Tuesday, July 31, 2012

July FOs - Which contestants made it?

Here are the WIP goals I set at the beginning of July:

Frog a scrap afghan to make cat toys. Completed! 

From this:
To this:

Finish Spinning my first fiber into singles, then Navajo ply it. And spin and ply the spindle snack. Completed!

From this:
My first spinning attempt 
To this and that:

-Double Moss socks - They defeated me last month, but this month I was victorious!
From this:
Mandis Double Moss 
To this:

-Bryan's Can Cozies - Completed!

-CAL squares - All Caught Up!

After all that success, I suffered a little defeat.

-Aunt Kimmie's socks. Did not even touch. Fail. But, I will finish them in August! Maybe... 

Sewing Tuesday

I said I was going to do it, so here we go! My new Tuesday thing will be pulling down my sewing machine and working with it. If I don't schedule it, I could go a month or more without touching it - which would be a tragedy.

You may have noticed that I said I pull down my sewing machine. In an ideal world, I would have a pet-free, baby-free studio with my materials all on display, several windows for great natural light, and a dedicated sewing table. In the real world, my sewing machine spends most of the time on top of a book shelf in my  living room. When I want to use it, I pull it down, and work on the dining room table. My sewing box lives on the shelf below the sewing machine, and my thread lives under a coffee table in the living room, and my notions live under my bed in a basket, mostly in a tackle box. My fabric lives in two boxes in the basement. My cutting mat and bolt of muslin live next to the book shelf.

Today I worked on several components of a bag I am making - pink floral exterior and pockets, and a blue corduroy interior. However, since I didn't really finish anything, you will have to wait to see it.

Since I don't have any really cool things to show you, I will instead let you know what projects I have on my to-do list. Note: This list is just a starting point. I will be adding to it for sure.

-Finish Rachelle's bag

For Christmas:
-Quilt for Steve
-Pajamas for Kenny
-Pajamas for Robert
-Pajamas for Cecilia

-Bag for the Ravellenic Games YTZ winner.
-Sewing machine cover
-Purse for Mer

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Weekly Check-In

Hello, Sunday! It is time that time again. (I can't believe it has already been a week!)

Blog Stuff:
Last week, I said I was going to write a few things this week. I didn't. Don't worry, I will. They are on my list of things to write about. Sorry for being a flake this past week.

I want to start something this week - "Sewing Tuesday". I have A LOT of sewing to do - for the holidays, for some prizes I donated to competitions. I would like to start pulling my sewing machine down once a week and start putting a dent in these projects. This week, I will be sewing a bag. I don't know yet if this is going to be a "how-to" thing, or a show off thing - possibly a bit of both.

New from the babies

Mara learned that wearing a super hero cape does not make her indestructible. Gabriel learned the color "gold". 

Crafty things:

I finished all 4 squares for Rachel's afghan - I am all caught up! Just in time for the next batch to come out in the middle of this week... 


I made 2 can cozies for Bryan. They are the same pattern, but with different techniques.

Mandi's double moss socks

For Nerd Wars, I caught my dissertation up. Also, I used helping Becka move (see the rest day in this post) for the Giving Geeks challenge. For the other two challenges:

Mittens for the Geek Pride challenge

And the Heart toe socks for the Nerd Culture challenge

For the coming week:
I plan to spend the next couple days working really hard on Ravellenic projects. Tuesday I will start sewing a project bag. Wednesday, I will get a whole slew of challenges, so I will figure out the rest of the week from there.
In the mail:
Look! I made a new section. This probably won't happen every week, but this week I got some awesome things in the mail.

Remember the arm warmers I finished last week? I sent them to my barter partner on Monday, and she sent me her part of the barter - hand made buttons and stitch markers! Aren't they gorgeous?

