fallingbooks: Fiber fancy punta. Whoo! (fiber)
Just a heads up for any other intrepid spinners who may want to get in on this wacky spin-a-long thing, the May-Jun SAL fiber for Into the Whirled just went up on Etsy, and it usually sells out in a day or so. It's a highly nifty BFL this time around. As with the previous the actual SAL fiber colors are a surprise, but the inspiration picture can be found here (it's the hypercolored birdie,) and the available coordinates do give a hint (and are also optional, you don't have to buy them if you don't want to. I got the teal just in case. I may have a mild SAL addiction.) More details are available at the ITW Ravelry group.
fallingbooks: Fiber fancy punta. Whoo! (fiber)
Because I've already set of the fire alarm twice today and because it's supposed to rain and no matter how much I like OK Go I'm not willing to get soaked for them, (Albany Tulipfest,) I'm going to introduce a new feature today called "Internet Window Shopping with Sarah" wherein I go lust over all sorts of fibery things on Etsy. Mostly.

Ready, Freddy? )
fallingbooks: Schact Ladybug #51! (spinning)
Or something.

I bought a beachball of romney/cormo a couple weeks ago. It's lovely squishy moorit brown (which is kind of between oatmeal and a good medium brown in color) but as I discovered while spinning it up the other night, it is just loaded with lanolin still. Upside? my hands are all soft and silky today. Downside? aside from the vm, I'm not quire sure what it's going to be like as a properly washed yarn. (I figure this will come with experience, I'm just not there yet.) I've got a couple ounce skein drying out in the bathroom right now to use as a sample. I put a teensy bit of Palmolive in the wash water (and I subscribe to the hot/cold method of setting a twist, so said soapy water was quite warm) and it turned yellow the second the skein hit it. Yikes. It rinsed clear, though so yay?

Because I tend to be monogamous about spinning projects, I'm going to try my hand at carding tonight. A friend of mine gave me her spare handcarders and I have some plain silk and mohair kicking around as well as the roving I trashed a few weeks back (never did finish spinning it.) This can't be too hard, right? Right?

Yeah. I'm laughing, too.

ETA: Oh my gosh I'm bad at this. :D ::mangles fiber::
fallingbooks: grey and white cat sitting suspiciously close to the nasturtium (cats)
Figure out what you did with your dye notebook. The 50/50 brown/kelly green Wilton's is shaping up nicely.

(I have a buddy bringing me dead red bugs back from her NM vacation next week. I am excited!)
fallingbooks: (yarn)
I saw, I SAL'd, I survived.

First up: Desert Garden Farm's 'Bunnies' SAL. Jennifer's SALs are a trip, (this is the second one I've been in, the first was based on Shel Silverstein poems,) and she has a fun sense of whimsy combined with a love of pop culture. This was one where within the overarching theme of bunnies, we got to pick our own fictional inspirations. Being the geek that I am, I selected the Evil, mutant bunnies. Of Doom. from Girl Genius.

I received 4 ounces of floofiness:

Lalala, we are all soft and floofy.

And we ended up like this:

Rrrrrowr, we are all sexxxxxxay curves now, no?

The purple is something I had kicking around. I'm pretty sure it's repackaged Ashland Bay. It's nice stuff. I ended up with about six ounces of three-ply, 290 yards of at 12 wpi (DK-ish weight).

The colors in the batts were really subtle pinks greens and lavenders with the occasional splash of bright red blood sparkles. It shows up better in the detail:

sparkle sparkle!

I'm quite fond of it, but it's a little dense (if ridiculously soft!) when knitting up. I was thinking mittens, but I may end up doing something a little more scarf-like.

Next up we have the Fiber Fancy Greek Goddesses SAL. I like Diana's products a lot (as witnessed by my ever-growing fiber stash,) so much so that I bough my first braid of fiber from her before I even had something to spin on! This SAL was also one where you could pick a goddess, so I picked Lachesis, who is the fate that measured the thread of life. I've always loved the Fates, and was perhaps overly influences by Piers Anthony as a kid.

Anyway. This is the awesomeness that is Di picked this as her inspiration picture:

Ladies, what are you up to?

My batts were almost too pretty to spin. Don't they ki9nd of remind you of golden apples?

Like golden apples.

Eventually they ended up looking like this:

Hey, we're learning. I get excited.

It is very soft and luxe feeling. About 150 yards of light worsted, n-plied. I think it'll make a very swank neckwarmer, or maybe a small bag. (I have a book of Louisa Hardings I keep eying. I love how it's mostly natural colors with the occasional flash of gold sparkle or hint of red.

