Operation Get This Yarn OUT of my Apartment

The stash is beginning to overflow the bins. This is not a drill, I repeat: the stash is beginning to overflow the bins.

Sometimes club colorways are not quite the sort of thing I want to keep. Sometimes I want to make yarn that I don’t want to use. Sometimes these things pile up because I don’t want to try to write what is essentially ad copy for them.

Sometimes I have to suck it up and write.

Now I don’t really want to write more about the yarn. Let’s skip most of that.

I don’t know if anyone heard, but I kind of won August. I got to upsize my CSA box, yeah, but that’s just the start of it. I also inquired about being added to the waitlist for the Enchanted Knoll Farm Happy Hooves Batt Club, and LO! more memberships had just opened up. Then on the 30th I managed to snag a Jenkins Delight, which is just unspeakably adorable. I’ll show it off soon.


Last August I managed to get into the Into The Whirled fiber club–shortly after that, people were getting waitlisted. I am Pretty Good at August, it seems.

And Pretty Bad at September. Wow. Where’d all that September even go? I still haven’t finished the “Tuscadero”/baby camel spin from Tour de Fleece!

But I did finally get my shop up and running. Just in case you know anyone who might want to take some of this yarn off my hands.


Don’t Forget to Be Abnosome

This last week has been slow on spinning. Very slow, partially because of a couple of small hiccups in the art yarn department–specifically, that these hands have never made art yarn before and trying to jump into coils and beehives straight off is sort of insane. The hands are learning corespinning now. More on that when I run out of core. It’s going better than the other things, which I will photograph for full disclosure at some point in the not-too-distant future.

Of course, there is a larger reason. A very large reason, in fact. That is, the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen. I signed up on Team Fishwhales, and when registration was through, we were combined with a team of strangers calling themselves 2Glam2GiveADamn to become 2Glam2GiveADamnLovesFishwhales. To their credit, they were indeed quite glam, far too glam to be embarrassed by the kind of spectacular silliness that ensued over the last week.

Last Sunday the item list appeared–over 150 items of varying impossibility. Most of the impossible items were a problem of geography (I’m most upset about the item in which three team members go to the Dalí Museum in Spain with absurd moustaches, come on Spain, whatcha doing all the way over there???), which, if it could be solved by creative thinking, I would already have done. So we signed up for some things, we got excited, and we made stuff. And here’s the stuff I made, both materially and in profound metaphysical strangeness.

I lost a game of Settlers of Catan to Matt and Mr. Squooshy Penguin, narrowly beating Hubert, during a bloodparty.
I experienced some difficulty getting dressed when a flock of helium balloons made off with my pants.
I got a celebrity endorsement by Jeph Jacques for the SOMETAL Ukulele from Fishwhale Glamours, and became convinced that I’d invented the word “blood.”
I had a churro dagger-fight with my best friend–fortunately churros are fairly harmless, but the whole thing got a little bit Julius Caesar for a few seconds there.
I became the proud papa to a litter of wee kittens…and then cooed over the rest of the teensy kittybabies and most of the pupples at the SPCA for at least half an hour.

And THIS, well…this speaks for itself, doesn’t it?

Here, have some outtakes too.

I became a kale dragon–you may call me Kale Drogo.


I did a hug with bonus Star Trek joke. Oh, and all that face paint? I’m totally allergic.
I made and wore a uniform…and got photobombed by the Queen.

These are just my own contributions; there’s much, much more–but I’ll let my teammates tell their own stories (links if and when I have any).

As the sole member of the California division of 2Glam2GiveADamnLovesFishwhales, I could have pulled off none of this without the help and support of my BesFren (official title) and roommate, Matt. Nothing I could say could adequately express how thankful I am for so willing a partner in crime terminal weirdness.

Catching Up

I’ve been sitting on a few finished things. You know, that pile of yarn from my very first post? I was going to give each yarn a separate entry, which is why I’ve been putting it off–because that sounds more and more tedious every time I think about it.

So here’s what I’m going to do instead: All the yarns that will be staying here until I’ve transformed them from Finished Yarn Objects to Finished Wearable Objects, in chronological order, in one big mess of a post. This is going to be photo-heavy, so strap in your internets. When I finish what’s currently on my wheel and take some glamor shots, sometime next week, there will be a post for the things that won’t be staying with me.

First up is the February 2013 ITW Classic Club offering “Take it to the Bridge” on superwash merino. I started spinning it just before April began (I remember the time frame because my mom, aunt, cousin, and grandma were visiting San Francisco and the wheel, the husband person, and I all went down to see them), and I was dreading it. The last time I’d spun merino was a nightmare, and superwash is even slipperier. Worse, I am fairly certain that the fiber that came with my Stella was superwash merino, and that was a terrible thing to try in my first 6 ounces of spinning ever.

