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Fiber Play

While I am still plugging away on my Daybreak and Brock’s birthday socks, and pretty much letting the Birds and Dinos Cardigan languish, I have been having many other ideas of what to do with yarn lately.

Some involved turning a new find

into some new yarns

and turning a sweater that’s too big,

into a big pile of pure potential

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Wednesdays are for Dyeing

This morning I am firing up the dye pots. I was nearly out of yarn to dye last week, and yesterday 5 kilos of yarn in all weights arrived, begging to be made all pretty. Worst of all, I was completely out of sock yarn to dye. I feel positively naked without any sock yarn to mess about with. And now I have 2 kilos of it!

To start with, I am tackling some a couple special orders that were placed over the weekend. One of them, I am excited to say, is to dye yarn so a local knitter can start her very own big d-mn pineapple! (I cannot wait to see this finished product, though not sure I am willing to tackle it myself.) The other is some more lace weight in my new favorite colorway.

I called it gunmetal originally, but in the right light there’s just a hint of green. With this color, I have enabled two of my local knitter friend to start their own lace shawls. Alas, mine have fallen by the wayside due to farmer’s market prep, but are not forgotten.

Speaking of which, there is a new fingerless mitt pattern in the works! However, my knitting mojo seems to have finally given way to desire to spin a little bit. I have a whole crate of fawn alpaca fluff which I carded yesterday, which I am hoping to spin today. Then perhaps I will get sucked into a spinning time-warp and have time to card the brown alpaca as well. It is a challenge to which I will gladly rise.

What are you looking forward to today?

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Dye Day Party

Over the weekend, the spinning group I go to held a dye day. It was fabulous. We all got together and dyed yarn and roving and silk. There was color every where, and most of us somehow came away with green hands, even though we were wearing gloves.

I even hand painted some yarn, which is not something I do very often, but I like the results.

All are one of a kind skeins hand painted on to my Pteranodon base. (100% Merino worsted)

I also brought with me a single skein of lace weight yarn with the intention of experimenting with food safe dyes. Experiment I did.

I achieved this “tie dye” look with food coloring. And on Friday, I will tell you how I did it. (I am taking pictures for a tutorial today). For now, I would just like to admire the effect. . . .

. . .

. . .

It reminds me of a book we used to read all the time when I was a kid. Oh Were They Ever Happy! by Peter Spier. You can see what I mean.

I should get that book for Athrun.

As always, these beauties are all available in the Tiny Dino Studios etsy shop.

Also, it’s not too late to sign up for either of the knitting classes! They begin this week.

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PFA news: Anna posted a picture of the amazing felted flower you will be making if you sign up for her classes!

Random Updates:

1. I have been busy playing catch up this week. I am finally, finally on the mend. It is fantastic, but along with it comes the realization of all the things I let slide while I was in the sinus infection fog. Cleaning, taxes, spinning, and knitting commissions.

2. I bought a beautiful batt from Blushing Ewe at WoolFest, which only started spinning yesterday. Then I proceeded to spin it obsessively for the next four hours. I am spinning for sock yarn, so it is taking awhile, but it’s very gorgeous on the bobbin, and when the sun comes up and my apartment isn’t a cave any longer I will take pictures.

3. I also have two knitting commissions, only one of which I have the yarn for. I will, at the very least, wind the yarn today. I have a couple of small projects to get to first, they might be samples for my upcoming classes with the PFA, I couldn’t say.

4. I am excited about my second commission. I am swapping with my photographer friend Julie mittens and a head band for a small photo session for me and Brock. (There are no good pictures of us together.) Plus, I get to shop for some more yarn, which is always a win.

5. I recently purchased some bright orange yarn, which I believe are destined to become Snapdragon Mittens. I am finding brilliant oranges very compelling lately and desire to dye all the spinning fiber I recently acquired accordingly. I may or may not proceed.

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Super Secret Christmas Projects, part one

Since I was writing about it all month, I thought I would share what I made my family and friends for Christmas.

A simple 2×2 rib scarf for my brother to use while riding his moped around Wichita in his school (Wichita State University) colors. I did a Fibonacci sequence for the stripes to mix up the colors progression a little bit. Knit out of Patons yarn, the black factory dyed, the yellow hand dyed, held double. Very quick and squishy and warm.

