Sunday, January 31, 2010

Wheelspun Urchin

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I finished this a few weeks ago! The pattern is Urchin and the yarn is, of course, my first handspun. It's a thick, heavy, not supersoft hat, but I love it! The yardage was a little hard to estimate, but I think it's about 90 yds.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Skinny on my Merino

I can tell you (though you may not need me too) that a pound is a lot of fiber. The dying that took place here went quite well and I've begun spinning it up!  My control is getting much better, the singles are getting much finer and.. it's taking much longer to fill up a bobbin!  I had planned on filling this bobbin, then another, then plying, but I took it off when it was only half full so that I could ply earlier.  It's very fine and I'm curious how the plying will go.  Unfortunately, it'll probably be at least a week before I get enough on the 2nd bobbin to find out.It needs to hurry, because I ordered by first fiber off of etsy and am dying to try that, too!

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And I've finally cast on with my qiviut. The pattern is the North Star Scarf fron Arctic Lace.  The yarn is ridiculously soft - you can even see how fuzzy it is in the picture.  But, it's not itchy.  At all.  Not like alpaca, which mostly scratches me if it looks this fuzzy.  The pattern calls for 9 repeats of the star pattern, but every time I pick it up, 'eight stars of gold on a field of blue..." starts up in my head and I can't stop.  I'm going to assess the length at 8 and see if it's long enough.



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In other news, I made the bestest, barleyest soup ever and am wildly in love with this new to me whole grain. Want to eat it all the time. I've still got 2 soups to go for my goal, but I've narrowed my reward down to 2 possible cookbooks.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Photo session and some shameless begging

With my first week of lectures successfully behind me and the kids in school for a few hours, I spent this morning getting caught up on my knitting pictures!  With two spinning and six knitting projects newly photographed, all I had left to do was choose which to tell you about first.  The spinning FO won out.  Now presenting... My 2nd yarn spun on my wheel!  

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It's the unimaginatively named 'White Romney'. Seriously.  I need to come up with better names.  There's 202 yards at 9-10 wpi, making it a worsted weight.  It's not nearly as overspun as my first, and is much softer.  And I have no idea what to knit with it!  I think I may dye it before I decide, though.  After dyeing merino the other day with the kids, I've been itching to do it again.  Maybe brown and reds?  I need help here, people!  Color and project ideas are not only welcome, but strongly encouraged :)


And now, for a totally gratuitous shot of me and the Little Dude. 
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Sweet Pea has been experimenting with her photography skills, and does pretty well for a 4 year old!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

12 Mile Quest, 2009

How did I fare in my 12 mile quest for 2009? About half way there. I am not, however, revising the distance for 2010 because now I have a spinning wheel and spinning goes muuuuuch faster!

1 jan, 2009 - 31 dec, 2009
807/1760 yards of Mile 7
6/12 miles completed
Last Item Finished: Sock Blanket Squares, 2009

Friday, January 15, 2010

Planning 10 Shawls

Today, I bring you two lists: why I joined the 10 shawls in 2010 insanity, and what I plan to knit. I joined this group for 3 reasons:
  1. I’m trying to set m ore big goals for myself. You know, ones that you’re not 100% sure that you can finish. You never know until you try!
  2. I love knitting lace, but realized that I didn’t finish a lace project last year because I got stalled out on a sampler stole. I still have the stole on the needles, but I think the yarn, while beautiful, is too busy for the pattern. But, I want to get my lace mojo back!
  3. Stash busting!
Here's what I've planned to knit, so far, in no particular order:

1. Stonington Shawl in Moss Alpaca Cloud..

2. North Star with lovely qiviut from my mom for my 30th birthday.

3. Something with Sea Silk that I got from my mom for my 31st burthday. Ideas welcome. I've got 2 skeins for a total of 874 yards, but I could make 2 things.

4. Children of Lir stole in the stream colorway of Alpaca cloud.

5. Celtic Knot Stole in the dill heather colorway of Alpaca cloud (I've got buckets of this yarn! Love it!)

6. Something out of Henry's Attic Pony laceweight dyed by a friend of mine. It's currently partway through the sampler stole, but it needs a simpler pattern to show off its colors. No idea what, though.

7-10: Since the above takes us nearly through August, I've left this open.

