Friday, February 6, 2015

NCFF - Day 3

Well, this might end up being more of a 1 post per month type blog till I can get myself a bit more organized. (Or until I figure out a way to just not need sleep ever again.) Anyway, back to NCFF...

Day 3 was the one that I was really looking forward to because Katie and I had our Natural Dying class that morning and it was amazing!! The instructor wanted to use up as much of the dye as possible during class because she couldn't take it home to use afterwards so we were told to bring any additional dye-stuffs that we wanted. I, went through my entire stash and pulled out everything that was white/off-white and brought it with me (which ended up being way more than anybody else brought, lol).

The first part of class was super informative, we had to let our items soak in the mordant for awhile before we could start dying so we got a ton of great info on the science behind natural dying while the mordant did it's thing. Our instructor does a lot of natural dying and had some great recommendations for books to read if we wanted to delve into it more. I was pretty excited to see that one of the books that I regularly recommend to customers was one of her favorites as well. (Now I just need to buy my own copy.)

Harvesting Color by Rebecca Burgess

Our kitchen set-up for the dyes from left to right: Cochineal (reds/pinks), Turmeric (yellows), and Black Walnut (browns). There's one more pot on the far right that had the mordent bubbling away.

The dyeables provided by our instructor starting in the top left and going clockwise around: Undyed Wool Yarn, Cotton Fabric treated with a Copper Mordant (the green-tinted one), Cotton Fabric treated with a Rust Mordant (the brown-ish one), Untreated Cotton Fabric, and a White Silk Scarf.

All my dyables tied, banded and knotted into various shapes to create different dye-effects (similar to tye-dying).

Everyone's dyeables in the mordant pot!

Checking the coloring on the items in the Black Walnut Dye Pot. As an aside: Black Walnut is actually a dye that is a mordant, so we didn't need to soak things in a separate mordant before adding them to this pot. We still did pre-soak them, though to develop a deeper color since we only had a few hours for the class. I tossed one of my extra skeins into the Black Walnut Dye Pot without pre-soaking in the mordant first and it came out a light tan rather than a warm brown even though it soaked for the same amount of time.

The Turmeric Dye Pot took forever to create a super deep gold color, but that was my goal so I left mine in for as long as I possibly could.

The Cochineal Dye was intense!! Within minutes the dyables were turning really bright shades of pink and some people took their stuff out pretty quickly after putting it in. This was the pot that almost everyone added their silk scarf to.

All of my things post-dying. The items in the bags are mainly the yarns that I brought from my stash (my silk scarf is the yellow in the top left).

My bits of Wool. I had tied too many tight knots in the brown one and when I took it out initially, it was more like cream yarn with brown spots, so I tossed it back in the dye pot unknotted and let it soak for a bit more. It still isn't my favorite, but it's better than it was!

This was my Untreated Cotton Fabric that I had folded up and banded so tightly that only a chunk in the center soaked up any of the brown dye. I wasn't very happy with it, so I tossed it in the yellow pot after most people took their items out.

I put the Cotton Fabric that had been treated with a Rust Mordant into the Cochineal Dye Pot for a long time and was pretty pleased with this fun tye-dye look that came out.

This was my Cotton Fabric that had been treated with a Rust Mordant. (No, those aren't blood stains. The spots are from the mordant.) This one sat in the Turmeric Dye Pot for as long as I could let it and I'm pretty pleased with how disturbing it looks.  ^_^
After our dye class, we had to make one last trip to the market and came away with even more fiber to add to the stash! Then it was time to pack up and head home. I'm super excited to go back next fall, I'm definitely hooked on these fiber excursions and love the classes that are offered. The 2015 North Country Fiber Fair is being held September 18-20 in Watertown, SD so be sure to mark your calendars and sign up for classes early!

