Drum Carding From Locks

A few weeks ago, I found a pretty good deal on etsy for some washed Corriedale locks. I love Corriedale. It’s probably my favorite wool to work with (that I’ve come across anyway, I am still trying out new wools whenever I can.) I have long been wanting to play with locks on my drum carder, and while I have plenty of fleece stashed around, I haven’t really had the time or energy to wash it properly. (Horrible, I know I shouldn’t let it sit.)

The locks I got were a bit yellowed and tippy.
corriedale locks
But, the crimp was darling and the strength in them was fantastic. If I had a flick comb, I would have flicked out the ends, but since I don’t, I just picked the locks apart pretty thoroughly. There was still a bit of vm in these locks, but no too much. Most of it came out all over my table in the picking and carding process.

I ran the picked and opened locks through my drum carder sideways. I didn’t weigh them out first, as I had 8 ounces and was planning to give the whole lot the same treatment. My first batt ended up being about 2.5 oz.
first round
It’s a start.

Then, I pulled the batt apart and ran it through the drum carder again, this time pulling the batt apart in strips and fluffing out the strips and getting some more air between the fibers.
round two
This batt looks much smoother and fluffier than the first, but the fibers were still not quite blended enough for my tastes, so I repeated the process again.

round three
After a third time through the carder, I was really pleased with the texture of the batt and the distribution of the fibers. This is a super spinnable little batt. However, I am not all that pleased with how peachy it is because of the yellowing of the wool. My plan is to slowly card up the rest of the locks in this manner–slowly because it’s really hard to turn my drum carder without standing at a funny angle so I don’t hit my giant belly with the handle–and diz it all out into roving, and then dye the lot.

Besides the yellowing, I really like how this came out. It makes a girl feel a little powerful, turning some dirty looking locks into usable, perhaps even pretty, fluffy spinning fiber. I’ll keep you updated as I continue the project!

A Month of Knitting

After leaving you for a month with a frustrated and tired post, I am back with some knitting! (I feel like the previous post is indicative of the end of pregnancy–and I haven’t had the energy to update much since then.) In fact, I haven’t had much energy for anything by working and knitting, so I have a lot of knitting to share with you!

Now that I am officially overdue and on maternity leave, I have a little time to catch you up. First, I finished my citron about a month ago.
citron before blocking
A quick snap before it’s bath.

citron blocking
An even quicker snap as I was pinning it out. It already looks so much better.I don’t have any action shots yet. I’ll have to work on that, but I have been wearing the heck out of it. It’s so elegant and soft–and this is definitely one of my colors!

I also finished some more baby stuff.
two newborn vertebraes
Evidence as to why you always need to do a gauge swatch. Two newborn vertebrates knit about a year apart on the exact same needles with the same yarn. Obviously the orange one is bigger. I made some cute little pant to go with the blue sweater, but somehow haven’t photographed them yet.

Last week, in a fit of frustration that the baby wasn’t here yet, I finished the blanket I cast on when I first found out I was pregnant.

And I was working on a pair of rainbow socks for Brock, but I left them out at my father-in-law’s house a couple of weeks ago, so that project is still looking a lot like this:

I also cast on a post-partum sweater for myself, one of the cute tops from the Spring Knit Picks collection. It has a cute lace yoke, but the body is solid stockinette in the round. My hope is to get through the yoke in the next couple of days and be on to the stockinette body by the time the baby comes (in a couple of days.) I am about halfway through the yoke, but since it’s lace, it’s really hard to make out. Photos when it looks like something other than a wad of yarn.

What have you been up to this April?

Randomly On a Sunday Morning

1. I’ve been awake since 4.

2. This seems to just be what happens on Sunday mornings.

3. I was going to get up and be responsible and start my taxes, but that plan was foiled pretty quickly since, apparently, when you are filing jointly, you have to have all of your spouses information first. It doesn’t let you tack it on at the end…which is inconvenient when one of you is suffering early morning insomnia and the other one is upstairs sawing logs.

4. I bought seeds yesterday, peas, beets, radishes, carrots, spinach, and kale.

5. I was going to plant them this afternoon, but there is snow on the ground this morning.

6. I have no clue what I did with my citron shawl overnight. It doesn’t appear to be in my knitting basket, which means I probably brought it upstairs in case I woke up early.

7. I am downstairs because I woke up too early.

8. I am in the middle of my seventh repeat, and my yarn is telling me this will probably be the last repeat before the yarn runs out. The rows are getting really long, but I like to think I can get it done today.