Mine. Mineminemine.

Finally, I was in the Into the Whirled Inspirations SAL for March and April. The colorway is called 'Just Figs' . Cris is a relatively new-to-me vendor, but is (relatively) local and was spoken of very highly by the ladies at the Spin-a-long I attended a couple months back. My before pictures are awful, so I'll omit them (it was a bad camera day) but in addition to the surprise variegated SAL fiber, there were also a handful of complimentary semi-solids offered. Very cool! I used the lavender semi-solid to extend the purple sections in the variegated.

I ended up with about 485 yards of DKish yarn. It's not the most fabulous yarn - I learned to n-ply for this project and there's some less-smooth bits and some (::horror::) worming in a couple of spots, But on a whole, I think it turned out, and the right project can his a multitude of sins.


I had a lot of fun working on these, but three all at once was a bit much. I felt like I was back in school facing three papers that were due all at once. Yeah, I've had enough of that for this lifetime. So I'm taking a break from that and working on some of my booty from Clermont. Which I'll try to talk about soon.
fallingbooks: (yarn)

So. There are these things called Spin-A-Longs.

(There are also Knit-A-Longs and Crochet-A-Longs and even Dye-A-Longs, but these are not causing me angina right this second.)

You have your favorite fiber crack dealer. They have a Ravelry group. They go 'Hey! Let's have a SAL!' Everyone else goes 'Yay!'. You go and buy a minimum 4oz chunk of themed fiber from their Etsy shop and are supposed to spin it up and post pictured to said rav group by a specific deadline. Winners get accolades and goodies from said crack dealer.

Guess which idiot is supposed to be spinning for THREE SALs right now? I mean it. RIGHT. NOW.

(Guess who also has a 8oz project on the wheel eating up all of her bobbins and has NOTHING to do with any of these SALs?)

I have one set done. It is the small and easy one. One is a 4oz set that requires some thought and another is a 8oz that, dude, I just do not know what I'm gonna do with.


::runs off in a panicked fit::
fallingbooks: (yarn)
So having survived the holidays (and hoping you survived your holiday of choice also,) I'm starting to play with the dyepot again. Right now I have twelve little jam jars full of diluted Wilton's paste cooling their heels on the kitchen counter while the crockpot chugs away at making a swatch skein out a packet of lemon-lime green koolaid. Dyeing? For the record? Takes a while. There's the soaking of the yarn in plain water (or plain water with citric acid, pending dye.) Then there's the dumping the whole mess in the crockpot and waiting for that to soak up the dye. Then there's the rinsing and waiting for it to dry (hoping that you'll be able to get it off the shower rod in time for you to take a shower and get to work on time.) Don't get me wrong, it's a lot of fun, but it's not fast. The nice thing is that I can walk away from it for a while and work on a project or write an email or try to beat my Netflix queue into submission while I wait. I'm hoping that the impending microwave will help speed the process some, although I suspect it'll require more of my attention.

In any event, I'm working on a swatch skein colorwheel in the koolaids right now, and I plan to do the same for the Wilton's later in the week.

In the interim. Remember the Romney I trashed in my early attempts to dye roving?

Well, it still looks like crap:

Crap Romney

(I tried to dye it green-blue with orange highlights. Bad decision, there's all these blotchy brown patches all over it. Very unattractive. I think that sort of thing is probably best for handpainting and not kettle dying.)

However, it spins up fairly decently. Color me amazed.

Crap Romney spun up

I'm spindle-spinning this because I have a project on the wheel already, but I think it'll turn out okay. Mittens maybe. Or socks. What do you think? There's about 4 Oz of it.


Mar. 24th, 2010 11:39 pm
fallingbooks: (Default)
Unexpected problem in having Koolaid around the house: crushing nostalgia and the resultant fruit punch mouth.
fallingbooks: piles of books and yarn (fallingbooks)
One of my favorite things to do is to knit in groups. I am a fan of the stitch and bitch, the spin in, the knitting in public. There's a kind of magic in filling a space with people engaging in the act of creation, and even if you've never met before there's a sense of community that settles over the crowd. You talk with each other, learn from each other, ogle their toys and grope their yarn. Sometimes there's even beer and prizes. (The former more often than the latter, although I'll touch on that momentarily.) I got hooked on this whole spinning thing at a stitch and bitch. A friend of mine pulled out a drop spindle and I was entranced. She let me try it and about a yard of decimated wool later, I was addicted.

