Thursday, February 26, 2009

you'd never know it

I have a home-based business. Have worked at home for 24 years now and provided most of our family's income for about five of those years. I love my job. I have great clients. Even though it's a real job and I get real pay for it, it's super duper flexible, which gives it this magical property of invisibility. Seriously. There are people who I've known for months or even years who discover our main source of income and exclaim, "You have a JOB?!" It happens on a regular enough basis with acquaintances that my sister ribs me about it as an ongoing thing now.

Today I came home from working at a client's office (always fun to add a full-time job on top of my full-time job while simultaneously planning to blow out of town for a long weekend away) and shifted gears to working on another client's stuff when I glanced around me and had to laugh because here's a list of the items on the desk where I conduct most of my business:

1. Felted slippers awaiting soles.
2. Pile of yarn for the rest of Scott's gansey-in-progress.
3. Sock WIP.
4. Ultimate stashbuster scarf.
5. Bobbin of Leah's handspun singles.
6. Ball of Malabrigo Silky Merino. Stonechat colorway, if you must know.
7. Ball of leftover sparkly yarn given to Leah by a friend of my mom's.
8. Hats for donation to soldiers.
9. Handkerchief with incredible tatted border.
10. Felted sample scarf for a demo this weekend.
11. Knitted iPod case Leah made for Jesse.
12. Hats for donation to the local children's hospital.
13. Tatting shuttle.
14. Pattern for Leah's Cece cardigan.
15. Basket of merino/tencel blend that I'm spinning.
16. Plastic case of glass beads and buttons.
17. Papers we'll take to Spa Knit and Spin this weekend.
18. Printed knit buttonhole tutorial for Leah.
19. Jesse's list of foods we should buy at the Asian market. :-)

And then there was this little prototype ditty, which was on my desk when I got home...
and was donned by Leah soon thereafter.

Wait 'til you see the drop spindle glass beads Scott made on suggestion from a customer.

Job? What job?!

Posted by Picasa


We're getting ready to head to Maine to enjoy Spa Knit and Spin weekend with the New England Textile Artists. If you've been reading this blog for a while, you may remember how much fun we had at the 2007 Spa weekend. We missed the 2008 event because were on a little jaunt for a different kind of excitement in a different kind of place, but we're psyched for the 2009 Spa weekend to come!

Scott again made some commemorative stitch markers as gifts for the group of women who do much of the planning.

We're all gathering supplies for some demos we plan to offer. Scott will show how to do wire wrapping to make your own stitch markers, Leah will demo colorwork knitting with one yarn in each hand, and I'll demo needlework framing and felted scarves using leftover yarn and roving. I did some feltmaking last night so I'd have samples of a stashbuster scarf at different phases of completion. This mini-scarf is partially felted and ready for some hot water dunking and counter-thwapping to full it, which shrinks everything and helps it become more stable.
Jesse's not doing any demos, but he plans to do some spinning, swimming and, as always, yoyoing. His Ipod is freshly loaded with classic audiobooks and video podcasts with yo-yo trick tutorials, so he's every bit as psyched as the rest of us. Projects are planned and we're all looking forward to a good time with friends we know and those we haven't met yet.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

the same, but different

I gave Jesse a lift to a few events related to his hobbies in the past few days. His interests are waaayyyy different from mine, but there are some definite similarities too.

For instance, there are proud show-and-tells with FOs...
...such as the maiden voyages of awesome model rockets at our local model rocketry group's monthly launch.

There are people flashing their stashes...

...such as the yo-yo collections at the Massachusetts State yo-yo competition.

And there are lots of people playing with string...

The guy in this video was from the 2008 competition, not this year's, but it gives you a good idea of the mind-blowing tricks that yo-yo players do now.
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, February 21, 2009

ultimate stashbuster scarf

I had so much fun making the Waterfall felted scarf, and still had more ladder yarn and assorted scraps, so I decided to do another one, this time with a springtime flower garden color scheme.

It occurs to me that this type of scarf is The Ultimate Stashbuster -- just a couple of hours and multiple balls of random leftovers can be turned into something pretty and useful! As requested, I'll give some more details of how I did it here, but there are better tutorials elsewhere on the Web -- just Google nuno felting tutorial and you'll get some more specifics. There are also plenty of books, probably available at your library, with felting info.

