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Sundays are for Swatching

I have felt a bit aimless in my knitting lately. I have been knitting a lot of simple things, stockinette socks, stockinette sweaters, garter stitch bags. While all of them are relatively easy, they are all also relatively simple. I like a good simple knitting project for stressful times, when the hands just need to be producing and the mind needs to be relaxing. I will still tell you, if you ask, that a plain stockinette sock is the best relaxation knitting in the world. But every now and then, there comes a point where a woman needs just a little more to do. Taking on the Pearl Street Pullover was part of that. I have never done a cabled sweater before, and I am enjoying the heck out of it, even if I am afraid I am going to run out of yarn. I think it was also my motivation for the ill-fated moth man scarf I blogged about last time. Ill-fated? Yes, it is already in hibernation. I have a record with lace yarn and it seems I am doomed never to ever finish a project made out of it. I think I need to come to terms with the fact that I am a cable and color girl, and that while the occasional lace is nice, I prefer the solid to the dainty.

Which brings me to today’s topic. You see, I have plans. Big plans. Plans that almost scare me a little bit when I think about it too much.


This is the pile of things I am going to work on today, because it’s Sunday, and if I can’t sit on my butt and knit all day, I don’t know what else Sunday is for. In the middle you see the beginnings of a sock. This is my control project. A simple pair of stockinette socks on the needles that I can pick up when my brain needs a break from all the new things.


This particular pair of socks are my little brother’s birthday present. (His birthday was a month ago, but I am consoled by the fact that it has been 100 or more degrees every day since then and he wouldn’t have worn them anyway.) They are some self-striping t-rex yarn that he picked out of my shop. He might have just turned twenty, but I am proud to say he couldn’t pass up having Air Bender inspired socks.

Why do I need a control project you ask? Well, mostly because I made two knitting decisions in the last week that prove I have obviously gone quite insane. Two things happened to me last week. I stumbled across Ann Budd’s blog where she challenged herself to knit every sock in her Sock Knitting Master Class book. Second, I was finishing up teaching my beginners sock knitting class, and was thinking what other knitting classes I should schedule for the fall. Some how, the amalgamation of these two ideas in my work-stressed brain led me to make two very ill-conceived decisions. One, I need to learn more knitting skills so that I can be a better knitting teacher, therefore I too shall knit through the sock knitters master class, and blog about it. Two, I will teach a sweater knitting class, because I love knitting sweaters and would like to pass the bug along. Of course, the pattern I chose, O W L S, I have never knit before. I don’t feel comfortable teaching something I have never done, therefore I need to knit this sweater. I don’t have any illusions about knitting it all before the class starts, especially given my insane sock undertaking, but I would like to stay at least one step ahead of my students.


The yarn I am going to use for O W L S is just some knitpicks Wool of the Andes Bulky I bought ages ago. I have a ton of this stuff laying around. I am not sure what my plans were anymore, but I have enough of this steely grey color for a sweater. Today I am swatching for the sweater.


I am also swatching with this lovely golden protoceratops sock yarn for the first pair of socks in The Sock Book (this might be how I refer to the Sock Knitting Master Class for the duration of the project.) I do have to confess, that I have not swatched for socks since probably the second pair of socks I knit. I have not had a problem thus far, but I figure when socks are patterned and offer different sizes, it might be prudent to get a good idea of what my sock gauge even is these days.

First up is Assymetrical Cables by Cookie A. Wish me luck.

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Pseudo-Ravellenic Knitting

I know to really participate in the Ravellenic games, one is meant to join a team and sign up for a competition, etc., etc. I still wanted to give myself a knitting challenge, and I am taking this challenge just as seriously as though who signed up officially, but the truth is that internet forums have been leaving a bad taste in my mouth lately. Yes, even on Ravelry, and it makes me sad. So, this Olympics, I am avoiding the forums part of the knitting games and just doing it on my own.

I chose Anne Hanson’s Motheye as my project. I have really knit a lace scarf, and I have yet to successfully complete a project out of lace weight yarn. So, I threw my balled-up yarn from my ripped out Starling, which I will finish one day when I have the patience to dye the yarn first, in a pot full of red dye.

This is the effect it’s having on the pattern.

This was just a little ball of yarn, a little snag in the ripping out I couldn’t untangle, and the white shouldn’t last much longer before it runs out. Even now, I can feel myself growing bored with the undyed yarn, and am thinking of switching to the bigger ball. The big ball should have a much larger red section, and therefore a longer transition. We’ll see how it goes. However, I am still enamored of my Pearl Street Pullover out of undyed yarn. Perhaps it is the cables rather than the color?