11. A multi-colored biased eyelet stole with the leftovers from the other projects.

12. Something with handspun, should I get that good by the end of the year.

I'm still planning my sugar-water for this particular exercise. I was thinking that I might try for something special and lace related. Then again, I may be totally sick of knitting lace come 2011. It's still up in the air

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Acid dyes and combed top

What do you get when you combine 1 lb of superwash merino, Jaccquard acid dyes, this handy tutorial and these charming assistants:
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And afternoon of slightly messy fun and this:

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Which is currently drying quite well in the basement. It didn't dissolve apart, as I was convinced that it would. If it dries by the weekend, I might even get a chance to spin it up soon!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Fancy Foods

A new, fancy Whole Foods market opened up in our neck of the woods yesterday, so the fam and I went to check it out. It was great, if crowded. I raided the Bob's Red Mill section for my reawakened interest in bread-baking. I saw some produce I had read about, but not seen. I picked up some pearl barley and squash for soups. I picked up two spices I hadn't been able to track down elsewhere (Sumac and Za'tar, if you're interested).

In other news, I racked up another soup! My favorite food blogger, Kalyn, had posted a great sounding recipe for West African Chicken and Peanut Stew. And, it was great! I made a few mods. While I bought a rotisserie chicken this weekend, there was hardly any left, so I augmented the chicken content with a couple of chicken breasts. I used a whole yellow onion, pickled ginger (the sushi kind), and red pepper flakes because that's what I had. I also gave the whole thing a few pulses with my stick blender before adding the chicken, because I was totally lazy with my dicing. All in all, it had a wonderful fruity flavor, with plenty of kick.

And, for some fiber-related content... I'm plying my 2nd yarn! It's beauuuutiful. I can't wait to show it to you all.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Minestrone

Broth based soups. I love them, but I rarely buy them at the store or get them when I go out. Why? Celery.

Let's talk a minute about taste. If you can taste something, it's because a molecule from that food bound to the appropriate receptor in your body. Very science-y sounding, but stick with me. For most people, celery has a pretty mild taste. Some of us, however, know celery's true secret. It's full of nasty, bitter, aversive flavors. Thus, it's up to me to make all my soups without celery. Without further lecturing, here's a celery-free minestrone recipe that I made last weekend.

Minestrone sans celery
most of a head of cabbage, chopped and sauteed
2 onions, chopped and sauteed
3 tbs garlic salt (more to taste)
2/4 c parmesan
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can chicken broth
1 can white beans, drained and rinsed and kind of squished

Throw in a slow cooker and let it go until the smell is so good you have to eat it :) For lunch, I usually have it with some leftover grilled chicken or turkey sausage.

P.S. You can add celery if you're not a super-taster.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Lace Hijacking

I'm not really sure what happened. This morning, I sat down to work, planning to reward myself with a quiet afternoon of knitting while the kids were at school. I have frogged this and was totally ready to start turning it into this, a similar sweater but several sizes smaller. Or maybe working on another polar bear chullo, based on these swatch mittens.

Then I happened across this post on Jacey's blog (she's a knitter with the same birthday as me, can't pass that up!) and started musing about lace. Next thing I know, I've got a stack of lace books on the table, my laceweight drawer open, and have joined 10 Shawls in 2010 group on ravelry. I may have an impulse problem.

First up. Stonington Shawl from EZ's workshop. And maybe the Children of Lir stole, if I can find where I stashed the pattern. I'm casting on this afternoon.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Dopamine Circuit

It's a time for talking about resolutions and goals. You know what a lot of these resolutions are missing? Rewards. If you're not already doing something, chances are you need a bit of incentive to do it. If I want to do something but can't seem to get around to it, I give myself a little reward. Something that I want, that I can get, but I won't unless I achieve the predetermined goal. And it works.

Dopamine in the neurotransmitter involved in reward based behavior. As part of the blog redesign, I've added a little box in the sidebar sharing my current goals and their planned rewards and called it the 'Dopamine Circuit'. Let's see what kind of goodies I can earn this year, no?

Friday, January 1, 2010

All ahead Squee Factor 10!

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A Julia (Louet S-11) spinning wheel joined our family this Christmas!

It came with a half pound of dark coopworth, found on this page. You can actually see it on the floor in the above picture. I had other fiber from my spindle, but the coopworth was sitting closest to the wheel, so that's what went in first. It has now become this:

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and has been soaked, thwacked and is now dripping dry in the dining room. Overspun? Yes. Usable? Maybe. Done? Yes.

I love the wheel. We're still getting to know each other, but I love it. I still have a million questions about it, but we'll see. Right now the right treadle makes a weird, grindy, squeaking noise when I squash it down, but that might be related to my troubles when the footman is at the azimuth.