Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Well, howdy ho! We've been having so much fun here, Living and Learning about how hard drives go click click when they die and the blue screen of death really does mean you should probably just rip up the week's calendar and pull all your hair out now; and how D3ll D@tasafe is an absolutely unreliable back-up service; and how just because the VW dealer's computer sez your car needs that nearly $1,000 repair, it doesn't actually mean that will fix the problem; and assorted other lovely lessons from the school of hard knocks. But hey, rather than locking myself in a rubber room for the past week, I managed to instead wrap string around sticks for long enough to warm my son's noggin this winter with a Habitat hat.

The pattern is awesome. I modified it a wee bit to make the cables more intertwined, rather than layered, but otherwise followed it exactly. I finally mastered cable charts on this project. This week especially, I'll celebrate the small victories, y'know?

Jesse's eyes lit up and he responded with "Wow!" when he saw this hat pattern. When I offered to knit it for him, he headed straight for the yarn stash and chose Alice Starmore's Scottish heather something or other, snagged in a yarn swap. He doesn't ask for much, so I was happy to oblige and he was thrilled with the results.
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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

a few of our favorite things!

Scott was messing around at the torch while making beads for stitch markers a while back and came up with this silly set of Favorite Things -- cupcakes, a chocolate brown sheep, handknit mittens, and frosty beer (or is it ginger ale?)!

We've had such a great time meeting lots of knitters over the past couple of weeks, both online and in person, that we decided it would be fun to keep the good vibes rolling, so we've decided to do random giveaways of some glass bead goodies. The set of handmade glass bead stitch markers above is the first set up for grabs.

All you have to do is leave a comment here with a description or link to blog/Ravelry entry/picture of a favorite thing that you made. Doesn't have to be made of glass or yarn!

In one week (September 30, 6 p.m. EST), we'll do a random drawing from the entries to determine who's the winner of this set.

If you like this idea, please consider subscribing to this blog because there will be more one-of-a-kind stitch markers up for grabs at irregular intervals in the future.

Some details: Each bead is handcrafted from colored glass, without use of presses or molds, by Glastonbury Glassworks. The cupcake bead is 1 cm and the mitten is 2 cm. The rings fit up to size 10.5/6.5 mm knitting needles.

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Monday, September 22, 2008


Y'all thought we were going to the Coventry Farmers' Market's Fiber Twist as Glastonbury Glassworks, right? But did you know there's a young entrepreneur who also made an appearance there?
Oh yes, this was also the debut of Cotton Hollow Handcrafts. Leah's been a busy bee over the past few weeks, cranking out lots of neckwarmers in Malabrigo, Manos, handspun (hers and mine), and alpaca. She tried a different stitch/cable on each of them, varying the length and style. Each then had vintage buttons chosen from the button stash we inherited from Leah's Great Grandma or glass buttons made by her dad. A few of her things sold and she was psyched. Buttons and beads went well too, so Scott also had fun and was asked to return with his bakery products for the remaining farmers' markets of the season. Mmmm...pumpkin muffins, crisp autumn air, maple corn muffins, historic site, molasses cookies, local produce, garlic butter rolls...nice combo.

It was a glorious, bright day, although a bit warm in the sunshine. Still, you couldn't go wrong with a day of fresh air, surrounded by fiber folks and colors/textures like this...

Jesse was a big help with setting things up and manning Leah's mini-booth when she was wandering among the booths. He otherwise was quite content to munch veggie samosas and lounge in the shade of a big tree, listening to old-time radio shows and chatting with friends who passed by.
The day wound down with a knitting date with friends, back in our own town, at the center green. So pretty.

Coming soon: Better pics of those neckwarmers, except my favorite one, which sold yesterday, before I got a good pic of it -- d'oh! Also my progress on cable-rific Habitat hat for Jesse and my very first spinning efforts with the legendary blue-faced leicester. Given how many spinners swoon about this fiber, I can't wait to give it a try. I only have 4 oz., but I know a young knitting enthusiast who will most certainly have ideas for the finished yarn.

BTW, if you ever get a chance to see a silent movie with live music accompaniment, I'd encourage you to do it. After meeting with friends at a state park/pond for the morning on Saturday, we saw he 1924 silent version of Peter Pan with a live band providing music. This is the third such event we've done so far this year (another one on the calendar for December) and they are awesome. Can't quite put my finger on why they're so delightful (maybe not so much because of what they are, but what they're not that makes them so appealing), but all four of us enjoy them immensely.
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Friday, September 19, 2008

that'll do

What I ended up doing last night is tearing the batt into narrow single-color strips, stacking a few and smooshing them together before a little pre-drafting.
Seems to be working well. There are short areas of only 1 color in the ply, but most of it has twistiness of a couple/few of the colors together. I have 3 of these batts, so I plan to spin one batt in the smooshy blended way and the others with longer, but still random, single color intervals.
In my imagination, it'll turn into a baby surprise jacket w/ the blended yarn at the cuffs and neck/button band edges, semi-stripey elsewhere. I wonder if it'll actually turn out anything like that. Will be fun to see!
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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Attention: spinner friends!