Remember hearing about a my fiber-fairy godmother? Well, she struck again. When I checked the mail on Monday, there was a huge box outside my door. Inside I found a letter

and a LOT of fiber (that white rectangle is a piece of printer paper):

Blue mystery fiber:

Purple mystery fiber

Babydoll Southdown

I felt so grateful when I opened the package. It is just amazing that someone would send me so much fiber, just because I mentioned I had run out. Thank you, Carrie.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Ravellenic Games 2012 - hurry up!

I am attempting to wait patiently for the start of the Ravellenic games, but I am pretty sure the clocks are going extra slowly today. I am just too excited to start my projects!

The Ravellenic games start as the same time as the Olympic opening ceremonies, and end at midnight local time on the day the torch is extinguished (at least, I'm pretty sure that is what I read somewhere). That means the games run from July 27 to August 12 - which is 17 days. The point of the games is to compete against yourself, challenging yourself to knit/crochet/spin/weave above and beyond what you think you can do.  I will be attempting to tackle 3 projects:

My main project is a pair of Diagonal Lace socks. This is my main project, because I expect it to kick my butt. A lot. A pair of socks in 17 days? I don't know... The quickest I've done a pair of socks was 20 days. I plan to focus, though, so maybe it can be done. By focus, I mean instead of working on 10 projects at once, for the duration of the games, I will only be working on three.

My break project is going to me a rainbow hat for my sister for Christmas. (You thought I forgot, didn't you?) I will pick up the hat and do a round when I need a break from the knitting (or after every pattern repeat, whichever comes first).

Once the rainbow hat is done, I will be alternating the blue baby blanket (remember this?) with the socks.

If all goes well, by the middle of next month I will have knocked out a pair of socks for my mom (number 2 of 7... gah, she is demanding!), a hat that I have been meaning to make anyway, and a blanket that has been languishing away, that I need motivation to finish. Wish me luck (especially with the socks!)

Oh! Before you go, I want to give a small shout out:

I will be competing while a part of Team Yarn Therapy Zone. The core group is my favorite ravelry group, and we have managed to pick up some pretty cool people along the way. Go Team YTZ!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Five-minute Child Cape

Super Hero Gabriel, swiffering

Last week, Gabriel became obsessed with super heroes. After the tenth time of stuffing a blanket down the back of his shirt in under twenty minutes, I did what any mom would do to keep her sanity: I made a cape for Gabriel out of an old t-shirt. It took about five minutes to gather everything, make the cape, slip it on Gabriel, and clean up the mess. Only after I was watching Gabriel run around did I think, "that would have made a great tutorial. When I handed Gabriel his cape this morning, Mara got very excited which obviously meant I had to make one for her, too. This time, I took pictures.

Old adult-sized t-shirt (Both t-shirts I used had stains/discoloration, and Gabriel's even had a couple holes. make sure the part you use for the cape doesn't embarrass you - the kid won't even notice)
A pair of scissors good enough to cut fabric

How To:
1. Find an old t-shirt, and figure out which side you want your kid to sport. My old t-shirt showed up in a bag of shirts that were destined to be turned into stuff, not worn. There is discoloration, plus I would never wear this color or saying. I chose to use the back of the shirt for Mara's cape.
2. Lay your t-shirt flat. Cut open the side seams to the armpits.
3. Cut a straight line from the armpit to the side of the collar.
4. Cut THE OPPOSITE SIDE of the t-shirt off of the collar. (In my case, I cut the front of the t-shirt off.) It is very important to leave the piece of fabric you liberated in steps 2 and 3 attached to the shirt collar. 
5. Slip the neck band over a mini-human's head, and watch as they magically transform into a super hero.

Note: I did not intentionally make the capes gender-specific colors, and anticipate the children swapping capes within the next week or so.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Weekly Check In

Hello, Sunday. Seeing you means it is that time again.

Blog Stuff: People went crazy for the podcast post. I will keep that in mind, and do more of that sort of thing. Also the spindle-making post was quite popular. Next week I will have a follow up post to the generosity of fiber folks, and probably a Nerd Wars related post.

