[knitting] Christmas Tree Hat - PATTERN AVAILABLE

I have the knitting pattern for the Christmas Tree Hat available to download as a PDF. It's in the sidebar to the left, or you can go get it at my GooglePage. I also posted it to Ravelry under my designs and linked it to the Hat Club thread in the White River Yarns group. While I'm at it, I might as well submit it to Digg, The Drudge Report, The New York Times... I'll just spam the internets with it.


[misc] MF Monday Thursday

Last night I was able to do all kind of chores- washing and changing the sheets and duvet cover, taking out the garbage from all the rooms in the house, clearing off the kitchen table, going though all the phone messages that have built up, ripping out knitting projects that are going nowhere, winding skeins of yarn into balls, playing a game of Blue Moon with Dollar, doing the dishes, making pork pies for supper, doing more dishes, watching two episodes of Battlestar Galactica, showering, then passing out face down in bed. I felt like:



[knitting] Christmas Tree Hat

I recently modified this pattern for a Christmas Tree Hat to fit an adult head:


I thought this would be a good November selection for Hat Club at White River Yarns. Knit the hat and then bring it into the shop for a "Trim Your Tree" party. (Which now, suddenly, sounds like I want to get a group of women together to... you know... do some landscaping... down there. Is it just me? Why does my mind go to these places?)

Here are some of the decorations I have. Sparkly pom-poms for the top, perfect little Christmas lights, candy canes, etc.


Now to write up the pattern...


[spinning] Forest Walk

I finished spinning the jewel-toned fiber. Originally it looked like:

Jewel Colors

Now it looks like:

Forest Walk 1

Forest Walk 1

What you see isn't technically all the fiber I bought. As I said in a previous entry, there were issues with the fiber being felted in places. Because I couldn't properly draft these areas, I had to strip them and throw them away.

I was disappointed with the fiber and contacted the owner of Liberty Fibers. She immediately dyed a batch of fiber for me and mailed it. Here it is:

Forest Walk 2

The colors are close to what I originally bought and it's soft and fluffy. I think I must have bought an irregular batch at Vermont Sheep & Wool. I am pleased with the customer service I received from this company.


[misc] Death by Broadband Upgrade

I'm a little angry, depressed, annoyed and offended at Fair Point Communications right now. It started last Thursday when I called asking for faster broadband. I was currently at 700kb (to check yours, Google "broadband test" and there are loads of free ways to check) and called Customer Service to see what was faster.

I could get 3Mb for $34 per month (I was currently paying $18 for 700kb). I asked if there was a plan somewhere between 700kb and 3Mb and the representative flatly said "no". So I said "Okay" to the 3Mb plan.

By the way, I hate that you have to go through 6 minutes of talking to a female recording before you get to talk to a real person. There was lots of:

FEMBOT: If you have a question about connection, say "connection". If you have a ques-

ME: Connection.


ME: Connec-

FEMBOT: I'm sorry, I didn't understand what you said. If you have a ques-




FEMBOT: Did you say "connection"?


And on and on and on. I think Fair Point hopes that you'll blow your brains out from frustration so they don't have to take your call. It was ridiculous.

So anyway, I ordered the faster service on a Thursday and they said it would be done the next day. Friday afternoon I did my broadband test and it said I was at 1.5Mb. I was supposed to be at 3Mb. So I called them (dealing with FEMBOT again) and finally talked to a guy. He said they weren't done yet, but it would be complete by 6 pm.

Saturday, I did a broadband test again and I was still at 1.5Mb. I also received two email confirmations saying that my $34/1.5Mb upgrade was complete. I called again. FEMBOT told me that I had recently ordered a change to my service and it was complete. "That's what you think," I told her. I finally talked to a human and he said that I won't get 3Mb. Ever. Where I live, I'm too far away from the central building, whatever that means. All I cared was that I was paying for 3Mb and only receiving 1.5Mb. He informed me that there was a 1.5Mb plan.

That's interesting. I was told point blank by someone else that there were no 1.5Mb plans.

He said there were two, actually. One regular one and one with a faster upload speed. If I wanted to change my current plan, I'd have to talk to the Billing department. I asked him to connect me.