Here's what I started with:
I cleared off a long span of my kitchen counter and laid out a long piece of this plastic foam packing stuff that I have lots of (another option: bubble wrap). Leaving space clear at each end for the fringe (which I didn't want to felt), I laid out wisps of Firestar fiber for a bit of sheen, then wisps of well-drafted roving, then strand after strand of yarn, then roving, then Firestar. I ultimately made it about twice a dense as you see here, scooting everything a little closer together.
Covered the whole thing with a piece of nylon screen, wet it down with slightly sudsy water, and gently rubbed in circles so the fibers could mash together. Carefully lifted the screen so the fibers don't felt through it, tucked loose wisps under around the edges, replaced the screen and did a bit more light rubbing in circles. Removed the screen and carefully rolled the whole thing, including the plastic foam stuff, around a foam noodle (you know, those fun floaty things for use in a swimming pool) and tied the bundle in place with strips of fabric from an old t-shirt.

Next, I opened a beer and turned on some good rockin' tunes. Yes, this is a required step for all feltmaking and soapmaking fun 'round here. :-)

I rolled the bundle back and forth on the counter about 100 times ("50...glug glug - ahh...50...glug glug - ahh"), then turned the bundle around and rolled in the other direction, same amount. Opened it up to see how it's doing. The fibers were starting to felt together, as determined by pinching a bit and lifting to see if it's all attached. I put another layer of the foam stuff over top and folded it in half, then in quarters, then rolled it around the noodle perpendicularly to the previous time. Repeated the rolling, glugging, flipping, rolling process.

When it was all well adhered and could be picked up as a single item, I removed it from the plastic foam, folded it up, and dunked it in hot water. Squeezed out, placed in open plastic bag and gently dropped on the counter a few times. Repeat the dunks in hot water, squeeze out, place in bag, and thwack on counter a bunch more times for it to shrink and felt together more firmly.

Hang to dry and wear with a smile.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Inspired by now & ZEN's scarves, 2 balls of blue-green ribbon yarn scored at the stash swap a couple of weeks ago, and leftover bits of teal/blue/green/aqua yarn from other projects,

I laid out all these water-colored wisps of roving, many strands of yarn, and just the slightest bit of sparkly Angelina.

Made the whole thing wet and slightly soapy, then rolled it a couple hundred times, until it all felted together.

And watched a certain someone promptly claim it as her own. :-)

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

the sub-outing

Five of us headed for Northampton, MA, yesterday afternoon, ostensibly to enjoy a movie and singalong with the Young At Heart Chorus. But apparently we were also there to meet fun knitters, one of whom was kind enough to sit right behind us in the theater and keep the pre-show wait time lighthearted. I brought along a project to knit during the wait time, but didn't ever pull it out of the bag because I was busy chatting. :-)

Another knitter was a little further away, spotted from across the theater by Jesse, also friendly and fun when Leah popped over to say hi.

Then we were at the science/toy store to buy yo-yo supplies for two yo-yo-crazed boys, followed by most excellent Chinese food, where Leah noticed the handknit sweater on the woman at the next table and Jesse noticed the wooden needles sticking out of her bag. (I would've Kinneared her bag w/ needles, but the camera was in the car.) When she was getting ready to leave, she noticed Leah's Sylvi and the next thing you know, there's another quick and friendly knitterly conversation going on.

Fortified by some fudge for the ride home, we all waved hi to Webs as we drove by. Didn't stop there on this visit, but given how much good stuff goes on for all ages and interests in awesome Northampton, there's no doubt that we'll be back soon.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, February 15, 2009


One little mischief-maker in my extended family apparently likes to nibble on Addi Naturas.
The other three prefer nibbles of a different kind, specifically a red velvet cake, as recommended by Carole, baked by Jesse and Leah.
And we continue to love them all, even when they make us crazy. :-)
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, February 12, 2009

cycling - through, up, re, bi

In cycling through all the crafty options around here, bubbling up to the surface again is Leah's enjoyment of spinning (and mine of felting - more to come on that!).
A scratchy old sweater from the clothing swap was upcycled by felting it and turning it into a custom-made carrier for Leah's ukulele supplies. We cut off one sleeve and re-sewed it inside so she has a tube-like holder for her collapsible music stand. The other sleeve became a wide strap. The waist ribbing is the top of the bag and she sewed a pattern-matched patch over the neck opening to close the bottom center.
One of Jesse's outgrown t-shirts became a liner for Scott's fishie hat, which is super warm, as requested, but tends to get a little itchy on his forehead. This quick little recycling project turned the silly fish hat into The Hat Of Choice lately.

For the ultimate in recycling, no need to look any further than the local library, where ours just happens to have a mitten knittin' kitten display outside the children's department this winter, complete with lots of handknit mittens! No surprise, since I know of at least three avid knitting librarians there (hi Debbie, hi Miriam, hi Barbara!).

