Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A third.

Yesterday was my third son's third birthday (the Beast). Three is fun.

Would you believe that this shirt was the biggest hit of all his presents? He's been wearing it since yesterday morning and shows no signs of letting me take it off. I have a purple shirt that I may put a cyberman on for him soon.

Rainbow dash was loved by everyone. Applejack lost her hat within the first thirty seconds of play. I'm going to sew elastic to it so that they can easily remove and replace it.

This is the extent of my cake decorating skills. A two layer brownie cake with buttercream frosting and peanut butter M&Ms. Classy, right? A suggestion: no matter whose birthday it is or how much they want it, toddlers should not be given cake thirty minutes before bedtime. It makes things more difficult than necessary.

This is what I did last week.

I've had the piece for this quilt top cut and sewn into strips for years.

I finally sewed the strips together. It's huge. I also sewed together the squares for a quilt for the Elf. I had one side sewn and the other just cut out. Right now it's half quilted. I've sort of lost momentum again.

The Imp's current favorite mama-made pants (mushrooms!). For my next trick, I'll add pockets.

Linking up with Nicole's Craft On. Because I can.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


We know that my sewing machine and I don't get along. But recently I've had this.. drive to make clothes for my boys. I blame all those amazing, crafty mamas who blog about the adorable clothes they make for their kids with seemingly little effort.

So I tried to make pants. This is attempt number two.

The first ones were... bad. These are too long and maybe not wide enough in the legs. The Imp can't move in his crazy ways as easily as he'd like (but loves them, all the same). Here's where everyone else realized that tracing stretchy fabric pants and using non-stretch fabric to make new ones.. wouldn't work out so well. Oh well, there's always tomorrow.

This is the Beast's final birthday gift. I have two ponies and a dalek shirt for him. I love making freezer paper stencil shirts. Next weekend I'll be working on one for B's birthday.

Linking up with Nicole just for the fun of it.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


In and around preparations for the Beast's third birthday (a week from Monday) I've been.. dun dun duuuuun! Messing with fiber. What a shock, right?

This is a huge wheel of wool. I put my glasses on top to show the size of it. It's also a bit more blue than the image is showing.

My Autumn roving. Or.. my.. Autumnesque roving.

This is the Cheetarah yarn I blogged about here. I think it looks great reskeined, though the hints of brown are hard to see. Also, I've been working on tags for my yarns in an effort to make it look more presentable.

This is older yarn, reskeined and tagged. I love this color so very much.

I blogged about this yarn here. I decided to overdye it a darker green. I'm happier with it now.

I've been reading a lot and playing Bioshock Infinite. This week is going to be super busy. B is taking next week off and there are two birthdays to plan for - the Beast's on the 29th and B's on the 5th. The beast wants a "brownie cake" and B is going to get apple pie, cheddar baked olives and possibly a breakfast with bacon. I'm also going to try my hand at pickling garlic. But for now it's 11:53 pm and I really ought to be in bed.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

This week.

How I've been spending my free time:

Carding fiber: 50% merino, 30% bamboo, and 20% tussah silk.

This is around 250 grams all carded and ready to spin.

More commercially dyed wool. This is a black 85% wool, 15% mohair mixed with bits of white. Familiar with Lamb's Pride by Brown Sheep? This is their roving.

These are also Lamb's Pride. I spun this as thin as I could and then chain plied it. I have another bobbin's worth to ply. I think it'll end up being at least 13 ounces of yarn. Wow!

This is the 50% local alpaca, 40% wool, 10% tussah silk that I posted about before. I dyed it with onion skins (and alum mordant). I have to say that I'm less than thrilled with the color. I was expecting.. something else. So I'm left to decide two things: over dye? leave as a single or ply it? I'm having major decision making problems lately.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Woolly weekend

I spent the vast majority of my weekend carding fibers and spinning. It was one of the best weekends in recent memory. I also finally boiled up my bag of onion skins to make dye.

I've turned this:

(this is actually fiber I still need to spin)

Into this:

(a single and it's chain-plied counterpart)

This is a 50/40/10 mix of local alpaca, wool, and tussah silk. I plan to dye it with the onion skins and ply it.

