Wednesday, November 22, 2017

So I bought some Halloween fabric...

Joann's, oh Joann's, you get me every time.

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Joann's has this cute line of knit fabric called 'Doodles'.  Apparently, you love it or hate it.  Apparently, it washes up fine or it shrinks indefinitely... I made the mistake of posting some recent acquisitions on a sewing group on Facebook and got comments that looked like Yelp! reviews.  Feast or famine.  And that's how the fight started...

Totally kidding!

But I did get stern warnings, so I decided to pre-wash my fabric and hope for the best, since I'd already bought a slew of it.  I pre-washed my fabric warm and dried on delicate (extra low), like 95% of my laundry is done.  No problems!

Next up - t-shirt dress time.

There's a popular online women's clothing company that launched a t-shirt dress with a high-low hem.  They are so comfy and just what I need on rough flare days!! But the seasonal ones are a mad dash to get in your size and in a print you love.  When I saw these fabrics, I knew that I could probably sew one (or all of them) up in the time it would take to hunt one down.  And then I saw the fabric was on sale.  Done deal.

I found a cute, easy, FREE pattern online from Love Notions - the Laundry Day Tee.  The name being such that it's quicker to sew up one of these tees than to wash a load of laundry. I used the dress length with the high-low hem option, and 2/3 had short sleeves, while the 3rd had elbow length sleeves. They all came out great & I loved making them!

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Short sleeves - and warm enough to wear them the weekend before Halloween!  Ok, Ohio...
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Elbow sleeves

I have one more to make in the spiderweb pattern for my friend Clementine, but she'll wear spiders and webs year-round, so I'm not as rushed on that one.

I had 2 random strangers compliment me on this dress when I wore it ON Halloween.  I was totally surprised!
Of course, about the time I finished these, the Christmas fabrics came out... and we all know what that means...

Monday, October 16, 2017

Donita2017 Q3

Summer has gone and fall has come.  It's finally sweater weather and I couldn't be more happy about it!

First up in July, I finished a top (that I started in May), because I finally found a pattern that I could use this yarn for! And I used EVERY. LAST. BIT.

July is Tour de Fleece month, so naturally, there was spinning!  This year, I finished a sweater quantity of DK weight yarn in a bevy of blues. Details of how I spun this yarn are all spelled out here.

After all that spinning was concluded, I got back to these socks that I couldn't resist casting on before the tour started.  More timey-wimey knitting!

With the sad death of my nook's power supply, I also resigned myself to reading on my iPad (I really don't like to stare at the backlit screen if I can help it... but...).  I decided to make another reading rest for me.  This was the perfect project for that yarn that bled like a Tim Burton movie because it shouldn't ever get wet!  And it was the right weight for the pattern.  So I made one.

My mom recently got Netflix on her iPad, and proceeded to binge-watch The Office, so she needed this one.  So, I made another one.

Then I decided I wanted one upstairs and down.  So, I made another one.

And then I had to cut myself off.  For now. I make no promises for the future.

The Never-Ending Behmalong is, obviously, still going.  And with a cute new pattern in Knitty, I couldn't resist casting on!  This yarn from See Jayne Knit is SO soft and will be perfect to cuddle up in.

Because one Martina Behm pattern on the needles is never enough, I cast on a Trillian as well in a delicious MCN from Invictus Yarns.  I even listened to a bit of Douglas Adams while I was knitting it!

I finally got the loom warped again!  Just a plain weave scarf, but the handpainted yarn sings.  It turned out LOVELY and soft!

I cranked out another Hitchhiker, for a friend who needed some wooly TLC.  I sent it to her with some sugar skull candy, too, because they're fun and she's Latina and I can.

We learned that some friends of ours were expecting TWINS.  Time for more baby gifts! Two Flax Light sweaters by Tin Can Knits, and two modified Barley hats, also by TCK.  One leaning a bit toward Slytherin colors, like daddy, and one leaning a bit toward Ravenclaw colors, like mommy.

A pair of socks from deep stash (the LYS where I purchased this yarn doesn't exist anymore!).

I pulled out a WIP I started last winter: an Antler hat by Tin Can Knits from some of my handspun, intended for the hubs.  Sadly, the yarn just wasn't meant to be that hat.  Happily, there was some lovely handspun from our Auntie Moo that fit the bill perfectly!

