Posted by: jinniver | September 30, 2010

All good things…

“So, what happened to ‘The Sarah Winchester of Fiber Arts’ isn’t going to die?”

The question from my friend was a bit pointed, but eminently fair. I did say just that in my last post here…almost 3 months ago. Well, my good intentions ran smack dab into a bit of reality.

During the last month and a half, I’ve been writing 2 patterns, knitting 3 design samples, and trying to establish a design business. I’ve got my design blog, which has been coming along quite well…but I’ve got a lot more work ahead of me because I’ve registered my domain at Right now it just tells you that the web site is coming soon, so you can see the work I’ve got to do there. I’ve also got a Twitter account and a Facebook fan page for The Magpie Knitter.

In other words, there just hasn’t been enough time for a personal knitting blog, especially since I’ve been posting almost all the things I would have talked about here over on my design blog. So this will be the last post on The Sarah Winchester of Fiber Arts. I’m sorry to see it go, because I’m quite proud of what I built here, but it’s time to move on. I won’t be deleting the blog, because there’s still enough daily traffic–plus, it’s still a record of where I started that I want to keep.

The designs will stay here for now, but eventually, they’ll be moving permanently over to The Magpie Knitter–most of them are there now, in fact, but they’ll be removed from here once I’ve had a chance to rework them. In some cases that’ll just be a matter of putting them in my new design template, but in other cases I have ideas on how to improve the designs and maybe add more sizes. But it’ll happen gradually, so if you really want these designs as is, you’ve got time.

So, that’s all from here. Hopefully I’ll see you over on The Magpie Knitter. Thanks for spending time with me!

Posted by: jinniver | July 10, 2010

I’m so excited!

I’m going to be a designer!

Ok, yes, I’m already a designer…sort of…as a hobby.  But while I’ve enjoyed creating the designs you see over there to the right, and I’m happy to share them, they’ve all been rather limited.  I’ve designed each with just one person in mind, and they all come in just one size (except for the carrots…maybe that’s why they’re my most popular!).  And they could be better–which is a project I have planned–now that I have a better grasp of knitwear construction, thanks both to research and experience knitting patterns from what I’ve seen as real, professional designers.

Well, now I’m going to be a “real, professional designer.”

Two months ago, Sharon of Three Irish Girls put out a call for designers.  She was looking specifically for patterns that would show off hand-dyed yarn.  As fate would have it, since a good chunk of my stash is hand-dyed yarn from Three Irish Girls, most in it’s variegated glory, a lot of my pattern thoughts have been about showing off hand-dyed yarn.

Immediately, two vague idea coalesced into great pattern possibilities…but I didn’t do anything about it right away.  After all, Sharon had to be looking for those real, professional designers, not untrained dabblers like yours truly.  But…I really like these ideas.  I thought they had great potential.  And I was pretty sure I could do it.

And the designs were persistent…and apparently on Australian time, because they kept me up at night with their whispers: Come on…you know we’d be beautiful.  You know you want to knit us, and design us.  Just think…your design with your name on the Three Irish Girls site!  What’s the worst that could happen if you try?  All she can do is say no…but she might say yes…

So, one morning I confronted my bleary-eyed self in the mirror, asked what really was the worst that could happen, and sat down to write my very first knitwear design pattern proposals.  Not, perhaps, the most positive frame of mind I could have had to start this adventure, but at least I was working on it.  And sleeping at nights.

The writing and the result were definitely an adventure…but not one for this blog.  I have decided, for a variety of reasons, that it would be best to separate business and pleasure (oh, who am kidding?  It’s all pleasure.  Ok, business and non-business) .  So, introducing The Magpie Knitter!

magpie knitter screen shot

Why The Magpie Knitter?  See here!