Imagine my shock when it was an absolute delight to spin every last bit of it. Just a few breaks in the singles when the wheel needed oil. Not too bad at all.

I started with 8 ounces, or two braids. I stripped each braid vertically in thirds, then spun each ply with a third from each braid, trying to make the joins between them blend together.

I found the contrast in the light and dark sections of the fiber a little too jarring for my tastes, so I wanted a lot of marling in the finished yarn.

I’m thrilled with the color play I got. I wound off two skeins of 510 yards each with a pretty even color mix between them, and 49 yards left over.

Look at that cute little thing! All a pretty solid fingering weight, overplied (this took about five days and I don’t want to talk about how my knees and ankles felt afterward) for bouncy, hard-wearing socks. Eventually. More photos on the corresponding Spinning Project page (new Ravelry feature, GREAT Ravelry feature, and there’s a Fiber Stash now too, so I’ll even start taking pictures of fiber before I start spinning!) because I got a little carried away.

Next up, Wensleydale. I’ve been wanting to try it almost since I first started spinning. I’m just drawn to the intense luster of those long, long locks. Shortly after the Hitchhiker arrived, I spotted this Wensleydale in “Catskill Pines” in the ITW shop and then a couple of days later it was in my hands and a couple of days after that it was yarn.

I’m not sure what happened, it’s all sort of a blur.

It’s about as tricky as everyone says. Too much twist and you’ve got a cheese wire on your hands. Too little and it falls apart. Of course, you can keep running it back and forth through the wheel until it’s just right, but then you might gouge out your eyes from sheer boredom, incur repetitive stress injuries in your hands and ankles, or accidentally make it go all fuzzy.

I don’t know why the camera registered that as blue, it’s more of a dark sprucey green. Anyway, it’s a lot finer than I intended, and a bit fuzzier, and it broke more than once, but I have 602 yards of laceweight…

…which I’m fairly sure will disintegrate if I try to knit with it. Not to worry, I have other plans for this. Secret plans. Manly plans.

Best not to dwell on half-failures, even kind of pretty and totally salvageable half-failures. Especially not when there are successes to discuss!

Take, for example, the January 2013 ITW Luxe Club “Sterrennacht.” First off, I’m not in the Luxe club because if I think too hard about how silk is produced I get really creeped out and have insect nightmares. So although it is very beautiful, and although I find it gives me an absurd yardage boost, I tend to avoid it. But it seems somehow right for a colorway based on Van Gogh’s The Starry Night to be silky and radiant, like, say, 50/30/20 alpaca/merino/silk.

I picked up the Luxe coordinate “Godric” in the February shop update (I got a classic coordinate too, “Call Box,” and if you aren’t detecting a reference you need to sit down and think about your life choices, especially the one where you’re living under a rock for some inexplicable reason), and then I sat around mooning over the club colorway on the same base until someone put it up for destash a couple months later and my dear friend Cory scooped it up for me while I gibbered about not really being able to justify the purchase. We have a system in which we casually enable each other interspersed with occasional active contributions to a beautiful wooly downfall.

I spun “Godric” onto one bobbin (less the little tuft that Trillian tried to eat, Trillian who is not the resident wool-eater), “Sterrennacht” onto another, and plied them together for 1,172 yards of heavy lace to light fingering weight yarn.

I’m going to turn it into a Celestarium, a beaded chart of the constellations visible in the Northern Hemisphere. Seems fitting. There’s a sister pattern for the Southern Hemisphere, but schemes for that are still nebulous at this time.

Last in today’s finished yarn parade is the April 2013 installment of the ITW Classic Club, “Sansa” on BFL. I love the choice of fiber on a literary level–BFL is soft and lustrous, with a very manageable staple length and strong enough to be hard-wearing, characteristics I also associate with Sansa Stark, who is beautiful, graceful, and courteous to a fault–and every bit a tough ol’ Stark for all of that.

Again, I’ve got 8 ounces. I was aiming for worsted weight, but it came out closer to DK. I have a chronic spinning-too-fine condition.

No preparation on this, I just spun each braid as it was and plied (and plied and plied and plied, it took a while), letting the colors fall where they would.

678 yards here, destined for a Herringbone Cowl.

Send Help, We’ve Been Overrun!


We upsized our CSA share this month. Matt wanted in on the delicious local goodness, and just look at it, who wouldn’t?