9. That probably depends on how long it will take me to finish the stupid taxes.

Baby Corner Preview

You guys, I am 35 weeks pregnant as of yesterday. That means the baby can come safely anytime in the next two to seven weeks. Two weeks is a pretty small number (though seven seems unbearably long), but it’s a possibility none-the-less. The dwindling amount of time until this baby arrives has been really kicked the nesting into high gear–well, as high as you can get and still work a 40 hour week and be nursing gigantic balloon feet. Mostly I’ve done a lot of laundry.

crib with bedding
The bed is together and the bedding washed.

baby corner
This is the baby corner view from the bed. (The laundry basket is full of enough clean onesies for three babies. We have generous friends and family…The dresser is in the process of getting a makeover.)

badger baskets
The super functional changing table. I love the drawers and hamper. This particular model was added to our registry because it’s brand is “Badger”. Brock is an Old English word for badger. (It also matches the crib, but you know, details.)

cloth diapers
All of the drawers are stuffed. The top drawer has disposable diapers, which I am planning to use until the cord stump falls off. (Yup, babies are always super adorable.) The bottom drawer has burp cloths and blankets, but my favorite is the second drawer. It is chalk full of cloth diapers. I know I haven’t actually used them yet, but just having them makes me feel proud. It’s a new adventure and I was able to navigate all of the information and personal preferences and strong internet opinions to figure out what kind of cloth diapering system would work best for us. We’re going with prefolds and covers, as displayed above.

Lamb toys for the baby, hanging out in the crib, keeping it warm.

And now for some knitting!

I am flying through Citron. It’s the latest KAL I’m hosting via the Potwin Fiber Artisans ravelry group. We just cast on yesterday, so there’s plenty of time to join in!

Like I said, I seem to be flying through this shawl. According to the pattern, I am about 3/4 of the way done, which is nuts for two reasons. One, I just started knitting. Two, this shawl so far is just about the right size for my cat, and no amount of blocking would change that. One is easy enough to explain. I spend a fair amount of time on the sofa with my feet up, because otherwise they swell like balloons and it’s really uncomfortable. That’s a lot of built in knitting time. Two is a bit of a head scratcher. I knew I wasn’t going to get gauge using a US size 6 needle. I’ve needed to go up two needles sizes on anything knit flat for a couple of years now, but I like the fabric I got with a size 6 needles out of this yarn. I should be getting 6 stitches per inch if I followed the pattern. Right now, I am getting 8, but the shawl seems to be about half the size it should be at this point. I have also barely made a dent in my yarn…So I suppose it was a good thing I planned on knitting this thing until the yarn ran out, because I’m going to have knit beyond the written pattern quite a bit to even get this thing wearable. The only question is, which will come first, a finished shawl or a baby?

Curb Appeal

One of my favorite parts of our new house is that there is a yard. Yesterday morning I spent an hour and half outside enjoying the warm weather and sunshine while supervising the cat. (She loves to run and play in the yard, much to the chagrin of the neighborhood squirrels, but I don’t trust her to stay inside the fence when left to her own devices.) We do this with each day when the weather is nice. Wondering around the yard gives me a good opportunity to think about how to improve it through gardening.

We have our five little beds that should be ready for planting vegetables in the coming weeks, and while I’m still deciding what to plant and where, I’ve been thinking more about the rest of the yard. Our house has absolutely no curb appeal.

Curb Appeal
This is the left side of our house, which has been a rental house for at least the last ten years. There is no landscaping–of course all the grass is dead right now, but that patch of dirt next to the foundation runs all along the house, and was like that when we moved in last November when there was still just a hint of life left in the yard.

Since we moved in in late November, I didn’t plant any bulbs in these places like I wanted to, because I figured it would be too late. I figured we do some petunias or something, maybe some wildflowers later in the summer, and plant some tulips and gladiolus earlier in the fall for next year.

Imagine my surprise when I noticed this little bit of greenery coming up just to the left of the drainpipe in the photo above.
Two little patches of some sort of bulb! These look to me like they’ve been neglected for a few years, and probably should have been thinned last year, so I’m hoping they still flower, because until they do, I have no idea what they are. I’m thinking hyacinth or narcissus from the shape of the leaves, but I could be totally wrong.

more bulbs
And then to the right of the drainpipe, I found these little guys who look like they must have just popped up through the soil. They’re different from the others, but I’m still not sure what kind of bulb they are. My guess is crocus, but really, I know nothing about flowers, other than I’m really excited that I don’t have to wait until next year for spring blooms.

Sock Day Saturday

Saturday Sock
My job completely wore me out each day this week. When I get home from work is usually when I do the creative stuff whether for pleasure or profit. This week, Monday through Thursday I did absolutely nothing but eat dinner and stare at my tablet screen. I wanted to knit, but all of my projects on the needles involve cabling. I love cables, but this week they were just too much work. I haven’t been fit for anything other than stockinette in the round–if that.

