Saturday, December 29, 2007

Now let the Straightening begin

So Christmas came and went and I did not get my projects done. Except for the shawl for my sister-in-law, the only finished Christmas projects were sewing ones. What is wrong with me? I just don’t know. The afghan for my Mom, --- unfinished. The vest for my Dad, -- unfinished. Even the socks for my brother, -- totally unfinished. To add insult to injury, my knitting projects are scattered from one end of the house to the other. All my carefully hidden yarn was moved because of Christmas decorating, and piled into heaps in the attic. In my regular knitting areas which are now disaster areas, I have many, many false starts that have to be pulled apart and restored to ball status. January is shaping up to be one hell of an organizing month.
But on the other hand, I did have a very nice Christmas, and I did get the quilt for my niece done. See:

You can’t see it in the picture, but there are frogs in the blue fabric. My niece is just crazy about frogs. So I did get one project accomplished this Christmas. Now I’m just going to have to spend all January straightening up. Now for next Christmas......

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Getting Christmas done

So it's been a pretty productive weekend at the woollyattic. Not only did I get the shawl done for a Christmas present (for someone who cannot be revealed), I also got the bunny done! Isn't she cute? Since my niece can't read yet, I'm pretty safe in revealing that this bunny is destined for my littlest, newest niece. The pattern is from McCalls, but I embroidered the eyes instead of using plastic eyes because my niece is so young. I think the bunny turned out well. I also got alot done on another Christmas present while the Packers played. Good thing this weekend is so productive--Christmas isn't far off!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Humble (Homely?) Pie

As we say in our family "Happy Thanksgibey". We are heading for my mother-in-laws for the large meal, and when it comes to holiday meals, I have one major role. I am the dessert committee, and on Thanksgibey, that means pie. Well, this has not been a stellar pie year. The punkin is homely, the apple pie boiled over in the oven and the crust for the banana cream drunkenly hangs over the edge of the pie plate, instead of standing up in pretty crimps. I know part of the problem is laziness on my part in buying the pre-made (pillsbury) crust. It shrinks much more than homemade crust and is too soft to make the stand up crimps I wanted for the banana cream.
Really the problems with the banana cream and the pumpkin are purely cosmetic, and the pies should be just as tasty as usual. Pumpkin pie isn't the most beautiful pie, even in the best possible example. Why else would you cover the pie with cool whip? However, I am a little upset about the apple pie. I didn't follow my usual Betty Crocker recipe, which was my first mistake. I tried the recipe in the new Cooks Illustrated magizine, which cooks the apples first over low heat before putting them in the crust and baking them. This is supposed to keep the apples from shrinking in the pie. Unfortunely I also didn't follow the directions about draining the apples after cooking them. I looked at the apples, didn't think that looked like too much liquid, and just dumped them in the crust and threw it in the oven. This was my second mistake. This liquid seeped through the bottom crust (thanks Pillsbury) and boiled up between the bottom crust and the pie plate (instead of in the pie crust, like it supposed too) and made a horrific mess of my oven and a soggy bottom crust. Oh well, maybe it will taste good, even with the soggy crust. I think I'll go back to my usual apple pie recipe for the next holiday, cause that holiday brings home my true blue apple pie lover--my son.
Since we are going over to my mother-in-law's apartment for Thanksgiving, I have given myself permission to start another project. Like I needed permission! Anyway, since we are going to be there for many many hours, I needed something to meet a couple criteria. First it has to be a fairly simple pattern so I don't have to bring along my pattern book, yet not as boring as all garter or all stockinette stitch. Second it has to use circular needles so I can't lose a needle while I'm working on the project. This rules out socks and any cable patterns. Third, and this is most important, I need not to have to measure it constantly, so this leaves out started projects that I need to start the shaping on, say at the armholes. Fourth it needs to be not so huge that it takes up alot of room. This leaves out the afghan I'm working on for my mom. So you see, I needed to start another project! Now I could have just started another scarf for my etsy site, but Christmas is coming so I decided to start a nice man's sweater or vest, either for my ___________ or my____________. (Thanks Franklin!). This fits all the criteria wonderfully. First of all, its a mans sweater-- the men in my family like unfussy patterns and I just happen to have 12 skeins or so of toasty brown wool yarn in my Woolley attic. Second I'll work it in the round, using the circular needle. And since I've just started it, I have lots of knitting to go before I have to measure. Lastly it takes up less room that an afghan. I just cast on last night, and I've got a couple rows done, so when I blog next, I'll show a picture of the progress. Happy Thanksgibey!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Just like dear old dad?