What’s pictured here is only about half of what we’ve got, the photogenic part that doesn’t need refrigeration. Lovely tart and sweet seedless grapes, and some wee apples like I haven’t had in ten years (not that those big ones aren’t beautiful too). We have more “zucchini” (it’s not, really, but that’s what they call it) than we have ideas, and so much basil. That’s not even to mention the tomatoes.


That’s a very full IKEA salad bowl, maybe five pounds of gorgeous, juicy, flavorful tomatoes. (Hi mom! Jealous?) I don’t know how we’ll get through them all (or even most of them) before next week when we’ll undoubtedly get even more; it seems a crime to cook or can tomatoes that are at their peak like these.


And then there’s this guy. Dino-carrot took down Dog with ease, then had a fairly gory meal of it. Lots of carrots, big carrots, small carrots, and of course their overlord, which may technically be a rude one, but mostly reminds me of  T. rex.

We have green beans all over the place, and some very pretty okra which is only absent because Matt was already cooking it. An eggplant that looks startlingly like a baby’s head is nestled in the fridge now, too. I remembered I wanted to take a photo of it after I’d already put everything else away and was losing the light fast. I made last week’s cucumbers into fridge pickles (they need more dill, must get on that) and this week we got four more. I put them on top of the pickle container as a threat, just so they know what happens to cucumbers that try to go off.

The potatoes from last week and the week before are almost gone, and I’ve finally caught up with all the lettuce. We’ve just one small head now, which we got today, but now there’s a big pile of onions waiting for someone to pay attention to them. Oh, and beets, loads of beets. I love them but I have no idea what to do with them, really.

All of this is grown about six miles from our apartment, in a Demeter-certified biodiversity urban farming operation. Everything is non-GMO and, when possible, they avoid hybrids. They also told me that they consider some things that are acceptable in organic farming a little harsh. The results are spectacular, obviously, though I find some of their explanations questionable (the word “homeopathic” has come up a couple of times in the newsletter, as well as a claim that raw green beans are high in cyanide, so I’ll be taking it all with a grain of salt).


In other news, the beer I bottled at the beginning of July is nicely conditioned, and since I still had some Blue Moon on hand, and since the beers are similar in style, I thought a side-by-side comparison would be in order.

Pictured above are Blue Moon on the left, and Navelgazer Wheat Ale on the right. Navelgazer has a much deeper color than the Blue Moon, and it has a corresponding richier, maltier taste, but it’s balanced. The flavorings I added to the priming solution (peel of one navel orange, a few cracked coriander seeds, and a couple slices of fresh ginger) are present, but subtle. I started with 12 bottles without raspberry added. There may be one or two left now.


On the left here is Blue Moon Blackberry Tart Ale, with Navelgazer Raspberry Wheat on the right. Blackberry Tart is from the seasonal variety pack, and along with Short Straw and Rounder, I’d buy it on its own without hesitation. Fruity, but not overbearing. The Blue Moon is a bit clearer than my Raspberry Wheat, which is unfiltered. Blackberry Tart’s fruit flavor is crisper, but Navelgazer is, to my palate, a very pleasant blend of raspberry melded with fruity yeast. Highly drinkable and probably a bit stronger than the 4% ABV estimated during bottling.

I haven’t forgotten that this is a yarn-wrangling blog! Back to that in a few days, I promise.

FO: Extremely Belated Christmas 2012 Gifts

My holiday knitting got away from me last year. Something about ten thousand miles of garter stitch just takes an unimaginably long time.

This was my break from Garter Stitch Hell. A cabled hat for my dad in Knit Picks Biggo, cut down to four chart repeats to account for the larger yarn and needles. It worked up in under 24 hours, and I learned to cable without a cable needle. Biggo is nice, very soft, but it does split quite a lot, even with fairly dull needles.

Good stitch definition though, and the cables were so welcome to break up the monotony of the original Tom Baker scarf I was making for my father-in-law and the lace-edged garter stitch shawl for my sister-in-law.

What all this means though, is that this hat? It was done well before Christmas. So why so late?

Well, that’ll be because I didn’t have anything done for my dad’s girlfriend. I had an idea. And I started it. Then I restarted it with the yarn held double for better stitch definition and warmth (winters are pretty brutal in upstate New York, after all). Then I realized that there was no way I was going to finish that thing before August and went to my LYS for a backup plan. The backup plan ended up being two skeins of Malabrigo Silky Merino in Zarzamora, which took a couple of months to become a Honey Cowl.

Generally I dislike the bias that singles create in stockinette, but the slipped and purled stitches are much more prominent features in the fabric. I was utterly charmed, and oh! the drape!

