Monday, October 4, 2010

These Things I Do

Oh hello! And another month passes, just like that! But I promise I've been absent with good reason:

Wedding Travelogue

I made this very awesome, very last-minute, very special travelogue wedding book. The client was a member of the wedding party, and the bride and groom had not chosen a honeymoon destination. The groomsman contacted the guests and had them create a travel page talking about where they would recommend. he gathered them all up at the rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding, dropped them off to me the morning of the wedding, and I bound them all into this book and dropped it off at the hotel for the bride and groom to return to after their ceremonials. Word from the client is that they loved it and found it to be the nicest gift of the day :)


I started spinning this wonderful Hello Yarn Wensleydale in the "Heirloom" colorway with plans to eventually weave it and sew a slightly tailored jacket. Expect to see this completed around....oh, 2014 or so.

Snow Drops & Snap Peas

I test-knit this amazing shawl for Kirsten of throughtheloops - this is Snow Drops and Snap Peas shawl, and it is a fast, fun, easily memorized pattern. This version is in my own handspun Polwarth from David at Southern Cross Fibres. It's DEEEEElightful. I love how the striping worked out on the lace pattern.

I've been teaching a 3-month bookbinding workshop. It's been going wonderfully, and it has given me a chance to work on this 80 80s Instruments/Tools project of paper cutouts. I've been trying to do 1 or 2 of them a day. Each cutout is 5" x 7". They're a blast to work on. Oh yeah, we've been making books in that class, too :)

Oh yeah, this other thing happened:

Ohai I Gotted Engaged!

...I got engaged! The ring was custom designed and made by the lovely Tracey Jenkins of Green Spot Studio. It's a rose-cut diamond, which is fairly uncommon and antique-y but enables it to have a flatter profile. Hooray craftpeople making rings for other craftpeople and taking hand use into consideration :)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

End of August

While most people are panicking about the end of August signifying the end of summer, I am breathing a sigh of relief. This summer has been so abominably hot and unbearable, and I am pining for cooler days (and nights).


I finished up this woolen vest, and I am anxious to wear it! It's a handspun blend of 3 Southern Cross Fibers (“Deep Thought” - Oatmeal BFL, “Homeward” - Falkland, “Desert Sky” - Polwarth)with a wee bit of Cascade 200 and unknown wool to finish off the collar and sleeve edges. I knit this completely in the round and steeked it, which I really feel is the way to go with things like this - so fast! So fun! That daring edge of CUTTING your knitting! It's delightfully squishy.

And then I kept knitting.....

Better Lit Legwarmers :)

I've been wanting to make the Fresco Legwarmers for ages, and when I got my order of the new Quince & Co "Chickadee" yarn I figured it was finally time to cast on. With a few mods for color, and then again for almost-running-out-of-yarn (whoops!), these legwarmers FLEW off the needles. The Quince yarn is wonderfully plump and squishy, and made for a lovely fabric on both US3s and US5s. The stitch definition is wonderful and even - and this is all before blocking!

And I've kept up the quilting, but with a twist:

Big Stupid New Ideas

This is a test square (18" - for a pillowcase) using origami crease patterns. I recently saw the documentary "Between the Folds" which is all about origami and the people who make it. Many of the crease patterns for some of the more complex pieces can be found, and I loved how they looked, so decided to try my hand at translating that to a quilt. This is The Garden Spider. I'm going to try out a few more pillow cases before going big and making a full-sized quilt!

Here it is being sewn:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Actual FOs. Yes. Believe It Or Not.



The bird quilt, completed. Just needs a delicate wash and dry, and I'll get some big pictures.

I ended up handquilting the entire thing - I figured I had already put so much time and care into it, a little hand-quilting wouldn't kill me. I didn't use a frame or hoop. I quilted just inside each of the bird squares, and created similar squares in the side panels. I also echo quilted around each bird so there was more stability to the sandwich - the bird squares are each 9.5" and they needed to be quilted down a bit more in the centers.

State Birds - Echo

I've also been test-knitting a bit - I knit this lovely, simple, fast, beautiful shawl for Kirsten Kapur of Throughtheloops:

Roma Testing

This the Roma Shawl pattern. I knit it up on some merino/silk sock yarn from Nakedly Knitting, with Koigu KPPPM for the bottom detail and edging. This pattern is delightful - easily memorized, quick, and lovely. This shawl has a GREAT drape to it.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


And then, 3 years after it started, the State Birds Quilt was.....

All 29 Birds

...NEAR finished.