This beautiful skein of loveliness is named Dark Elf and that may have been the tipping point for me to purchase it. (That and the fact that it's a silk/wool blend in amazing colors!!) I'm not sure what I wan to do with it, yet. Originally, I was thinking that I would make a Hitchhiker but now I'm thinking that I may have to make up something as I go. This will be such a fun yarn to play with and I can't wait to see Heather again at next year's NCFF.

Softest, prettiest roving ever!! Seriously, just order everything that you can from Jeanette & James at Willowbrook Farm. The fiber comes from their alpacas and the whole booth was decorated with pictures of the alpacas being adorable. How can you not want to buy everything that they have? I bought 4 oz of this lovely bamboo/alpaca blend and it spins like a dream! (P.S. They sell their alpacas and I have a birthday coming up... Just sayin'.)

Driving home from NCFF with big, fluffy clouds pointing the way.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

NCFF - Day 2

Happy New Year!! As this year starts, my work schedule changes so that I'll get to have every other weekend off (Hooray!!). Because of this, I'm going to do my very best to get a post up at least every other weekend. I'm going to start off by finally wrapping up the trip to NCFF  and then I'll be updating more recent happenings.  ^_^

Day 2 started off with us sleeping in late due to our movies, wine and knitting the night before. While we waited for everyone to get ready (Sara let me use some of her shower gel, shampoo and conditioner though I think that the fact that we would all be sharing a car for another 2 days prompted that more than anything.)

The night before we became well acquainted with Pablo (Pabs for short), one of 2 birds in the house who loves flying around the living room and scaring Sara half to death. All night long (and again all morning) Sara would be minding her own business, busily knitting away on her washcloth and suddenly, out of nowhere, Pabs would start zooming around the living room at top speed (usually directly above Sara). Meanwhile, Sara would shreek obsenities at the bird and cower in the corner of the couch while the rest of us laughed at her misfortune. It was immensely entertaining. We're such good friends.  ^_^

The terrifying Pabs is obviously just acting adorable, he is secretly plotting how to best attack Sara when she reaches for her knitting.

We made it back to the fiber fair where things were well underway: the spinners were spinning, the knitters were knitting, and all the vendors were open. Being the fiscally responsible people that we are, we immediately hit up the vendor booths. All the previous day I had been watching one booth in particular (iLOOMinated yarns) that had skein after skein of gorgeous hand-dyed fingering weight yarns (one of my biggest weaknesses)!! I had been trying to find the perfect tonal fingering weight to make my second version of Ysolda's Follow Your Arrow shawl. The first time I knit this pattern last January, I chose all the technically challenging options and now I need to make one using all the lacy options (hence wanting a fun tonal color). I found the perfect yarn at this booth: iLOOMinated yarns' Opal Base in the colorway: Lettuce Cup. It's a fingering weight 50 Merino/50 Silk blend in a non-repeatable colorway that came about from the dyer using up the last little dregs of color in the dye-pot. I can't even tell you how much I love this yarn!! It's super squishy soft and the color is a slightly tonal pale neon green, perfect for a lovely, lacy shawl!!

iLOOMinated yarns had one of my favorite booths at NCFF. This loveliness will soon be my second Follow Your Arrow by Ysolda.

After we exhausted ourselves (and our wallets), Sara convinced Katie and I that we really should all take one class together, so she signed us all up for arm knitting. Since we were late at signing up, we also weren't prepared with yarn for the class, so back to the vendor booths! We all found some really lovely colors of bulky yarns to use in class and after some shenanigans (which may have involved all three of us attempting to wind 4 hanks of yarn into a ball while, literally, running to class), we finally made it. The class was super fun and was taught by another of our knitting buddies, Lindsey. I'm so glad that we all got to attend together and be completely ridiculous in the process.

My leftovers from the Arm Knitting class. If you need to burn up some stash, this is the perfect project!
 Katie busily working on her arm-knit scarf after dinner. (Because, though we tried, we weren't able to wind all 4 hanks of her yarn before class started.)
From left: Katie, Sara, Lindsey and myself showing off our arm knit scarves.