(I am now doing my damnedest to enable her into a wheel.)

This past Sunday was the 4th annual knit-in held by the tech valley yarn shops in Troy, New York. This is only the second I've been to, but it was distinctly bigger than last year's. The main room was jammed with over 70 knitters at one point,and it was really kind of amazing. There were definitely more familiar faces this time around for me than last year, and it was nice to see some folks that I'd kind of lost touch with after the Wednesday night (not the Monday or Tuesday night) Troy group disintegrated.

(Troy is kinda lousy with stitch and bitches.)

New in the side room this year were demos of various fiber arts and processes. Someone was doing a demo on how to paint yarn, someone else had some lovely crewel work displayed. I saw a bunch of little kids felting things, and someone was pulling fiber with pitch combs. The dyeing thing definitely caught my interest, but the best part for me were the wheels. My local dealer brought a Matchless, and oh, I am in LOVE. A Matchless is the next wheel up for a Ladybug with solid maple construction and (as I discovered) whisper quiet and smooth treadling. I'm thinking that I may put it on the short list of big purchases for next year. I've been in a swoon for the last 48 hours, it was that good.

The other thing I love about this event are the raffles. They are often and awesome. Last year I won some lovely Ella Rae booklets. It seemed like the entire corner I was in won something. And this year it happened again! Behold:

Araucania! Of! Doom!

I won a ten skein bag of Araucania Nature Wool Multy! I have no idea what I'm going to make with it yet, but I think I can safely say that the $5 I spent on tickets was some of the best I've ever spent. I think I'm a little weirded out by how well it matches some sock yarn I bought a few weeks ago, though:

Holiday yarns in Teenage Romance.

Total accident.

At the end of the day, my partners in crime and I wandered out of there with our newly won prizes, some awesome project ideas, and a plan to reboot our late lamented Wednesday S&B. It was fantastic. I can't wait for next year.

(Note to Lisa: Next year will be your year! I just know it!)


Mar. 21st, 2010 11:17 pm
fallingbooks: (tea)
I want to learn how to crochet SOLELY so that I can make pineapple lace doilies and antimacassars and whatnot. It's a thing.
fallingbooks: grey and white cat sitting suspiciously close to the nasturtium (cats)
To talk about tomorrow (or Tuesday, whenever I beat my camera into submission):
- Troy knit-in
- Jealous knitters and the potential danger of being yarnjacked
- Sarah + Matchless = MFEO 4EVA OMG
- Current project (knit)
- Current woe (spin)
- Dumb cats who climb into your project bags and shed all over them while napping and the terrible things you want to do to them upon discovery despite their being adorable. (Actually, that's pretty self explanatory. That's Bobby up in the icon.)

To talk about soon:
- SALs of doom
- Sock Club
- Etsy?

Until then I leave you with this thought:

LET'S GO, ORANGE! ::clap-clap-clapclapclap::

(Also: hi new people!)
fallingbooks: piles of books and yarn (fallingbooks)
1.) I need to rinse out the things I dye a little better. My hands smell like cotton candy koolaid death.

2.) Spinning evenly from silk hankies is going to require mucho practice.

::eyes the mess on the wheel::

I finally managed to get my hands on some pint mason jars locally today (True Value FTW!), so I can start blending down the Wilton's pastes and start messing with them. I gather there are some issues with the red absorption in those (and the red is in several of the manufactured colors) so if you don't manage it just so the blended color will break down into it's components leaving you with an interesting spectrum represented in your yarn. Which may be fine, depending on what you want.

I plan to use these dyes until they're gone, but I have a feeling that once summer comes and I can start doing some of this work outside (and I can just see me running extension cords out my bedroom window so I can run a crockpot and microwave out on my apartment's tiny patio) I'll probably start moving over to proper textile-intended acid dyes. Getting my hands on blue and green koolaid has been a royal pain so far, and with regard to finicky red dyes, well, I'm not exactly known for my patience.

Anyway! That's going to have to wait until next week, because I'm going to try to make some progress on my wips this weekend, although at the rate I'm going, I'm now making sweaters for next fall. Yeesh.
fallingbooks: (yarn)
I dyed!


I crockpotted 2 skeins of white Full O' Sheep (hey, I never said it didn't have it's uses, and JoAnn's does have fabulous coupons on occasion,) dyed one side green (2 packs of green Koolaid, 4 cups water, flipped 'em, dyed the other side, dipped out some spent water, (we were seriously starting to head into overflow,) and then sprinkled blue all over both sides. Voila!, 300 yards of I don't know what. Smells tasty.