Okay, so I finished the birds - 29 of them! The embroidery took So long! But finally, finally, 29 birds done. Many states share birds, and DC is included in there as well. Since I've had 3 years to think about the layout of this quilt, 29 actually worked better for me than 28 - I decided to do a 5x5 centerpiece, with bands on the side and the remaining 4 birds on the corners. With sashing:

Bird Quilt Top, Opened Up

The actual piecework of this quilt top? Including trip to fabric store for fabric and batt and all that? ONE DAY. Yeah, after 3 years of embroidery, things are moving pretty quickly.

I decided to handquilt it - this is a BEAR of a quilt, at around 76" square, and I couldn't really deal with the thought of throwing it all through the machine. Also, each bird panel is about 10" square, so there would have to be some quilting around the birds. I decided to echo-quilt around each of the birds. yes, I know, it's not quite around "the birds" as I am including any foliage they are on. And this had me worried - would the other side be too blobby? would it be weird? I decided to go with a rather small, busy, floral print for the backing in order to hide most of the quilting and blobbiness.

As it stands now: 80% of the handquilting done on the top, hoping to finish tomorrow and add binding. This thing *may* be done by the end of the week!

Monday, July 26, 2010

TdF Wrap-Up & OSBeeeeee!

As happens this time every year, I have been obsessively watching the Tour de France and spinning for the Tour de Fleece. This year, as most, was EPIC! My goals for the Tour de Fleece were to spin as much as possible, and attempt to get caught up on my Club fibers from Hello Yarn, Southern Cross Fibers, and Spunky Eclectic. I also had some bits and bobs of random fiber around that I was hoping to take care of. A few weeks before the TdF I (finally) invested in some more bobbins for my Majacraft Rose, bringing my total up to 14, and mid-way through the tour I replaced the entire head assembly of my wheel, which had been giving me some difficulties (and being LOUD) for some time now. I learned that my wheel is 10-12 years old! Next on the maintenance list is a new drive band.

But the spinning! I spun the equivalent of a CAT this year!

TdF2010 Wrap-Up

That's 8 lbs, 03 oz. of fiber, for a total length of 8489 yards (15,648 yards pre-plying). I've got 2 sweaters' worth of yarn in there, a honking skein of color progression laceweight singles, some low-twist singles slated for a woven project, and much much more. My stash runneth over!

I did take some breaks from the spinning - I worked on my first assignment for One Scrappy Bee! Julie Frick requested some Vortex Blocks featuring bunneh fabric:

Rabbit Stew - Now With Fangs!

I couldn't resist giving him fangs. But then the second bunneh seemed to be lacking.....

Sexy Lady Bunny. this one got sexy lady eyelashes. I believe rabbit embellishments have been added to her OSB Assignments :) I'm really enjoying this Bee - I love seeing everyone's interpretations of the assigned patterns.

Oh yeah, I knit something too:

Annis - This Weird Little Thing

This is the Annis Shawlette from a recent knitty. This was a great stashbusting project - I have had this 300 yard skein of alpaca from Touch of Twist for a few years now, and this pattern seemed simple enough, and while it used slightly more yardage, I opted to knit it anyway and go down a needle size. As it is now, it's lovely and light and ethereal, though a bit of an odd size - neither here nor there.

Monday, July 19, 2010

4! Ounce! Challenge!

What can we make today?

TdF - SCF Rejects

In an effort to maintain spinning momentum and promote further creativity, I'm running the 4! Ounce! Challenge! on Ravelry. This contest is a collaboration with Hello Yarn, Spunky Eclectic, and Southern Cross Fibers. This is also an opportunity to use up those 4 ounce bundles of handspun.

People never seem to know what to do with 4 oz! To enter the competition, you’ll have to spin, knit/weave/crochet and (optionally) publish (via ravelry and/or their blog) a one skein pattern made from 4 oz of fiber. This competition runs during August/September. The goal is to create a whole heap of new patterns designed specifically for handspun fiber. The fiber has to be from Spunky Eclectic, Hello Yarn or SCF to enter.

Prizes - a grand prize of a $150 fiber pack from Hello Yarn/Spunky Eclectic/Southern Cross Fibre (about three 4 oz lots from each).

There will also be a random prize draw in addition to the grand prize with three $50 prizes (one 4 oz lot from each HY/SE/SCF). For people who spin and create an original item through August/September, they will get one entry in the prize draw. Those who publish the pattern get an additional entry in the draw.

The grand prize ($150 fiber) will be judged based on published patterns only.