Recently the Imp began having worries about bad dreams. I give him a "potion" every night (lavender oil from Lusa Organics on his chest - just a dot) and we have a dream catcher on the wall. Now the Beast is fearing sleep. I've walked him to sleep several nights in a row while he verbally worries about dreams.

I want to give him (and his brother) a dream faerie. While walking the Beast I thought up a waldorf style doll. It would be between seven and ten inches tall. I'd knit them a little outfit. They would be filled with positive energy and my boys could keep them tucked in with them at night. I'd come up with a story for them - how the faeries guard against bad dreams or something. It all sounded so simple. So perfect. I even thought - what if they were more animal like. With cat or elf ears - a tail!

By the light of day I remember how much I really don't like sewing. How frustrating I find stuffing dolls and making hair. How could I possibly fill a doll with positive thoughts when I'm cursing every step of the way? So my next thought is to put out to you all that I'd be absolutely thrilled if someone wanted to set up a swap with me. I knit, crochet, spin yarn, mix herbal teas (I'm really enjoying a combination of rooibos, red raspberry, and nettle, with a pinch of peppermint), make salves, etc.

Unrelated, but worth mentioning. If I seem morose or withdrawn these days it's because I've been thinking. If things had been different, I'd likely be holding a newborn right now. In an attempt to not dwell I've been throwing myself into my spinning and preparing for the Beast's upcoming birthday (and B's a week later).

Friday, April 12, 2013

Why I love being an adult.

This is what I do at night after the boys go to bed: when we don't have to be role models and can unwind.

In front of me is my lovely wheel, Dervish, and B's video game (Fallout 3).

To my left, Pilot.

To my right, Ramses. Calcifer, whose back you can see on the table, later joined me in my chair. I don't believe in "proper spinning posture." I believe in comfy.

Also, I finished B's Vinnland sock. Ravelry details here. This is on my foot, though. My feet are larger than his, believe it or not.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The wool dilemma.

Yesterday the Elf bought a new (on clearance) megabloks set (it had a dragon and a guy with a sword - that's all the boys care about). It was bedtime when we got home so it was left in the box. This morning when B woke me up, the Elf was already awake (anticipation?). His brothers, upon waking, were told (by the Elf) that the new toy could not be opened until he was done with his school work. Imagine my shock - *I* certainly didn't make that rule. My ten year old "I hate school" little boy imposed this limit on himself. Wow. With only a few minor bumps along the way, his work was finished before lunch. They've been happily playing since.

What's a mom to do with that kind of gift? I made laundry soap, washed diapers, folded all the laundry that had been sitting in baskets, washed yarn that I'd dyed the day before.. and quested through my wool stash for inspiration (I may have also spent a considerable amount of time watching videos on Geek and Sundry).

This is a king sized bed. Let me just assure you that this is a lot of wool. I have a mess of other wool that isn't washed, but we'll ignore that for the moment. Among the bags of just-plain-wool I have: merino, tussah silk, bamboo, commercially dyed coloniel, local alpaca, Brown Sheep's Lamb's Pride roving, local "heritage" wool, and a couple bags of stuff I've dyed.

I was looking for inspiration. Instead I was a little overwhelmed.

With the help of my boys, we've decided that when I drag the drum carder out I should mix these to make a Master Chief inspired yarn.

Yesterday I dyed the last of my mostly-consistent-and-thin yarn. I'm not sure how I feel about this one. It's not what I had envisioned. The blue spots came out seriously blue, too. I'm going to re-skein at least one before I decide if I should overdye it.

Alas, I have decided to work on the socks I'm knitting rather than spin. I'll save the spinning for after the boys go to bed. Hopefully B will entertain me with some Fallout 3 as well (yes, okay, we love our video games).

I want to thank everyone who wished me well (in comments, emails, passing thoughts) concerning my last post. I really appreciate it. The truth is that I've been battling depression for most of my life. It's under control and most of the time I'm fine. Some days are really rough, though. Saturday was just one of those days. I've been trying to dig deep and work on some "me" things to change my default way of thinking and processing. It, like all things in life, is a work in progress.