I don't really remember how, but somehow we ended up back at the vendor booths (I have exactly zero willpower when it comes to hand-dyed yarn, apparently) and I may have ended up purchasing this amazingly soft and gorgeous skein from The Dyeing Arts. I've been really trying to expand the colors that I have in my stash because I always gravitate towards shades of green (see my iLOOMinated yarns purchase above) so I thought that this colorway would be perfect for that. Then I realized that it had the exact same colors that I picked out for my arm-knit scarf (also, see above). I'm obviously not good at getting out of color-ruts, lol. I'm still completely in love with this yarn, though and will be making some sort of scarf-thing so that I can snuggle it close to my face and enjoy it's drapey amazing-ness.

My attempt at going outside my usual color range with this gorgeous baby camel/silk blend from The Dyeing Arts.

The evening ended with the the delicious banquet dinner. If you've never gone to it, just sign up now. The food was great and there were tons of door prizes given away, like this amazing hand-dyed roving that I won from Shay Huhta! (Did I mention that my hand-dye addiction extends to roving... and basically anything?) This is definitely on the agenda for my #Spin15in15 goals!!

I love the color blend in this roving, it's very autumnal with a couple pops of salmon pink here and there. I can't wait to see it spun up!

We ended the night back home and watching Stardust while knitting/spinning till we passed out.

Next time: Day 3!!  ^_^

Monday, October 20, 2014

North Country Fiber Fair 2014 - Day 1

 Sorry that it took me so long to write up this post, I've really got to get better about posting things on here more!

This was the first year that I was able to get off work so that I could travel up to Watertown, SD for North Country Fiber Fair. I've heard all sorts of wonderful things from the ladies in my knitting group about NCFF, but I never remembered to ask for the time off so that I could attend. I was able to go with 2 other girls that I work with at Barnes & Noble who are just as smitten with a good alpaca roving as I am so we car-pooled up and stayed with one of their relatives. (Don't start thinking that that saved us any money, though. The funds were just put to MUCH better use buying yarn instead of paying for a hotel room.)

The lovely view as we drove North to Watertown and what seemed like all the spinning wheels in South Dakota.
It took us a bit longer to leave town than we originally thought that it would so we ended up getting to NCFF right as Katie and Sara's class (Book Binding) was starting. They quickly signed in and ran off to class and I joined in the fiber circle. I had brought a crochet project in to work on instead of my drop spindle, so I kind of felt like the odd man out because everyone else was either setting up their spinning wheel or was already busily filling bobbins. (Someday I'll have one of my own!!)

The lady that I was sitting next to was spinning up some lovely brown roving from her own alpaca and I about died from excitement when I was talking with her. She has a small farm with a few animals that keep her well supplied with spinning fiber. I would absolutely love to have my own alpaca, but I don't think the alpaca would love my yard. (And I don't think the neighbors would love the alpaca...)

Delicious, smooshy Corny Goodness DK Yarn for my Hediye by Ysolda.
After the Book Binding class ended, we had supper and by the time we got back to NCFF most of the vendors were almost done setting up so we decided to snoop around the marketplace. Corny Goodness, a Minnesota-based yarn company that plys and hand-dyes yarns made from corn fiber and corn/wool blends, had a booth set up that I was super excited to poke around in. My LYS carries the fingering weight of their yarn, but one of my goals at the fiber fair was to find the perfect DK yarn to knit Hediye by Ysolda Teague because she had released it the Monday before we left town.

I looked at the yardage requirements for the pattern and assumed that the longer yardage would be for the striped center section of the shawl, so I decided on yellow for the cable border, and planned to alternate between the blues for the stripes on the center. The owners at Corny Goodness were so nice, they didn't want me to miss out on getting the yarns that I needed for my project so they let me buy before the market even opened! I was so super excited about how lovely the shawl was going to be that I didn't even think about the fact that the cable border was going to need way more yarn than the center would. Thankfully, when we went back to their booth on Saturday morning, they still had 1 skein left in the same dye lot as my yellow that I already purchased. Project saved!