All projects/patterns must be created during August & September. The deadline to enter a project is September 30.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Color Bands: A Tutorial

As many of you know, I am a sucker for Wensleydale wool, and it is most difficult for me to NOT spin it into color progression laceweight singles. This Tour de Fleece is no different:

Aquatic Deep Blue Sea
(That's Hello Yarn Wensleydale in "Aquatic", with a bit of SCF Teeswater in "Deep Blue Sea" on the side)

I've knit these up into a couple of shawls, but I am always wary of how the striping/progressions will work out. I'm not a huge fan of having the outer stripes so much narrower than the inner bits. With this in mind, Dale took it upon himself to figure out some numbers for me, and I'm presenting them to you! This is a formula for figuring out the ratios and yardages needed to knit a color progression shawl where the color bands are all equal. The information is for a triangular shawl, a circular shawl, a semi-circular shawl, and a square shawl.

A Few Things To Know:
  •  This has not yet been test-driven.
  •  Dale is not a knitter.
  •  This is written based on the pattern remaining the same throughout. If you change your pattern drastically, the numbers may be a bit off, but in the grand scheme of things I don't think it will be too noticeable.
  • The 10% addition is to account for differences in gauge, etc.
  • This formula does not account for bind-off.

That being said, here you go! (In Dale's words):

COLOR BANDS! Clicky for the xls file.

Based on the overall shape of the shawl I wanted to create a way to create equal bands of color. To use the Excel workbook, enter the overall shape of the shawl (circle, half-circle, square, triangle), the number of color bands (1-24) and the total number of yards required for the pattern. The chart will then produce the number of yards of yarn to use for each band of color.

Band #1 is the center or smallest color band, each sucessive band number radiating outward from that where the largest is the outer band of color. The number of yards is calculated from a ratio of total yards/area for the shape based on the total number of color bands and specific color band. Each successive color band will use more yarn than the one before because it needs to cover a larger area.

The chart shows 4 numbers:
Band: this is the color band #
Base Yards: a value rounded to the nearest whole number of yards
10% Yards: adding 10% to the actual value and rounding to the nearest whole number of yards
Actual Yards: the number of yards down to two decimal places

Each of the yard columns has their own usefulness. The trick is to know which one to use for what you want. One note I would like to make here is that the minimum number of yards is going to be 1 for base or 10% yards no matter the actual value.

The Excel workbook has 3 tabs:
Calculator: where you enter the data
Shape Examples: some quick examples to show what I'm on about
Print Friendly: printer friendly with the ability to add notes

Having some Fun:
There are a multitude of options and patterns you can create using these numbers; it doesn't have to be bands of color that are all the same width.

Let's say, for example, you are creating a triangular shawl but want to have 4 colors in alternating thick and thin bands using a total of 800 yards of yarn. You want the center to be thick, then a thin band, then a thick one of another color, and finally a thin band on the outside. Instead of entering 4 bands, enter 6.

ColorBandsActual YardsTotal
A (thick)1,23.31 + 26.4530y
B (thin)352.8953y
C (thick)4,579.34 + 105.79185y
D (thin)6132.23132y

Bands A and C will be twice the width of bands B and D. In the example I used the actual yards, but it can just as easily be done with the base yards or 10% adjusted yards listed. I would suggest using the actual yards when using larger number of bands, especially when relating to band 1 because the value can get quite small.

ETA: Dale has provided this handy sheet, with some answers at the bottom (should you have any questions).
***Hey! If you use this, please please let me know how it works out! Thanks! ***

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Here We Go Again

Yes, I have been an absentee blogger. It's not for lack of DOING things, though:

Holly Jean Mittens & Hat - Pre-Block

Bova Book


It's That Time Again!

Color Progression Spinning

Cobb Salad: The Most Heavenly of the Salad Genre


Hello Yarn Knee Socks!

The Spam Museum

Potholders Galore!

Blah Blah Quilt, Blah Blah Done, Blah Blah

Orchard Singles


....and now, here we are, approaching July, which means I need to consider some things for the Tour de Fleece:

Some Things To Consider - Tour de Fleece

Tour de Fleece runs July 3 - July 25! I'll be participating as a member of Team HelloYarn/Sassenacho/TimeBenders and also Team Monkey Farts! And somehow I will manage to blog more, as well :)

