Sunday, January 28, 2007

Insert Clever Title Here

Well, the first week of the new semester is history. I'm not terribly thrilled with how it went. Mind you, I should be ecstatic. Compared to last semester, when I wound up near tears by 5pm the first day due to lack of teachers, lack of classroom space and a surplus of students, this semester has been a piece of cake. And yet...teachers' noses are out of joint, rightly and also through no fault of my own, over having to make last-minute adjustments in teaching level (an ever-present threat at the beginning of every semester), and I'm annoyed at myself for not communicating the changes better (the poor communication part being entirely my fault, unfortunately...*sigh*). I'm also not looking forward to an upcoming labor-negotiation-type thing my colleagues and I will have to do with upper management. It's just added stress I don't need right about now. I wonder how many Pepperidge Farm cookies one person can eat before causing irreversible brain damage. I may just have to try and find out.'s life in your little corner of the world going?

Me, when I'm stressed, I eat. There's a shock, I know. But I've been trying to keep my hands busy enough that they can't get too much junk food to my mouth, and here's one of the results:

I give you Bubbly...or, rather, Bub, as this is just about exactly half a Bubbly curtain. And as I just sat up with DH until 2am as he played his video game, it's significantly longer now than in the photo; one more of the repeat sections should see it finished and ready to block and hang. Woo-hoo! Go, me!

On the other hand, here's what my weaving looks like these days:

See the nicely prepared warp, all ready for my first fleecewoven rug?

See the 7 pounds of Cotswold curls, all ready to be woven into a gorgeous tapestry of fall colors?

See the chunks of hay and chaff and other assorted crap I should really have paid more attention to before I started weaving?

Let's just say 2 hours, 3 inches of wasted warp and $17.20 in return shipping later, the Cotswold curls are winging their way back to from whence they came and I'm breaking my yarn diet in the morning to replace them with nice, clean roving. And since I'll be using my January "free day," I may well just go nuts and order yarn for both my Wooly Thoughts afghans (not, mind you, that they'll go on the needles any time soon...I just like the feeling of being able to pluck a ready-made "kit" out of the stash any time I want to, and putting pattern together with all the yarn gives me the kit effect without the often exorbitant kit price). Oh, and sock yarn. Gotta get sock yarn. Because it doesn't count, you know. (My thanks to whoever came up with that rule. I've knit exactly one sock in my entire life but I have a veritable bushel of sock yarn because it doesn't count as part of the stash...and, you know, sock yarn makes lovely shawls, among other things. Just sayin'.)

At this rate, I may need to change my Stashalong plan from "number of months, with 1 free day per month" to "number of finished items," as in "don't buy any more freakin' yarn until you actually finish up a few projects and make room for new stuff in the ol' stasheroo." Although as a woman with a large house, a tolerant husband and an independent cash flow, I've been wondering lately just why exactly I feel the need to be on a yarn diet at all.

Oh, yeah. Freezer full of yarn. That's why.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

First in '07

Hard as it is for me to believe, I've only now completed my first knit of 2007. I guess when you start out knitting curtains and jackets, progress is bound to be slow! So it's a good thing I dropped my other knitting to whip up a balaclava for FIL in Alpaca with a Twist sportweight. Doubled on size 9s it went super-fast and is cushy, squooshy and warm, warm, warm! Here it is, modeled obligingly by DH:

I also received my Sheep Shed Studio order, the one I placed back at the veeeery end of Decemer, about 10 minutes before I started my yarn diet (aka Stashalong). In addition to some lovely sock yarns, hand-dyes and Brown Sheep skeins, I also received six luscious pounds of Cottswold curls for rug-making. Carol at the Sheep Shed does an amazing dye job, and she sent bags full of the most beautiful fall colors, in addition to a few pounds of natural whites and greys. I couldn't wait; I got started warping up the RH tonight, and hopefully will have the warp mostly (all?) finished by the end of the weekend.

Can I mention once again how very good weaving is for stashbusting?? I burned through two spools of rug warp and still didn't make it all the way across my 32" 8 dpi heddle. I can't wait to actually get weaving on this one. The colors are so gorgeous and the fiber so unique -- so completely different from any other weaving I've done -- that I'm really looking forward to this.