While I was reading knitting blogs today, I responded to the open mike question about the layout of the new Interweave Knits mag at The Knitting Curmudgeon's blog. I am not a fan of the new layout at all. I think it is a worse layout than the layout at Vogue Knitting and the Knitters magazine. The new layout is all chopped up, with the picture and part of the pattern in one area, then the rest of the pattern somewhere else in the magazine. Not only is it hard to follow the pattern with this layout, it also makes it harder for me to store the patterns.
I have my own system of storing patterns I like. I have bought a lot of knitting magazines over the years, and I don't want to keep every magazine, but I hate to just throw them out. I tear out the patterns I like and file them into categories. With some patterns categories, I've even made binders with the patterns from different sources. (For example, I have a one for sock patterns, one for hats and gloves, etc.) This makes it easy to find a pattern when you want to make a particular article. With the old layout, the directions followed the picture of the finished article, which made it easy to store the patterns. With the new layout, my storage of patterns is not going to be as easy any more since the patterns are more spread out through the magazine.
I was thinking about this habit or effort to organize or whatever you want to call it, and I am sure that this is actually a family habit. My father is well known in the family for his file cabinets full of articles that he's gonna read some day, and projects that he's gonna to make sometime in the future.
I think the our shared pattern storage habit just might be one part of the bad hoarding habit that runs in the family. My paternal grandmother,( God rest her soul), had so much stuff stuffed into her trailer and shed, it was impossible to walk through most of the rooms. So while I may think that I'm saving clearance yarn from a sad existence on the store shelves at Jo-Annes, I'm actually building my own hoard of yarn. My own woolly attic. No wonder my husband is worried about the yarn taking over. But there you have it, the reason for my bad yarn habits--it runs in the family!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A sad yarn re-visited

A while back, I posted an entry about some sad yarn I left on the shelf of the Jo-Ann's because even on sale, it was a little too much money for my yarn budget. Well, yesterday I went back into the same Jo-Ann's, and instead of being on sale for $4.00 dollars (or what ever it was)--it was now $1.50 a skein. Must rescue soft Italian yarn. (Now that it was within my budget!) I am not sure of what I'm going to do with this yarn--I don't think I have enough of each color for sweaters, and the colors don't really go together. Maybe a vest in each color, or maybe sweaters for my nieces for Christmas. I do know one thing--this yarn is going to have a nice comfy spot in my attic, with lots of other yarn to hang out with.
In other news, my customer for the custom order has sent payment and as soon as the payment clears, her order will be heading off to her. I hope she likes her accessories. My first sale. Yahoo!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


I re-read my last entry, and I made a rather big boo-boo. The book that I used for my dyeing experiments is actually called "I'd Rather Dye Laughing" by Jean M. Neel. I really apologize to the writer.
As I talked about in the last entry, this book is a good introduction to dyeing wool. It especially has information and encouragement about a type of dyeing called casserole dyeing. This type of dyeing uses an oven as the heat source. I really enjoyed using this method for a couple of reasons. First of all, it heated my cold house. Now that winter is coming on, the battle of the thermostat is (excuse the pun) heating up. Secondly, it seems to be a no fuss, no muss way of dyeing fiber. I've dyed a couple of times in a big canning pot, and the casserole dyeing just seemed easier.