He said I'd have to wait until Monday. That department doesn't work on weekends.

You mother-frakers. (Sorry, I've been watching a lot of Battlestar Galactica recently.)

Monday. Today. I call. I yell "Die, fembot, die!" into the phone and repeatedly press zero until I'm transfered to a human. I'm not playing around anymore.

I get a real-live girl on the phone and try to outline what I'm pissed about:

- You said I'd get 3Mb (twice), all I got was 1.5Mb
- I've been paying for something that I'm not receiving
- Is there or isn't there a 1.5Mb plan?

She says that if all I can receive is 1.5Mb, then that's all I can receive.

ME: I'm paying for 3Mb

HER: Up to 3Mb.

ME: What?

HER: The plan is for up to 3Mb.

ME: Okay, wow, when you say it like that, I guess that lets you off the hook but no one ever said "UP TO" 3Mb before. Everyone I spoke to said I would get the 3Mb. And there is no 1.5Mb plan.

HER: No.

ME: I want to go back to the 700kb I was getting before.

HER: Okay, I can make the switch. It's going to be $23 per month.

ME: Wait. I was paying $18 before. Five days ago.

HER: Well, I can... Hold on. ... Okay, I can get you a better price. $13 for 6 months, then $18 per month after that.

ME: [Surprised] Wow. Um... Thank you. Yes, I would-

HER: You are signing up for a yearly contract for that price.

ME: Meaning, if I terminate the service before the year is out (and ditch you a-holes for Comcast like I'm currently thinking about), then...

HER: There is a fee of $80.

ME: ... Is there someone else I can speak to?

HER: My supervisor. Please hold.

You gosh-darn, mother-fraking, a-hole, bleepity bleeps. I mean, COME ON.

I ended up speaking to a nice man who put a permanent note on my account that says if I terminate my service before a year is out, the fee will be waived. Just to finish beating the dead horse, I ask if there is a 1.5Mb plan. He says yes, but it costs the same as the 3Mb plan.

In the end, I'm back to the same service I had last week, but apparently cheaper for 6 months. Which I feel a bit better about having had to deal with the lying, and the lying, and all the lying. I'm so looking into Comcast or something else. What do other people around here use? I've heard good things about Comcast.

Now I'm terrified to get my next bill in the mail. Who knows what kind of hot mess it's going to look like.

[spinning] The Barfy Collection

Two or three weekends ago I dyed one pound of fiber (in 4 oz increments) using food coloring.

Barfy Bruise (I dyed with black and blue, leaving white spots):

Barfy Bruise

Barfy Rainbow (This was a junkpile of colors- using all the leftover dyes. I now think I should have left out the brown and black):

Barfy Rainbow

Barfy Cotton Candy (I am least pleased with with one. I only dribbled a little fuchsia and sky blue (and maybe a little violet?) onto the roving):

Barfy Cotton Candy

I'm spinning the last one first, just to get it out of my sight.

There is also another 4 oz bump of fiber that I carefully dyed yellow, green and brown. It came out awesome and I gave it to my sister for her birthday. Really, it was way better than all those above. It even braided up pretty.

I did finish spinning and plying the Liberty Fibers superwash. I spun very thin and the whole project took me weeks of off and on spinning.

Yesterday morning I spun 4+ oz of bulky dark purple wool and plied it with sparkly thread. It was all done, start to finish, before breakfast.

Hmm... Projects that take weeks vs. hours. I think I'll stick to bulky for a while. I need the instant gratification.

P.S. Speaking of barfy, today is Murderface Monday. I woke up at 5:30 this morning to MF getting ready to barf on the bed. I was able to swoop him down to the wood floor in time. I watched him for a few minutes to make sure he was all right but he started running around, chasing invisible things upstairs and purring loudly. O-kay.


[knitting] Scalloped Tam

The blocked tam:

Scalloped Tam

Scalloped Tam

Pattern: Scalloped Lace Beret

Yarn: Classic Elite Miracle (I do not recommend this yarn. It's too splitty)

Needles: US 4 (ribbing), US 7 (hat body)

Mods: None.