Katie (left) and Sara (right) attempting to make sense of what was Sara's ball of yarn.
After the high of buying my delicious corn yarn (I absolutely love alternative fibers!!) and getting to pet multiple other lovelies in the marketplace, we decided to re-join the fiber circle and work on the projects we had with us. I don't remember how exactly it happened, but at one point Sara's ball of cotton exploded and was basically yarn puke all over her and Katie. They valiantly attempted to untangle all the knots and wind it back up, but eventually we decided that the only way to make it through a yarn mess that big was to add alcohol, so we ducked out of NCFF about 30 min before it closed Friday night and went in search of a liquor store.

My favorite South Dakota winery released this amazingness!!
After getting lost multiple times and finding all the cowboys in Watertown (there are 3) we finally ended up at Sara's step-sister's house where we watched anime, knit and drank wine out of water glasses. We're a classy group, let me tell you!

(PS: The wine did help to untangle the yarn vomit and I was able to teach Sara how to make a center-pull ball with the yarn afterwards. Hooray! Success!!)

Eventually, we passed out wherever we happened to be sitting. I started out in the chair and eventually ended up sleeping on the living room floor with my sweatshirt hood pulled over my face because I managed to bring 5 separate knitting/crochet/spinning projects, but forgot pajamas, shower gel, shampoo and conditioner. You gotta have priorities when packing. My focus this weekend was apparently on yarn, not hygiene or sleepwear. (What was I supposed to do with myself if I finished that blanket AND sweater by the middle of Saturday afternoon? Not knit?!?)

So ends Day One at NCFF 2014. I didn't realize just how much happened over the weekend, so I'm gonna post Day 2 next week because it's 1:00 AM and Mr. Little Man will be up in about 4 hours for a bottle. Off to bed with me for now, but I promise that I'll have another post next week! I'm really going to make an effort to do one post on here each week so keep checking back! Have a great week and enjoy the beginning of Fall, it's perfect knitting weather right now.  ^_^

Friday, August 29, 2014

Stash Clean-Up

Schachenmayr Regia Fluormania Color - Neon Rainbow

I've been going through my stash the last few weeks and have come to the realization that my yarn has outgrown my current method of organization. (Basicly, I bring it home, it sits on the kitchen counter for a few weeks so I can admire and pet it from time to time. Then, once Dan has complained about it's presence enough, I move it to one of the bags in the basement.)

Zwerger Garn Opal Regenwald / Rainforest - 7470 Fiona Die Geigerin

So, I'm going to be working on photographing my yarn collection and updating my stash on Ravelry. Hopefully, this will make it easy to actually use my beauties before I fall out of love with them.

Cascade Yarns Forest Hills (Solid Colors) - 11 Bijou Blue

These are some of my more recent acquisitions and I'm still itching to cast on with them, but I've got a ton of WIPs right now. I think that once I finish my poncho for North Counrty, I'm gonna cast-on a vanilla ankle sock in my Opal because it's been far too long since I made myself some new socks and I just love the colors in that one!

What projects/yarns are you just bursting to knit or crochet right now? Why haven't you cast-on yet?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Even More Washcloths...

Apparently, washcloths are the big thing in my life right now. A friend had told me how much she loved the hand-knit washcloth that her grandma made for her. I decided that she needed more than just one so I told her to pick a couple colors and I would make her some washcloths as her birthday present.

She picked Knitpicks Cotlin in Canary (left) and Clementine (right) and didn't care what pattern I used. 

I ended up just designing patterns for 2 of them and altering the pattern for Swifty from Mason-Dixon Knitting Outside The Lines since I didn't have the pattern for the Ballband Dishcloth handy when I was casting-on.