So, what does that mean for The Sarah Winchester of Fiber Arts?  Very little, actually.  TSWOFA has always been about more than just my designs, or even just my knitting, and that will all stay here.  I’ll still want a place where I can talk about my own knitting adventures, and my sewing, and my quilting, and my random weirdness.  But that doesn’t mean that The Magpie Knitter is going to have only posts about my designs or dull business stuff.  For one, the weirdness is innate, not just something I do here!  But I’m also expecting it to be as much fun as here, and hopefully educational, informative, and a site you can get something out of.  So please, join me there…but don’t leave me here!

Posted by: jinniver | July 7, 2010

Knittin’ at the racetrack

Not that I’ve ever done that yet, mind.  I really want to go to Richmond for the fall NASCAR race–who knows when I’ll live this close to a racetrack again?–but I’ve yet to actually make it to one.

But when I do go to a race, I’ll be knitting.  And what better way to carry knitting than in a NASCAR-themed project bag?

Junior and Mark project bag (7)Junior and Mark project bag (8)

But what if Dale Earnhardt Jr. isn’t having a great race?  Well, just turn the bag inside out, and…

Junior and Mark project bag (9)Junior and Mark project bag (10)

ta da! I’m a Mark Martin fan.

Actually, I’m not.  I mean, I like Mark Martin, but he’s not one of my favorite drivers…which is ok, since this bag isn’t for me.  It was a swap gift for a knitter whose favorite drivers are Dale Jr. and “51-year-old Mark Martin” (which is what his birth certificate reads, if you listen to some NASCAR announcers).  It was quite well received, so I wanted to share it.

First, this pattern is not original to me.  I’ve seen various versions of it online, but this is my recreation of the one I liked best…that I could not for the life of me find when I prepared to make this bag (if anyone recognizes it, let me know so I can add the link to the original site).

The project started with large pieces of fabric, one red and one orange (since I was trying to do the project bags using the drivers’ sponsor’s colors), and cut 2 pieces from each color.  I don’t remember the measurements I used; just cut them all the same size, to whatever size you feel would be most useful for a project bag (remember you’ll lose about an inch in both dimensions for seams).  I added some additional optional embellishment–the drivers’ numbers (using fusible web and a decorative blanket stitch on my sewing machine) and a pocket on both sides using some left over checkered flag fabric.  This will give you an interior and an exterior pocket at all times.  I opted not to add fastening of any kind on the pocket, but you could add snaps (I’d advise against buttons or hook-and-loop tape, both of which could snag yarn and knitting).  Any embellishments/pockets you do choose to add, you’ll want to add before step 2.

Junior and Mark project bag (1)

Sew one piece of fabric A to one piece of fabric B, making sure you sew the “top” of each piece together (if your fabric isn’t directional or you haven’t added any embellishments/pockets to give you a definite top and bottom, arbitrarily assign a top and bottom).  Do the same with the 2nd pieces of fabrics A and B.  I put the numbers opposite the pockets so I wouldn’t end up with the pockets on the same side of the bag (to cut down on bulk).

Junior and Mark project bag (2)

You’ve now got 2 long pieces of fabric; place them right side together with fabric A on top of fabric A and fabric B on top of fabric B (in my case, that’s red on red and orange on orange).  This gave me a bag that was red on one side and orange on the other; if you want a different look, orient your fabric accordingly.

Junior and Mark project bag (3)

Sew 1/2″ seams around the outside of the fabric sandwich, but leave 2 gaps where the 2 different fabrics meet (one on each side!).  This gap serves 2 purposes: it’s how you turn the bag right-side out, and it’s where the ribbon drawstring will be run.  How big of a gap you want to leave is up to you, but remember:  too big and you’ll have an unnecessarily large hole on both sides of the bag; too small and you’ll have a bear of a time turning the bag right-side out.  I left about 1/2″ on either side of the seam between the 2 fabrics.  I wouldn’t have wanted it any bigger, but it was just big enough to turn the fabric because of the fused numbers and extra fabric from the pockets.

Junior and Mark project bag (4)

Once you’ve got the fabric turned right-side out, it’ll look like the below (I took pictures of both sides).  At this point, just push one of the colors inside the other, run a ribbon through the opening at top, and you’ve got yourself a bag!