New from the babies: Gabriel says "your welcome". I like these manners he has. Mara made a valiant attempt to say llama ("nah-nah" is pretty close) and kitty ("kee"). The kids have a book with a little girl that you tuck in to bed with a little piece of fabric; Mara kisses her goodnight. 

Crafty things:
The Tour de France had it's last ride today, and so the Tour de Fleece ended, as well. I met my goal for the tour: to spin 20 minutes a day, and finish my starter fiber. I took a roundup picture of everything I spun during the tour (except the plastic bags).
The mug cozy and chair pad are made from my test fiber. The pastel fiber on the toilet paper tube is 1/3 of the corriedale fiber; I started the next third this morning. The teal turtle is the first half of the merino, with the second half started on the Turkish spindle. My BFL spindle snack is trying to hide under my CD spindle.

I made a couple squares for Rachel's afghan, and started the third. I failed at meeting my goal of 3 for the week.

I made 3 can cozies for Bryan (sorry for the super horrible lighting)

I also finished the rest of the arm warmers for my barter partner

Not as many finished projects as I would have liked, but not horrible, I guess...

This week, round 2 of Nerd Wars ends. This means I need to post 3 challenges by 11:59pm Saturday. Two are done - one, I am trying to figure out the tie in. The last is a pair of socks that I just need to do the toes on - but they are toe socks, and I've never made toe socks before. Wish me luck. I also need to catch my dissertation up to the halfway point... Ugh.

I also plan on finishing the rest of the squares I need to do to get caught up on Rachel's afghan, finish Mandi's double moss socks, and make the rest of the can cozies.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

How to Make a Turkish Spindle on the cheap

I am a pretty new spinner. I started out with a CD spindle that my spinning mentor gave me. It is really easy to use; she teaches middle school students how to spin using them. As I started looking around on Ravelry at all the pretty spindles my friends had, I decided that I when I start collecting spinning tools, other than the wheel I want someday, I would like to have a Russian spindle (left) and a Turkish spindle.

Unfortunately I have the dilemma that a lot of people have when picking up a new craft: I only have money for the materials or the tools, not both. I choose the materials, because I can't make those (well, I keep looking at the cats and the cat comb, but that is a different story). What I can make are tools. Not lovely ones like in the pictures, but inexpensive, serviceable ones that I won't cry over if one of the children destroys them.

And now... A photo tutorial on how to make (and use) a Turkish Spindle.
You will need:
3 bamboo skewers
Something to cut them with (saw, utility knife... bread knife if you can't find a better cutter)
Sand paper (optional)
Scrap string
Some fiber to spin

Other than the fiber, this project is practically free. If you don't have skewers, you could probably use carryout chopsticks, old knitting needles/crochet hooks, some straight sticks from the backyard (as long as they don't flake bark). And if you mention to someone that you are thinking of taking up spinning, the fiber could be free, too. Or at least pretty cheap. Plus, for a first go you could try spinning scraps of yarn together.

Part 1: Prepping the sticks
Pull three skewers from your package. Set one aside. 
From the two remaining skewers, carefully use your cutter to remove the pointy ends. Cut these two pieces in half. If you would like, gently sand the ends of the skewers to remove any rough bumps. If I had sand paper, I would do it.
Lay the four short sticks two across the other two to make a cross (1). With your scrap string, wrap across the diagonal of the juncture one way (2) and then the other (3). With the point push the long skewer through the center of the wraps (4). Wrap the scrap yarn around the center a few more times, until it is only about 6 
inches longer than the part of the skewer that is sticking out. Use a half hitch knot to secure the yarn near the tip (5).

Part 2: I have a spindle! Now what?
This part is variable, but I will show you how I do it.
Find some fiber (6). In this example, I am using merino. I drafted out a short length to get the spinning started (7). Overlap your leader yarn (the piece that is sticking off the end of the spindle) a couple inches with your fiber (8). Fold the fiber over the leader yarn (9). Holding the join, pick up the spindle and spin clockwise. When the twist has traveled into the join (10), begin drafting and spinning the yarn. When you run out of arm,  watch this fantastic video my friend made to show how to neatly wrap onto a Turkish spindle. 