I do love the nupps! Nupps are another thing I have never knit. I like them and am dreaming of pairing them with cables sometime in the near future. Or do they become baubles when the are with cables. Is there a difference?

There is much I still have to learn about knitting. More on that later.

The suspense, it should be driving you mad.

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Mid Summer Pursuits

Did I mention I started a new job? A real permanent job? I honestly can’t remember. It’s a great job with an unambiguous title: Retail Coordinator. And I get to work for Kansas–not the government, which is all around pretty good in my book–but folks it’s a lot to learn and take over all at once. I can’t sleep at night my mind is so busy processing it all. I don’t feel rushed or panicked or unhappy–quite the opposite really–I am just behind–through no fault of my own. But the catching up is taking most of my brain power, and I forget to start writing a blog post until 5 minutes before it’s time to leave for work, and we’ve all seen how well that has been working out.

The rest of my energies have gone into the following pursuits:


These peaches became ice cream. I have been experimenting with ice cream making this week, which I have never ever made before. See, I used to be baker, but then I gave up wheat (and sugar, but am less strict about this)* and baking was no longer an option unless I wanted to spend a fortune on nut flours. Ladies and gentlemen, these last few months have seen me pretty much the definition of broke. Broker than I have ever been. Nothing was purchased that was not a necessity, and fancy flour-substitutes are the definition of luxury. Given dietary restrictions, I made my ice cream with cream, evaporated milk and peaches soaked in a couple teaspoons of honey. It was good, and now it was gone. Alas, no photographs were taken of the final product, but I will be continuing to experiment.

Tonight I attempted to make Mocha Gelato, but I am pretty sure I didn’t let the mixture cool enough before churning it. The upside is that with very few ingredients, milk, honey, cocoa, instant espresso, vanilla, I created a really great tasting chocolate / coffee soup that I am freezing never-the-less hoping it doesn’t turn into ice. Less sugary substance is better. Next, I really want to attempt making ice cream from coconut milk and get rid of the dairy all together. I don’t have trouble with dairy, but I know folks who do, and I think it would be fun. Plus, I. Love. Coconut.

While it is summer and ice cream making is the appropriate thing to do, I have been doing all sorts of inappropriate things with wool.


Like knitting sweaters in 100+ degree heat.

I finished the body of the surfer tee, and only have (cap) sleeves to knit and the neckline to clean up. I knit a size I thought I might shrink down to by October and it fits perfectly now. It will still look good on me in October if I continue losing weight at this rate. After that, I will probably rip it out and knit a different sweater, because knitting sweaters is fun and I have been impressing msyself with my new ultra-economic ways.

At the same time, I have been working on my sister’s belated birthday gift.

It’s a laptop cozy for her new computer that she is taking to CHINA. With fang buttons. She will love this. Even if knitting in garter stitch for that long was a horrible idea.

Then I started a completely insane project for July.

A thick, worsted weight cabled sweater. It’s already warm in my lap, but the squishiness of the cables and the roundness of the yarn and the fact that I will have the perfect sweater finished by the time I actually need it this year when the weather turns keeps my needles going. The sweater was in the most recent WEBS catalog I received, and when I saw it, I knew it was what my Cormo Rusticus (100% cormo) yarn would become. The sweater is Pearl Street Pullover, and the yarn was a one off, but I bet they might have something fun a Juniper Moon Farm.

Thursday I try my hand a teaching my first sock knitting class. Wish me luck.

* I keep meaning to write a short post about how, after half a decade of struggling with my weight, I am finally losing it again. The easiest way to say it is that I gave up grains (yes grains, not just wheat) and sugar. I don’t think that blog post is ever going to happen in a way that I will be satisfied with. I don’t think food should be religion, and every time I try I sound like gluten-free evangelist. If you want to know how I modified my lifestyle and am losing weight, check out Mark’s Daily Apple. The lifestyle that website describes is pretty close to what I am doing, and full of great information.

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Priorities


I am swatching for a belated birthday gifts. I just bought buttons for it this evening. The buttons are great, the buying buttons at Joanns was not a pleasant experience. It reinforced my dire longing to have a really good local yarn / craft shop so that I never have to ever enter Joanns again.


Alpaca yarn I finished spinning yesterday. 7 oz / 200g of blacker than black DK weight yarn. What should I do with it?


I finished my Ginny Weasley socks! I love them.

I have about 1000 projects I would like be working on, but these are my priorities right now. What are you working on?

