it’s time to pick up the hook again before Keith Hernandez adds his 2 cents in. Because then I’ll REALLY be freaked out.

Friday, May 23, 2008

A slow few days

Things have been quiet on the crafty front. Well, that’s not exactly true.

Remember my Inferno Monster plans.

Well, I got Phase 1 and Phase 3 done. I like phase 1 a lot. Not so happy with Phase 3. It didn’t turn out the way I expected. I wanted solid colors with a hint of accent color. It’s certainly a lesson learned! I can’t wait to see how it knits up.

Phase 2 of the Inferno Monster is by far the easiest. It’s just solid sections of color with blended sections in between. My problem is to figure out how big each section will be. Since I’m Navajo plying, the color sections will shrink to a third of the length of the single. I’m thinking I might do fairly small sections, break it up the way I did for Phase 2 so that I’ll get short color changes and less of a stripy effect. I hope. So far, little has turned out the way I wanted it to. It’s supercool, nonetheless, albeit not how I predicted (Oh how I love words that are actually more than one word mushed together ie., none-the-less) I think am going to have to try and get good pictures of how to Navajo Ply. It’s a very cool technique and I’m sure if I don’t do it for an extended period of time, I’ll forget. Handy thing about blogs, they are like your own personal reference guide!

I’m off to visit the Mamajama for the weekend! I’m bringing the Inferno Monster but I probably won’t work on it. Spinning is kind of a solitary obsessive process for me. I have to figure out something to do with the Spring Mix. I’m just not happy with the scarf. It will probably meet the frog pond for the second time. I’ll show mommy and then decide.

Monday, May 19, 2008

You spin me right round Inferno Monster!

Between Defensive Driving and a Bachelorette party, I got in a ridiculous amount of spinning.

Before I talk about Inferno Monster, I need to dish about the driving course and the party.

$50 an hour.
My eyes teared up and my stomach dropped when I bought my first 6 months of car insurance. I was so excited to learn it was JUST $500 but I didn’t fully understand, that was for a 6 months policy. I had a swift learning curve. It does seem a tad goofy that at 35, this is the first time I’ve bought car insurance, but until 2 years ago, I lived in great cities with great public transportation rendering a car, not only not smart, but completely foolish. I’ve never been a big car person, never really felt that apparently All-America desire to drive whopping gas guzzling vehicles. Then I moved here, the Ex bought me a car (which will shortly be nicknamed POC short for “piece-o-crap”) and I had to buy insurance. Once I figured out how it all works, the buying of the insurance wasn’t a problem. Watching $500+ leave my account was painful however, especially when you consider that in a blink of 6 months, I’ll have to pay that all over again. And basically the only way to lower your insurance is to take a defensive driving class. Now I have heard people lament about the horrors of sitting in a room for 6 hours listening to some guy wax pathetic on the rules of the road, but honestly, 6 hours of my life is totally worth expending in the strenuous activity of sitting in a chair knowing that I’ll get to keep about 100 smackers in my wallet. Nice ROI there don’t ya think?

Bachelorette Parties
I’ve never been to one before. This was an event for a co-worker. I wouldn’t consider us “friends” but we are certainly “friendly” and I was glad to go. There is an odd tradition in these parts that Bachelor/Stag/Bachelorette parties are paid events, meaning that you, as the guest, buy a ticket and pay for the privilege of drinking with the future Bride or Groom and stand witness as their ‘singleton’ days fade into the sunset. This is how most couples raise money for the wedding I’m told. How odd is that? So in essence, it’s like paying to go to the wedding. Very strange. I had a good time regardless and rediscovered my love for Stoli. No, there were wild tales to tell for the nights proceedings, although I did find myself in the peculiar position of molding penises from purple playdo with my co-workers (silly games are apparently required at such events). That was fairly uncomfortable (more for them, less for me).

Back to the spinning!

