Friday

[spinning] Nightingale Fibers

At the 2010 Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival last October, I found a bargain tucked away in a small brown bag on a low shelf in a vendor's booth:

Nightingale Fibers


Pencil roving = easy to spin. Cormo/silk/alpaca = heavenly. Only 2.5 oz (this ball was roughly the size of a small grapefruit) but it was only $3. THREE DOLLARS. And so pretty. So I got it.

I went to spin it but it was dense. Compacted, matted fiber strikes again. I spent two nights predrafting this fiber (gently tugging, opening up, pulling inch after inch after inch) until I had a massive mound of light fluffy fiber ready to spin.

But it still drafted lumpy/bumpy, giving the finished yarn a more "homemade" look.

Nightingale Fibers


Not the most even yarn in the world, but it did turn out well. It's soft from the alpaca, bouncy from the cormo and there's a nice sheen from the silk.

Nightingale Fibers


Not sure what the yardage is but it's only 2.5 oz. Should be enough here for a Lotus Hat. I hope.

Thursday

[spinning] Sheep Shed

Two 2 oz bundles of merino/tencel from The Sheep Shed, purchased at the 2010 VT Sheep and Wool Festival:

The Sheep Shed


Very easy and smooth to spin. Next time I might get a colorway with more similar colors, because the finished yarn looks a little crazy to me:

Wool and Tencel


Wool and Tencel


Ended up being dk-weight. Would make a nice stockinette watchcap, I think.

Wednesday

[spinning] DyakCraft Batt

I've had this batt in my stash for a couple years (purchased from DyakCraft (when it was still called Grafton Fibers) at one of the Green Mountain Fiber Festivals):

Purple Batt


Purple Batt


Needing some instant gratification, I grabbed it one weekend morning and decided to spin it as a bulky single. I only ripped the batt into 6 or 8 pieces and spun thick. In under two hours I had:

Dyak Craft Corriedale Batt


I skeined the yarn and gave it a nice, hot, soapy wash and agitated it a bit to promote felting. I didn't shock it in cold water after, which I might do next time. But I love how it turned out:

Dyak Craft  Corriedale Batt


So easy! DyakCraft isn't making any batts at the moment but once they become available, I'd happily buy more just to have on hand for quick spinning like this.

Tuesday

[knitting] The chunky streets of dean...

Made a couple quick hats using bulky yarn in my stash...

Dean Street Hat


Pattern: Chunky Dean Street Hat (rav link)

Yarn: Berroco Peruvia Quick, 1 skein

Needles: US 10

Notes: Accidentally made the Dean Street cable one extra row longer (because I can't count right). I used my own discretion for the decreases.

Didn't particularly enjoy working with this yarn. The combo of the bulky yarn and the stickiness of the wool made it a bit of a struggle to work on. But at least it was over quickly- this hat can be made in a couple hours. Very adorable on and the hat is pleasantly squooshy. This yarn is only 103 yards per skein and I think this is a good one-skein pattern for it. I ended with rought 2 or 3 yards leftover.

Now that I had the pattern down and I know that I wouldn't run out of yarn, I made another...

Dean Street Hat


Yarn: Misti Alpaca Chunky Solids, 1 skein

Notes: Same pattern (I got the cables right this time but still used my own decreases for the crown) and needles but the yarn was sooooo much better to work with. Smooth, soft, 100% alpaca makes this a much better hat.

I would recommend this pattern if you have a random skein of theses bulky yarns:

- Misti Alpaca Chunky Solids (100 grams, 108 yds)
- Plymouth Baby Alpaca Grande (100 grams, 110 yds)
- Cascade Baby Alpaca Chunky (100 grams, 108 yds)
- Malabrigo Chunky (100 grams, 104 yds)

100 yds of any bulky yarn would work but those would be my top choices to work with.

Monday

[knitting] Pocketbook Slippers

Pocketbook Slippers


Pattern: Pocketbook Slippers

Yarn: Dream in Color Classy, gothic rose, 0.3 skein. I used leftover yarn from Gothic Paths hat that I made. And I still have enough yarn to make a small dice bag or something. This skein just doesn't quit.

Needles: US 7 (4.5 mm)

Notes: These were so cute and easy to make- even with the small amount of sewing and weaving in ends to do. But I can't figure out why they're called "pocketbook" slippers. Is it because you're meant to carry them around in your pocketbook, for those random times you end up shoe-less in the cold? Or is it because they kind of look like little pocketbooks?

Pocketbook Slippers


These are good slippers to wear in bed or lounging on the couch. Because these are knit and not all that dense (or felted), a cold breeze can slip in through the fabric of the slipper if you move your feet fast enough. So don't do scissor kicks in the middle of your living room while wearing them- especially if you have wood floors. You'll just end up with cold feet and a concussion. They're called 'slippers' for a reason.

Pocketbook Slippers


I'm including pictures of Murderface because it's still MF Monday and he needs his attention.

Now that I think about it, these would be good to keep in your purse for when you go to someone's house and you need to take off your shoes. You can pull these out, put them on and still have warm feet. And your host can look at you and be like, "WTF, you brought your own slippers? Who does that..."