I promised this hat to my step-mother in some distant month, April or May, and finally started finished it this past month. It’s out of an old yarn I had left over from knitting her a scarf, so it should match. I think it’s a Patons yarn as well. I lost the ball band, but from the feel of it, there is definitely acrylic in this yarn, so it’s obviously from the very early days of knitting. It knit up nice, and the hat looks great. These are wonderful colors for my step-mom, and the hat fits! (Of course, I didn’t bring my camera on Christmas, too many other things to remember, so I don’t have any pictures of folks wearing their new knitted goods.) This is the pattern I used. I like it, but I found the child size really fit an adult’s head. Bear that in mind if you want to make one for yourself.

I also knit my dad a hat, a plain almost black beanie, out of Cascade 220 superwash. I finished it right before I wrapped gifts, so I didn’t get any photographs, but I expect you to be able to use your imagination. I improvised the pattern, and didn’t use quite one whole ball of yarn.

In addition to the scarf, my brother was the happy recipient of a pair of hand knit socks out of my very favorite sock yarn, Protoceratops. It’s 100% superwash merino, a 3-ply yarn that doesn’t seem to even need nylon to keep it strong, because I have had socks knit out of this that I have worn hard for over a year with no signs of wear. I thought it would serve my brother well on the moped and in his under-heated college boy house.

(Something you may not know about me: I used to ride a moped, and I sympathize with moped riders during the Kansas winter. It’s cold!)

And just for fun, a kiddo pic.

Athrun, “working on his novel” the day before Christmas. Such concentration. He couldn’t possibly be playing a video game.

I have just been reminded that I have doctor’s orders to take it easy. I’ve had a nasty cold for about the last week. I finally went to the doctor yesterday and found out part of the reason why my face felt like it was eating itself was that I have an ear infection. I know, what kind of adult gets an ear infection? On the upside, I now have medicine, and feel more like I just have a normal cold instead of a face-eating one. I am going back to the sofa to alternate between knitting my newest sweater and reading Death Comes to Pemberley. At least now you know why the writing is so disjointed in this post.

How was your holiday?

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Desk Makeover

You may or may not know that I recently quit my day job. I stopped working at the coffee shop at the beginning of November to devote myself more to Tiny Dino Studios and to finally give myself time to write. It was a big step, and really, really, scary, but so far, I am so glad I did it.

I have a lot of little adjustments to make. Scheduling my day so that I make a dent in my to-do list while still making time for family, food, and exercise is more challenging than I thought it would be. On the other hand, I haven’t really taken a day off since I returned from shepherding camp. Working in my home is challenging, because the kitchen is always a mess, because I am either dyeing or cooking (not at the same time mind you), which happen to be two of my favorite things to do.

And then there is the problem of my desk.

I live in a pretty small apartment, and all of the bedrooms are full of people’s beds. There is no space for a proper office, so my desk is shoved in the corner of the living room, right next to the dining room. After a busy summer of working overtime at the former day job and an autumn full of trying to prepare for trips and future self-unemployment, my desk was kind of ignored. It became a paper-catcher.

Here’s the embarrassing state of my desk when I arrived home from shepherding camp.

(Did I mention that my desk is in a dark corner of the living room?)

I mean, I have the coolest desk ever. It’s a vintage diner table I bought from a local antique mall with the money I got from selling an almost new iPod. (One of my more enlightened decisions. I love my Zune HD.) Anyhow, it’s a really cool piece, it looks I stole it from Luke’s Diner on Gilmore Girls. The red vinyl office chairs was a side of the road find, and it’s my preferred spinning chair. (My spinning wheel is just off camera, hence the prominence of the lazy kate.) I like being able to switch from computer work to spinning at the drop of a hat. However, you may have noticed that there is no computer on my desk. I mean, I have a pretty portable laptop, it could be buried under that mess of notebooks, but it’s not. At the time I took this picture my laptop was living on the coffee table and I was doing all my writing and etsy updating from the sofa–not bad in theory, but I didn’t get much work done due to the falling asleep on the big comfy sofa all the time.

Obviously, if I was going to work from home I needed to do some major clean up and organization work.

Step One: Get rid of all the junk mail, old office supplies, and pens that don’t work anymore.

Step Two: Find a home for the important things that were buried by the clutter
Step Three: Put together cute little shelf from Target
Step Four: Organize

A clean workspace

Notebooks and go-to books on the side table along with the lazy kate and extra bobbins

Fiber in cubbies, ready for emergency spinning and knitting needs, but off the table top

Tissue paper for shipping and a laughing Buddha

All ugly office supplies stored in bright pink boxes and a pink mug from the kitchen for pens.