I’ve mentioned my 3-part-plan to spin Inferno. I started off like gang busters and got the first part done. I divided up the roving into three separate colors and spun each color separately. It was much harder than I anticipated to separate the fiber. And no, I am not quite that anal enough to sit there with tweezers and pull out each fiber individually. I wound up with bunches of little wisps of roving that had two colors in it. So I decided to spin these bits at the beginning and the ending of each of the solid color batch. This fiber was a tad more difficult to work with than other stuff I’ve been using. It’s VERY soft, VERY poofy, VERY silky, and will start to felt just from the pressure of my fingers and the moisture off my palms. This is not a “gnash-teeth-rend-garments” type of problem, but does lead to slubs and mild irritation (that’s mental irritation, not physical). I’ve adjusted the way I hold the fiber a bit to help with this problem. The end yarn doesn’t suffer that much because of it. OH, also, this stuff breaks like mad. I’ll be spinning happily, la la la, twirl draft twirl draft twirl CLUNK - the single will breaks and the spindle will crash to the ground. Clunk. I think I’m going to need a new spindle soon, as this one has bellyflopped quite a bit. This stuff is so poofy that I’ve had to add a lot of twist to it of it just breaks for the weight of the spindle. But I did get to ply it all.
And I’m happy to report that the yarn is delightfully soft and fuzzy. I’ll have to let Claire give it the nuzzle test. But it seems quite nice. I can’t wait to knit with it, but wait I must! I need to find a pattern that I can show off the three different patterned yarns. Well, I HOPE I’ll have three different patterned yarns.

I’m not too sure how this will all work out yet.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A Sock Reincarnated

So the sock I completed out of my Spring Mix handspun met the frog pond. And i wanted to do something to get a good feel for the color change. I also wanted to get some lace work in. I'm not 100% happy with this patter either but I'm pretty committed to the pattern at this point. I can always gift it I suppose. Its a fairly easy lace pattern. Which mean I can go back to continental style knitting. Its so much faster than throwing your yarn with the right hand.

Robin Update

The babies are growing! Yukkie weather kept the parents in the nest but Ron was able to get a few shots. I think they were napping:
Napping robins

And they don't seem to expect food from the camera:

Saturday with the babies

Stuff is out of focus as it's hard to keep the camera steady when Mom is watching

Robin Mom

Ron even served them dinner one night

dinner is served

I think I should get Ron some goggles in case decided they had it with our intrusion.

Houston, We Have A Problem

Exploded Octopus
Originally uploaded by amynowacoski
Meet Octopus. Octopus was a gift to the Princess LeeLuu for Christmas from Auntie Claire. Apparently, great battles were fought in my absence today. LeeLuu told me that there were monsters and stuff and Octopus defended the house with great valor. I don't believe her 100%. The story seems fishy.

Friday, May 16, 2008


Alas, we are gathered here today to wish farewell to a sock. I’m deeply saddened to inform you that the Spring Mix Handspun Rainy Day Sock has retired to the Frog Pond.

I became increasing un-fond of the color changes on the sock. I love the sock pattern, and I love the yarn. But they were just not working together. I’m totally digging lacey stuff right now after successfully completing the Berlin Sock. I’m going to stick this pattern back into my queue and do it another (rainy) day. Here’s the other problem that contributed to the frogging… It didn’t use enough yarn. I have a yarn meter (thanks to the mamajama!) and all the stuff I spun up for the Spring mix totaled about 355 yards. The sock require close to 400 I think. I had finished the sock and didn’t even get a third of the way thru the ball. I hate having leftover yarn! Yes yes, I know, too much is better than not enough. But what the heck was I going to do with 100 yards of handspun. This is HANDSPUN! Meaning I spun it BY HAND! That’s too precious to just sit in a ball somewhere so I can look back and fondly remember spinning.

So to the frog pond it goes!

I balled it back up and divided it (hopefully mostly evenly) into two sections using that handy-dandy meter again. And I found the Sisters pattern for a lacey scarf. The pattern is a little strange in that you knit the scarf in two pieces and then graft them together (oh how I despise the Kitchner’s Stitch! I will get over it however). So I’m knitting the two parts at the same time. Much confusion is already ensuing. But I figure if I knit the two halves at the same time, I can just stop if I run out of yarn. This will give me better yardage usage and hopefully I’ll get more out of the yarn.

