Friday, July 27, 2012


I meant to post yesterday. But you see. Something arrived early.

That's right. My Brother drum carder! I beamed at the delivery guy and thanked him profusely. He probably thought I was a little nuts.

The first thing I carded was some alpaca. I ran it through three times for luck and managed to diz it off into roving.

This is three batts worth (I didn't weigh anything - I was too excited) that I spun and then chain plied.

Here is the green-ish hand dyed roving that I spun and plied the other day. It's hard to get a picture of all the amazing colors in this one hank of yarn. Green, purple, blue, yellow, orange, brown. Seriously. I love this yarn.

And now I think I'll try blending some firestar with another dyed twist of roving (another of the yellow/orange braids I posted about).

As my two youngest are fond of saying "me so happy!"

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Again I have waited until the dark clouds roll in to take photographs. I cannot bear to take pictures of the beautiful (yes, I'm modest) yarn that I spun the other day in such piteous light. So it will wait. With luck I'll get around to it tomorrow - before the daily rain.

Joining up with Ginny for the Yarn Along.

I'm reading Voyager by Diana Gabaldon. It's the third in the Outlander series. I'm enjoying it more than I should, which is a problem because I'm nearly done with it and I don't have the fourth book. I'm knitting a pair of brown longies for the Imp. The poor kid has been having growing pains and has sprouted two inches in as many weeks. I'm also knitting a birthday gift for the Elf. I'm following this pattern very loosely. I've used the nose of Emily's pig and made the whole thing smaller and without flame. The idea is to make several and a bag. Why? Because he loves all things Legend of Zelda. And when B and I first met, we played Ocarina of Time late into the night for weeks. The Elf will love it and it kind of brings back memories.

Monday, July 23, 2012


Today my kids were near perfect angles. On a Monday. Today was a Monday. It was the first day that my husband had gone back to work after his vacation. I was alone with the kids. On a Monday. For the first time in nine days. And they were perfect. Or near enough for me. I don't suspect I will forget this day for the rest of my life. Seriously.

So what does one do on a perfect day? A day when the kids are totally happy entertaining each other? A day when all they need from you is food, drink, hugs, kisses, smiles, and the occasional diaper change? Let me tell you. One spins. Copiously. Joyously. That is what one does.

First, I started with this:
Remember that nasty looking heritage fleece I'd been washing? And then I carded the bit I'd washed on a friend's drum carder? That's what this is.

This is the fluffy, poofy, perfectly imperfect yarn I spun with it.

Remember that crazy fuzzy-locks-everywhere llama/alpaca hyrid I had spun? That's what I plied it with. Personally, I adore it. However, I ran out of the heritage wool and will have to ply the rest once I've completely scoured, carded, and spun the remainder.

Did I stop there? At a job well done? No! I did not. Instead, after checking on the kids and changing a diaper, I gathered supplies.
Hand dyed merino left over from my thick-and-thin experiment, firestar in the tropical colorway, and a hackle. Mmmmm.

Pretty, yes?

I used a diz to pull it off into roving. I actually ended up with two puffballs of fiber, but only took pictures of one. By this point I was having too much fun and photographs were more of an afterthought.

Spun! The sparkle doesn't show well in this picture, though.

And then! After a brief cat-nap (ten minutes, people - with a toddler hurling legos at me) and dinner, I spun up some of that pink/orange/yellow stuff I dyed the other day.
And then I took a deep breath and gave chain/Navajo plying a try. Now.. now I think that I may be addicted.

If I ever manage to finish this post, this is the roving I'll be spinning next! The Beast picked it out of the bundles I have hanging on pegs in the bedroom. He has good taste, no?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Poor photographs

It's another overcast day and I'm left to take pictures in poor lighting. It feels like I've spent the whole weekend washing dirty alpaca fleece. And I guess I sort of have, but it's all done now. I'm going to try to hand card some of it because I'm just too anxious to wait a week for my drum carder (estimated delivery on the 28th!).

I'm nearly finished with a custom order. I'm just waiting for the beeswax polish to soak in a bit before I attach the wee hats.

Finally finished the scrappy shorties. So many ends to weave in. It was insane. These will be listed in the shop once I get better pictures. Hopefully I'll get the Beast to cooperate and model them for me.

This roving look so much better unraveled. I think I'll take a new picture to show you guys tomorrow. There's so much more purple and yellow than you can see here.

Remember that yellow and orange mess I had in the dye pot? These are the results. It's more orange and pink than I'd planned, but I think it'll mix well with the tropical firestar I have.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Basic salve

I thought I would share my basic "how to" for salve making. Today I made a "bug bite" salve. With the insane mosquitoes this year, I know we'll need it.

To begin, I started this more than a month ago. Five and a half weeks, to be exact (er. close to exact, anyway). I filled a pint canning jar halfway with my dried herbs (full if you're using fresh - but then there's a moisture issue and I prefer not to mess with that) and then cover (to fill the jar) with the oil(s) of your choice. I used an herb mix that I bought from The Bulk Herb Store. It has rosemary, olive leaf, plantain, echinacea, comfrey, and lavender. Normally I'd have added calendula at the very least, but I wanted to give the mix a try before I adjust it. I used grapeseed oil and olive oil. Both organic. I only mixed them because I ran out of grapeseed.

Here's my infused oil. Some people heat the oil to infuse it - this takes less time. Some people leave it in the sun. There are a lot of methods. Generally I combine the herbs and oil and leave it in a dark place for six weeks. I do my best to remember to shake it every day.