I realized that I was a total slacker and didn't get a baby gift to one of my oldest friends before the baby was born and I had knit for their first 3, so I had to fix that.  Another Flax Light & Barley Light were the solution to that problem.  I love those patterns for baby knits - quick, cute & cozy!

Also this summer, I participated in The Knit Girllls annual Stash Dash - a knit-along to encourage you to finish projects & WIPS & use stash!  I decided to aim for the 15K goal (meaning 15,000 yards of finished projects or finished handspun yarn) this year.  I smashed that goal with an awesome 19,393.6 yards of finished items (link to my FO post with pics and yardage breakdown).  Admittedly, they changed the way you count handspun yardage this year and that really helped my total. I finished a sweater, a short-sleeved top, 5 pairs of socks, two scarves, 3 iPad rests, 2 sweater-quantities of handspun yarn, a cowl & a shawl between Memorial Day and mid-August. I didn't win a prize, but I am declaring myself a winner anyway!

Here's how the year is going:
  • Spin for more large projects
    • 2 sweaters spun for!
  • Sew
    • not yet, but fabric and patterns acquired! (You know, because I didn't have any fabric before... ::shifty eyes::
  • Knit more sweaters & socks
    • 4 me-sized sweaters
    • 4 baby sweaters
  • Knit an afghan or 2 ::more shifty eyes::
  • Learn brioche knitting  Learning Weaving Instead.  Brioche may happen later.
    • Weaving is continuing to happen!
  • Knit from:
    • stash - check!
    • queue - check!
    • handspun - does someone else's handspun count?
  • 20K in finished projects - Smashed it already!
    • Knitting: 15K+
    • Spinning: 6K+
    • Weaving: 1K+

Monday, September 25, 2017

For my white folks

This is for my fellow white folks. I'm speaking to you because I'm one of you, and while no two life experiences are the same, we likely have a lot more in common than we have with people of color.
First of all, we need to stop telling people there's only one right way to be angry. As a woman, I've had lots of other people tell me that I'm doing angry wrong - especially by men, right ladies? Having my feelings mansplained to me gets stuck in my craw like none other. There is one surefire way to make someone who is already angry completely livid and that's to tell them their feelings are wrong or invalid. So, please let's stop white-splaining emotions to others. It's not a good look and it's seriously not helping anyone or anything.
Second, can we give it a rest with the uproar about people taking a knee? After every riot and every demonstration that turns violent, we love to say that violence de-legitimizes your cause and people would better take notice and respond if it had just been a peaceful protest. It is true; riots devolve into violence and looting by people who don't necessarily care about the cause and they rarely bring about positive change. The situation in the NFL with players taking a knee during the national anthem is the very definition of peaceful protest. And yet, you still scream that they are doing it wrong. If peaceful protest is acceptable, then people peacefully protesting something you don't agree with should STILL be acceptable.
Third, we've all seen the flag code posted recently. It is true that those taking a knee are in violation of the flag code. But if you're going to boycott the NFL, you need to boycott everyone who is violating the flag code. So please, be looking very seriously at your home, your belongings, your t shirt collection and those same items belonging to every team you support, every NASCAR driver you cheer for, every entertainer/artist/musician you support, and make sure they aren't violating the flag code either. If they are, you should boycott them and share that on social media just as frequently as you share your boycott for the NFL. Fair is fair.
The flag code is a thing that was written to ensure proper treatment of the flag. The flag is just a thing, a symbol. While it is a powerful and important symbol of many wonderful things about our history as a country, it is NOT America itself. More American than the flag are the ideals this country is founded on.
The first freedom that individuals were guaranteed by our founders was freedom of speech. It was that important that our country not dictate beliefs to its citizens. Most people don't even know where to find the flag code (I wouldn't have known what document it was published in without Google), but we all know that the Bill of Rights followed the Constitution. We have the Declaration of Independence signed in 1776, the Constitution signed in 1787, the Bill of Rights added to the constitution in 1791.
Amendment ICongress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and TO PETITION THE GOVERNMENT FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES.(all caps mine)
The flag code didn't exist until 1923 and wasn't adopted by Congress until 1942. Originally, the flag code was created for the military; it wasn't adopted for civilian use until 19 years later. It took us over 150 years to get around to legislating how to treat the flag, while it only took us 5 years to confirm free speech (while fighting an unprecedented war between a colony and their parent nation). Think on that for a minute.
If you listen, the people taking knees have grievances, grievances with the government, local, state and federal. This is the very essence of what this amendment protects.
Citizenship in this country is NOT contingent on patriotism in any form, y'all. We would all like to think that everyone living here is proud to do so. But it is not illegal to be upset with the state of things in your country. How many of us are, in one way or another, concerned or angry about the state of our nation?
And finally, those who are calling for the suspension or firing of any NFL player who does not stand for the national anthem (including our President), y'all need to hush. These players are not refusing to play. Playing is their job and they are fulfilling their job requirements to the best of their abilities. For those who like to be realistic about the legal side of things, any NFL owner firing players over this issue is likely to be sued and lose. If multiple owners would follow all the ranting and all fire players who were protesting the national anthem, there would likely be a suit filed by the NFLPA against the league itself. And the league would lose. This exact scenario is addressed in the link above and there is plenty of legal precedent to support that decision.
So if you're a white person like me and you have strong feelings on this issue, that is fine. Your strong feelings are just as protected as those NFL players'. But if you want to be sure you're not coming off as a racist, a bigot, a hypocrite or a mindless follower of the things our Commander in Chief says to rile a crowd that aren't necessarily based in our country's principles, here's the short list of things you can do:
  • Stop white-splaining.
  • Recognize the rightful peaceful protests of others, even if you don't agree.
  • Realize that the Bill of Rights trumps the Flag Code.
  • If you don't want to bring attention to the way these players are protesting, you are free not to watch the NFL and free not to give them more attention by posting all over your social media about how you are boycotting.   
Maybe if we all stop yelling about how others are doing it wrong, we could listen to what these athletes are saying and better see how to fix their grievance, rather than threaten them for non-compliance.