Mmmmmm...fleece rugs, knitted curtains and a fitted bog jacket to get all wrapped up and cozy in. What more could a fiber-lovin' gal ask for?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

By Special Request

So, I was paid a very nice compliment today by my FIL. He noticed the knitted balaclava I'd given DH for Christmas and commented on how nice and warm it looked. DH mentioned that it's convenient because now he doesn't have to wear a scarf (plus he likes the funny looks people give him when he wears it on the streets of NYC! *vbg*). The upshot is that FIL now wants a balaclava just like DH has.

Currently, I don't have a "for others" project going; ever since I frogged the Mason-Dixon Warshrag for the third freakin' time I've been concentrating on my Bubbly curtain and my fitted bog jacket. So, I'm free to start his balaclava any time. I'm thinking sooner rather than later; it's been a fairly warm winter thus far, and if I wait much longer spring might just set in and the poor man would get no use out of it at all. I think I'll use the grey sportweight alpaca -- it's soft as a cloud but not very springy, which should actually work nicely for a balaclava, which a person really wouldn't want clinging to the face. Maybe tomorrow instead of lugging Bubbly on the subway with me I'll tote my smallest KIPer bag instead and get started....

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Successes and Setbacks

The past couple of days have been a mixed bag of things gone right and things gone very, very wrong.

On the plus side, I have some new, gorgeous skeins of yarn to enjoy. There's my second Kool-Aid dye attempt, shown below, which ended up nicer than I thought it would and which I have a feeling will knit up even nicer still. I'll have to pick a very special project for that one -- maybe something for Baby M.

And there's the skein of overplied mystery wool that I dyed green (kiwi-watermelon) and yellow (lemonade) only to discover that combination came out most bland; this gave me the opportunity to try some microwave dyeing. I laid the wet skein on some plastic wrap, sprinkled Kool-Aid powder directly where I wanted it, wrapped the skein up and microwaved it for 2 minute increments until the powder was absorbed. Another fun technique, and the resulting reds, maroons and browns really livened up that dull skein!

Finally, there's the nice grey Big Bale wool skein that I spun up on my newly-restored Country Craftsman, or CeeCee as I've taken to calling her. I don't usually name inanimate objects, but this one just seemed to cry out for a name, and CeeCee was a perfect fit. I'm working on a second skein, which is coming along more slowly if only because my singles are coming out more even and with fewer huge lumps and bumps to take up space on the bobbin. DH may just get his cap out of homespun yet.

And now for the bad news....

After completing the knitting on my Fitted Bog Jacket all the way up to the underarms -- a full 66 ridges/132 rows -- I had to frog all the way back to the waist decreases, nearly 40 ridges/80 rows! What gets me is it wasn't even a problem with my knitting. I followed my pattern precisely, my count was was just that the darn thing was too wide across the bust even though it fit nicely across my hips. While there's only an inch difference between my bust and hip measurements, I forgot to take into consideration that I was making this jacket to wear over jeans with bulky waistbands. What was a comfortable yet stylish fit across the hips and waist was a dowdy, frumpy, shapeless sack across the chest. There was nothing to be done but pull back...and back...and back. I've re-done my calculations and started knitting back up again, but it was certainly disheartening. At least in the frogging I realized an unrelated error I'd made when inserting the phoney seams and can avoid it in the reknitting. So, I suppose, there's lemonade to be made out of lemons after all.

Hmmm.... It seems I've been listening to too much Anne of Green Gables on the iPod. Lemonade from lemons, indeed.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

TAG -- You're It!

OK, so I've been tagged and now need to write up 6 weird things about myself. Personally, I prefer to think of them as "six things to love about me," or maybe "six things that make me me," but you be the judge.
  1. I have to put my shoes, socks, pants and underwear on left foot/leg first. Arm stuff doesn't matter, but with legs and feet it's all about the left.
  2. One of my favorite breakfast foods is uncooked oatmeal, peanut butter, honey and (cold) water all mixed up together. I discovered this combo when I was out of museli (which is, let's face it, basically raw oats and nuts) one morning but had raw oats and peanut butter on hand.
  3. The roof of my house is covered in solar panels. (I wonder if this is a weird thing about me since I'm the one who put them there or if it's a weird thing about my house. Hmmm....)
  4. I can write with both hands simultaneously, backwards with the right and forward with the left. It's not neat, but it's legible.
  5. I can do that spin-flip thing with a ballpoint pen around my fingers. I learned this in 12th grade when, in an attempt to get me to stop talking in class and pay attention, my math teacher made me sit with all the Chinese kids who had just come to the country and couldn't speak English. But boy, could they flip pens!
  6. I hate soda, coffee and beer.