Spinning wheel and freshly dyed fiber conveniently placed

And hey! There’s room for the computer and a little extra space to work!

I love my new workspace. The white shelf and pink accessories brighten up a dark corner and cheer me up while I work (and it only cost $20). I love being able to see my bright white table top. The coolest part of this table is that I can write myself messages right on the top with a dry erase marker. My whole desk is a post it.

What spaces have you made your own?

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Forty Things for Monday (A List) or Pea Soup

1. I have been sleeping at every opportunity.

2. That kind of explains why I haven’t been posting anything to my blog.

3.I did bring all of my blogging tools with me to Denver.

4. Put simply, the internet at my sister’s school sucks.

5. The trip was fun though.

6. I walked a lot.

7. I saw Equus.

8. I bought fiber at Gypsy Wools in Boulder.

9. I learned I really hate flying.

10. My knitting did not get confiscated as I feared it would.

11. This was lucky because I was working on my other sister’s birthday present.

12. It was a Clapotis in a variegated plum yarn.

13. I did not get a picture of the finished object, but here is a picture of the yarn.

14. I knit it in a week.

15. By Saturday morning Clapotis had taken over my life.

16. I still kind of want one for myself.

17. My family started putting in knitting orders over the weekend.

18. My sister asked for an Idlewood

19. She is willing to buy the yarn.

20. My dad wants fingerless gloves.

21. He did not ask.

22. I am going to make them anyway, because my dad never wants anything.

23. I have been dyeing. The evidence is up in my etsy shops

24. You should go there.

25. And buy something.

26. Like this self-striping yarn

ETA:  This yarn just sold. Might I interest you in this one instead?

It doesn’t stripe, but it’s just as pretty!

27. I have also been reading.

28. About food and sustainability.

29 I recently bought the following books:
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
The Book of Whole Meals
Fresh Food From Small Spaces
Raising Poultry The Modern Way

30. I made pea soup last night.

31. I was pleasantly surprised.

32. I also cast on for Terra with my JMF yarn.

33. I am in love with everything about this project so far.

34. Except maybe my clumsy provisional cast-on.

35. I am still not so good with a crochet hook.

36. I am going to eat a brownie, which I made last night along with the soup.

37. After the brownie, I am going to bed.

38. So I can get up in a couple of hours and have dinner with my boyfriend.

39. At 10pm. Otherwise we don’t see each other.

40. I hope he doesn’t mind left-over pea soup.

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Big Update

I have been working hard over the past few days to build the inventory back up in the shop after my sneak attack. Five new items are up today, and a couple of things that are waiting to dry and be photographed. My favorite is the top you see pictured above. It is the most gorgeous blue face Leicester and silk spinning fiber. It’s so shiny and soft I want to keep it for myself.

This week has been kind of crazy. On top of the sneak attack and spending all day Wednesday dyeing, I turned in my essay on Tuesday and had it critiqued on Thursday, both of which were nerve-wracking. Everything went really well, and I felt silly for getting nervous, but it always happens before a workshop, and it wears me out.

I got a little creative with my hand carders, and blended some silk with a little bit of the white alpaca roving I have laying around, and it got really, really fluffy. And then I spun it, and it was still really, really fluffy. It looks ridiculous and soft. I will take a picture when there is enough to photograph. For now, I am am attempting to finish my Mondo Cable Jacket, because the plan was to wear the jacket when I go to Denver to visit my sister, Audrey….Which is six days away. I am kind of behind. I still have most of a sleeve to knit as well the collar, so I am about two weeks away from finishing with the way my schedule is going. Two weeks . . . six days. I can do it. I might not sleep, but I can do it.

Oh, and did I mention I learned to crochet on Sunday? Have I actually crocheted anything yet? Nope. But I have a skein of yarn with a crochet hook in it sitting in my knitting basket. I call that progress.

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I Have Been Listening To a Lot of David Bowie and Other Ruminations

The song “Starman” by David Bowie has been stuck in my head for weeks now, and I have only just got around to digging up all the David Bowie files on my computer. So, my title is kind of a lie, I haven’t really been listening to David Bowie, just the facsimile of him that runs through my head.  I am not sure what took me so long, other than I just didn’t like any of my media players. I recently ordered one of the new Zune HDs (but have heard nothing from Zune about when it will be shipped, so whether I will actually be receiving this device at the marvelous sale price it was at last weekend is yet to be determined), so I downloaded the Zune software. I actually really like it. iTunes and I have never really got on, it might be because I have no patience with apple software. I know I might be in the minority here, but it is counter-intuitive to me, having always used a PC. (And I love my asus laptop with a strength of emotion that might not be healthy for a piece of equipment I will most likely have to replace in a couple of years.) All of that to say that I dug up my nearly complete David Bowie library, and after admiring the staggering amount of amazingly rockin’ live albums he has, I found the classic, original The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust in an attempt to relish in the greatness, and perhaps get that song out of my head for a little while, as great as it is. And then I listened to it. . .