In other knitting, I finished my first custom job. I haven't heard from the lady who requested them yet, but I hope to soon. I'm crossing my fingers that the hat and mittens are what she was looking for. I'm a little nervous about this because I've been a knitter for a long time, and I've made many many things for many different people, but this is the first time that I've knitted anything specifically to order. I hope she will get in touch with me soon about the hat and mittens.
So now its on to the next custom order. This order uses the red-violet yarn that I casserole dyed, in the same pattern as the mittens and hat shown here. Both the hat and mittens are pretty basic styles that I have adapted to the lace rib stitch pattern, and to the hand-spun yarn I used. I should be smart and write down my pattern as I knit, but I just never manage to do what I should do. I'll start out by writing down my numbers, but by the end I have a paper full of chicken scratches and cross-outs, if I can still find the paper I started with. Now I think that starting with a general pattern and adapting it to my stitch pattern and stitch gauge makes it my pattern, but I am unsure if this makes an original pattern. If anyone has any feedback on this, I would love to read your opinion.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Dyeing to meet you

I've been spinning yarn for a couple of custom orders, and since I'm not the fastest at spinning, it's taken me a while to get this yarn spun. This yarn started out white, but that wasn't the color requested so it was "Time to dye". Cue the sinister voice because it is almost halloween.
While I've been knitting since 4th grade, and spinning for about 6 years now, I don't often dye yarn or fiber, so I was a little scared. I wasn't sure I would get the red-violet that I needed. I'm not sure if I got exactly the right color, but hopefully, I'm close.
I think you could call this yarn the undead, because it has actually "Dyed" twice. The first dyeing, with Easter egg dyes, left it a lovely violet, but it needed to be more red. I over dyed the violet with a red dye to push the color more towards the red side. I some how managed to do this without felting the yarn, which was a great relief. I used the methods in the book "I Dyed Laughing", for casserole dying. This method is great! I presoaked the yarn in a vinegar solution, then put the yarn in the dye solution in a disposable aluminium roaster. I covered the roaster with tinfoil, then put the roaster in a 350 degree oven for 15 mins. I then added some boiling water to the pan so that the yarn wouldn't burn. I took the roaster out of the oven after 15 more minutes and left the yarn to cool in the roaster. The first time, with the Easter egg dyes, the water was clear when I finished, but the second time, with a Rit dye, the water was still red. I think it didn't exhaust because of the type of dye I used. I'm going to try this again with some real acid dyes in the future. With the right dyes and careful calculation I probably wouldn't have to dye the yarn twice to get the color I want.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Just right?

This is why I have such an insane amount of stash in my attic. I bought the neutrals awhile ago (probably 2-3 years ago) because they were on sale. They are just your basic wool worsted weight yarn, and I thought I'd make a striped outdoor fall sweater for me.The neutrals work well together, but they are a little boring. Kind of guy colors, not really what I wanted. So to add a little zip (and enough yarn for a sweater for me) I thought I'd add a fourth color.
I bought the blue yarn first. It looked good with the other yarns in skeins, but when I knit it in stripes it just wasn't right. I'm not sure why I didn't like it, but I think the cool blue didn't look right against the neutral browns. Too cool!
The next yarn I bought was the bright red in the middle. I didn't even need to knit a sample with this color. Too bright! Just looking at the quartet of yarns was enough.
So I recently bought three skeins of the last red--the color name is rich red. I think this might just work, giving the combo just enough zip for a sweater for me. Just right! ( sounds kind of Goldilocks and the three bears, doesn't it) I haven't tried this in a sample yet though, so who knows.
That's one of the things I like about having projects in the back of my mind, and back of my attic. Whenever I've had a bad day, a mean red kind of a day, its nice to pull out some yarn and start a project. Starting new projects is my therapy, it just soothes my mind. So these yarns are just waiting around for their turn on the needles. Unfortunately there is a couple problems with my therapy. One is all the started projects laying around my house. The other is now that I found the right yarn for the neutrals, I have to find projects for the rejected yarns. Till then, though they have a cozy home in my attic.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Fiber photographs

Along with starting a blog, my daughter also talked me into trying to sell my knitted stuff on ETSY. Hence the little pictures along the side. So far, I haven't had any buyers for my hats and scarfs, but I haven't had the website up long.