And now, for the benefit of those I'm about to go off and tag...

THE RULES: Each player of this game starts with the 6 weird things about you. People who get tagged need to write a blog of their own 6 weird things as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don't forget to leave a comment that says you are tagged in their comments and tell them to read your blog.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

And So It Begins....

Today was my first day back at work since the beginning of December, and I must say I wish I had more time at home. Funny...after a few months home on maternity leave I was bored silly and couldn't wait to get back to work; now all I can think of is how I'd like more time here with Baby M. 'Nuff said.

I did get to try out my nifty new iPod today on the subway. I discovered several things.

First, I do love audio books. I knew this already, but it was nice to find that even on a crowded, noisy subway I could still really, really enjoy hearing Anne of Green Gables read aloud. And yet, I also discovered that I'm just a bit put off by listening to my iPod in the subway. I feel like it puts a barrier between me and those around me (and it does -- how often do people just strike up conversations with those wearing earbuds?), and I'm not sure I quite like that. I mean, I've had lots of pleasant conversations on the subway and train...and while I enjoy listening to audiobooks, I also enjoy pleasant conversations. How much will I be missing by plugging in and tuning out?

I also discovered that I am not exactly handy when it comes to juggling an iPod. I thought it would be much more convenient and easy to use than a bulky CD player, but I am just not nimble enough for an iPod. I always forget which thingy to press to get it to start up or shut down (whatever happened to buttons labeled "on" and "off"?); I can never stop it at a moment's notice; I constantly careen past the track I want to play and then have to fumble back and forth till I hit upon the right one by chance. I am slowly becoming my parents; pretty soon I'll have to have Baby M program all my electronic gizmos for me the way I used to have to set the VCR for my mom and dad.

At least I got some knitting done today: a few rows of Bubbly. It's coming along slowly, but it is coming along. I think that will be my subway knitting for awhile.

My bog jacket is looking good. I'm nearly at the underarm, and the waist shaping is clearly visible. I cannot tell you how proud of myself I am! I think I'll knit on that this weekend and see if I can get to any of the colorwork before work starts in full swing next week.

And, last but certainly not least, I spoke with a woman last night about a circular sock machine. She's a restorer, the machine is an antique, and from the photos she sent, it looks to be in excellent condition. I'm almost afraid to find out how much it costs.

Strike that; I am afraid to find out how much it costs. But I will anyway. At least that's technology that I can understand.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Still Going...And Going...And Going....

You'd think I'd never have another chance to spin, knit or dye again. Oh, wait a starts again next week (with a single day in the office this Wednesday, too) and I'm going to be so up to my ears that I might just not get another chance to do any creating at all, if not ever then at least for a looooong time.

So. In the spirit of grabbing opportunity when it presents itself, I did a little housekeeping and finally got my be-you-tiful spindle collection out in the open where everyone can see them (and where I can grab one on a whim and spin -- maybe if I see them more I'll use them more).

Note the predominence of Bossies and, as a distant second, Goldings. I love both types of spindle dearly and am certain to add more of both in the future. I'm still a tad scared of my Goldings since the Swan Lake incident (let's just say the "drop" in "drop spindle" should not be taken literally...ask me how I know), but no doubt with them on display I'll be too tempted to let them rest on the shelf for long. I even got caught up in finish-itis (the lesser-known and certainly more welcome cousin of start-itis) and not only finished up a little silk fiber sample but plied it with the carbonized bamboo that L gave me the other day (which, in my spinning frenzy of these past few days, I had already spindled up on one of my Bossies). Will wonders never cease?

I also crock-pot dyed another skein of Knitpicks dye-your-own merino, which sits cooling in its dye bath as I write. No photos yet because it all looks like a muddy mess in there. I'm looking forward to pulling it out tomorrow and seeing how it all turns out.

Lest you think I succumbed to sloth in only completing the above projects today, I also knitted a teensy bit on my Bubbly curtain and a teensy bit more than that on my bog jacket, the former while IV was visiting and the latter as DH was driving us all over to Barnes & Noble, where I spent a gift card (that I received from my master's program, no less -- who knew they gave gifts??) on the fantabulous Knitter's Book of Finishing Techniques. I'm so tired of pattern books; I want knitting books that help me design my own things, and this one fits the bill nicely. Wanna know which cast-on works best with which bind-off? This book tells you. Wanna know the difference in stretch between a large and a small picot edging? You're covered.