I also wanted to share that I've finally changed the background image on my computer for the first time in.. oh.. at least five years. It was previously a very dark image that I think I found on DeviantArt many years ago. A city in silhouette on a hill. With a giant rabbit silhouette coming toward it. I always felt the rabbit was coming to destroy the city. Now, I'm feeling like crazy, strong, trying to make it through River Tam is the way to go. Also, I just love my Firefly/Serenity.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Life and other sundries.

I keep meaning to post here. And then I don't.

Our weekend:
Saturday I battled wretched depression and spent most of my day in bed, staring at walls. Miserable for a thousand tiny reasons and no way to claw myself out of the funk. Yes, Saturday was no fun.

Sunday we cleaned and rearranged the living room. You can't tell from this picture (from today) but it really was clean. For about five minutes. I also fixed the rocking chair that was given to us when the Imp was a wee one. It's been missing screws and used as storage for years. Now everyone wants to sit it in. (Hey! I spy three out of eight cats! The ironic thing is that they're all still there and in mostly the same positions.)

At some point in and around the cleaning I dyed some of my handspun. It's all pretty thin (I'm getting much better at being consistent when I want to be) and strong enough not to drive me to ply it. My inner geek won out and I tried to replicate some of the colors in the classic Thundercats character Cheetara. Here's a peek at it before I re-skein it.

And B's sock. I was slamming away until after I turned the heel. Then I realized that I had to work the pattern on both sides and my momentum seriously faltered.

Other than that, the Elf and I have been plugging away at botany and history. I will sadly admit that Botany in a Day still doesn't make a great deal of sense to me. We tried to identify a plant I knew to be Cleavers. However, had I not, it would have been supremely difficult to figure it out using the method in the book. It's a struggle, but we're working on it.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Late Yarn Along

Okay, I'm a day late. But I think I'll link up with the folks over at the Yarn Along anyway.

I've been knitting socks for the toddlers. However! On the needles are two socks for bigger people. The orange is a "mystery knit along" for a Ravelry sock group that I don't belong to. Wow. That makes me sound like a stalker. Regardless this is the pattern. They've only released one "clue" which I finished in an evening. I'm using smaller needles so it won't fit me (not that it would have anyway). It may fit the Elf, though. And he's happy about that. The grey sock is for B, using this pattern. Again, I'm using smaller needles. But they have multiple sizes so I just picked the one that mostly works math-wise.

Reading: I got these two books from the library. One is for a read along thing on the Cold Antler blog and the other I came across while getting lessons (about the crusades) set up for the Elf. I really enjoyed Stephen Lawhead's Robin Hood books (Hood, Scarlet, and Tuck) so I'm more than happy to give these a try.

Close up of the "mystery" sock. I *had* to knit this one because it's based on a series of books that I loved when I was younger. I did mess up one of the cables (on both sides of the sock) because I *assumed* the directions would mirror a previous cable - that'll teach me, right?

Monday, April 1, 2013


Last Monday the Imp came to me, dressed like this:

Imp: Who do I look like?
Me: uhm.. I don't know, who do you look like?
Imp: Knitting guy! (note the sheer number of handmade items the kid is wearing. I think his mother may have a bit of a problem *ahem*)

He was quickly joined by the Beast and we had a photo session of super hero poses. I'll spare you.

A while ago I bought myself some of the metal fixed circular needles from KnitPicks in US size zero to use for sock knitting (purple cable, silver needles). May I take a moment here to tell you how frustrating they were to use? They aren't very pointy, they don't really taper at all, the cable isn't very bendy. Ugh. Fast forward to last Friday. I was knitting with the lovely ladies at Really Knit Stuff and I decided to take a look at the needles in the shop. I came home with Addi lace needles in the same size (gold cable and needles). Can you see the difference? My goodness they're a dream to use! I highly recommend them (I usually use what I have and deal with it - but these are worth the extra purchase).

I saw this bunny here and knew that I had to make one. (Ravelry details here)

Which quickly led to a cat. With plans for a dog, bear, mouse, Totoro, and more. (Ravelry details here)