It's been one of those weeks, IYKWIM. There may have even been tears. I'm giving myself this evening off. I already took a nap and that helped a lot. Just had a yummy dinner and now I'm gonna plop down in front of the tube and watch a flick. Rare for this to be my plan for the evening, but honestly, I'm toast. No guilt, no goals.

So, I found myself rummaging through the roving stash and came up with 8 oz. of an oh so (not) surprising colorway for me ;-) -- blue, green, purple. I don't think I want stripes, so I'm trying to spin the colors into each other to tone it down and blend it a bit. Problem for this newbie spinner is that the stripes are going parallel with the fibers, so if I were to tear the batt into strips, I'd get strips of a single color and that's not how I want it. At least I think it's not how I want it. I don't know what this yarn will be and I barely even know how to spin and I'm kind of a basket case tonight anyway, so who knows what I really want?

Anyway, I'm trying to randomly bring in fibers of the different colors as I go, but it's a little bit of a struggle to keep all four colors involved, even intermittently. Maybe it's easier for people with more experience, but for me at this point, it's a challenge. Or maybe it's the nature of the beast when the different dye colors are applied parallel with the fibers.

The kids just pushed Play for the movie, so I'm going to spin and veg, but I'd appreciate any suggestions about how you'd handle this roving. Actually, while I was typing this up, it occurred to me that this could make a fun baby surprise jacket. Maybe some with the barberpole-y blended yarn, some with single color stripey yarn. That's good plan so no matter what, it'll work out well, but I'd still like to learn a little more about my options to have more control over it, so LMK if you have any tricks, please!

BTW, check us out approx. halfway down the Coventry Farmers' Market newsletter for the Fiber Twist this Sunday. Looking forward to a great day!
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Monday, September 15, 2008

beneath the stars

I finished a knitting project this weekend, but its intended recipient is a reader of this blog, so there will be no pictures of it yet.

Instead, here are three pics to illustrate our Saturday evening:

Twilight at Riverfront Park...

for a performance by the spectacular Pilobolus dance company...

under an almost full moon. Ahh...

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

road trip!

It was a chilly, rainy Friday, at the beginning of rush hour(s). I had been up for work since 4:00 a.m. and was more than a little bit tired. So what did Leah and I do?

Why, we hopped in the car and drove to Boston for a knitting event, of course!

We've been fans of Franklin Habit for a long time, so when I heard he was going to be the inaugural speaker for the Common Cod Fiber Guild, I made a note on our calendar, even though we had camping plans for the weekend. When the camping plans were scrapped due to a dreary forecast, we knew exactly where to go for Friday evening's alternate plan!

Seen here rolling up his 1000 Knitters scarf after his presentation, Franklin was as awesome a speaker in real life as he is through his blog and his art and his photography and his podcast contributions and his articles. Oh, and his knitting. :-) All of the above don't even hint at what lies under the surface. You see, Franklin shares his life in Chicago with a raucous imaginary sheep roommate named Dolores and a growing cast of characters. There's never a dull moment when Dolores is around and, somewhere along the line, Scott too has become a fan of Dolores' antics. So, a while back, Scott, who creates sheep out of glass , decided it would be fun to celebrate a particular sheep created with pen, ink, and Franklin's incredibly creative mind.
Leah made her way up through the packed-to-overflowing room to meet Franklin after the "official" part of the evening was over. She gave Franklin the Dolores stitch marker and had a fun little chat with him.
We met plenty of friendly knitters after the meeting, including some we're hoping to hook up with again for the next event, and thoroughly enjoyed trucking around the very interesting halls of MIT (reading about the giant hair ball, the 8-ft. slide rule, the oddly angled buildings, the technological innovations underway there) and riding the subway to and from the event with scads of Red Sox fans.

When we arrived back home (at 5:00 a.m., thanks to a nap in a rest area, where -- I kid you not -- a cone of tencel served quite nicely as neck support for a restful snooze), there was a new flock of technicolor sheep grazing on my desk. Glad to see the flock reproducing, as a bunch went to Rhode Island this week and some more were shipped to Turkey (the country, not the feathered flock roaming our yard in the mornings) earlier in the day. 