When the temp in the center of town hit 64º yesterday, you can bet your bippy my kids were bicycling to the community center and around the park, riding circles around me as I walked the same route. This morning, we have windows open. :::snifffffff::: Ahhh! Love these rare warm days in Feb. as the days get longer, with hints of the cycling seasons and more good things to come!
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

easy being green

Flutter scarf I'm knitting, Alpaca Sox yarn, 1/3 complete, looking forward to the amazing transformation that comes with blocking. More green and less gray than it appears here.
Historic miniature gaming battle with a group Jesse and Scott belong to. All green with no snow on that battlefield? Clearly a fantasy game!
Fun and funky felted green hat created by a fellow knitter and spinner at Second Sunday Fiber Artisans.
Four of at least 10 spinning wheels in motion at Sunday's gathering. Notice that porch door hanging wide open in the background? It was almost 50º outside! Even though blooms are still months away and it got pretty chilly later in the afternoon, you could practically smell the green in the air and nobody wanted to close that door!
And at night, a thoroughly enjoyable planetarium show and jaw-dropping views of the nearly full moon through rooftop telescopes. No little green men or their spaceships visible, though. :-)
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, February 08, 2009

glass love

Beadmaker + February = heart-shaped glass buttons!
Example #684275 of how I'm a little slow on the uptake:

I have this ancient purple coat w/ cheesy black plastic buttons and an abundance of dog fur klingons.

Suddenly it occurred to me that Scott's buttons might be a wee bit prettier than the cheesy black plastic. And since I only have about 20 more hours of work on my desk for today and I'm heading out the door for all sorts of fun in a couple of hours, of course it made sense for me to stay focused on the work that pays this family's bills start a little stitching right this very minute.

Voila! Kinda makes me wish the coat itself wasn't threadbare and disintegrating, KWIM? Hey, at least the buttons are lookin' good!
Posted by Picasa

amused. or not.

We are easily amused 'round here, as evidenced by the ooh...ahhh response to whatever happens to Scott's glass goodies as they go through the annealing process. Yup, it's all pretty and it's all good, except when we want the buttons and the beads for Leah's Sylvi sweater coat to MATCH. The buttons turned out as we hoped, but the beads for the flower centers were not encased in clear glass and turned a much stronger purple. Common sense would suggest that making more beads, using the same glass rods and encasing in clear, just like the buttons, would net that same soft plummy-purple on an amber base with slight iridescent haze over top, right?


Um, no, apparently not.

That'll get you mossy greens. Beautiful, indeed, but not what we were aiming for.

So, it has been decreed that the original beads will remain in place, not perfectly matching the buttons, but pretty nonetheless. And the beadmakerbaker has told his #1 pain-in-the-butt non-paying and highly demanding customer :::waving howdy ho, that's me!::: to take her special orders for a flying leap. :-)

Meanwhile, hey, guess what my sister wore as a wrap for her company's Christmas party this year?

It's the Lady Eleanor stole that I knit for my mom a little over a year ago. WooHoo for knits that get used, and in such a stylin' way!

(I'm working on getting Bren to hand over that dress so I can snip off that chiffon outer layer and nuno felt it into a jacket or something for her. She still cringes at the thought, but I know she'll go for it eventually.)

After about a dozen false starts on knitting projects that just haven't worked out lately, I seem to finally have something workable underway.

This is a big fat cone of tweedy goodness scored at a stash swap last weekend. I'm knitting two strands at a time, aiming for a gansey for Scott. As long as it has his beloved seed stitch and a cable or two, he'll be a happy guy. It's the least I can do, after rejecting so many of his pretty (but wrong) beads!

Lastly, a big thanks to Amy at Live, Learn, Knit for passing the Kreativ Blogger award our way. I'm supposed to then pass it on to some bloggers whose work I enjoy, so here's to:

Laurie at Issues With Knitting
Ruth at Knitting On Impulse
Karrie at Delaney's Duds
Lorraine at Of Faith and Fiber
Maria at Passing Down Crazy
Pat at Pat's Knitting and Quilting
and Faith at The Needle and The Damage Done

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, February 07, 2009


Pattern: Sylvi from Twist Collective

For: Leah

Yarn: Mystery coned wool that cost $8 total at a yarn tag sale

Beads and buttons: Glass, made by Scott

See also Sylvi Post 2 for more pics, details, and comments.
Posted by Picasa

Sylvi, post 2

1. Omitted bobbles in center of flowers, replaced with glass beads.
2. Added a flower on sleeve and one side of lower front.
3. Skipped hood, opting for a simple ribbed neckline so that top flower wouldn't get covered up. 

Time to knit: 2 weeks
Time to sew on all those petals, leaves, beads, and buttons: 4 additional weeks!

Fun to make, fun to wear!

See also Sylvi Post 1 for more pics, details, and comments.
Posted by Picasa