This was a test run of the pattern (using yarn given to me ages ago by my sister) to see if there would be anything I would want to change if I knit it again. I followed the pattern to a T and when I was done, it was hat-like, not tam-like. But the pattern said that this might be the case and blocking would sort it out.

So I threaded some sock yarn onto a needle and passed it under every knit stitch on the last row of ribbing, leaving lots of extra yarn at the beginning and end. I gave the hat a bath, rolled out the excess water, put a large dinner plate inside and CINCHED the sock yarn tight and tied a bow. This sufficiently opened up the lace pattern of the tam. Then I just waited for it to dry.

I like it. It's just the right size with just the right amount of drape (the alpaca and tencel content of the yarn). This one is going to my mom for Christmas. And I might make another one for myself.


[crochet] Barbara's Anne

I finished the scarf in the beginning of September but didn't post about it. I wanted to keep it a secret for my sister's birthday, which was this past weekend.

Another Anne

Pattern: Anne

Hook: H? Can't remember.

Yarn: Malabrigo in Praline

I did want to sing a little song about this scarf: "bar-bar-bar bar-barbara's anne" but stupid John McCain has ruined that song forever.

Sorry no pictures of Murderface today. I was busy this weekend (the aforementioned birthday, helping my sister spin and ply her first skein of yarn, dyeing a pound of fiber, etc etc). Sadly, no chores were done. There are just too many fun things to do.


[knitting] Blue Raggi Socks

I finished another pair of socks for Dollar's impending birthday:

Blue Raggi Socks

Yarn: Jarbo Garn Raggi

Pattern: Basic Socks from The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns

Needles: US 6 (leg), US 7 (foot)

I think this makes pair #3. I honestly wanted to knit 6 pairs but I don't want to freak out and knit 3 more pairs in four weeks. I think I will cast on for one more pair but I will choose a pattern for the leg. The 1x1 ribbing is so booooooooring.


[misc] Good customer service experiences

I got a flu shot at work yesterday and I'm feeling a little run down. The dreary, rainy weather today isn't helping.

My sister's birthday is tomorrow. The spinning wheel obviously won't be a surprise, but I've got a few more things for her.

Dollar and I have been watching Season 4 of Entourage. We started the next-to-last episode of the season last night and it started skipping. I took the disk out and it's all kinds of scratched up. So it's time to do my first ever return/exchange at Amazon... Wow, that was easy. I just clicked a box that said the DVD is defective. They're sending me a new one now and I have 30 days to return the original. I also printed out a "no postage necessary" label to mail it back with. Easy.

Speaking of easy, I just got 4 new snow tires put onto my car at Wilson Tire in Lebanon. If you live in the area, I can't recommend that place enough. I got an excellent price on the tires and the staff are courteous and professional and nice and helpful and fast. I'm going back in the spring to get new all-season tires there.

I should have some knitting finished objects to show off over the next few days- socks, a hat, a scarf. I want to wrap up a few things before I start new projects. Like finally getting around to sewing a fabric lining for my cable knit bag. And I'd like to make significant progress on a lace scarf that I started back in May.


[spinning] Ashford Traveller

I was notified by my bf's mom that there was a bunch of spinning stuff at a family member's garage sale. I tend to avoid garage and yard sales because I don't want to buy other people's used garbage. Harsh, I know, but I don't really like used stuff. Or rather, most used stuff. I can make an exception when I find a $500 spinning wheel for $65:

Ashford Traveller Spinning Wheel

I brought it home and asked my sister if she wanted it. She said yes and we set to work fixing a wonky leg. I dusted it off, oiled it and got to spinning 4oz of natural brown Jacob wool. I'm not used to the single treadle (my Kromski is a double treadle), so I spun thick and quick. Here's the bulky plied wool I spun on this wheel:

Brown Bulky wool

It's an Ashford Traveller and it's a good wheel. It would have been a bargain and twice the price.

All the accoutrements I also purchased at the garage sale:

Spinning Supplies

From left to right: wool comb, lazy kate and 4 bobbins (this was $2), green drop spindle (with pretty butterflies on it), light wooden Louet drop spindle, small niddy noddy, large niddy noddy (this one's for Shelby), hand carders (these are a little dirty but the teeth are good and they were a steal at $10).