Sometimes this whole knitting thing is a little surreal...just the way we like it!
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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

tending the flock

I know it hasn't been obvious from the blog, but there's been a flurry of activity 'round here to tend our growing flock of glass bead sheep stitch markers. This morning I found a few of the little rascals grazing on the Alice Starmore Scottish Heather Shetland wool, Wood Nymph color, that I'm using for a Brooklyn Tweed Habitat hat for Jesse.

Some of the flock can be found at Glastonbury Glassworks' Etsy store, where I added more stitch markers and buttons yesterday. I also did some clean-up work at Glastonbury Glassworks and added that neat little widget to the sidebar (over there --->) to show some of our Etsy offerings. There have also been messages flying back and forth about four(!) upcoming fiber festivals where we will/might be vendors -- exciting!

I do know for sure that we'll be at Coventry Farmers' Market's Fiber Twist on Sunday, September 21, selling Scott's glass buttons, beads, and stitch markers. We're looking forward to spending the day among other vendors we know, including The Painted Sheep and Divine Bird, and seeing lots of fiber fanatics on what we're sure will be a fun day. Fingers crossed for sunshine!
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Sunday, September 07, 2008

good stuff

melty glass (and people who buy sheepie stitch markers)
pretty yarn (not ours)
library sale booty
fantastic salsa we made w/ tomatoes from friends' garden
Dinner plans this evening with a family that includes -- get this! -- a knitter mom who is a wannabe spinner, a fisherman dad, an inventor/airsoft-loving teen son, and a daughter with interest in crafts.

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

the Commissioner

Sent out in the mail today: The first commissioned order of a young designer's stranded hat pattern.

Sitting on my desk right now: Two more commissioned neckwarmers,
one just awaiting her finishing touches and the other knit to about the halfway point.

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

she's spinning out of control

My first handspun skein of yarn, from 2006, became my favorite neckwarmer in 2007. The spinning wheels around here belong to Scott and Leah, who have both spun plenty on them, but the wheels never really called my name, until last week, when suddenly it was unbearable to see that semi-full bobbin on Leah's wheel and I had to spin the rest. The roving is from Fleece Artist, 1 thick ply of Leah's and 1 slightly thinner ply by me.
I plied, washed, whacked, and dried the skein. And wore it around my neck and petted its fuzzy softness and gazed at it with glee. A thick and thin, loosely spun, but useable skein of yarn. Thank heavens for the pretty colors, as that's a skein only a newbie spinner could love. Plenty of room for improvement, but, whew, that was fun and now I'm done! Right?

Wrong. I knew the wheel had me under its spell when I woke up the next morning and couldn't wait to try spinning again, just to see if I could get finer and more consistent yarn. Luckily, it was a light workday and I had plenty of time to myself, so I dug out the very first bump of handpainted roving that I ever bought, back when I went to a Nutmeg Spinners Guild meeting in December 2005 to learn the most basic of spinning skills so I'd be able to help Leah get started when she rec'd her wheel for the upcoming Christmas.

Yup, definitely finer and more consistent. Worsted weight on this one. I had some trouble with plying and learned the value of a rubber band as a brake on the lazy kate spindles. Not half bad for my third skein, but still lots of room for improvement and experimentation.

Then I moved on to a merino/tencel blend from The Sheep Shed at Mountain View Farm. Here I discovered what spinners mean when they say the fiber wanted to be spun into a fine yarn. I was mesmerized by the drafting action of this fiber. It would magically draft to a consistent gauge and then hold there until I allowed the twist to move in.

It ended up being sport weight. Since it was finer, I knew it needed a lot more twist. I thought I way overspun the singles, but apparently still not enough, since plying takes out a lot of that twist and I think I still got an underplied yarn. Uh oh (and yahoo!), still room for improvement...

...To be continued, I'm sure!
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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

really, we do it for the kids ;-)

Yesterday we attended our fourth baseball game of this season, having received a gift of enough free tix to allow us and a family of friends to go! I love the hours of knitting time family-friendly atmosphere.

I continued working on my lace ribbon scarf while we enjoyed assorted tasty beers fruit juice and wholesome oatmeal cookies baked at home.

While the moms compared scarves, since we're working on the same pattern in different gauges debated the merits of instant replay in Major League Baseball, Jesse and the dads paid close attention to the large-breasted women in skimpy tank tops statistics and close calls of the game.

It was the last game of the season, but our families have already made tentative plans for another knitting weekend game or two together next year.
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