Junior and Mark project bag (5)

Junior and Mark project bag (6)

Of course, you can make a project bag with any fabric or theme you want–it doesn’t have to be NASCAR (I’m aware not everyone shares my refined tastes for cars goin’ fast and turnin’ left).  But I’ve already got plans for my bag to take to Richmond with me.  See, my driver is Brad Keselowski, and he drives the #22 in the Nationwide series (ahempointsleaderahem) and the #12 in the Cup series.  So I’ll be ready with just one bag to show my support for both races!

Posted by: jinniver | July 3, 2010

The Infallible Baby Dust Yarn

Want to get pregnant?  Buy Three Irish Girls yarn!

Ok, not really.  Well, maybe really.  When yet another member of the Three Irish Girls group announced her pregnancy, someone put 2 and 2 together…and 2…and then 2…and we realized that 8 women in our group are currently pregnant (although we’re really hoping the number is 7 or will be soon, since one woman is more than week overdue).  I think there have also been several who have had babies within the last year or so, after having joined a Three Irish Girls club or buying some of their yarn.  And it’s not just the Three Irish Girls label; Yarn Love, a collaboration between Katie and Sharon, appears to be equally potent.

Oh, and if you want twins, open a yarn store and put in a large order for Three Irish Girls and/or Yarn Love yarn.  It worked for the owner of Pulling at Strings.

So the question remains:  what on earth is Sharon putting in the yarn?

The other question is whether those of us who have decided that our family growing days are over should cancel our club subscriptions.  Unsurprisingly, we all seem willing to risk it, and the generous offers to help us destash from others who are planning for more children (or are pretty sure it would take a miracle) have all been declined.

But I’m doing my best to make sure Steve never hears about this conversation…because I’m not willing to risk this:

3ig yarns starting w/ 7/3/10
1. 3IG Springvale DK Art Deco, 2. 3IG Springvale Bulky Creamsicle and Mimosa, 3. 3IG Adorn Sock Aiden, 4. 3IG Springvale Super Merino Cosmo, 5. 3IG Springvale Super Merino Ice Blue Raspberry, 6. 3IG Springvale DK Gatsby, 7. 3IG Springvale Super Merino Mojito, 8. 3IG Roslea Organic Oberon (2), 9. 3IG Lindon Merino Estuary, 10. 3IG Pansies, 11. 3IG Springvale Super Merino Passion Punch, 12. 3IG Lindon Merino Brown Fantabulosity, 13. 3IG Springvale Super Merion Father Time, 14. 3IG McClellan DK Delphinium (2), 15. 3IG MDSW haul 2010 (2), 16. 3IG Springvale Bulky Mary Bailey (1), 17. 3IG Carys BFL Sock Winter Quince Blossom (2), 18. 3IG McClellan DK Hydrangea, 19. 3IG McClellan Lilacs, 20. 3IG McClellan Moutain Cathedrals, 21. 3IG Carys BFL Mountain Cathedrals (1), 22. Frolic and Waterlillies (2), 23. 3IG McClellan Alpine Spruce, 24. 3IG Galenas Sheepnuts (4), 25. 3IG Roslea Organic Curagao, 26. 3IG Springvale Super Merino Irish Sea and Purple, 27. 3IG Galenas Merino Macbeth and Narcissa, 28. 3IG Springvale Super Merino Father Time, 29. 3IG Springvale Bulky Seacoast (2), 30. 3IG Felicity Mirth, 31. 3IG Glenhaven Cashmerino Passionfruit, 32. 3IG Wexford Merino Silk Roving Madigan, 33. 3IG Roslea Organic Rainbow Bright (2), 34. 3IG Corpus Christi Beach and Texas Sky (1), 35. 3IG Springvale Super Merino Fiona and Crimson, 36. 3IG Carys BFL Georgia Peach (1)