I. So. Love. This. Book.

I even worked in a few more spins on my love-it-love-it-love-it Country Craftsman, also while IV was visiting. And I took down the dried Sunset Fire skein, twisted it up nicely, petted it for awhile and showed it off to DH (who is very good about acting impressed and interested even though he'd rather be smithing) before putting it away (if "on the dining room table" can be considered "away").

The did-nots: Well, I didn't skein up the plied big bale wool that I spun on the CC. There's always tomorrow for that. I didn't take down the dyed heathered fiber -- that's still hanging, dry, in the guest bathroom. Again, there's always tomorrow. I didn't dye the other grey heathered fiber, though I did buy more Kool-Aid and I'm thinking that grey will be done in shades of green (kiwi-watermelon), yellow (lemonade) and maybe light orange (mango).

Not bad. DH and I even managed to take down the last of the Christmas decorations and put them all away, haul the tree outside, vacuum up the forest of dropped needles and generally put the living room back in some semblance of order.

If only I didn't have to go back to work I could really get some stuff done!

The past three days have been unbelievable from a fiber-perspective. I feel so very fiber-inspired and fiber-motivated (fiberspired? fibervated?)....

It started with my yarn dyeing-in-a-crockpot experiment. I liked that so well I went right on to crockpot-dyeing some light grey mystery fiber.

That nearly turned into a disaster as I let impatience take hold and instead of carefully unwinding the large roll of very thin roving I plopped it into the dyebath as-is...only to decide this was less than wise and then try to unwind it -- sopping wet and full of dye -- as it sat in said bath. I tried to photograph my hands but the incredible shade of Kool-Aid red simply would not show up in anywhere near all its glory on my camera. I managed to pull apart enough of the roving that everything got at least a touch of dye on it.

Tomorrow it's back to the supermarket to load up on other Kool-Aid colors to dye the other roll of grey mystery roving and then maybe blend them together. Of course, I now see the need for a drum carder. *sigh* And just when I thought I'd gotten every bit of fiber equipment I could possibly want. *wink*

Speaking of BIG success has been finally getting my Country Craftsman spinning wheel up and running. Woo-hoo!!

This is the wheel that my friend IV gave me...the wheel she refused to take any money for because she had had such bad luck with it and had cursed the woman who had sold it to her so very much as a result that she didn't want to risk bad karma by selling it to someone else. Once I promised not to curse her if I couldn't get it to work, it was all mine. I finally got myself in gear and bought the necessary replacement parts from the last known maker of the CC (naturally the wheel is out of production), only to find that even with the parts, the wheel would barely rotate. I thought it might need oil, but again didn't get myself in gear until L paid a visit and recommended that I soak the leathers in oil overnight. Well, bless my little 3-in-1 oilcan but it worked. I soaked those leathers and oiled every other moving part on that wheel and now it spins like a charm. It seems to want to spin up bulky yarn, which is rather ironic since the bobbins are miniscule compared with the bobbins on my Louet, a wheel that only seems to want to spin up fine yarns, but that's okay by me.

I had a great time today spinning up two bobbins full on the CC and then plying them into a bulky, thick-and-thin yarn on the Louet. Tomorrow I'll have to skein and soak it, then hang it to dry...and take photos, of course. I might even wind up knitting this up into DH's skullcap (finally).

L also turned my eye toward yet another new piece of fiber equipment: a charkha. This is an Indian-style spinning wheel specifically designed for spinning very short-staple-length fibers like cotton. Gandhi used a charkha (and even made it a requirement for all members of his cabinet to spend at least half an hour a day spinning). Well, L let me try out her Bosworth Book Charkha, and boy did I like it. I mean a lot. To the point where I might have to seriously consider getting one for myself. Yet another thing to add to the (*gulp* growing) list.

Last but certainly not least, I've been knitting. That plain-Jane garter stitch sure is addictive, especially on my fitted bog jacket. Much as I think to myself that I should be switching off every once in awhile to that Bubbly curtain, I just get pulled right back into the bog. Tonight I finished off a few more ridges while watching romance blossom between Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in Mr and Mrs Smith. Nothing like a mindless action flick for cranking out some knitting. And some fiber-equipment-buying plans.

Splindarella's Top Fiber Equipment Wanna-Buys:
  1. a charkha
  2. a drum carder
  3. a circular sock machine
  4. a Golding spinning wheel (this, my fantasy "when I win the lottery" wanna buy)
  5. a Journey Wheel

Splindarella's Employment Goals for 2007:
  1. Find a job that pays beaucoup bucks for very little work so I have enough money to buy my fiber toys and enough time to play with them all.