More on this later!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Monster mania

I have thought more about spinning up the Inferno Monster. Goodness, if I knew there would be this much turmoil and angst in fiber I might never have gotten started spinning (I lie of course, I can always use a good addiction). After doing the Spring Mix roving in a very willy nilly style, I need to think a little more about the finish product not just the finished yarn. The sock I’m knitting up with the Spring Mix yarn is a bit stripy, there’s a chunk of blue right in the middle of the foot. Now, granted this is because the color change started in the heel and was just in full force when I picked up the gusset stitches and started knitting in the round again. But there it is – a blue band plunked right in the middle of the foot. Plop. The color progress in the heel itself is quite lovely however. And yes, you would be correct that I am now going to torture myself and think If I should rip it all out and start again 50 yards or so into the ball so that the blue starts higher. The yarn is very “heathery”. There’s no single section of solid blue as there is at least one single of the light green mixed in the ply. This is not a bad thing. The other stripes are assorted shades of green with a bit of sky blue mixed in.

So I guess I do need to learn about color theory after all.

So Inferno. Ah yes, you keep staring at me from the safety of your plastic baggie. Just you wait till I get my fingers in you my pretty! My original plan was to spin it in such a way that the three ply sections would be just two colors, for example one ply of pink and two plies of the orange. Which looking at the Spring Mix fabric would result in a heathery fabric. Again, nothing wrong with that. But I don’t think it will knit up as I originally envisioned it.

Since Inferno came in three clumps of roving (You know, I really need to start learning some spinning terms because I just feel silly saying “clumps” and “bunches”). I’m thinking now that I should spin those three bunches up in three different methods like a twisty science experiment (Muah ha ha haaaaaa! I would love to be an evil scientist. But then I’d have to get a cat. Evil people don’t have pugs. Its part of the super secret blood oath you sign when a pug is born into your household. I could say more, but then I’d have to have you licked to death by a pack of lonely pugs. It’s not pretty, trust me. Don’t make me go there!) Then, once I have the three different yarns I’ll knit up tiny test swatch and do a final project that will show me exactly how the finished yarns work. I don’t think I’ll have enough yarn to do a shawl, but a scarf would certainly do.

Inferno 1

With the first bunch (I might start tonight! Down girl! You have WeKnit tonight!!!) I’m going to spin the singles in individual colors and then ply the three singles together. I have an idea what the yarn will look like, But I’m not sure what the finished fabric would be.

Inferno 2

With the second bunch, I’m going to do long sections of the three different colors and then Navajo ply them into a single yarn. This will give me a striping effect. Yes yes, I know that I’ve apparently come out anti-stripy. I’m going to play around with the lengths of the roving to see how the striping will work. I’m also going to do some research on how to get colors to fade from one to the other with out the heathering or striping effect.

Inferno 3

The third bunch of roving will go along with my original Inferno Monster plan, of three singles plied together and each single will be made of two colors so that the end yarn will be bands of color but no single solid colors.

Now, if I could only win the lottery so that I can play all day!!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Spring Mix done!

I finished the Spring Mix Roving. I didn't really have a plan when I spun it. I just ripped it into thin pencils and did three bobbins worth to ply. The color is a bit more muted than I had hoped for. The blue sections are not as wide as I had hoped but its passable. I'm pretty impressed with the evenness of the yarn. Its not bad. I started knitting it in the Rainy day sock pattern. It starts off with an picot edge. I really like it, but its a bit thicker then I realized it would have been. I'm in a ravely group to knit a pair of socks a month. I've finshed a pair for May so I might have to finish them in June, just so it counts! But i need something to take to my Knitting group tomorrow!

Day 3 with the birds

Ron risked the wrath of the Robin parents and got another closeup of the babies.
Baby Birds May 13
The parents tried to defend their home from the intrusion. Ron puts up his sweatshirt hood going out the door - I might suggest trying goggles.
I count 3 babies but I can't be sure. I saw 2 beaks stretch up when I cast a shadow passing by - but didn't stop for a closer look. The parents were sounding the alarm adn I'm not that brave.

Day 2 in the nest

The weather was wretched today - cold, rainy, blustery. Momma bird was hunkered down over her babies every time I looked. Ron said she did venture out to feed them but the shrub was really moving in the wind so I think she had a hard enough time to just hold on.
Didn't want to stick the camera in her face - Ron said the flash would blind her. You can almost see the nest from the living room window. It is well camoflaged but you might be able to spot Mom's red breast in the green.
nest from window
Sorry for the poor quality - things were whipping around and I have to learn how to take pictures though a window.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day Surprise

I received a unique Mother's Day present.