3ig yarns starting w/ 3/6/10
1. 3IG Adorn Seacoast, 2. 3IG Beckon Arboretum, 3. 3IG Adorn Maeve, 4. 3IG Springvale Super Merino Toffee, 5. 3IG Adorn Sock Alchemy, 6. 3IG McClellan Alpine Spruce, 7. 3IG Kells Sport Bells of Ireland (2), 8. 3IG Deliciousness Maple Vanilla (2), 9. 3IG Springvale Super Merino Estuary, 10. 3IG Wexford and Beckon Tierney, 11. 3IG Adorn Sock Masquerade, 12. 3IG Springvale Bulky Skipping Stones, 13. Three Irish Girls Lindon Merino Arboretum (2), 14. Yarn Love Charlotte Bronte Worsted Blackberry Jam, 15. 3IG Glenhaven CashMerino Worsted Passionfruit, 16. waterlillies[1], 17. 3IG Glenhaven Cashmerino Key Lime, 18. 3IG Carys BFL and McClellan Roisin, 19. Yarn Love Charlotte Bronte Worsted Nutmeg, 20. 3IG Wexford Merino Silk Beautiful Morning, 21. 3IG Springvale DK Mulberry, 22. 3IG Wexford and Beckon Teague, 23. Yarn Love Elizabeth Bennet Fairy Tale, 24. 3IG Wexford Merino Silk Just a Girl (1), 25. 3IG McClellan Kate, 26. 3IG Deliciousness Ginger Honey, 27. 3IG Springvale Super Merino Jack, 28. Stash Menagerie March 2009, 29. 3IG Carys BFL Pewter Amethyst, 30. 3IG Carys BFL Smoky Quartz, 31. 3IG Springvale Halcyon (3), 32. 3IG Carys BFL Sock Jack Frost (3), 33. 3IG Wexford and Beckon Gwendolyn, 34. 3IG Springvale Benevolent (3), 35. Yarn Love Elizabeth Bennet Pineapple Upside Down Cake, 36. 3IG Petit Fours (2)

Posted by: jinniver | July 1, 2010

Blog Giveaway!

Just a quick heads up:  Olof of the Icelandic Gardner is giving away a copy of Itty Bitty Toys by Susan B. Anderson.  If  you haven’t seen any of Anderson’s Itty Bitty series, she’s got several books of adorable little projects for babies.  I’ve got her Itty Bitty Hats book, and the hats in there are so sweet you almost need insulin to look at the pictures.  Olof is currently knitting her way through the Itty Bitty Toys book, and she has several adorable ones finished.  I adore the little sheep.

So head on over to blog post about the giveaway!  You can get up to 3 entries: 1 by commenting, 1 by following the blog, and 1 by blogging about it yourself (so yes, this post isn’t entirely altruistic…but trust me–if all of my average number of daily visitors head over there, it’ll certainly overcome any advantage I might gain!).

Posted by: jinniver | June 28, 2010

Pillowcases–not just for the bed anymore

Leave it to my sister-in-law Meghan to always find the cutest trends in children’s clothing.  Me, I’m…fashioned challenged.  In fact, right now I’m wearing jeans and a Brad Keselowski t-shirt–for which I’m unapologetic; it’s Sunday and he was racing today!…but it’s not exactly fashionable.  Fortunately, my children will not have to suffer for my lack as long as they’ve got Auntie Meghan!

Several months ago, Meghan sent me some links to a pillowcase dress, to ask if I could make some for her Stella (aka the World’s Cutest Niece).  I hadn’t heard of them before, but they looked really cute…and really easy.  Basically, you just cut the pillowcase down, cut out and finish some armholes, sew a casing along the top edge, and insert a ribbon in each casing.  The ribbon gathers the top and ties over the shoulders, and viola!  You have a dress.

What I didn’t have, though, were cute pillowcases.  What I did have was fabric.  Lots and lots of fabric.