*** ETA some information: From top to bottom:
- Holly Jean Hat & Mitten, test-knit in Cascade 220. Super-duper pattern, soon to be available from zigzagstitch!
- Bova Book, handbound by me as a teaching model in my Cloth Case Bookbinding Workshop.
- Magical Scissors, paper cutout, about 5" x 7". Cut with a #16 X-Acto® blade out of Canson Ingres scrap papers. I want to make 100 of these, all with different 70s & 80s lyrics accompanying tools :)
- Bookbinding Models for my Non-Adhesive Bookbinding Workshop.
- Color Progression Insanity - handspun by me using Club Fibers from Hello Yarn, Southern Cross Fibres, and Spunky Eclectic.
- Cobb Salad, my all-time favorite salad.
- Handwoven continuous hand-towel for next tot he sink. FINALLY completed, after 2 years or so.
- Hello Yarn Knee-High Socks! Knit while the passenger on MidWest road-trip!
- The Spam Museum. Visited on our way from Iowa to Minneapolis.
- My haul during the 2010 Potholder Swap - lovely lovely hand-crocheted potholders by Lynda, Kathy, Susanne, Beth, and Cathy (click through for Flickr details).
- Quilt I made for D's mom before we headed out to Iowa.
- Delicious "Orchard" Romney singles - me-spun, Spunky Eclectic-dyed. Purchased at SPA.
- Wonderful, wonderful pork.
- Some things I am considering spinning during the TdF. :)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Aim High

Still With the Colorwork

I'm aiming high this year for the Ravelympics. That there is the yoke portion of my "Pallid" Bohus-inspired sweater. I'm hoping to complete the colorwork portion this evening. I've tried this on twice so far, and both times it fit wonderfully - why do I insist on doubting my math? It's MATH, I should TRUST it. I should trust IT more than I trust MYSELF.

Anyway - the sweater. I'm using my handspun HelloYarn "Pallid", and I split out the colors of 4 ounces of the fiber. I added a little bit of mohair before carding it, in hopes of replicating the fuzziness of the original Bohus sweaters (they used angora). I'm knitting this on US2 needles, and I'm making up the pattern as I go along. Soon it'll be straight stitch forever.

Bitches, Consider it ON!!!!

It's potholder swap time again, as well! Adrian, Maritza, Maryse and I are hosting the 2010 Potholder Swap. The rules, should you want to participate, can be found here. In awesome swap-admin fashion, I have no idea of what I'm going to make, and probably will end up sampling things until a week before they are due!

Yarn For Sale!

And hey! I put more yarn in my shop! Go go go get it while it's hot!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Paint Me A Swatch, Dear.

The cold - and impending Snowpocalypse - are making for very productive knitting. I've been test-knitting a few things, in between bouts of spinning:

White Russian Testing

This is Thea's newest pattern - "White Russian". It's a lovely and simple tunic that's knitting up pretty quickly. I'm knitting this up in some handspun from ages ago - a 2-ply merino that makes a delicious fabric.

I've also been testing some more mittens (surprised? Didn't think so.), this time, for Elinor - the adorable "Ladybug Picnic" mittens:

Secret Ladybug

I snuck an extra ladybug under the thumb. I've only got this one done so far (in Reynolds Soft Sea Wool, which is wonderfully squishy), and I still need to weave in ends and block them. The pattern is well-written and makes for a quick knit.

There's also been a bit of spinning:

Spin Spin Spin

That's Hello Yarn Club Fiber "Pallid" in Rambouillet. I was lucky enough to score a sweater's worth of this stuff, and I have big big plans for it! It spins up wonderfully - I'm anxious to get it on the needles.

Of course, all this spinning and knitting seems perfectly NORMAL and USUAL. So I had to throw in what I've been referring to as my Second Stupidest Idea to Date (the #1 slot goes to this humdinger) -

Ceci N'est Pas Une Swatch

You can't see much there right now, but the idea is simple enough: Reproduce knit lace swatches on a grand scale (the paper is 25" x 35") in excruciatingly detailed watercolor. The execution, however, is tough. We'll see how it goes. I'm looking forward to it - I've been meaning to get back to some drawing and painting, and hopefully this will fill that void.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Kitteh, Knitteh, Etseh


This is New Cat - we picked her up last Tuesday, and she and The Mayor are adjusting to one another. She doesn't have a name yet - we're leaning towards "Juicebox". She's a feisty 1-year-old who trills when she runs, and is very affectionate. She's a great addition to our place.

Aside from kittehs, I opened up my etsy shop! It's chock full of handspun goodness, and I'm aiming to put up new listings on Fridays. Some Hello Yarn, some Spunky Eclectic, some Southern Cross Fibers so far - more to come!

I've also been using some handspun:

Citron, Draped.

This is "Frost Forest", a Hello Yarn Club Fiber colorway from December 2007. It's Soy Silk/Merino, and I spun it as laceweight singles. I had about 660 yards, and I knew that it had these big bands of color. I'd been looking for a good pattern for this for some time, and then came across "Citron" in the latest knitty. It seemed to be just right for the yarn: simple, easy to add repeats, and would really showcase the yarn.