I went back to the garage sale the next day and bought all the knitting patterns.


[misc] Weekend roundup

It's Monday, so that means Murderface. Here he is getting treats.

The weekend started off with a bang. I got a call from Lois at White River Yarns, asking whether or not I wanted a drum carder for $215. I hemmed and hawed a bit and said, "I dunno. I guess I've have to take a look at it. See what state it's in." She said it has never been out of the box. I said, "I'll be there in five minutes." Yes, I bought a drum carder to process fiber. But really, am I ever going to use it? I buy my fiber already processed...

Saturday I went apple picking with my sister at Poverty Lane Orchards in Lebanon, NH.

Apple Picking>

It was a gorgeous day. A perfect fall day.

Apple Picking

As we were walking through the trees, I said to my sister, "Concerts and apple picking- that's when being tall comes in handy."

Apple Picking

That same afternoon I drove up to Tunbridge (another gorgeous drive) to visit friends. Where they live, they are totally secluded and remote and have started a farm with sheep and llamas. Basically living the lifestyle that Dollar and I plan on starting. Soon. I hope. While I was there, they gave me a bag of fiber from one of their llamas. It's already washed and carded but it can be slippery to spin (I had this problem when I tried spinning alpaca for the first time a couple weeks ago). So I could maybe blend it with some wool for stability. But I would need a drum carder for that. Oh wait! I have one now! Wheee!

That evening, we went to the haunted corn maze. There are long lines to wait in but once you're inside the maze, it's scream time. I have to admit, I was scared. There's the "BAH!" quick scare, the "agh-AGH!" double scream when someone jumps out of the corn and scares you, then you see their mask and scream again, the silent fear that overcomes you when a creepy, masked monster is quietly stalking you, the "it's quiet... too quiet" anticipatory fear. I'm telling you, I wonder why I go. At least I have Dollar to hang (literally) onto. NO WAY would I go through those corn fields alone.

One guy jumped out at me with a "WHAAGH!" I went "AAGGHH!!" He got me good. As he moved on, I heard him go, "Heh heh heh heh." Like, an honest chuckle of someone who scared you good and is content about it.

There were lots of kids doing the scaring as well. And you couldn't see them because they were so small and well hidden. I tried not to exclaim, "Holy F*#%ing Sh&t!!" into their masked faces and tried to stick with "AGH! ... Jeeze! I mean... Jeeze. Wow. You got me. Heh heh."


Sunday I think I pretty much cooked all day. Breakfast for me, turnovers for Dollar, grocery shopping, apple pie, dinner (chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, MMMmm).

Monday, today... The plan is to do a crap-load of laundry. And fun stuff between loads.


[spinning] Liberty Fibers

I started spinning some fiber I picked up at Vermont Sheep & Wool.

Liberty Fibers

The colors are what attracted me- jewel tones.

I pulled out all the fiber:

Jewel Colors

On a scale of 1 - 10, I have to give it a 5. There are white spots where the dye didn't completely saturate the fiber, and there are hard bits along the fiber. Where it got felted. I'm tempted to give it a 1 out of 10 but I want to reserve that for really shitty fiber.

I just can't believe these people would sell fiber that is a little bit felted here and there. As I'm drafting and spinning, I can feel and hear the fibers tearing. I'm not impressed.

I mean, just look at the state of it. There was a messy knot in the middle of one length:

Knotty Mess

I'm just saying, if you see this fiber somewhere and are tempted to buy it, take it all out of the packaging and look/feel it over. You might change you mind.

Did I just get a bad batch? Shelby, I know you bought some at the Festival in a blue/purple colorway. Have you taken it out of the bag? What did you think?


[knitting] Chevalier Mittens

The mittens are done, washed and drying:

Chevalier Mittens

Pattern: Chevalier Mittens

Yarn: Brown Sheep Nature Spun Worsted (tons leftover)

Needles: US 5

Mods: None. Although if I were to make these again, I would change some of the C4F/C4B to half knits and half purls. And I think I accidentally reversed some of the cable crosses. But, they're cute and they fit really well.