So, I went through my fabric stash and pulled out everything I thought my sister-in-law and I might like…’cause, if I was making these for my niece, I could certainly make some for my daughter, right?  (Although I have to admit Lexie’s more tomboy than girly-girl like her cousin, so she’s not as much of a dress wearer.  But I could make tops!)  As Meghan and I have different tastes, I tried to be wide ranging in my fabric selections.

I have several rolls of fat quarters (pieces of fabric that are cut to 18″x22″; they provide the same amount of fabric as a quarter yard cut 9″x44″, but tend to be more flexible) that have a really cute vintage look from them.  They’re sold at my favorite quilting store, Zook’s Fabric Store, in Intercourse, Pennsylvania.  The come in sets of 8, so I could sew 4 together for the front and 4 for the back for a really cute patchwork look:

Pillowcase dress fabric choices (1)

I also brought together all of my vintage-look floral prints:

Pillowcase dress fabric choices (2)

The 5 gathered in the upper right corner (the yellow, blue, pink, and cream florals) have a special place in my heart–and in my sis-in-law’s as well, I suspected–because I’d used them to make my niece her first quilt:

Stella's quilt

I also have a fun collection of large print fabrics.  They’re hard to use in quilts because if you cut them up too small, you lose what makes them special.  But I figured they’d be perfect in a dress where I needed large pieces of fabric:

Pillowcase dress fabric choices (3)

Then I had a small group of larger, bright, more modern looking florals.  I will be making Lexie one from the sunflower print, just so you know:

Pillowcase dress fabric choices (4)

Just for an entirely different look, I have a collection of Asian-style prints that I thought would make really cute little summer dresses.  The deep red print in particular I thought would look beautiful on Stella, with her golden brown curls:

Pillowcase dress fabric choices (5)

And finally, there were my batiks.  I adore batiks for the same reason that I like hand-dyed yarn: the way the colors play off each other in the multi-colored versions, and the semi-solids have such depth to them.

Pillowcase dress fabric choices (6)

I sent the pictures to Meghan, and was unsurprised when she picked the floral prints from Stella’s quilt.  But some of the pieces I had left were not long enough by themselves to be dresses.  That’s when I had a brainwave.  I could pair these prints with some solid fabrics I’d gotten (also at Zook’s) and sew on bottom trim that would be the same width as the hem on a pillowcase.  Faux pillowcases!

I did also go shopping for actual pillowcases–after all, that would save me some sewing–but I couldn’t find many I really liked.  I did find 2 sets of pillowcases I thought were really cute, mostly because of the trimming.  The pillowcases were plain white and cream, but really high quality fabric and the eyelet lace trim on the bottom was really sweet.  So I figured they were worth the prices…and then was pleasantly surprised to find out the store was running a rather significant sale.  The pillowcases ended up being less than $10 apiece.  Score!

Then it was time to actually make the dresses.  I figured out what fabric combos I wanted for the floral and solid fabrics and got them sewed together so it looked I had trimmed down pillowcases.  Then I turned to 2 different online tutorials, at Prudent Baby and Jen Leheney.  I sort of combined them–I used the regular pillowcase shape at the second, but the substituted the full ribbon ties on the first instead of the elastic.  I didn’t want to insert elastic that would make the dress less flexible as Stella grows (and the same for why I didn’t want to cut the fabric down like in the first tutorial).

It took longer than it should have to finally get all of the dresses sewn–darn me and my “ooh, shiny!” tendencies–but I got 10 beautiful dresses made for my niece, 8 with floral prints and the 2 plain with the lace edging.  I’m not sure they could have turned out more adorable:

pillowcase dress pink swag (4)

pillowcase dress blue with cream

pillowcase dress yellow (2)

pillowcase dress cream (2)

pillowcase dress blue flowers with maroon (4)

pillowcase dress blue flowers with pink (1)

pillowcase dress pink with yellow flowers (1)

pillowcase dress maroon with cream (1)

And can we give it up for the world’s cutest–and most patient–model?  Considering that I changed her outfit 7 times over 2 photo sessions because my camera battery died and I had to charge it up for an hour and then drug her back outside in the heat and humidity, I was quite grateful that she was still smiling and following directions by dress 8!  So I made the last 2 dresses optional…and she politely declined.

pillowcase dress white

pillowcase dress pink with blue flowers

As several friends have pointed out, these dresses are perfect for the heat we’ve been seeing recently…so I need to get cracking on dresses for Lexie (other than her matching white and cream dresses, which are ready to go).