I might be just a little bit in love.

There were only a couple of yards of yarn left after the bind-off. Pretty perfect, in spite of being sent at the end of June when it is spectacularly useless (and in spite of how utterly sick of it I was by the time I finished).

Tour de Fleece: A Recap

So here it is, five days out from the end. I have a pound of yarn, a bobbin full of pretty singles waiting for some friends (oh, scratch that, it sounds like a trashy phone sex chat line ad) merino and silk waiting for its match, a partial bobbin of baby camel to keep them company, and–at long last–some numbers.


But first, there was plying.


A lot of plying, really.



Almost too much plying.


But then there was yarn from all that plying–the small skein to the left is for seaming. Yes, seaming. No, I’m not ill. I have not been replaced by some kind of terrifying alien who looks, sounds, and acts exactly like me but doesn’t hate seaming. I’ve just been coerced by stripes.


Then there was a brief kitten interlude while I finished up the grey singles, in which I found WordPress’ iOS app to be virtually identical to its web interface. Then there was even more plying, though it didn’t go on quite so much as before.


Then there was soaking–the water turned black–and snapping and beating skeins against the shower wall. This to calm some of the twist in my deliberately overplied skeins. The result is a slight loss of yardage, a nice bloom in the singles, and a very bouncy finished yarn. That’s 1,292 yards there, right on target at sport-DK weight. Major benefits of being five feet tall and living in northern California–that’s plenty of yarn for a sweater.


Then, as planned, my Into The Whirled March 2013 classic club hopped onto the wheel. That’s “Tuscadero” on 80/20 merino/silk.


The plan involves 8 ounces of that and 4 ounces of the baby camel previously seen on the supported spindle, obviously on a bobbin now. I expected it to be more difficult than it is, having had such trouble with merino on the Stella a few months ago, but the combination of baby camel cloud, Hitchhiker, and months more experience behind my hands is making it a pleasure.


Of course, challenge day (July 18) demanded a little bit of a deviation from my big plans. That’s 28 feet of 2-ply cotton on my supported spindle. The last time I tried spinning cotton, I had no experience at all with supported spinning or cotton spinning. I was also working with sliver. It was extremely slippery and frustrating and I gave up quickly. For the challenge day, I got out my hand cards and put little bits of cotton on the teeth at the very edge, just to hold it while I rolled up a puni with a DPN. Much more successful than the last time, but from preparing the puni to plying, it was hours and hours of work.


Tuscadero, on the other hand, moved fairly quickly, especially considering how very fine singles for 3-ply fingering weight yarns are.



Unfortunately, fairly quickly is not quite quickly enough. Le Tour 2013 ended here, with about ¾ ounce left to spin on the first bobbin.

With Tour de Fleece over, the collections of bobbin shots will now stop, though the excitement will not. Look forward to beer-tastings, shiny pretty things, the backlog of finished objects, and more finished objects to add to the backlog in the coming weeks.


Tour de Fleece Days 6 through 12


Turns out spinning a pound of fiber gets a little tedious after a while. Day 6 was more grey.


The semi-solid isn’t a very interesting spin to look at but I finished the bobbin for the fractal on day 7.


On day 8 the bobbins went out to have a peek at the sunshine.


And then they all got rewound onto the Stella’s bobbins. Which look much less impressive than the Hitchhiker’s because they’re huge.


Then I plied for about 8 hours.


Day 9 started with winding off the plied yarn into a 5oz skein. A bit wild and curly there before its soak, and around 394 yards.


Then I started the next bobbin–short repeats for the second skein.

Day 10 was a rest day. I used it to reset my sleep patterns. Sort of. I also sent a couple of packages out. The sparkly handspun has already arrived at its destination, the extremely belated Christmas gifts should soon. More on all of that after the Tour.


On day 11, I started and finished the first bobbin for the semisolid sleeve skein and then started the last striping ply of the fractal.


And on day 12 I finished the singles for the fractal. Plying for that will be on day 13 or 14.

This leaves me with another 2 ⅔  ounces of singles to spin. I anticipate being finished by day 16. If I finish nothing else this Tour, I’m pretty happy with this progress!

Tour de Fleece Days 3, 4, & 5

Whoops. Got a bit busy there.SONY DSC

Herself investigating the box that so vexed her earlier–I put her up on the perch and she couldn’t figure out how to get down. At the moment, she’s giving a twist tie to the Drowned God, which is much funnier, but I don’t have the light for a moving cat photo. And I don’t like to encourage her on the Drowned God front. Carpets end up soggy.