Friday, January 05, 2007


You never know where inspiration will find you. Today it was waiting for me over at Jeremy's blog in the form of a mini-tutorial on crock-pot dyeing. I've had Kool-Aid and dyeing yarn on hand for months but had just never gotten up the gumption to go ahead and try it. Then this morning I caught Jeremy's post and bam! I pulled out the crock pot and cooked me up some yarn.

I used 100 grams/880 yards of Knitpicks dye-your-own merino. Here it is soaking, pre-dye.

I wanted graduated shades of deep red through light orange, so I used Kool-Aid in (left to right/light to dark) Mango, Orange, Cherry and Tropical Punch. After soaking the yarn, I sprinkled the Kool-Aid directly on top in the order shown above.

Here's how it looked right after I added the dyes.

And here's how it looked after about 3 hours in the crockpot when all the dye had been absorbed. As you can see, the reds migrated quite a bit. When I first pulled the yarn out, I thought I would have very little orange to show for my efforts.

I shouldn't have worried! While the reds migrated across the surface of the dye pot, the oranges worked on the underside of the skein. Some came out very light (that's where the mango came into play, I believe) while others were more vibrant. Nothing was left pure white, which is exactly what I was going for; the skein moves from nearly yellow to deep red (I wish I could have gotten a shot that shows off the colors better). I think I'll call it Sunset Fire.

Currently in the crock pot: some light grey heathered wool (fiber this time, not yarn) that I'm trying to dye straight red, possibly with some variegation light to dark. I don't know how this will turn out -- if it's too much of a matted mess I may wind up felting it instead of spinning -- but boy, is this fun! Thanks, Jeremy, for being my inspiration today!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Photos At Last!

So, I've finally gotten off my lazy ass and taken some photos. Here's a shot of my fitted bog jacket. It doesn't look like much just yet, but watch out -- this is going to be gorgeous when finished!

And here's my Bubbly pretty I plan to make 2 more, one for each window in the bathroom (this one will go in the kitchen).

Not pictured: the Mason-Dixon Warshrag I had to frog three freakin' times because I'm a total dolt and clearly cannot be trusted with a simple pattern. The warshrag was going to be my "knitting for loved ones" project (which I think I'll rename "knitting for others" to also cover knitting for a cause, knitting for swap partners, etc), but to avoid any potential unpleasantness (such as having to stab myself in the eye with a dpn if I manage to screw this up yet again), it might just have to wait. Besides, Bubbly and Bog are keeping me nicely busy, even if they're not quite as portable as a chenille warshrag would be.

At least they won't land me in the hospital...the Knitting Goddess willing, that is.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Taking the Plunge

Tonight I cast on for my Fitted Bog Jacket. I absolutely love the Manos del Uruguay yarn! I love its thick-and-thin texture; I love how it forms a randomly rippled edge; I just plain love everything about this yarn, especially how very quickly it knits up on my Addi Turbo size 9s in comparison, say, to the way the Euroflax sport weight Bubbly curtain seems to take forever on my size 5 Options (but I do love the Options, as well as the curtain, though progress is slow and I am impatient). It feels very decadent to be making such a significant project for myself, if that makes sense. I mean, a jacket! And out of nice -- very nice -- wool, not junky acrylic. My days of wasting time knitting good patterns out of junky acrylic are over. If it's worth knitting, it's worth knitting in something real.

No photos because I'm lazy, and because the inch and a half I currently have on the needles is completely unrecognizable as a jacket (or as much of anything, in fact). But I'll post some soon, I promise, along with photos of the curtain (which is definitely recognizable at this lack of photos here is definitely due to laziness).

In other news: I am committing to a 3 month stashalong beginning today. I haven't managed to post to the Stashalong blog yet because of the switchover, but I'm counting from today nonetheless. Of course, joining the stashalong meant that last night at around 10pm I placed an order with Carol Lee over at the Sheep Shed Studio. I'd been meaning to buy enough Cotswold curls from her to make a rug anyway, so adding in a few (or a lot of) skeins of yarn just made know, with shipping and all...cheaper to buy more at once and send it, yada yada...

OK, I'll just admit it: If I'm going to go on a yarn diet, I'm damn well going to binge before taking the plunge. At least I won't have to worry about running out of wool now for a good long time. And if I do...I suppose there is always the acrylic.