Posted by: jinniver | June 12, 2010

World Wide Knit/Crochet in Public Day – 2010

As soon as I found the first mention of World Wide Knit/Crochet in Public (WWKCIP) Day, I started looking for a local gathering.  WWKCIP Day is actually now a week (June 12-20 this year) so that groups around the world can pick the day that works best for them.  I found a couple local gatherings, but neither would work–one was on Monday in DC (yeah, I’m not making it into DC on a Monday evening) and another was on Father’s Day.  Then I found the perfect gathering:  June 12, 10am-2pm, in Fairfax, Virginia.  So I spent the night before picking the perfect projects to knit in public.

I’d yet to travel to Fairfax, but it was a nice drive, especially since I could avoid the highway (from the sound of the traffic reports, I-95 was doing it’s best imitation of a parking lot).  I wasn’t quite sure where I was going, other than that the knitters would be gathering in the Kitty Pozer Garden.  My trusty GPS got me to the address, and I immediately saw a garden next to a parking lot…and in the garden was a small group of knitters.

It didn’t stay small for long.

WWKIP Day 2010 - Fairfax (1)

WWKIP Day 2010 - Fairfax (2)

And I took these pictures fairly early in the gathering–many more knitters and crocheters joined us during the day. I’d guess attendance was at about 45-50. We certainly turned some heads; although no non-knitters came up to ask us what was going on, we did get a lot of stares and were the subject of one photo shoot from across the street (those of us who noticed were quite amused).

WWKIP Day 2010 - Fairfax (3)

When I arrived, I set up to these ladies, Jane (on the left) and Julie.  (Jane’s a knitter, by the way. 😉 )  I spent most of my time chatting with Jane and Julie, and then Jean, who sat down on the other side of me.  We laughed a bit about the odds of having a Jane-Jen-Jean line-up, and then when you added Julie, Joan who was nearby, and Jeanne who came a bit later and sat on our side, we had a strong J presence.

WWKIP Day 2010 - Fairfax (4)

Angelica, who leads the knitting group Knit Together Fairfax, was the host for this gathering. In addition to arranging for the use of the Kitty Pozer Garden, she got out all the info that attendees would need and got sponsorship from various LYSs who provided some really neat gift bags. I think the one she’s showing off here was from Uniquities in Vienna; other sponsors were fibre space in Alexandria, Old Town Needlecraft in Manassas, Natures Yarn in Fairfax, and With Yarn in Front in Centreville. (I’ve got some more LYSs I need to check out.)

WWKIP Day 2010 - Fairfax (8)

The empty green chair here is mine; that’s Jean just to the left of it.  Behind her you see a man and woman sitting together; I got a chance to chat with this knitting husband and wife duo.  They came over to tell me they admired my stash, which they’d seen in a post on Ravelry.  Kurt was the original knitter of the pair, starting in February; his wife Marion decided it looked like fun and joined him a few months later.  Marion mentioned they’ve got a lot of friends having babies, and we laughed together about how great baby projects are for learning new techniques quickly…and how great non-knitting friends are to give gifts too, because they’re usually so impressed by even our beginning efforts.

WWKIP Day 2010 - Fairfax (7)

And I didn’t just talk–I knit too!  I was right about the baby blanket being the perfect pattern for this.  It has enough visual interest that it was a good topic of conversation, but it’s also a pattern simple enough to knit away on while chatting–it’s all garter stitch so I didn’t even need to look at my knitting for the most part.  And my color choices received enthusiastic approval, which certainly makes me happy!