Part 3: My spindle is full!
Awesome. Now we have to take your new yarn off your spindle. This part is super easy.
Pull the long skewer out of the ball (11). Pull one set of arms out (12), and then the other (13). Turn the turtle onto its back (14). Pull out the leader yarn and remove it from the center of the yarn (15). Ta da, you now have a center pull ball perfect for plying!

Note: If you drop your spindle, be sure to move the arms of the spindle back up.

Fiber Folks are generous people: Part 1

I came downstairs from putting Mara down for her nap, and my entry was darkened in the way that can only mean the postie left me a package in front of the window. I got super excited, wondering what had come. I unlocked the door and was ecstatic to find not one, but TWO packages waiting for me. This could mean only one thing: a smorgasbord of fiber!

The first package I opened was some fiber I ordered two weeks ago from Stitchpunk Yarns . I wasn't sure how long it was going to take, because it was traveling from New Zealand. Yeah, I know, I could have ordered closer fiber; I even looked at fiber from closer vendors after I found this fiber. But... I saw it and fell in lust. I even put off buying it for two days to make sure it wasn't fleeting lust, but a long-burning desire. Kind of like how you feel about that one guy/girl from high school that you always wanted to hook up with, but never did. Except in this situation, I actually get to hook up with this fiber.
Included in the package was a mini milk chocolate bar that immediately went in the freezer so it could change from a liquid from to the much more desirable solid form. This may seem silly, but I greatly appreciated the chocolate bar. As an admitted chocoholic, it made this package sooo amazing. It was such a little thing, but a very nice gesture. And when you think about how many packages she sends out, the cost of all those little chocolate bars really add up. 

The second package was from Carrie. When I posted my plarn in the rookies thread (because I was out of spinning fiber), she sent me a pm saying if I sent her my address, she would send me something from her stash. I didn't see her message until after I was home from my S&B, so I told her I would love some fiber, but I had acquired some a knitting so I would understand if she decided not to send something. She did send me a package (obviously) which was quite generously packed with a 4.7oz braid of corriedale and 11g silk cap. 
More generous than the lovely package was the sentiment behind it. When I had thanked her for even thinking about sending something, she responded:
No problem. I know what it’s like to be a young mom and not be able to afford things for yourself. Been there, done that, got way too many t-shirts. LOL I’m in a position where I can help out so I am. One day you’ll be in a position to help and you’ll pass it on too I’m sure.
[A lovely bit about her experiences as a mom with young kids that is not my business to share.]
Now, I have my “stash” and can pick up some things here and there when I see some things I like. So, I have a chance to help you out and I am. ;o)
I hope you enjoy it.
I definitely do enjoy it. I am glad I have two spindles, because the Turkish spindle was full this morning. Yes, I could have taken it apart, removed the yarn turtle, then put it back together and started spinning. However, it was nice to be able to just pick up the CD spindle and start spinning the corriedale.

These are just the most recent moments of generosity from fiber people. Receiving a lot of fiber from the knitting ladies on Sunday is another. I just realized that I didn't show you pictures, and that is sad. So here it is, with the inspector Dukki:

When I bought my distaff, the seller sent along a spindle snack. She probably does with every distaff, but I love it anyway. I know it is a good marketing strategy, and it works. But I also know that crafty people tend to be generous. 

A RAK from a lady at my Sunday knitting group:
She has decided she would prefer to be strictly a crocheter, so she gave me free run to go through her knitting needles and take whatever I wanted. I now have straight needles in US sizes 1-10.5, plus a couple pairs of jumbo needles, several circs, and assorted DPNs sets. Previously I had straight needles in US size 6 and 8, a set of interchangeable circs, and DPNs US sizes 1, 2 and 3.

For a few large scale examples (read: not things that benefit me), look for "Part Two" sometime in the next week. I would do it tomorrow, but I already promised to write a tutorial on how I made my Turkish spindle. Look for that tomorrow.