Ever since I started to knit, people have told me that I should try to sell my knitted stuff. For those counting, I started knitting back in the fourth grade, nearly 35 years ago now. (Man, I am old) I have tried a couple times to sell my work, once at a consignment place which did not work, and once wholesale to a hat shop. The hat shop bought three hats from me, but never got back to me. Just a little discouraging, huh? Selling, or in my case attempting to sell through the ETSY website does have some advantages. For one thing, I'm not selling wholesale, I'm selling at retail. The ETSY site itself is pretty inexpensive. And unlike the consignment shop, I control how my items are displayed. Which brings me to this problem. How do you photograph a gray scarf, and have it look like anything?

This picture was probably the best of the 10 I took, and it still looks like it was photographed in black and white. None of the texture of the yarn shows up in the picture, and the gray color itself looks really blah and flat. I guess I just need to work on my photography. Maybe a light box for better lighting, or a colored back drop for contrast against the gray would help.

The yarn this scarf is made of is from some shetland sheep roving I bought from the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool festival last year. I bought the pound of roving thinking I was going to make a vest for myself. I loved the color of this roving, it was a clear gray with a mix of darker fibers. So many gray rovings have more of a brown tone to them than this one did. When I started to spin the roving though, I had a lot of problems. I think the roving might have been from a shetland sheep with a double coat, because most of the fiber was about 4 to 5 inches long, but there was a lot of short neps all balled up in the roving. This made it hard for me to draft the fiber evenly. I tried long draw and short draw, and neither draw was easy. The spun yarn has a very interesting tweedy nature, but I got very irritated trying to spin this yarn. I gritted my teeth though, and finished the two bobbins I needed for a 2 ply yarn, but I couldn't see finishing the whole bag of roving. So the vest wasn't going to happen, but I did have enough yarn for a scarf. The yarn works really well for the lace rib scarf , with the tweedy nature of the yarn adding interest, but not obscuring the pattern.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the rest of the roving. Right now I'm trying to comb the roving on my minicombs, which should separate out most of the little neps, and align the remaining fiber for smoother spinning. This is a really slow process for me, so it might be quite a while before I have enough fiber to spin. I kept a little bit of the first yarn to compare with the combed fiber whenever it gets spun. Maybe in a couple years. I'm so aggravated at this roving that it is pretty much at the back of my to-do list right now.

Now on another subject, I have to be the proud parent and talk about my daughter. She makes the most beautiful enameled jewelry, with flowers, birds, leaves, and houses as her themes. You have to see them! Her jewelry designs are like nothing else I have ever seen. The colors are exquisite, and her subject matter is a different take on common themes. She sells at the ETSY shop Copperheart. Go check out her work! If you live near Oshkosh Wisconsin you can see her work live and in person at the Oshkosh Art Walk held tomorrow October 6th. Her work is shown at Thompson Photography, just down the street from the Grand Opera house.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

A Sad Yarn

A couple days ago, I had to go to Fond du Lac for my dentist appt. Since I was in Fond du Lac I had to include a little side trip to Joann's fabrics. Not that I need anything, mind you, I go just to look and fondle fabric and yarn and get grand ideas about projects. Anyway, no fabric caught my eye, (or hands) so I headed to the back of the store where the yarn is kept. Most of the yarn at Joann's is pretty basic, but I was just checking to see what might be on sale. You never know when sale yarn will come in handy, especially with the gift giving season coming.
In the far corner of the store I found some yarn on clearance for half price. (I can't remember the name). This yarn is an import from Italy, 100% wool and so so soft. They had some pink and white left, a lot of purple left and enough aqua left for a sweater. I swear that this yarn was sadly calling to me, telling me that it wanted out of the clearance bin. The yarn bands were falling off, and the yarn was starting to tangle. The clearance bin was no place for a soft, sweetly colored Italian yarn. I put the purple yarn in my basket, thinking about how much my daughter would like a sweater. Then my willpower grew strong, and I put all the purple back. I walked around the rack and looked at the other yarn for sale, but I didn't see anything else I wanted on the other side. I picked up the aqua and held it up to my wrist and thought about a sweater for me. I put all the aqua yarn in my basket. But how much yarn would I need? I looked at the yardage and did a little figuring. Each soft beautiful little skein only had 73 yards. I would need at least 15 or so for a sweater. Even on sale, not quite enough of a bargain for my checking balance. So no yarn for me on this day at least. The aqua yarn went back to its cage in the clearance bin.
I felt so guilty leaving the yarn in the store. It was almost like going to the animal shelter, and leaving that little kitten behind. So if anyone would like to save some yarn from a sad tangled fate in the clearance bin, I know where you can find some. That is, if you get there before me, because I'm not sure I'll have enough willpower next time I get to Joann's.