Last night, I finally cast on for a pair of socks, my favorite kind of stockinette in the round.

Saturday Sock Yarn
I used this yarn, which is very similar to the stuff I just posted in my shop, so if you were wondering how it knits up, you’re welcome.

I dyed this last year for a sweater project for myself, which I have since cannibalized to knit this pair of socks and then to turn into another baby sweater/hat/bootie set.

Saturday Sock Through Heal Turn
I guess I was really jonesing for a simple knit, because as soon as I cast this on, the stitches starting flying, and so did the ideas for all the other projects I wanted to knit. In one evening I knit what you see above: cuff, five inch leg, heal and heal turn. Today I’m going to try to finish this one and see how far I can get on the second sock tomorrow.

Shop Update

I know it’s been about a million years since I updated the Tiny Dino Studios etsy shop, but the long wait for new product is finally over! You can find all of these new items and many more sale items in the shop now.

Happy Tie Dye Lace Yarn 4
Happy in Oviraptor Lace

Madame Soothsayer Tie Dye Lace Yarn 3
Madame Soothesayer in Oviraptor Lace

Fire Flower Tie Dye Sock Yarn 3
Fire Flower Tie Dye in T-Rex Sock

Jelly Bean Tie Dye Sock Yarn 3
Jelly Bean in T-Rex Sock

Happy Tie Dye Sock Yarn 3
Happy in T-Rex Sock

Handspun Wensleydale 4
Handspun Wensleydale

Easter Eggs Falkland 3
Easter Eggs 100g Falkland Top

Gobstopper Wool Top 2
Gobstopper in 181g of Wool Top

Fun fact, everything but the handspun was dyed with food safe dyes! I haven’t played with food coloring in ages. It was a blast. I love how it enables me to mix colors on the yarn. Which is your favorite?

How I Made My Muslin Baby Blanket Set

Today, I have exactly what you all wanted out of knitting blog, more fabric printing and sewing! Seriously though, I’m having a lot of fun sewing simple things on my sewing machine and learning how to print on fabric. Thanks for sticking around to read it.

meadowlark muslin
I started off with some simple natural muslin from fabric.com. This is the kind of muslin your supposed to make, you know, a muslin out of. It’s not the traditional guazey baby blanket muslin, but since I wanted something that was more tea towel consistency to begin with, I am perfectly happy with this fabric–except for the wrinkles. I can’t tell you how long I spent pressing, and it would still be wrinkled. We’re going to blame it on my ancient iron and then move on.

After washing all 6 yards, I cut it into 3 45×45 inch squares. I still had about a 60 inch length of fabric left over for another project. I always press my hems and pin them. I’m not the neatest sewist out there, so whatever I can do to help keep my final product looking nice, I try to do.

I gave these blankets about a one inch hem, partially because of my sloppy cutting, and partially because that’s an easy amount for me to eyeball. Also, I completely charmed with how well the thread matches the fabric.

sheep on a blanket
On the first blanket, I stamped out the sheep using a linocut I made last year and some yellow acrylic paint and a fabric paint medium. This helps the acrylic adhere to the fabric more permanently. You’ll notice when you first do you printing, after the paint dries, the paint is very stiff. This will soften up when you wash it (follow the directions on the fabric medium.)

I’m still learning how printing on fabric with paint is different than printing on paper with ink. So far, I feel like paper and ink are easier, but I feel like paint on fabric is cuter.

baby blanket painting
On the other printed blanket, I used the tiny paint roller to put on my silly stripes. I used three colors, printing the stripes one color at a time. I wanted the stripes a little funky, so I just eyeballed the spacing and didn’t worry myself with keeping the lines straight. Also, I did put an old beat up cardboard box between the blanket and the table top, because the paint will bleed through a thin fabric like this. If you don’t want the texture to your stripes like I have, choose a pristine piece of cardboard and pin your fabric down so it doesn’t move at all.

baby blankets
For the third blanket (in the background), I dyed it with Rit on the stovetop. It was pretty quick and painless, but I’m not sure how much fabric yardage I’ll be dyeing in the future. I really like the natural color of the cloth peeping through between my printing. I do love this sunflower yellow color though.

Stripey Baby Blanket
An above view of the stripes.

muslin blanket set
And here is the finished set. Three unique blankets that are perfect for swaddling and won’t be too heavy as the weather warms up.

Getting Things in the Mail

A few months ago, I heard about this thing called a bluum box. It’s like a birch box, but instead of makeup, which I don’t really think that much about, you get baby stuff! I thought, cool, I’ll give a try one of these days. Last week, I received my first box.
my first bluum box

I’m not going to lie, it was kind of exciting to get a box of goodies in the mail…

inside my first bluum box
And then I opened it.