Tonight I did some really bad things to a braid of romney. I'm gonna pretend it never happened, seriously. I don't even think overdyeing will save it. In the interim I'm going to spend tome time studying color theory and try to figure out how the freaking heck to tie top/roving up so it doesn't get all drifty.
fallingbooks: (yarn)
I have been staring at the crock pot on the kitchen counter for about a week. It's still in the box, I haven't talked myself into slicing it open yet.

My massive box of wool showed up early Friday morning. 5lbs of BFL and a 4oz of silk hankies. I read somewhere that the hankies are useful in picking up excess dye that the yarn doesn't take.

I bought the visual learning how to dye book a few weeks back, hellbent on learning acid dyes. (This may be where I read about the hankies.) I learned that acid dyes are TERRIFYING AND DEADLY. And probably shouldn't be used in small spaces like my kitchen.

I now own a lot of koolaid.

Scratch that. An INSANE amount of koolaid. and some tubs of wilton's food coloring.

Maybe I'll open up the crock pot tonight.

Maybe I'll get dressed in something presentable and go buy some vinegar.

Or maybe I won't.

Edit! I will! My fingers are a violent blue right now.
fallingbooks: (yarn)
AUGH. I just bought 5 lbs of BFL top for dyeing.

More later when I'm done hyperventilating.
fallingbooks: grey and white cat sitting suspiciously close to the nasturtium (cats)
...on 'adopting' a sheep and has anyone any experience with it?

If you're not familiar with the concept, there are a number of farms out that that for a fee will allow you to 'adopt' one of their critters (usually in the llama, alpaca and sheep families, although sometimes goats and bunnies.) The idea being that you pay upfront (anywhere from $50-$250) for a lot of the year's care and feeding and in exchange you get to run off with the fleece at shearing season. You also generally get a picture of your adopted critter, updates from the farm, and opportunities to visit if you're local.

I like the idea because not only do I get a fleece (!!!) I'm giving money directly to the farmers and hopefully taking a little worry off their hands by putting money in their hands in the early stages of production. I also think that for ME it's a little more cost effective than a CSA share for the most part, offering a whole 5-6 lb fleece as compared to 1-2 pounds of processed roving/yarn. But that's also because I'm interested in dealing with the fleecy end of things, and don't necessarily need the extra processing, which also adds on additional costs at the farm level.

I still need to research it a bit more, figure out what kind of fleece I want, etc., I'd love to do alpaca, but sheep are more in my priceline at the moment.

I am getting way too into this.


Feb. 28th, 2010 04:31 pm
fallingbooks: (Default)
Planning has never been a particular strength of mine. Or at least when faced with a multitude of options. (If you give me one project and tell me to focus on it it, that's one thing. I'm a rockstar at that. Give me an assortment of shiny projects with no deadlines, however...) I've spent a good chunk of the morning poking at my ravelry queue and running around etsy looking at some handpainted roving and I'm at a loss for what to do next, and how to prioritize.

- Do I want to make a big project or a small one?
- Do I want to use yarn I have or do I want to get new yarn?
- Do I want to spin the yarn or just buy it?
- Will my sanity hold up if I try to spin it?
- Where on earth with I get that much fiber from?

And on it goes.

I think, at least, I want to finish up the projects already in progress (for example, I'd really like to finish my Peaks Island Hood while it's still cold enough to wear it (which for me, means below freezing, I'm a hearty Northastern Gal and fear no cold temperatures,))and then maybe only have one stash-busting wip going while I move on to working on writing some patterns and spinning up what I currently have in stash. I have a couple of ideas for shawl, scarf, and hood-like-thing patterns which I'd like to get written and tested before the fall and this mass backlog of OMGness is definitely holding it up.

This would all be so much simpler if I could hit the lottery for some big money or there were a few more hours in the day.
fallingbooks: piles of books and yarn (fallingbooks)
So Red Heart is working with Debbie Stoller of Stitch 'n Bitch fame to create a new series of decent, critter-and-plant-based yards. So far there are three in the Stitch Nation line: Full 'O Sheep is a worsted, singly ply Peruvian wool, Alpaca Love is a worsted, multi-ply alpaca/wool blend, and Bamboo Ewe is a worsted, multi-ply wool/bamboo blend. I'm not sure how processed the bamboo is in the latter because there are a couple ways to do it, one retaining more bamboo-iness and the other not so much. They're brightly colored, have a decent handfeel (for the most part, I'm not wildly in love with Alpaca Love,) are readily available at larger JoAnn's, and (this is the big selling point) are under $5 a pop. "Affordable, premium yarns!" I've seen people trumpet. What a wonder!