Twoflower is the Queen in this house, in case that wasn’t eminently clear. She still gets me to say the words.


Monday was a pretty poor spinning day because Monday was Bottling Day. More on that shortly.


Tuesday was a better spinning day, but I didn’t finish that bobbin until after midnight, hence the handful of fluff hanging off the flyer in the daily progress shot.


Immediately after I finished the second bobbin of stripy singles, I started the semisolid grey–but just a bit.


The bobbin in the foreground has much longer repeats of the grey and turquoise stripes–twice as long, in fact, because regular stripe patterns lend themselves handily to fractal spinning.


The semisolid ply is moving right along with around an ounce and a half on the bobbin and two and a quarter left to spin. It’ll be done by Friday, I think, then all the little Hitchhiker bobbins will be rewound onto Stella bobbins for plying. The built-in lazy kate on the Hitchhiker only has two shafts, which won’t do for a 3-ply, and anyway I like to rewind my bobbins before plying to help even out the twist distribution and head off any problem areas caused by messy bobbin winding while spinning.

You may have noticed the wheel has “DON’T PANIC” painted on it in large, friendly letters. It’s not done yet; I need to repaint the dot over the I in something lighter, then mask off the lettering and give it a dark background. Inky blue-black, I should think.


I’ve been working daily on the baby camel on the Russian supported spindle–often while reading–but for all the time I’ve given it, two or three hours, there’s only two grams on that little cop. I’m not happy with the singles diameter yet; I need it to come out to fingering weight, maybe light fingering at the finest, in a 3-ply with some merino/silk I’ve got lined up after the polwarth sweater spin. The easiest way to get thicker (…ish) singles seems to be a long draw–which is what something as short as camel down needs anyway–but I haven’t figured out how to draft while the spindle is spinning yet.

There’s got to be a better way to do it, but my hands haven’t sorted it out yet. And, bonus: if I’ve been spinning too fine for the last two grams, it’s only two grams of about 113. Plenty of fiber left to work on it.


And here we have some of the results of Bottling Day. Turns out being a one-woman bottling party for five gallons of beer cuts into the spinning time by a few hours. Designing the labels on Tuesday took considerably less time, though my printing assistant let the printer resize them.


I’m sure there’s a better way to affix labels than my rejected-printer-paper-and-magic-tape method but I don’t know what that is either. I want them to come off as easily as they go on so the bottles only need a quick wash before they’re ready to be sanitized and reused. I know Northern Brewery sells reusable labels but their usefulness appears to hinge on making the same beers a number of times greater than one.

Which is silly, why do that when you can do science?

Tomorrow we’re going to try our first all-grain brew instead of basking in the blinding light of our freedom (or, as a facet thereof).

More on that tomorrow if I can get the light. And more on the Navelgazer Wheat and Raspberry Wheat Ales in a couple weeks, after bottle-conditioning.

A shiny gold star for anyone who works out the jokes in the beer name without having been explained the thing.*

*the gold star is figurative

Tour de Fleece Day 2


Whew! A busy second day. Here’s what I reported just before midnight :SONY DSC The spindle holds about 20 minutes of spinning from day 1, and close to an hour for day 2. Baby camel is such a pleasure to spin–easier than I expected and so soft. I’m still new to this supported spinning lark though, so the singles diameter is inconsistent, and thinner than I’d like. The bobbin on my Hitchhiker here showing about 2/3 of the first ply of my first full-sized skein for this year’s Tour.

After the pre-midnight photos…


There was food. In case anyone was worried about my eating habits while I’m absorbed in spinning (hi mom!). Chesapeake tempeh cakes with fried red potatoes and lettuce from the last couple weeks of CSA boxes. Lately we’re getting more lettuce than I can reasonably eat, so I end up unceremoniously stuffing it into my face just before it goes off.


Trillian was cuddled up on the back of the couch when I returned from taking pictures of my dinner.


So, naturally, I snuggled the last pre-Tour skein up next to her.


And she sniffed and snuggled it.


And watched me watching her hold on to it.


But she was SO sleepy, and she can never manage to be as excited about yarn as Twoflower is. I stopped taking pictures and put the yarn away. (I replaced it with tummy rubs, she loves the tummy rubs.) More on that later, when it’s washed.


Then I finished up the bobbin. There it is with tomorrow’s work behind it. And Dog.


Rather pleased with these singl–

–oh, I’m sorry, were you alarmed by Dog’s face?


Yeah, well, me too. I’ll sew him up before I start spinning tomorrow.

SONY DSCMmmm look at that cloud of baby camel down. Try not to think about Dog.