I’m not going to say that I’m disappointed, because it has some really nice things in there. A checkerboard? Cool! Makeup remover wipes. Useful. Luna bar. Eaten immediately. Questionable parenting book. Meh. Hot or Cold Eye Mask. Possibly the best thing I never would have purchased myself but am glad I now own ever.

It wasn’t really what was in the box, because for the most part, I liked the stuff. It was really more that it just seemed really gratuitous to me. Did I really need any of this stuff? No. Well, perhaps the snack bar, because I was starving at the time, and it really did taste like carrot cake, which was impressive. But everything else, I would never buy ever. And it took me a couple of days to figure out why I was feeling so ambivalent about this box after I had been so excited to receive it. And it simply boils down to the fact that I’m not used to buying stuff.

I’m not in the habit of buying much outside necessities, and what I do tend to purchase, I usually consider tools. Yarn, needles, wool, dye, fabric, paint, books like these
new books

All of those things have potential to turn into other things that are useful or salable. They aren’t so obviously consumerish. I totally weirded myself out for a few days, trying to figure out why I felt so off about receiving a box in the mail. Getting things in the mail is usually fun! Plus, it’s a built in blog post once a month, bargain!

So yes, I cancelled my bluum box subscriptions, and I think I’ll stick to wet wash cloths to remove my makeup and actual carrot cake instead of snack bars that try to pretend they are healthy versions of carrot cake. I will totally rock that eye mask the next time I have a migraine though, and I will feel completely decadent the whole time I do.

How I Made My Own Custom Ring Sling

a handmade ring sling

With my first son, I had a Maya Wrap baby carrier that I simply adored. Between him turning about six months old and now, I have no idea what happened to it. When I found out I was pregnant last August, one of the first things I did was browse through the Maya Wrap website to see which fabrics I liked best. Slowly, over the last several months, I convinced myself that surely I could sew one myself. One of the reasons I wouldn’t let myself do that much sewing when we were living in the apartment, was because I was already getting the hankering to decorate fabrics myself, and I knew that if I was going to sew anything, I knew I was going to have print my own design onto it first. There just wasn’t room for any more stuff in that apartment. No more fiber crafts could fit, so I just focused on woolly things. But in the new house, I have a whole room to cover in wool and fabric and dye and paint…and I have done a pretty thorough job of filling it up in just two months.

I started out with 2.5 yards of natural osnaburg from fabric.com. I washed and dried it as soon as it came in. The edges frayed a bit in the wash, just a warning.

stripey baby wrap fabric
Then I ironed and pressed and spent a long, long time re-flattening my fabric so the paint would go on as evenly as possible. (For the record, the not-straight stripes and sometimes thin paint was on purpose.) I used acrylic paint and a fabric medium fixer (link below) and a tiny paint roller I bought at Joann for $.99 to apply the stripes.

I allowed the fabric to dry for at least 48 hours and then ironed it front and back (on the front with a piece of scrap fabric over the paint) to set the color and then threw it in the wash with a load of laundry. I made sure I took it out of the dryer as soon as it was done so I wouldn’t have to spend an hour ironing it again, and then I spent a few minutes cuddling it.

Next I trimmed all of the big unraveled pieces from the edges, and then zigzag stitched around the perimeter of the piece so that it wouldn’t fray anymore. (Warning: you will likely have to refill your bobbin at least once during this project.)

Then I hemmed three sides: the two long sides, and only one of the short sides. Leave the top of your sling, the part where the rings are attached, unhemmed unless you have a really powerful sewing machine. You’ll have quite a bit of fabric to sew through at the end.

I followed the sewing tutorial on the Maya Wrap website from here about where to sew and how much–which at this point is really just three or four quick seams, but over a serious amount of fabric. Make sure you watch the videos about how to properly thread and use your wrap.

handmade ring sling rings

What you’ll need to make this project:
Sling Materials
-2.5 yards of a 45 inch fabric
-A set of Sling Rings
-Coordinating Thread

Printing Materials
-3 to 5 colors of acrylic paint (I used Americana)
-1 bottle Fabric Painting Medium (follow instructions on the bottle)
-Paper plates and disposable spoons for mixing paint with fabric medium
-1 inch foam paint roller

My total cost for the project:
fabric $9.95
sling rings $3.79
thread $2.99
paint $5.94
roller $.99
Total: $23.66
(Even rounding up for tax and shipping, the project comes in at under $30)
That’s a fraction of the cost of an name brand wrap, and I was able to completely customize it to my tastes. My colors, a wider shoulder and smaller rings, than the original. Now I just need a baby to put in it!