Citron on White

And it does! The pattern is fine, but the tedium of knitting so much lace stockinette on US5 needles nearly put me over the edge. I added an extra pattern repeat as well, in order to use as much yarn as possible. I blocked it quite aggressively, and gave it a choppy sawtooth edge. It's delightfully light and airy.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Ten Books

Books Read, Books I Think About

I've been meaning to talk a little bit here about some books that I've read recently, books that I refer to often, and books that inspire a bunch. Some are pretty specific to what I've been working on of late (book design and structure). I'll try and get a more craft-specific one on here soon. In the meantime - I hope you find this little corner of my life helpful, and I hope that - should this inspire you to pick up any of these titles - you find them as awesome as I do.

- Elements of Typographic Style. By forcing the designer to think about the design of the letterforms, the text and the type can work together to convey appropriate meaning. This book presents a clear, concise history of the evolution of many common typefaces, and why they work. It's 100% awesome, and I reach for it frequently.

- The Stuff of Thought. I picked this book up a few months ago on my way out to Minneapolis. It's chock full linguistic insanity - how we process and use words to communicate.

- State By State. This is a great collection of essays in the tradition of WPA Travel guides. Each state is represented and discussed by a different author. Visiting a state, growing up in a state, driving through a state - every place is given it's own anecdote and tale.

- An Illustrated Life. A collection of pages from sketchbooks of artists and illustrators and designers. This book is stunning and inspiring. For someone who has tried to keep a sketchbook many times and failed, every time I look through this I want to try again.

- Speck. If you've seen my house, or my Flickr stream, you'll know that I like stuff. It's everywhere! This book provides a little bit of light on the everyday and makes the reader re-evaluate it's place and our view of it.

- Art of the Japanese Postcard. I saw this show when it was at the MFA a few years ago. The postcards are beautiful little stories, and stories unto themselves. The history behind many of them is wonderful, and the printing is meticulously done.

- Big Book of Pulps. I love a good pulp story, and I swoop up any pulps I see at yard sale and Goodwill. They're totally silly, yet completely captivating. This collection - while a bit gigantic and unwieldy - keeps me from having an allergy attack to the musty smells of those older books while I read them :)

- Bookdesign. Not for everyone, but it's what I do! This is a TREMENDOUSLY helpful reference. And it's really well put together and organized (of course).

- American Book Design & William Morris. William Morris really had his design finger in every pie, didn't he? Using the same meticulous, all-encompassing enthusiasm that he applied to all other aspects of his design work, Morris' take on book design is incredible to think about and behold in this day of parcelled out production, where each individual is responsible for ONE aspect of the final product.

- Envisioning Information. Oh, Edward Tufte, you are an evil genius. How you convey information is just as important as what you are trying to say. And he says it all perfectly.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Mittens, Arches, A Sweater - Good Start to the New Year.

My foray into Mitten Madness continued into the New Year:

Northman Action Shots!

I completed the test-knitting on these, David's Northman Mittens. They were a delight to knit, and his pattern is very well-written and clear. I knit these in Rowan Felted Tweed, with a lining of Berroco Alpaca - extra squishy, warm, goodness. I used US 3 needles to get 7 stitches to the inch, and they fit wonderfully. But that wasn't the end of mitten madness......

Handspun Fiddleheads with Cashmere Linings

I finally completed these Handspun Fiddleheads. I started these a little over a year ago, and knit one exterior mitten. The yarn is handspun corriedale/alpaca that I picked up at Rhinebeck a few years ago, and the lining yarn is cashmere that is left over from Simone's Wedding Shawl. Luckily, my gauge remained the same in the year since I knit the first mitten. It feels great to have this pair done, and not looming about waiting for me to knit it's mate.

I also knit up these socks:

Grim Socks

This is the Pyroclastic pattern from knitty. The pattern uses arch-shaping along the sole, which is GREAT. The sock cradles the foot and fits wonderfully - I want to knit all socks this way from now on. The yarn used here is my own handspun, in the HY CLub "Grim" colorway. It's a 3-ply yarn of Bamboo, Superwash Merino, and Nylon, so it has a nice shine to it. The pattern had a few weird, unclear bits, and the finished socks tend to bias. But other than that - Arch Shaping! It's really the best.

I also finally got around to knitting up Sef's sweater, or at least getting started on it:
Morning Swatching

This is some Bartlett yarn he picked up at Rhinebeck in 2008. I'm making a tight-knit sweater that can function as a bit of a winter jacket. I've made it to the armpits on the body of the sweater. This project is FLYING.