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Pictures from the Holidays


Being silly at the fourth of July party


Chasing Parachutes –I don’t really care that this one is blurry, because he had such a fun time running after the parachutes.


Wearing safety goggles and my ebbtide shwawl (he was cold), he was attempting to shut out the screeching fireworks noise. Don’t ask my why he’s plugging his nose instead of his ears.


His birthday pup. (Pattern pileable pups from mochi mochi land

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Sock Inspiration

One of my favorite things to knit in summer is socks. Top-down vanilla socks are easy for me now, because I can carry the pattern around in my head and I don’t have a large wool something on my lap when it’s 115 degrees outside. (And I do wish I was exaggerating.)

Here are a few pictures I took a couple of weeks ago of socks I have been working on.

I used yarn left over from my Daybreak shawl to knit a cute pair of shorty socks.

I really love these colors together!

Then, I treated myself to some Ginny Weasley sock yarn from Gnome Acres. I will admit I bought the yarn because of what it was called (it’s no secret that I love my Harry Potter), but the colors are gorgeous too.

Here’s how it’s knitting up for my size socks. (64 stitches over 8 stitches per inch, your mileage may vary.) Of course, this was a couple of weeks ago, so that sock is long finished. And I am onto the second one. I am seriously considering indulging in the Bertie Bott’s colorway next.

If you are a local, and want to learn to knit socks for yourself (and your friends and family) I still have space in my sock class!

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Weekend Update

I have so much news, it’s not even funny. I think the best way to proceed is in list form otherwise I will lose track of time.
Yarny News:

1. I will be adding a Farmer’s Market Schedule page to the website so all you locals can check in and find out what days I will be at the Farmer’s Market for the rest of the season. I should have thought of this in April, but it took me until July, so there you have it.

2. This week (July 7th) I will not have my own booth up at the Farmer’s Market because I will be doing my duty at the Potwin Fiber Artisans. However, I will be selling a selection of sock yarn at that booth this week that is normally in the Tiny Dino Studios booth. And it’s offered at 15% discount for anyone who signs up for my sock class.

3. Which brings me to some good news! I am finally back in the teaching game, and friends, it has been too long. In late July I will be offering my beginners sock class. If you live in NE Kansas and have always wanted to learn how to make yourself a warm pair of woolly sock for winter, now is the time to learn. Full details are on the Classes page. (However, if you want to sign up for the class, please EMAIL ME at marla at tinydinostudios dot com, and do not leave a comment on the blog.)

4. I (finally) ordered Tiny Dino Studios a Square, so as soon as next week I can start accepting credit card transactions in whenever!

In Other News:
5. My son’s birthday is on Friday. He will be six. 6! I really can’t believe how fast he’s growing. Accordingly, his third knitted puppy dog is underway, but way behind schedule.

6. My main goal for the day, after writing this blog post, is to reorganize my apartment. With three people, one running a business and one SCIENCE student, and one a child with many toys, this small space gets cluttered rather quickly if I don’t stay on top of things. And the past few weeks I have been anywhere but on top of things. Let’s just say I have my work cut out for me…

7.Upon last weighing, I have lost 25 lbs, which is an exciting and empowering experience. I promise I will write a blog post about that a little more in depth for those who are interested. A little preview, I have a ton more energy and I had bacon and eggs for breakfast.

8. And best of all, I finally found a job. I left my job at the coffee shop last November, and over the winter was able to support myself through various means while working from home. Then, this spring I started taking temporary positions when my various means were running a little dry. My last day of temping was Friday. The whole way along (since November) I have been applying for various and sundry positions I thought I might be good at / enjoy / be qualified for. I went to a few interviews, but didn’t find anything I really wanted to do, and obviously the hirers felt the same way about me, because nary a call for second interview came my way. I was at the point of discouragement where I enrolled to go back to school (which I am now going to have to undo…) And then, I had an interview with the Kansas Historical Foundation and it was the best interview ever. You know how when you go into an interview and they sit you down and say, “We just want to have a conversation about the position…” and it ends up just being a normal interview–yeah, well we actually had a conversation that was easy, and dare I say it, fun! I start Monday.

9. So, if you’re coming through Topeka this summer, may I suggest a short stop over? Of course you’ll want to go to the zoo and see the Penguins in the morning before it gets up to 105. But in the afternoon, when it’s so hot you feel you’ll melt, stop by the Kansas Museum of History and enjoy some air conditioning and some really interesting stuff.