Friday

[knitting] Bluehaven

Blue Haven Cowl


Pattern: Greyhaven (rav link only)

Yarn: Berroco Luster in Teal, 0.6 skein

Needles: US 7 (4.5 mm) for garter border, US 8 (5 mm) for body and bind off

Notes: Very pretty yarn- has a nice sheen. It's a singly ply and working with dull needles helped prevent any yarn-spearing as I worked.

Thursday

[knitting] Grrrr... Or whatever sound an alligator makes

Finished the alligator scarf for Dollar:

Alligator Scarf


Pattern: Morehouse Merino Alligator Scarf

Yarn: Misti Alpaca Tonos Worsted in Muir Woods. Used 2.1 skeins. I added a more repeats to the main body, so if you do the pattern as written, 2 skeins of this yarn would be enough.

Needles: US 7

Notes: I started this scarf last May. It was fun and interesting to work on, then it got to be incredibly tedious. Increasing for all those three-dimensional ridges just felt like I wasn't making much progress for how much knitting I was doing. But Dollar gave me the puppy dog eyes... And was all, "I can't wait to wear my scarf..." And I was like, "Who said this scarf was for you?"

Seriously, he just kind of assumed it was for him. So I made it long enough for the face to hang at chest level, the body wrapped around the neck once and the tail to hang at the same level as the face.

Alligator Scarf


The yarn was a good choice for this project. The tonal greens looks great and enhance the ridges/scales. It's 50% merino and 50% alpaca. I would like to try this pattern again with a 100% wool yarn to see the difference. I think that because of the alpaca, I couldn't close/bind-off the ridges as tight as I would have liked. But the softness of this scarf makes up for any lingering misgivings.

Wednesday

[knitting] Multidirectional Diagonal Scarf

I posted a long time ago about a pattern for a scarf that worked great for variegated yarns. Here's the finished scarf:

Multi-direction scarf


Pattern: Multidirectional Diagonal Scarf

Yarn: Schaefer Yarn Miss Priss in the Julia Child colorway. One skein. For the border, I used an errant ball of Patternworks Britton in black (yarn held double).

Needles: US 8 (5 mm)

Notes: I added the crocheted border because the edges of the scarf looked a little unfinished and it was kind of narrow overall. I used this crochet Basic Shell Edging.

This pattern was so easy and mindless, I had to do another:

Multidirection Scarf


Yarn: Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride in Grassy Knoll. 2 skeins.

Needles: US 8 (5 mm)

Notes: I left the edges unfinished here because I had more yarn and was able to make the scarf wider (~8 inches across). There's some slight pooling at places but it's not noticeable overall or when the scarf is worn.

I did use the modification at the end of the pattern to finish with a half-triangle, so that you end up with symmetrical ends.

Friday

[gaming] Memoir '44

Three day weekend, here I come. Just got an email from Days of Wonder that Memoir '44 Online Beta 15 was just released- with three new maps! Even a winter scenario. I know what I'll be doing all weekend.

We recently got the Winter Wars expansion for the actual game and I set up a scenario that looked pretty interesting:

Winter Wars


This new expansion has special combat cards for fighting in winter weather during the Battle of the Bulge and special troops (e.g. mortars, tank destroyers). For this game, I played allies and Dollar played axis. I won, but only because I had 2 exit opportunities on the board and I scooted nearly all my units that weren't being killed by Dollar off the board. At the end, I only had 6 figures left on the board- not 6 units, 6 figures.

Winter Wars


We also got the Breakthrough board and I can't wait to play a scenario on that- the board is huuuuuge. Not Overlord huge but huge for a 2-player game.

Monday

[misc] Murderface Monday

Murderface, making biscuits.

Making Biscuits


I did a quick Google search, asking why cats knead. The best answer? "It goes back to the ancient Roman times when cats were enslaved to bake bread."

The Fiber Package of Doom that I was having such a hard time tracking last week was found and is currently en route to me, three weeks after it was originally shipped. Apparently my address was written with a completely incorrect zip code for Huntington, West Virginia.

I had to do all the hunting/finding myself. I did call USPS the day the package was mis-delivered. They said they'd get back to me in two business days. I called them after two business days and they said they needed another day because things were so backed up from the holidays. I called them again and they said that I should get in touch with my local post office to help me find out where the package was. I called my local post office and they said that there were so many post offices in Hartford, CT that it would be impossible to find out which one delivered the package or where it was. I called USPS Help and they said that since my local post office couldn't help me, there were going to increase the importance of my incident and call me back in two business days.

Sick of the run-around, I called post office after post office in Hartford, CT (leaving messages for people to call me back- no one did) until I found a human who could give me the phone number of the post office at the zip code where it was delivered. After talking to the clerk there, he told me that my post office box number at that zip code was for the Salvation Army and they had picked up the box. And it had been gone for a week. So he said he'd call them and see if they still had it.