Monday, October 1, 2007


Every fall, me and my husband drive out to Horicon Marsh--just 1/2 hour away, and take a walk on the trails on the federal half of the marsh. When we weren't empty nesters, we would take the kids. It was kind of a family tradition. We would call it The Goose Walk. The year my son was in kindergarten, we skipped him out of school one day and went to the marsh instead. Today, it was a little drizzly it but still a nice walk. We saw quite a few ducks, some cool marsh grasses, and even a butterfly posing for me on some asters.

Just part of fall in Wisconsin. Of course, we had to stop on the way home for a caramel apple and some apple cider.

Spinning Sunday

I got some spinning done yesterday, in fact I filled this bobbin-- which was only this full the night before. I've been plying this as a 2ply, and hope to have enough for a sweater for me when I'm done. It's really a little more blue and less gray than it shows in the picture. I spin on an Ashford Traveller, which is one of my dearest possessions. Don't set stuff on my wheel if you want to be invited back to my house!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Potato chip knitting

For the last couple days, my newest knitting project, a modular knit afghan, has taken over. I call it potato chip knitting because I can't seem to stop with one diamond. Which is a good thing, since I plan to give it to a family member for Christmas.
For a while now, I've had about 8 skeins of one variegated color (pebble) and 6 skeins of another (sand) of vintage dazzleaire which were given to me because family members think I must run a yarn orphanage. It's like the Island of Misfit yarns or something in my attic. This yarn was a prime candidate for stash reduction. Anyway, this is enough yarn for a large afghan, and while I really like working with wool, there is a lot to be said for making an afghan from yarn tough enough to survive a nuclear war. (Cockroaches and Dazzleaire, that's all that will be left). So I tried various ways to work around the variegation, but nothing really clicked. But when I was re-reading my Spin-Off magazine from Spring of 2006, the article on a modular afghan by Carol Huebscher Rhodes gave me an idea about how I could use this yarn. I changed the color pattern, because I only had two colors, not three, so my afghan has four variegated diamonds making up a larger diamond in a alternating pattern.

I really like the way this pattern is working up. The diamonds are making the variegation much more interesting. To me, it looks like a wood grain or I don't know, pebbles and sand. Whatever. Anyway I think if you keep your old fiber magazines , and leave yarn in your stash long enough, you just might get a serendipitous moment which leads to a christmas present and a cleared out box in the attic. That's why I find it very hard to throw out my Spin-off magazines, because you just never know when an idea might pop out at you!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

You have to start somewhere

So having thrilled my techno child and started my own blog, the first question is always "Why? The answer is "because I want to". I've enjoyed reading other peoples' blogs, (mostly knitting ones) but I want to add my own opinions. I want to talk about my projects, show pictures of works in progress and works that are done, maybe with the hope of getting more knitting done.

This blog will be mostly about fiber--knitting spinning crocheting. But since this is my blog, anything I feel like saying will be said. (Let's face it, it's probably just going to be me and my kids reading this anyway.) Oh and the reason for the name of the blog? Let's just say that I have a high fiber attic. I tell my husband that yarn is just good insulation. Maybe I'll show pictures of the attic in later posts. Ohhh scary, it's a scary stash. It actually includes some very old yarn, vintage even, like the 100% nylon dazzleaire. Now that's vintage. Most of the stash is now wool, since I've become a spinner, but some of the old stuff still haunts the attic. Actually one of my many projects in progress is an afghan for a family member (names are withheld because of Christmas presents) from some vintage dazzleaire from another persons stash. It's nostalgic, knitting with dazzleaire with short aluminum needles. It's actually a really fun project, and as soon as I take some pictures I post them.