And I just can’t help but apply the chorus to my life as it is right now. I am interpreting the star man being afraid of blowing our minds but knowing  it’s all worthwhile, as a little bit of a personal message for me right here right now, no matter what anybody else thinks it should be about.

One of my major goals this year was to go into business for myself. Three weeks ago, I opened my etsy store, and even though I have not made a sale just yet, I have been dyeing and promoting and slowly working to get over my internet shyness. It has been going well, I feel, and I know it is only a matter of time before I am making regular sales and am making enough money to put back into sustaining my business. I do know that I am not going to be making enough money to support myself from Etsy anytime soon, but I am working on it.

Aside from the fiber arts, my other passion is writing. It is what I am going to school and getting into major debt for. I cannot remember a time in my life when I was not writing in some way, shape, or form. And though the last couple of years have been rather tumultuous with me personally what with getting divorced and basically starting from scratch like I did when I was eighteen and moving out on my own for the first time, and I did not write as much, I am finally finding some equilibrium. The compulsion to write a lot has returned full-force. It turns out I have a lot to say.

One of the major things I have learned though all of the previously mentioned tumult is how to allow myself a voice. In other words, the things that have terrified me about writing in the past, like sending out query letters and promoting myself and *gasp* actually letting people other than the chosen few read my work do not scare me any longer. (At least not to the debilitating extent that they used to do so.)

A major factor in this is that I am fed up with my day job. It is not any worse than any other job where one works for other people and sometimes works too often. This is common, and for a lot of people, it is waaaay too much to ask, which is why they work for themselves. I am there. I fantasize daily about working from home: about working on my latest essay while the steamer is setting the dye on the yarn.

Then today, the wonderful Susan Gibbs from Juniper Moon Farm, where I am a shareholder, posted this to her blog. Go take a look, and I know the pictures of the sheep and goats and puppies are distracting, but please come back. I will wait.




So, like Susan, I knew exactly what that sign was talking about too. It was my message from the Star Man. Write more. Get published. Get out of this place (I was checking my reader at work, I will freely admit) and do something that doesn’t stain your fingers brown! (If you are a new reader, I manage a coffee shop.)

It just so happens that Tuesday, my first essay for my essay-writing class is due. I have had this essay in my head for a couple of months now, but had not given myself the time to just sit down and write it. But tonight, I sat down and did it. I finished my first draft. While there is a ton of work to do before it is fit to even be turned in for workshop, it feels so good to finish my first piece since November. And I know right now, that even in this rough state, this one is publishable.

I can do this.

I have no idea when I will really be able to work from home, or if I will find a job (with benefits and/or a sustainable salary) outside the coffee shop before that happens, but I do know that I can get the writing done until then. And really, after a few years of feeling really down on myself and my ability to create, that is all I need.

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Projects in Pictures

It has been a long couple of days, so I am just going to give everyone a sneak peak at what I have been working on.

Acquired on my trip to my LYS today:

None of these three things go together, but they all have to do with individual projects. In the plastic bag is 100g of Bombyx Silk Hankies. (A silk hankie is essentially a flattened silk worm cocoon.)  I am going to try my hand at dyeing some. I have 13g stack set to soak over night.  The scary wooden things with the teeth are hand carders. I have been wanting to play with blending fibers and/or colors, but a drum carder (which does a couple ounces of fiber at a time) is so far out of my price range right now it is laughable. The hand carders, while not cheap, are much more reasonably priced, and great to practice with. The pictured needles are so I can knit the sleeves onto my Mondo Cable Cardigan. I finished knitting the body last night.

The Body:

That’s dark charcoal grey in Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride. The white you see is Mohair. It’s gorgeous.  (I also might have ordered some mohair locks to play with too, but that was on the internet so it doesn’t count until it shows up.)

And here is the first yarn of the year to have the opportunity to dry on the balcony:

Yes, it is neon pink. It  super fabulous, and it will be up in the shop tomorrow.