What A Tease

My goal to not feel exhausted in this year was put to the test immediately. I came down with a cold, on my birthday, after breaking my glasses. I always have contacts as back-up, but it should be illegal to have to wear contacts while you have a cold. Just saying. Despite the sickness trying to weigh me down, I did get a teeny bit of dyeing done:

Mosasaurus Swimmer

Mosasaurus

A Mosasaur is a terrifying, prehistoric, aquatic monster. It is not technically a dinosaur, but then again, neither is a pteranodon, but they are both included in every dinosaur book my son owns. Also, there is a Mosasaur at the University of Kansas Natural History Museum. It is huge and impressive, and I am glad it is dead. (The idea of swimming with dolphins freaks me out, so you can imagine where this creature lands on my fear scale.) However, the attending underwater hues and blue scaly skin in which the Mosasaur is always illustrated does look rather fetching when transferred to a spare bit of Merino, don’t you think?

I have been doing some knitting as well. On Thanksgiving, my aunt asked me to make her some gloves with thumb flaps so she could use her iPhone without taking her gloves off. Since she lives in Michigan, where it is colder than it is here in Kansas (though it was 0 F this morning, which is quite cold enough for me), and I never venture out without my gloves between November and March, I thought this would be wise. I found the Podster Gloves and started in on them. Two months later they are 98.9% done.

I am hoping to finish them as soon as I post this, wash them, and put them in the post tomorrow. I would have had them done a week ago, but for two reasons. The first was the aforementioned cold. For days I could neither smell, hear, taste, see nor think. My head was pretty much useless. There were a few times, whilst in the act of blowing my nose, that I just wished I had the flu. Then at least I could stay in bed. Yes. It was that bad. Needless to say, not a lot of knitting was happening then. When I did feel up to continuing work on the second glove, it decided to be difficult. I knit half as many rounds between increases on the thumb gusset as I should have the first time. That thumb would have fist someone with short, squatty hands . . .which is no one in my family. We all have long, piano-playin’ hands. (No, I don’t play. My aunt does though.) I ripped out the whole hand and knit it to match the other glove. I made it through all the fingers just fine, but when I came back to knit the body of the thumb, I managed to create some sort of knitting sculpture. It fit the contours of my right thumb snuggly and and exactly. It was actually kind of amazing. It was, however, very tight, probably too tight, and you know, meant for someone else, who though might have a similar right thumb, does not in fact have my right thumb. I ripped again.Yesterday I reknit the thumb very slowly, and it seems more generally sized. I am sure that all of these mysterious errors have everything to do with the wool getting a mind of its own and nothing to do with the intelligence conquering cold–nothing at all.

Some time during the tea-fueled stupor of the last few days, I cast on for a sock that is intended for myself.

So far so good.

The yarn is something I did myself (no surprise there). It is a skein a just dipped in left-over dye bath from a self-striping skein I did for a dyer’s swap. It was not meant to be self-striping, as you can see, just an experiment with dipping a skein exaclty down the middle in two different colors. I had named these socks The Ugly Socks before I started on them. I think the name is going to stick, even though I have to say, I kind of like the way they are pooling.  I am anxious to see what sort of disaster befalls these socks before the end, aren’t you?

Just a wee bit of real work went on today. I am officially legal to do business in the state of Kansas and the US at large. Which means whenever I decide to open shop, I can. The idea of opening earlier than I had planned is becoming ever more appealing, I have to admit. I still have a few things I would like to get in order before I really get into this for real, but I am getting closer.

I know. I am such a tease.

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New Year’s Eve

…And just when you’ve have as much New Year musing as you can take, I blithely step up to beat a dead horse.

Today is my New Year’s Eve. Yes, I did celebrate on the 31st, and yes I am aware that today is 4th of January and we are already into the New Year, but you see, tomorrow is my birthday.  It is the literal start of my new year, and while most people take the week after Christmas to begin evaluating how much they have screwed up in the past year, I usually don’t start until I am toasting in the New Year.

So tomorrow I turn 26, and all I want from year 2011/26 is to relax. 2010/25 was a year of hard work. I had too hard semesters coupled with working full time and attempting to be a good mom. I was exhausted to whole time. I don’t want to feel exhausted anymore. This semester will not only be my final semester, but it worked out that I only have to go to school part-time to graduate. While I can’t cut back any at work, having to devote less time to school should add more time for things like exercising, fiber arts, and making play-doh monsters. I received a book about Urban Homesteading for Christmas, which I hope to make use of to save some money and some energy. My overall goal this year is to slow down, become more self-sufficient, more economical, to love my body and my home. Because while finally attaining my degree is important to me, I do not want it to rule my life any longer.