On our way out the door this morning, Ron spotted a Robin feeding her babies in a shrub right by the front door. We can't see into the nest so Ron risked a mother's wrath and held the camera over the nest and was lucky to get this with one try.

Birds Mother's Day

They were sleeping and we can't tell how babies there are. If their mom wasn't that upset with our intrusion, I hope we can watch them grow up.

My Berlins

Finished Berlin 2

I finished yesterday, but didn't get to take a picture till today. Wore them today to show off at my Ravelry group but not many people there due to Mother's Day - so now I have a perfect excuse to wear them again!
There were problems initially with the English translation of the pattern but knitted smoothly once that was corrected. Not a difficult lace pattern but not easy to memorize so lost time reading the pattern for each repeat.
They are pretty but loose and slouchy - would consider using a smaller needle next time - but as I used a #0 for this pair that might be a problem.
Yarn is from Cherry Tree Hill yarn in apricot but it's a little more orange than I expected - should remember not to rely on a computer monitor to pick colors. Nice yarn to knit.

(If we were keeping track - Amy beat me this time but since I finished first on the first sock - we are technically tied)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

SKP2008 Sock 2 Berlin

SKP2008 Sock 2 Berlin
Originally uploaded by amynowacoski
I have finished Sock 2 of the Sock Knitter's Pentathlon!!! LeeLuu approves! She's very happy because she can now sit on my lap! I'm not 100% happy with it. I needed to do an extra half a pattern repeat to make sure it was long enough. I also did a more rounded toe. Good thing too because with the extra half a repeat, if I did a pointy toe, it might have ended up too big. I can't wait to wear them tomorrow!

Pentathlon Problem

Everyone I’ve talked to so far has only done 6 pattern repeats for the SKP2008 Sock 2. Now, either I have massively huge feet or I’ve done something terrible wrong. I just finished the 7th repeat and I still need about an inch of fabric before I can start the toe. OK, an inch might be too much. But I can’t start the toe now or I will have no toe wiggle room! So I’m not sure what to do. I think the best course is to throw in a lifeline and knit half the pattern and then see what it looks like. Oh the decisions!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A Monster Plan (or "Teaching Yourself to Spin the Hard Way")

So, as I said before I could not resist the Inferno roving from Copper Pot Woolies. My pictures really don’t do it justice. (I need to work on better picture taking but that is another post) And I’ve been drooling over it and wondering just how the heck I’m going to spin it up. (And if you decided to chime in folks, I’m working of a drop spindle here, none of that fancy wheel nonsense!). So far I have managed to leave the Inferno Monster safely in its plastic baggie but I can’t promise I won’t take it out and pet it in the future.

Spinning newbie

Inferno would be the 4th bunch of roving I have ever attempted to spin. Some would think I’m nuts and that I should practice practice practice first and not waste my first attempts on something so beautiful. Well, that certainly is a valid opinion (and certainly easier on the wallet!). But my thought is, I want to enjoy all that practice right? So why NOT work on something beautiful and lush to the fingertips? Inferno was $15. Sure, I could get cheaper stuff (the Apricot was only about $7 or $8) but it was kind of hard to work with being stiff and scratchy, and regardless of the fact that I over spun the heck out of it, it’s not soft enough to wear. So I’ll practice on the good stuff thank you very much!

Learn by doing
I’m working on the Spring Mix roving right now but that doesn’t really require any thought on color management. THAT is my practice batch. I’m working hard on getting the thickness fairly even. But I’m finding that I have difficulty spinning thick stuff. For some reason, thinner singles are much easier for me to work. It came in one loooooooooooog length. I split that in three so I could spin three singles to ply from. For the first rope I spun, I just split it in half and spun from a think chunky mass. Then, like a smart person, I did some research on pre-drafting. Yes, I should have done that first, I am a fool, but we’re going with the “learn by doing” axiom. I will eventually buy a book or take a class one day. For the second length, I have it divided into thin pencils that I pre-drafted out. I’m interested to see if there are noticeable differences in the length of the color changes. I’ve split this section probably into 8 bunches or so I’m noticing the blue sections on the second rope to be much shorter. But there could have just been more blue on that section of the roving. Spring Mix is helping me get some of the basics down, before I have to worry about color. On to Inferno!!!