Strain the oil from your jar. It helps to use cheesecloth or muslin to get the extra gunk out. Since this is just for us, I tend not to be too picky.

In a pot of water, place a jar with your beeswax. Slowly heat to melt the wax. I'm sure there's a formula for how much wax to oil you should use. But I much prefer to wing it.

Lovely melted wax. Mmmm.

In another container I poured some of my infused oil and set it in the hot water to warm. Pour in some wax and stir to combine. If you're adding extras, now is the time to do it. I usually add a tiny bit of vitamin E oil. Sometimes I add shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil, etc. I didn't this time. Again, I wanted to give the herbal mix a try before I tinkered.

To test the consistency of your salve, put a few drops on a tin (or spoon) and stick it in the freezer for less than a minute. I generally stick it in the freezer, put away some of my mess and then check it. If it smooshes (this is a technical term, I promise) the way you like, great! If it's too soft, add wax. Too hard, add more oil (even not infused oil will do). Remember, though, *gently* heat the oils. You aren't cooking them.

Once you're happy with the consistency, pour it into a container. New tins, clean old tins, glass jars. I've used all three.

Leave it totally undisturbed until it has cooled (mine isn't quite cooled in the middle in this picture, but you get the idea). Praise yourself and enjoy your lovely new salve!


I'm having a hard time controlling myself. It's a good thing I only have the one pot available for use at the moment. Things could get messy!

Here are some rovings I dyed yesterday:

And here's the dye pot right now!

So much fun! Later today there will be toothpaste and salve making and some alpaca washing. And quite probably some spinning. Oh! And peg doll making! Okay. Realistically not all of that is going to happen. There's always tomorrow!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Carding, plying, and dye failure.

Yesterday I went to visit some friends and use their drum carder. Since then, I'll have you know, I've ordered my own drum carder. A Brother drum carder. Excitement! Here are the batts I made yesterday.

The left is the heritage wool I'd been washing. It ended up being about an ounce and a quarter. The right is the alpaca/llama hybrid at three ounces.

Remember the brown and the ecru yarns I spun over the last few days? Well, I plied them. It looks nice enough, but wasn't what I was going for. The variations in the brown are all but lost. Oh well.

Another failure is the cabbage dye. Natural dyes and I aren't getting along these days. The truth is that I need to just buy some alum and get over myself. Of course, once I do this and still get sub par results I'll probably cry. Again, oh well. The light lavender/grey is just plain cabbage. The extremely faded-almost-teal-grey was with the addition of baking powder (because I didn't double check what I'd read - it should have been baking soda). It's stiff despite all of my rinsing. Right now it's soaking in extremely hot water. After this I'm likely to just give up.

And in case you think I never leave my world of wool. I've been working on a potential custom order of peg dolls. For the life of me, I can't draw a hairbrush.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


First, my Yarn Along entry:

Scrappy longies. All manner of blues and greens. There are currently six balls of yarn hanging off of this project. Reading The Dark Volume by Gordon Dahlquist. It's the sequel to The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters and I am thoroughly enjoying it. Supposedly there will be a third book out this year. And yes, a sleeping Beast foot.

I spun this to be plied with the brown from yesterday.

This is the wool I ordered recently from Mohair and More.
These are my Aang colors: three ounces each of copper and yellow and two of blue.

Three ounces of two different browns and a full pound of undyed.

Three ounces each of two greens and lavender.

One ounce of firestar in Tropical (because I just want to play around with it even though it isn't a natural fiber) and four ounces of goldenrod. I did just realize that I'm missing three ounces of another brown. Hmm. Guess I'll be emailing the company.

This is heritage wool given to me by a friend. The clump on the left has been washed in near boiling water more than ten times. It's still not as clean as it could be.

I hand carded it regardless. I just can't waste any more water on it. I'll get around to the other half eventually.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Crafting On!

Less words, more pictures!

My fiber order arrived (pictures later). I hackled two browns together.

And then spun it.

This is handspun merino soaking in red cabbage water. Tasty, no?

I'm still cleaning this same fleece. Every time I get more grit in the bottom of the bowl. Will I ever be done with this?

Linking up with Nicole.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Giveaway winner!

Remember this giveaway? Well, I remembered to pick a winner last night after my helpers had already gone to bed. So this morning, bright and early, we dove in.

All sixteen entries.

The Imp picks a name.

The Beast wants to pick one, too. Guess it's a good thing I have another hank to give away!

The winners are Crunchy Mama and Julie! I will email you both by the end of the day (but feel free to email me first if you'd like).

Thank you to everyone who entered!

Friday, July 13, 2012


You knew it was coming.

A second light saber.

Thank you everyone for your comments on my last light saber. Without the awesome pattern I followed, it would have been a mess. Details here.

Appa is coming along. I still have a lot of sewing to do for his feet, but at least he has a head. His head/back arrow will be added last.

Ah, yarn! More of the black/white/red stuff - a single and a two-ply. The pastel yarn is my first attempt at intentional (and consistent) thick-and-thin. It was more difficult than I like to admit. The final fuzzy yarn is the alpaca/llama hybrid that I spent a week washing. I couldn't managed to card, hackle, or otherwise wrangle it into behaving. So I spun it in clumps. I think it worked out really well. I'd like to ply it with something - with luck I'll have enough for an upcoming sheep doll. Yes, a sheep knit from a llama.

And as I'm sure you're all tired of hearing: Don't forget to enter the giveaway to win some of my handspun yarn!