One major step away from being a student and learning to be more self-sufficient is to start my business. I won’t be able to work from home exclusively for some time yet, but my hope is, that between the fiber arts and the writing, I can carve out some sort of Work-At-Home niche for myself in the next five years.

This is the year I start. So tonight, at midnight, when I raise a glass and toast another year, this year, I will be laughing and having fun. Because there are so many wonderful possibilities.

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Look, No Felting!

Just a glimpse of what I have been up to since school’s been out:

I dyed my very first pound of roving (prepared fiber for spinning), and I did not felt a single bit of it! In the interest of sincerity, I should say that I have been hanging onto this particular bit of roving since September. I bought it with the intention of dyeing it, but without the courage to proceed. I was certain I was going to felt it all to bits. Turns out, I am just as good at all this as I hoped I would be, if not better! (Now, if I can hang on to this belief, I just might be able to get my shop up and running sometime in the next decade.)

I did a little bit of spinning as well.

I call it, Singles, With Dust Particles. Copyright me.

I have plied this already, mixing the colors in a cool barber pole effect, but I have not yet taken pictures of it because the plying process nearly gave me a stroke.  I am not very good at spinning yet, and this was only my second 4 oz since I bought my wheel. (School kind of got in the way of everything I wanted to do these last few months.) I keep telling myself I will get better at it, but I only half believe it.

For Christmas I received a couple of books about starting your own business, most notably Meg Mateo Ilasco’s Craft Inc., which I am pretty excited to read. I kind of cling to books when I am doing something that terrifies me–even if it is a fairly risk free enterprise I am taking on–starting a business like this means I have to be kind of social and perhaps confidant. I am not particularly adept at either of these two things. The more books I can read to tell me what to do and that anyone can do this, the better. Now, if I can just find a book that helps me translate all this new-found know-how into practical execution as directly related to me, I might be getting somewhere. I wonder if that book exists?

My goal for winter break is to get all of the legit making a business stuff done (that is what they call it on the IRS website, no joke), so if by some miracle I am ready to open up shop in February, I can. I am still shooting for a July 1st launch date, and I still need all sorts of important things, like a logo, so if you know anyone who enjoys doodling dinosaurs, have them give me a ring (seriously). Otherwise, I am right on schedule to officially launch Tiny Dino Studios this summer. (Hooray!)

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How I Got My Name: A Photo Essay

Not so long ago, I wrote that I chose the name of my business because I am constantly confronted with tiny toy dinosaurs sprinkled throughout my apartment. On Friday, I came across a particularly good example, and I thought I would share.

It was stepping on these two beauties that inspired me to get out my camera. For reference, they are on the floor between the sofa and the coffee table, a favorite place to play

This Spinosaurus is almost adorably supine. (The name of this dinosaur is pronounced “Spine-o-saurus”, but every time I read it, I say “spin-o-saurus”. You don’t know, he could be break-dancing.)

This little guy is in danger of being consumed by the infinite darkness of “lost under the sofa.”

This poor Parasauralophus has not only been in a tangle with the ruthless yarn-scrap-snake, but also seems to have had his skull crushed by the ever precarious throw pillow.

And of course, as soon as Athrun noticed me playing with his toys, he benevolently decided they were once again worthy of his attention. The question this photograph brings to mind is this: Is he hypnotizing the Triceratops, or is the Triceratops hypnotizing him?

So we played with them some more. I think the pteranodon is attempting to make off with a whole Iguanodon to take home and feed to her nest of hungry pteranodon chicks, but I cannot say for sure. I didn’t get a picture, but I let the pair of Diplodicus munch on the leaves embroidered into the sofa. Then I took a cat nap while Athrun made a cave out of my legs.

Bonus Photo:

The socks I mentioned in the previous post, after a full day of wear. Comfy. Cozy. Pretty.

 

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Projects

In an attempt to shake off this creeping, odious feeling that the University of Kansas is going to swallow me whole before May, I thought I might share some of what’s keeping me going.

First off, I am wearing really awesome socks right now. You can’t see them, because they are hidden by my wonderful rancher Rocket Dog boots. The socks knit out of the Mini Mochi I bought on a whim from the LYS a few weeks ago. I am still deciding if its a curse or a blessing, arriving in Lawrence just in time for the Yarn Barn to open up. The advantage being, however, that I can knit socks during my astronomy lecture and stay awake quite easily. (For the record, this yarn says it is superwash, but it kind of shrunk in the washing cycle, so beware knitters.) They were lovely to knit with, however, and the yarn is a very soft singles with some nylon spun in, so I am not too concerned about how they will wear.