Except, I kind of wonder if they're really that much more affordable. I picked a handful of standard workhorse yarns off of Webs, figured out the cost per yard (from their non-sale prices) for them, and compared them to the Full O' Sheep yarn.

I would like to note that this is not exhaustive, just things that I like and use as my basic everyday yarns, and that I'm not going near the more trendy and luxe stuff like Malabrigo, Madelinetosh, or Lorna's Laces. (This is not a knock on them - I love my LL swirl dk mittens! - but they're definitely not what I, a knitter on a budget, would consider for anything but special projects.)

So how did things shake out?


Single Ply
Stitch Nation Full O' Sheep: $5.00/155yds = $0.032/yd
Brown Sheep Lambs Pride: $7.90/190yd = $0.042/yd
Berroco Peruvia: $8.00/174yd = $0.045/yd

Multi Ply
Cascade 220: $7.00/220yd = $0.031/yd
Ella Rae Classic: $6.50/219yd = $0.030/yd
Knitpicks* Wool of the Andes: $2.19/110yd =$0.020/yd

*Knitpicks is available only at Knitpicks.com

It's basically a penny difference per yard either way. Peruvia is probably the closest equivalent, being both Peruvian wool and single ply, and the most expensive in comparison, but it's still not a ridiculous jump in price. I'll agree that every penny matters in these financially questionable times, particularly when you're working on a large project, but I think that the 'affordable' line is a bit overhyped. If you're really constrained that tightly by your budget, you'd be best served hands down looking at Knitpicks's Wool of the Andes, multi-plied-ness be damned.

I think where the Stitch Nation yarns really win out is in the area of accessibility. Nice, saturated color, wool yarn right there where anyone can get to it, touch it, squeeze it, and fall in love with it. That's fantastic for people who don't have a LYS nearby or are put off by ordering yarns online because they're not sure what they're getting into. And kudos for getting alpaca and plant-blend yarns in the broader knitter consciousness. I've certainly never seen the like before at JoAnn's. I hope they're embraced and that Red Heart takes heart (har har) from this and releases yarns of varying weight in this line. Sock, lace, dk, bulky. There's so much out there for people to explore once they're aware of the possibilities.

But I also hope that knitters who are wowed and amazed and fall in love with a better yarn than they're used to continue to explore and visit their LYS, or Webs, or Knitpicks and try some other new things. Because price isn't that insurmountable a barrier.
fallingbooks: (yarn)
There are a bunch of posts I feel like I should be making before this one, but if I wait to post until I'm ready to write them, I'll never get to it. Hi, hello, I fell off the face of the Earth, I'm sorry.

This is what my bathroom looks like right now:

a rainbow of yarn hanging of the shower rod. Which is this side of snapping.

Yes, the wheel and I finally made friends. Huzzah! And I find that more than buying and using commercial or even indie dyed yarns, I like making my own better. (I will probably like it even more once I get better control over the thickness of my singles. Now everything calls for fingering weight yarn.) There's just this real sense of satisfaction in knowing that it's all your doing from start to finish and that it's exactly what you wanted.

Which is why I'm going to start dying my own fiber.

(I should note: I did not dye any of the stuff in the picture.)

I know, I know, I'm nuts. But I'm getting a free microwave to use for dyeing when a friend of mine moves next month. She and her husband bought a house that has a built in, so this one's going out the door which is fortuitous for me! This means dyeing shall commence with terrifying fervor next month. (Or maybe April. I'm not sure when she's moving just yet.) I think this means I'm going to back off on buying dyed stuff unless it's really gorgeously gorgeous so I can funnel the funds into supplies and suchlike. I'm really quite !!!!! about the whole thing because it really changes my whole fibery worldview. spinning aside, so long as I buy the right base yarn, I can dye it to be whatever I want. No more hunting for the right color in the right fiber in the right weight. No more grumbling about the lack of semi-solids in affordable commercial yarn. No more whining because my favorite color isn't currently in fashion. (Not true at the moment as I'm totally into that dark teally blue floating around, but how long can my luck last, really?) I'm not saying that it isn't going to be an incredible, insane disaster to start out because it so totally is going to be, but eventually I'll get there, and it is going to be AWESOME.
fallingbooks: (yarn)
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