If you choose to comment, please keep your comments respectful.  I will not hesitate to delete anything I deem hateful.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

"That's gonna be a fascinating transition!"

Tour de Fleece 2017 was a win!

Since yellow makes me look dead, I'll post about it here instead of getting a yellow ANYTHING, let alone a jersey right next to my face.

Tour de Fleece is a "competition" that runs concurrently with the Tour de France.  The idea is that every day that the riders 'spin' along the Tour de France course, we will spin our wheels or spindles and since the Tour de France is a very challenging race, we spinners should choose a goal that challenges us as well.  There are lots of 'teams' to cheer each other on, tons of eye candy on Ravelry, Facebook and Instagram ( #tourdefleece2017 ) and lots of beautiful yarn.  Some teams give prizes; but all who participate get beautiful yarn when they cross the finish line.

My idea for this year's TdF project was inspired on Ravelry.  I got the magazine where this idea was hatched, but didn't see it (and didn't find it when I went back to look anyway); my point being that if you watch the YouTube video in the linked post above, you'll learn everything you need to know to do one of these massive spins, too! I quickly went down the rabbit hole and found ALL KINDS of eye candy & inspiration.  So I could find it again, I created a bundle on Rav - so handy and linked here for your own rabbit hole needs!

I like spinning because I like the idea of creating a one-of-a-kind yarn - and I like the idea of doing it on a big enough scale to make a garment.  I LOVED the idea of being able to use up 8-10 of those single or double braids in my stash that I wasn't sure what to do with or hadn't gotten around to spinning yet.  All but one of these braids came from deep stash and honestly, I could have done a 2-ply combo spin with the ones I had.  Such a great way to bust stash and enjoy the process!

I started with these braids - 9 in total.  After a bit of sound-boarding with some fellow spinners, I decided to do a 3-ply yarn instead of a 2-ply yarn (there are reasons - but it'll get too wordy here - leave questions in the comments or PM me on Rav!).  The braid I purchased needed to be a close match to 2 of my existing braids of fiber, so the center bottom braid got nice and cozy with the top left royal blue braids.  This extra braid gave me 3 braids of fiber per ply - and gave me a chance to get a good amount of a 3-ply yarn.

To help prevent smurf-barf yarn, but maintain the long color changes you get from the finished yarns you see in the bundle, I decided to have one strand of my handspun be solid blue; almost like a 'control'.  One strand would be a constant deep blue, while the other two varied and interplayed with each other.  This will tone down the overall stripeyness of the yarn, but it will create a nice, round yarn for knitting.