Begin at the end
I’ve been thinking a bit what I want the final Inferno yarn to look like. I loved the Mother of Pearl but it’s a little on the stripy side for me. I’m hoping that I varied the length of the color changes enough in Spring Mix to make it not so stripy, but we’ll see what happens! I like yarns that are more variegated not striped. Then I was thinking about separating the three colors, spinning each separately into singles and then plying all three together. While cool, I think it would be a little too uniform. In my minds eye I see the orange popping out of the finished item and the purple oozing into nooks and crannies… But I don’t want any one section of completely solid color either.

So my plan is to separate out the three colors into single strips. I’m going to combine those three strips into three singles in the following color combinations: Orange & Pink, Orange & Purple, Pink & Purple. So from these three singles I should have a final yarn that then has sections of two color combinations. I think. Now this all works “on paper” but I’m not to sure it is going to work in real life yet!

That’s part of the fun!

I’m excited about this but I do have other things I have to get thru before diving in. My Sock 2 for SKP2008 needs to get done, as well as the Spring Mix roving and I do have the skull shrug not to mention oodles of other project. I will win the lottery so I can be creative all day long!

Leaves Hugging Gerber Daisy

Leaves Hugging Gerber Daisy
Originally uploaded by audreyjm529
I'm doing some research on using photos in your blog and copyright stuff. I just found this delighty picture (I have a soft spot for Gerber Daisies) and I thought I'd post about it. According to the Creative Common Liscense, I can post this image with attribution. Thanks audreyjm529 for the picture!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Sock 2 Sock Knitter's Pentathalon

I turned the heel!! I'm still not sure I like this pattern but I'm half way done!! I'm not winning the competition but that's ok!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Taking breaks for the Sock Knitter's Pentathlon

I'm two repeats into Sock 2 of the Sock Knitter's Pentathlon, but I've been taking breaks. Yah yah, I know, it IS a competition and I should be knitting like a mad woman, but I've got other fun things to do. I got roving in the mail! I posted the Inferno Monster but I'm not working on that. I also got some roving called "Spring Mix" that's a delightful mix of pale blues and greens and I just couldn't help myself so I busted out the drop spindle. ALSO I'm baking some sourdough. That's rising right now and I'll post pictures of the finished loaves if they come out pretty. OK back to the socks.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Mother of Pearl handspun scarf

My second handspun project! I had so much fun with this and I love the My So Called Scarf patter. Since the colorway is called "Mother of Pearl" I guess it will be a perfect mother's day gift for my mom who is a pearl!

Thursday, May 1, 2008


I gave in finally and I am now firmly fascinated with the whole spinning thing. I'm going to Rhinebeck Sheep and Fiber Festival in the fall to scope out spinning wheels, that's right, I'll be taking them for a test drive! The Mamajama meets a bunch of Ravelry folks at Panera's to knit away and I was foolish enough to try out spinning on a while one of the lovely (translation - EVIL ENABLERS). Now I must have a wheel! I was going to hold off on buying any more roving for a while and start saving up for Rhinebeck, but then I saw Inferno by Copper Pot Woolies on Etsy and it knocked my socks off! AND it came today (I ordered on Sunday! wooo!). I can't wait to get my fingers in it, but, I'm not really sure what to do with it. It came in three fat strips of three colors each- a deep purple, a burning pink and a glowing yellow. Do I separate out the colors and spin each one separately? Do I just pull chunks off and spin what comes to my finger tips in a color jumble? Do I try and capture the colors evenly, like spin 4 inches of each color and try and line them up when I ply? I'm lost HELP!!!!!!!!

Sock Knitters' Pentathlon - Sock 2

Start your engines!! Sock 2 of the Sock Knitters' Pentathlon is announced tonight. All we were told about the sock was that it would be more girlie and would work best in a lighter solid color. While I LOVED the yarn I chose for Sock 1, I took the recommendations to heart and I bought a skein of Cherry Tree Hill in Island Red from the Loopy Ewe. It's pretty. Not a ME color (since its not purple) but I'm hoping it will suit the sock well, whatever it is... OMG I have just 40 minutes!!!! AAAAAAH AND ITS LOST NIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!