[knitting] Foliage

The October selection for Hat Club at White River Yarns:

Foliage Hat

Pattern: Foliage

Yarn: Araucania Nature Wool Chunky

Needles: US 10 (hat body), US 9 (ribbing)

Mods: I did 3 repeats of the lace pattern, rather than 2. Also, lots of extra ribbing. There was no danger of running out of the one ball of yarn. The ribbing looks a little uneven because I was knitting Continental style. But I think it adds to the rusticness of the hat. I did a sewn bind off because that works well with 1x1 ribbing.


[misc] Murderface Monday

Today's Murderface picture brought to you by the number 30...


I am taking today off work and chillaxing with my boys. It's my birthday and I'm thirty-freaking-years-old. Do I have to start acting like a grown-up now?

The Buckethead concert last Friday was awesome. And the opening act, That 1 Guy, was awesome. My favorite song was Weasel Potpie. Check it out (from another concert many years ago) here. It's one guy making all the music on his homemade instruments and singing. It was incredible.


[knitting] Lace Tam

I had a couple balls of mystery yarn from the Green Mountain Spinnery gifted to me by a co-worker years ago. It a nice, soft wool and each skein went from a natural brown to a natural cream. Here are the balls (wound in inverse to one another):

Mystery Green Mountain Spinnery Yarn

I had an idea. What if I made a tam starting with the dark brown from inside the ball on the left? And then when the brown matched the outside of the ball on the right, I would cut and join. And then finish the tam with the cream in the center top. How would that work out?

Sorry for the poor indoor lighting pictures but here it is:

Lace Tam - Top

Lace Tam - Bottom

Pattern: Lace Tam

Needles: US 6

I like it! I'll block and give it to my mom for Christmas.


[dyeing] Food coloring Lincoln, Wensleydale, Finn

Here are 4oz bundles of various fiber from Crown Mountain Farms. I wanted to try lots of sheep breeds that I haven't spun before, to see and feel the differences. I placed these in my own touchy-feely order from left (softest) to right (roughest).

Various Roving
From left to right: Finn, Wensleydale, Shetland, Jacob, Gotland, Lincoln

A while ago I ordered a food coloring kit to try dyeing fibers with. The Kool-Aid I tried resulted in very light colors. I thought that food dyes would be more vibrant and still be non-toxic.

In a moment of clarity, I realized I can use the water bottles that have the open/close spout tops. My set up is to tape a black garbage bag to the table, tape down a strip of plastic wrap, soak the fiber in water, press out as much water as possible in a towel and then arrange the fiber on the plastic wrap. I mixed dye solutions of 3/4 cup water, 1/4 cup white vinegar and 20 drops of dye. When I exhaust the dye, I rinse and reuse to bottles or pitch it into the recycling bin.*

For the first go around, I chose the Lincoln (because it felt the worst) and three greens:

Ready to dye.

Lincoln Green

I wrap and roll the color-saturated fiber up in the plastic wrap and microwave it for 2 minutes in a pyrex dish. Rest two minutes. Nuke 2 more minutes. Rest 2. Then unwrap the (burning hot omg scalding nearly on fire) fiber into water in the sink that the fiber was originally soaking in. And NONE of the dye bled out.

The finished fiber, all braided up and pretty:

Lincon Green

That was Saturday. Sunday morning I tried the Wensleydale in shades of blue:

Wensleydale blue

I purposefully tried leaving white areas but by the time I rolled the fiber up, excess dye had saturated all but the smallest areas of the fiber. Wah-lah:

Wensleydale Blue

It was so easy. I have all the different dyes, all kinds of water bottles, a huge jug of vinegar. I immediately mixed up some red, orange and brown and dyed the Finn. It was so fast, I didn't take any before pictures. But here's the after:

Finn Orange
This was gifted as a late birthday present to Lois at White River Yarns

So there. Dyeing fiber with food coloring is easy, safe (as far as I can tell but I had a little bluesplosion inside the microwave) and the colors are very strong. I loves it.

*Okay, I know there are some conspiracy theories that say recycling doesn't do anything and why am I even buying bottles of water anyway. Why don't I just drink the tap water and bottled water is a scam and bad for your teeth... Whatever. Look, I buy local-ish water (not the stuff that has to be flown here from Fiji) and I'm recycling. That's all.