I have been working on a lot of little projects. I know, I know, you are all asking the computer screen right now, “Why did you buy three sweaters worth of yarn in September if all you are going to knit are socks and mittens?” Because, my friends, I am what you might call overly optimistic. I think, sure, I can take three really challenging literature courses and try to learn astronomy even though I am not spatial in the slightest and have no scientific vocabulary whatsoever, (what can I say, including words like “mass”, “velocity” and “the conservation of angular momentum” just do not drop themselves naturally into my sentences, it’s a flaw) and still have the brain power to work on a lace cardigan with button holes and men’s sweater with lots of cables. Turns out I am only suited for simple, repetitive knitting where I do the same stitch 10,000 stitches in a row.

I am working on the cutest set for my son. Athrun wants one yellow mitten, one blue mitten, a red hat with a giant pom, and a green scarf. He started asking for a new winter set in August, when it was regularly 105 degrees outside. Now that it is nearly November and I had frost on my window this morning, I figure it might be about time to get started. I have the mittens done. I am knitting everything out of bare wool and then Athrun and I are dyeing them together. He gets to stir the dyebath, and is not very good at waiting.

I also started knitting up a pair of fingerless mitts for the boyfriend out of the Blue-faced Leicester yarn I have been dyeing. It is beautiful. It’s very light, and drinks in the dye like it’s been lost in the desert for years. The mitts are dyed a chestnut brown, and the way the yarn is knitting up it has an almost tweedy look to it.

I am also knitting my first project out of the Merino yarn I have been dyeing as well. Brock is getting socks and mitts this months, since he vocally appreciates being warm in the winter. The color is denimy blue, but the dye was called Gun Metal and it still bugs me that it doesn’t look very metally to me.

I picked up a leaf off the sidewalk at school the other day. It was a mottled maple leaf with hues of yellow, red, orange, and just a little chartreuse left in the middle. I wish I had a photograph, but the poor thing got crushed in my purse. The colors, however, are going to be my first foray into dyeing roving. I have one pound of plain white wool top, and I might as well give dyeing it a try since it doesn’t look like I am going to get around to spinning it anytime soon.

Pictures to follow, hopefully later today, but I make no promises.

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Autumnal Ennui

It is officially fall, even though in Kansas the temperatures are still nearing the 90’s during the day.

And believe it or not, I have been working!

But probably not as much as I should have.

I finished the wedding afghan, did a lot of reading, got over a cold (mostly) and just generally have felt rather low in energy. I used “ennui” in the title, but I did not really mean it. It sounded better than, “I have been really freakin’ worn out, and I am attempting to preserve my bandwidth, and I don’t want to stretch myself too thin right now.” I think working all the time might be apart of being a small business in the long run, and honestly, I prefer being busy. I like having a to-do list that is two miles long. I like checking everything off that list by the end of the day. But then I have to be practical about what I can get done in one day, considering that I basically have 2 full-time jobs already, on top of a family. I have finally realized that I can give myself a break. I an sit down and listen to Craflit (I started with Persuasion, my favorite Jane Austen), and work on plain-jane socks and it’s OK if that’s all the energy I have.

So, I have been spending a lot of time listening to Jane Austen and knitting socks out of mini mochi. They have beautiful color transitions, and it makes me want to knit and knit and knit to get to the next one. I might be going on to a sock knitting kick right now. I want to be knitting about six pairs of socks at a time. It doesn’t hurt that it’s getting to be sock-wearing season around here, or that I now have so much hand-dyed sock yarn, that I really could be working on six pairs of socks at once–though I might need to get some more needles.

My hand-dyed stash has become so large that it now has its very own bin. For the record, the hand-dyed stuff far outnumbers the commercially dyed stuff.( And the three sweaters worth of yarn I have doesn’t count, because those are all more-or-less works in progress.) Spinning adds to the hand-made stash as well. If you look at the above photo and notice the little pink ball of yarn, you will recognize my very own hand-spun. That’s right, my very first knittable hand-spun yarn. I made a cowl out of the rest, which I have yet to photograph, but it is awesome, believe me.

And just to prove that I have been doing a little dyeing at least:

Chestnut BFL with some Gunmetal Merino trying to muscle its way into the photo.

And a light, half turquoise, half chestnut in Merino, that I think will be beautifully obnoxious knit up into a pair of socks, and I can’t wait to get started on it. Most likely the next pair of plain-jane socks for myself. The pushy gunmetal will probably be socks for the boyfriend. Or the Chestnut BFL.

Someday, I might get some of these guys up for sale. Am I inspiring you to pick up the needles yet?

I think I am going to go work on making some yarn a nice pumpkinny orange.

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