I called the USPS help desk for Northern New England (the woman I was connected with told me she had never seen a package go to so many places before with such a weird tracking history, destination and delivery). I started calling every Salvation Army that I thought was in the same zip code as the post office.

I finally got a call back from the clerk. He had the package. In front of him. Someone from the Salvation Army had come to return it. He told me about the wrong zip code. I can't even believe it but I was soooooo happy and relieved. Especially since it didn't sound the girl on Ravelry was going to give me a refund.

Anyway, no thanks to anyone else (except Jon, the post clerk full on win), I found the package myself. Awesome, yes, but it left me so bitter and jaded. I want to say lots of mean things about everyone who attempted to "help" me but if you haven't got anything nice to say...

Friday

[misc] So I guess I won't get that rocking chair I want.

Dollar came down to the kitchen last night for supper and he had his cell phone pressed to his chest.

"It's my grandmother," he said like I should be as alarmed as him. "She said she wants to talk to you."

I'm like, "Uh... wtf?" getting appropriately alarmed.

He shrugged and handed me the phone. I think we were both worried that, worst case scenario, she had had enough of us living in sin and needed to know exactly when the wedding would be. Turned out, she was just wondering about the pattern I used to knit a hat for his dad as a Christmas present. She loved the hat and wondered if I could run her off a copy (tee hee, I think she was referring to a carbon copy).

No problem. I explained that the hat was written as flat and was meant to be seamed shut. I told her that I modified it to knit in the round. She said, "Oh yes, you used three short knitting pins?" (tee hee, I used a circular needle but I think those might be a little too new for her.)

So anyway, we chat for a bit and I give the phone back to Dollar. I could hear his grandmother saying that she had some free time now that the holidays are over and wanted to try to get back into knitting. She also got a National Geographic puzzle of her town, so she was going to work on that, too.

I looked at the puzzle I was working on on the dining room table.

She said, "Oh, you know, I want something to do other than my sudoku and crossword puzzles."

I think about the sudoku and crossword puzzle books I keep in the bathroom.

Yeeaaah. Dollar gets off the phone and I'm like, "Am I a grandma? Am I your grandma? Knitting. Puzzles. Sudoku."

Dollar nodded.

Now I want to go out and do something decidedly un-grannylike. I can't... um... think of anything at the moment. But it's got to involve wheelbarrows full of hookers and blow, right?

Actually, I'm in the middle of the cold that everyone's been getting so I guess I'll just stick to my vitamin c tea. Siiiiigh.

Monday

[misc] Murderface Monday

Cosy


I need to look at a picture of MF to make me feel better. I ordered some spinning fiber from a girl on Ravelry who was destashing. It was shipped on Dec 20 and I thought that it would only take 3 business days to get to me (priority shipping) and I would be able to spin some during my holiday. Well the package was finally delivered today:

Delivered, January 03, 2011, 8:54 am, HARTFORD, CT 06141
Arrival at Post Office, January 03, 2011, 8:51 am, HARTFORD, CT 06101
Processed through Sort Facility, January 02, 2011, 11:42 am, SPRINGFIELD, MA 01152
Processed through Sort Facility, January 01, 2011, 11:45 am, SPRINGFIELD, MA 01152
Processed through Sort Facility, December 31, 2010, 8:39 pm, SPRINGFIELD, MA 01152
Processed through Sort Facility, December 30, 2010, 10:55 pm, NASHUA, NH 03063
Processed through Sort Facility, December 27, 2010, 12:39 am, NASHUA, NH 03063
Processed through Sort Facility, December 25, 2010, 4:23 am, CHARLESTON, WV 25350
Processed through Sort Facility, December 24, 2010, 12:43 am, NASHUA, NH 03063
Processed through Sort Facility, December 22, 2010, 3:58 pm, CHARLESTON, WV 25350
Processed through Sort Facility, December 20, 2010, 5:06 pm, COPPELL, TX 75099
Acceptance, December 20, 2010, 12:21 pm, DALLAS, TX 75209

To Hartford, Connecticut. I don't know if USPS screwed up or if the girl sending it has got some squirrelly handwriting but this is f'ed-up. I called USPS customer service and they said someone would get back to me w/in 2 business days. WTF. WTFWTFWTFWTFWTFWTF.

In better news, Dollar got me a nice gift certificate for Christmas and I ordered a Zojirushi Home Bakery Mini. It's a good size for the two of us, making 1 lb loaves. But I saw Dollar literally cut a third of the loaf off, butter the end piece and insist that it's still "one slice" of bread (even thought it was 2.5 inches thick). I've made quick bread, regular firm bread and dough for pizza. I am in love with it- just put in all the ingredients in order, leave it and the machine does all the work. And it looks cute on the counter next to my Sanyo rice cooker.

It was a good holiday break. I hung out with Murderface all day (I think he sleeps too much), knit, spun some yarn, baked a bit, cleaned, played some games, packed a few boxes of books, worked on a puzzle. My sister cut a new puzzle for me (best Christmas present ever!) and it's hard. Really hard. I've been working on it for a week and it's only about 50% put together. It is fun, though, I do love putting together these puzzles.