I prepped all the fiber the same way - as described in the video - basically splitting each 4 oz braid into 8 even-length sections of full-width braid, and then splitting each of those into 2 lengthwise strips.

Here is the prepared fiber for the 'control' strand.

The second pile looks much bigger - because it IS much bigger. Twice as big, in fact.  The second & third strands will be spun from this pile.

Once everything was stripped out, I gently wound the strips of fiber into little nests.  This served a few purposes: 1) they are adorable; 2) they are easier to grab one at a time this way; 3) this allowed me to store my fiber away from the wandering, curious husky when I wasn't spinning.

The very blue pile was split into two halves to become 2 bobbins of the 'control' strand.  The blue-ish pile was split into 4 quarters to become 4 bobbins of the multi-color strands.

Here is the final 'before' shot - the tissue paper separates each amount of fiber to be spun on an individual bobbin.

So I began spinning the singles (the individual strands that make-up a plyed yarn).  Each time I needed another section of fiber, I reached into the bin blindly and picked up the first nest I touched, occasionally stirring the nests around gently when I took breaks to grab a restroom break or glass of water.  The first finished bobbin of singles from the multi-colored fiber looked like this:

When you turn the bobbin on the end, you can see the where the individual strips of different colors came into play!

The first bobbin of the more solid blue - the 'control' - singles spun better and had a more homogeneous appearance because I held 2 lengths of the solid blue with 1 length of the heathered blue.  The lighter fibers in there are silk; the dying technique allowed the wool and the silk to take the color differently.

Over the course of the next 20 days, I spun all six bobbins of singles.  Below they are shown, L to R, as a multi-color, blue, multi-color, on top and bottom, approximating how they will be combined into a 3-ply yarn.

The end-of-bobbin shot shows the stripey nature of the multi-color singles and the blue-on-blue nature of the merino-silk singles.

These fun colored bobbins are from Akerworks, and I love them!  They don't just make bobbins - they make lots of cool stuff, including musical instruments.  Their products are innovative and high quality and I can't say enough nice things about them.

Now that the singles were all spun up, it was time to ply.  To ply strands of yarn together, you spin them together in the opposite direction the individual strands were spun.  For this project I spun the singles clockwise, so I plyed them together with a counterclockwise twist.  There are lots of physics reasons why you do this, and lots of crafty ones, too.  Practically speaking, if you don't do it this way, you end up with a twisty, knotty mess of unusable stuff.  (Wondering how I know?)

Once I had the direction changed on my miniSpinner, my electric spinning wheel, I was ready to start plying.  I selected 2 bobbins of multi-colored singles & 1 bobbin of blue singles, put them on my lazy kate (a rack that holds bobbins for me and allows me to pull off the singles in a controlled way), found the end of each strand of singles and started to ply them together.

This picture is a snapshot of plying:  my miniSpinner is at the top of the photo and the plyed yarn is winding on to the bright orange bobbin as the strands wind off of the beige storage bobbins.  Each strand of yarn pulls off of the bobbin and I use my hands to control how quickly this happens and how much twist I allow into the strands to hold them together.  When I'm actively plying yarn, the kate with the singles bobbins sit on the floor away from me, allowing me to straighten out the strands before they wind together.  It's easy to demonstrate, but hard to verbalize.  Come over sometime & I'll show you!

These two bobbins of plyed yarn show how the individual strands of color intermix and play together in a 3-ply yarn.

You can see here how the colors from the multi-color strands lined up in the plying to have darker or lighter sections of yarn and sometimes they all blend together.  I finished the plying on July 23, the final day of the tour.

When all the plying is complete, the yarn gets to rest for a minute, then was wound into skeins (basically, a big loop, secured with ties) so it can be washed and dried.

The variation in the yarn is apparent if you look closely, but seems just very blue if you don't focus on it.

I was thrilled with the outcome!

If I'm honest, there was more than one moment during the process where I had this sinking feeling that I was spending a lot of time and fiber making yarn that might be hideous.  But I stuck to the plan, knowing that I'd seen beautiful yarns from other spinners on Ravelry who were successful with this approach, and hoped I would be one of them.