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Good Morning, Zuchini

Good morning, zucchini blossom

This is one of the plants that still needs to go into the earth box. Apparently pretty quickly, because it is getting ahead of me.

So are the potatoes!

I didn’t look in on the potatoes for a couple of days (just a couple, I am not neglectful) due to my job trying to kill me (another post I hope to write soon, I promise) and the potatoes grew! I am a new enough gardener that seeing something sprout after it’s planted in dirt and then watered it still magical. I don’t think it ever stops being magical, which is probably why gardeners are always adding more plants, taking up more of their yards, learning to can and freeze properly. They are addicted–and so am I. Now, if I can just remember to check the potatoes every day, I might be able to keep them alive.

Despite the job that’s trying to kill me, I have done some other stuff too.

I took this sweater out of Pterarnodon Worsted that was too big

to this kinky mess of yarn


And overdyed it a couple of times (I know it’s hard to tell from the photographs, but I promise, it’s much lovelier) to get a darker, richer brown that is destined to become some kind of vest I think. I have just under 1000 yards of yarn here, so I have room to play. Any suggestions?

Also, I started a new sweater.

I do love a poor photograph in the morning, don’t you?

I cast on the Surfer Tee that Stefanie Japel has been blogging about this week–mostly because I liked the neckline and I am a sucker for a kangaroo pocket. The pattern is free right now on her blog–not sure how long it will be up.

I am doing something that most people would advise you not to do ever never ever. I am knitting this sweater in the size I want to be and not the size that I currently am. Perhaps I am overly optimistic because I have lost 20 lbs recently, and am hoping that I can lose another 20-30 more before the cold comes again. I am knitting for my future self and I don’t care who knows it. I needed some sweater therapy and this is just about right. (Yarn is knit picks swish worsted in lost lake heather–which is knitting up nicely, but I have to say, I am so used to minimally processed stuff (EG, Pteranodon Worsted) that this feels kind of like American cheese when you’re used to artisan cheddar.)

What are you working on this weekend?

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Bazaar Recap

The bazaar this weekend was a lot of fun. I love a good excuse to hang out in a room full of people working on fibery pursuits. There was a lot of knitting (I was mostly working on a sock, because I am sooo exciting that way), spinning, weaving, and needle felting. I needle felted for the first time! I was very proud of my flat square of wool. I will have to get some more direction on how to make something other than a rectangle from Anna the next time she offers classes.

I have been making subtle changes to my set up every week.

This time I hung my hand dyed tops on my drying rack, which gave me room to spread the worsted weight yarn out a bit.

The best seller of the weekend was definitely the sock yarn.

My sock yarn shelf is starting to look just a little bit sad. It doesn’t help that I am out of vinegar and have consistently forgotten to purchase any when out for the past week–and therefore I can’t dye. As soon as a gallon of vinegar makes it home with me there will be more sock yarn.

I made a really great score from the BlushingEwe booth.

Tarnish on the left, Fireflower on the right. I had in mind to find something at the bazaar that I could weave a fun scarf for myself out of, and these two lovely ladies just fit the bill. I love how elegant and understated tarnish is, and how loud and saturated fireflower is. They are about the same percentages of wool, silk, and firestar, and I can’t help but feel I am going to have a very luxurious woven scarf when I finish.


Here they are pulled into roving and ready to spin. I like to pull it out so I still get all of the layers ate one time for the color and texture variation, but so that it is still in an orderly strip. I find spinning directly from batt form a little difficult.

I seem to be on a bit of a neck warmer kick. First the Ebbtide, then all the luxurious woven scarf planning, and of course, the Daybreak I started a few days ago.


I am a little less than half way through the striped section for the largest size. It’s very easy and fun to knit–and I love how retro looking my colors are turning out.

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Spring Bazaar

A few of you locals might be interested to know that instead of being at the farmers market this weekend, I will attending the spring fiber arts!

I, the Potwin Fiber Artisans and I will be at Potwin Presbyterian Church in Topeka. We are on the First Friday Art Walk Friday from 5-9 pm. On Saturday, we will be open from 9am to 5pm. The coolest part is that we will be offering mini-classes, from knitting to spinning to weaving.

Come join us. It will be a blast!

Other notables:
Alpacas at Orchard Hill will be there (ie, the finest alpaca in Kansas)
Blushing Ewe will be there as well with her gorgeous batts. (I usually can’t resist buying one myself.)
The Industrious Knit’n Spin who has been working her tail off, so make sure you give her some love when you see her.

My mission, to find yarn and / or fiber for my first unsupervised weaving project.