The first washcloth is just a slip-stitch pattern that creates vertical lines with a garter-stitch border in Canary.

The slip-stitch colorwork also gave the cloth a nice backside. I'm not a fan of single-sided projects when both sides are visible, so that was a great surprise bonus to the pattern.

Washcloth number 2 was my favorite of the bunch. It's a slightly more complicated slip-stitch colorwork pattern. Even with that, though, it looks way more complex than it is.

And again, I was pleasantly surprised with the way the back turned out. This pattern had great drape to it, too, so I'm thinking that I'm going to play around with it for a garment of some sort.

Finally, the Ballband Dishcloth. Once it was knit up in these colors, we all decided that it was very reminiscent of the walls in a certain beloved video game detailing the adventures of  a not-so-average plumber. My friend was super happy to get this one.

I'm not as pleased with the back, but the front's nerd factor makes up for it.

I'm pretty happy with this group of washcloths and Sara loved them so that equals a win. Plus, it's really fun to make up stitch patterns and I've got some great garment ideas that I'm gonna be working on. I'll post about the status of those patterns once I have something worthwhile to show you, but I'm pretty excited about them.  ^_^

Saturday, July 5, 2014

A Plethora of Washcloths

Happy 4th of July! I have been in such a washcloth /holiday mood over the last couple of weeks thanks to an e-mail that Lion Brand Yarn sent out showcasing some Independence Day pot holder patterns. I'm not much of a fan of Lion Brand's actual yarns, but their website is amazing for free easy patterns. So, I crocheted up my two favorite designs from the pattern collection as washcloths and made up the other 3 designs to go with them. So, now I have a 5 cloth set that will be going up on my etsy shop for sale for $25.

One of the patterns that I used from the lion brand website.

I love the stitch pattern used to make this cloth and I've got an idea for using it again in a different project. This is such a fun stitch and it's almost like magic when you're crocheting it.

This is the other Lion Brand pattern.

This one is more straight forward and is less fun/interesting than the other square but I felt that it really tied the set together and brought home that Americana theme.

Basic granny square washcloth.

Oh, granny squares, how I love you. This is actually the first granny square that I've ever made, but it really seemed to fit with the theme and I've always wanted to learn how to make one. I can totally see why people use them to make entire afghans, they are quick and super addictive! I'm already ploting ways to need more of them.

The Primrose granny square.

Again, this pattern was picked entirely because I felt that it just belonged with an Americana grouping of washcloths. It was definately more challenging to make than the basic granny square, but completely worth it! I love the way that it turned out and the naturaly curvey shape that the sides took. It feels very retro and modern all at once and I just love it. This is probably my favorite cloth in the collection.

The Never-Ending Chevron washcloth.

This one was a doozy. I started it over and ripped it out so many times before I got it right. It probably was so difficult because I was trying to convert a chevron stitch pattern for a floor cushion that I found to a washcloth appropriate size. (The magic number is 36.) I finally got the math right for the stitch pattern only to discover that there were no instructions for how to make it a complete square. The pattern for the floor cushion assumed that you would be sewing the crocheted chevron fabric to actual sewing fabric around a pillow, so you could just sew the corners on the chevrons into the pillow and everything would be just fine. Since I wasn't going to be sewing anything to anything, I had to figure out how to fill in all of the dips along the edges. This was a fun challenge, bug I'm glad thst it 's done. I'll be writing out the pattern and will post it soon.

I hope that everyone is having a fun and safe 4th of July today! See you soon.

Saturday, June 28, 2014


"I'm starting this great new project!" Is a phrase that my husband hears all the time at our house. It seems that I'm great at starting lots of new projects, but I don't always get them finished before I have the urge to start again on something else. My goal with this blog is to be able to focus more on finishing what I start before diving head first into the next wonderful thing that I find.

What project are you wanting to finish before you jump into the next big thing?