Of course, the true test of this experiment will be when I knit the yarns into a project.  I looked carefully at finished objects (again, on Rav, using the linked thread above and the tag #combospin) made from this yarn.  I specifically looked for constructions that highlighted the unique qualities of these yarns and combinations of the yarn and construction that were flattering for the wearer.  My plan for my combo spin yarn is to knit the 'Just the Right Angle' sweater, a free pattern on Ravelry.  There were quite a few knit in this type of yarn, it is customize-able to any weight of yarn (always a plus for handspun!), and is knit from the top-down, so can be knit until you use up your yarn.

I'm excited for the temps to cool down a bit, so I can start knitting!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Donita2017 - Q2 update...up late

Well, since it's halfway through August, it only makes sense that I finally give you an update on how spring went, right?

Q2 kicked my butt - I'm not even gonna try to be nice about it.  It was rough.  I was so ready for it to be over, it's not even funny.  There were a couple serious medical things that happened, some blind-sided financial crap that came up and to top it all off, we had to put my sweet Ellie dog to sleep (I'm sure there will be eventually a post about that when I can manage to type about it without sobbing, but today is not that day).  In the meantime, here is the last pic I have of my knitting where she photobombed.

Come the end of June, I was throwing my hands up, calling 'uncle' to the universe and begging for a respite of some sort.  As always, burying myself in some yarn and fiber never makes things worse.  So I did that.  It's better than many other 'habits' one could pick up and it keeps you warm.

Some spring patio knitting at our new table resulted in some fun new socks.

Doctor Who-themed cowl that is cozy and lovely when it cools down some here.

And because socks are soothing and mindless knitting for me, another pair flew off of the needles.

I finished up a spin that had been on my wheel for WAY too long to be just one braid, but it's pretty and shiny and very soft, so I'll forgive it.

I decided to tackle this GIANT roll of fiber from Briar Rose that I picked up 2 years ago at Wooster.

A friend had a baby surprise, and he had a Harry Potter-themed nursery, which meant he also needed a Harry Potter-themed handknit jumper (...if only I could bewitch my needles to knit on their own, like Mrs. Weasley...).

I took a lovely braid of Fiber Optic to the 80th Anniversary Guild spin in and came home with a lovely bobbin of singles, that were chain-plyed the next day on my mini-spinner.

I finished another sweater for myself!  And it required steeking!  And there were no tears!

P.S. - Steeking is amazing!!

I took another crack at the loom, and promptly warped with the wrong yarn & didn't notice... until I cut it, naturally.  But the finished scarf turned out pretty well.  It will be perfect for an ONU Homecoming, if we ever have a chilly one again!

And socks in eye-searing colors.  Sometimes, you can force cheery.  This yarn is effective.

And more socks, because

This pair used the rest of the warp yarn from the scarf above!  I was glad to eek out two projects out of that one skein of pretty yarn!

Tour de Fleece was coming and I had a plan for it - but I wanted to do some practice.  Most of my fiber was 100% merino, which I haven't spun a whole lot of, and definitely not a sweater quantity!  I dug to the bottom of my stash and pulled out the first fiber I ever bought.  Before a spindle, before a wheel, I bought pounds of this luscious stuff!


I decided to go for the cream first.  Between May & June, I spun all 40 oz. of the cream into a lovely 3-ply DK.  

When I went to finish it, I was having kind of a rough day.  I had already decided to thwack it gently to help the fibers lock together.

Apparently, I thwacked it a little more than I had my swatch... because it fluffed up to a heavy worsted weight and I lost about 10% of my yardage... oops!!

But it's lovely & squishy & fluffy & gorgeous! We just finished measuring yardage & reskeining last night (which is why this post is so late!!).  I think it will make a lovely sweater, so all is well that ends well.  

The quarter may have royally sucked and while there was loss, it wasn't a total loss. I did accomplish some things. Here's how the year is going:
  • Spin for more large projects
    • 1 sweater spun for!
  • Sew
    nothing to see here... ::shifty eyes::
  • Knit more sweaters & socks
    • 4 me-sized sweaters & 1 baby-sized sweater
    • 7 pairs of socks
  • Knit an afghan or 2
    • I still have that one on the needles, and I did actually work on it some this quarter!
  • Learn brioche knitting  Learning Weaving Instead.  Brioche may happen later.
    • 2 towels & a scarf!
  • Knit from:
    • stash - check!
    • queue - more or less
    • handspun - 2 things, including a sweater
  • 20K in finished projects
    • Knitting: 10K+
    • Spinning: 4K+
    • Weaving: 1K+