All in all, I had an awesome time today, and I hope all my fellow knitters/crocheters did too.  I think it’s safe to say they did.

WWKIP Day 2010 - Fairfax (5)

WWKIP Day 2010 - Fairfax (6)

Looking forward to next year!

Posted by: jinniver | June 11, 2010

What to knit, what to knit

Yes, I know I have quite a few WIPs.  And almost 100 projects in my queue.  But I have to figure out what I’m going to knit tomorrow:  World Wide Knit in Public Day!  (Although, it’s actually World Wide Knit/Crochet in Public Week these days…but I’m a knitter and only doing it for one day.)

I’ll be attending the WWKCIP gathering in Fairfax, Virginia.  I haven’t done a large WWKCIP gathering yet, so I’m really looking forward to this one.  And I’m hoping it happens–it’s an outdoor gathering and the forecast isn’t looking real encouraging.  The heat I can deal with, but I hope the thunderstorms hold off until at least 2 pm!

So…what to knit?  It’s going to be hot, almost 90 deg.  We might be drenched by a rogue thunderstorm (I’m not sure if there’s any provision for rain…so I need to find my umbrella).  I’m thinking feltable wool might not be the way to go, so my Snuggly Hat is out.  When Babies Bloom II looks like a good option, because it’s a wool/silk DK blend, so cool to work with, but I’m almost at the point where I’m going to need to try it on Lexie, and she’s not going to be there.  There’s Jeffrey’s poor, neglected Jack in the Box, but I’ve been rethinking that project…especially since Lexie took a pair of scissors to some of the yarn.  My finished knitting was undamaged, but she cut a significant portion of one skein into pieces too small to salvage.  So I’m not sure I’ve got enough yarn to finish, and since I started it so long ago, I’m not sure what I knit will fit (and since the pattern is bottom up, modifying mid-knit isn’t as easy).

And sadly, I’ve only got 2 other projects on the needle right now (Lexie’s curtains and a design project), neither of which are really conducive to knitting in a large group.  And this, people, is why you should always have lots of WIPs at once, so you can switch them around to match any eventuality!

I had to turn to my queue for some inspiration.  I’ve been meaning to cast on for the baby blanket for my cousin’s future son (similar to the one I made my future nephew, only with 8 colors instead of 4).  I’m knitting that with Spud & Chloe sweater, which is a superwash wool/cotton blend, so it’ll work with the forecast…and a garter stitch project is ideal for knitting with people and chatting.

Spud and Chloe Sweater FirecrackerSpud and Chloe Sweater ChipmunkSpud and Chloe Sweater TurtleSpud and Chloe Sweater Lake
Spud and Chloe Sweater FireflySpud and Chloe Sweater ToastSpud and Chloe Sweater GrassSpud and Chloe Sweater Splash

I’ve also been dying to cast on for a Mossy Jacket for my nephew–I had some great Three Irish Girls Lindon Merino in Arboretum (the colors are a lot softer on Lindon) that I was stymied by, but once I saw that pattern I knew it would be a perfect match and got Sharon to custom dye me some yarn in the brown.

Three Irish Girls Lindon Merino Arboretum (2)3IG Lindon Merino Brown Fantabulosity

Of course, my tendency towards startitis had me continuing down my queue, saying, “Oh, that one could work…oh, but I’ve been really wanting to cast that one on…” but I think those 2 are sufficient.  So, if you’re in the area, come on by to knit and crochet with us (and ogle my yarn, if you want!).  I’ll be the one in the Brad Keselowski hat and t-shirt (gotta represent for the NASCAR knitters!) with my Ravelry pin and fibre space, Ravelry, and The Yarn Spot bags!

BK12 (1)

Posted by: jinniver | June 10, 2010

Because the yarn could run out

One might think that I have enough yarn.  And I’ll admit–I’m well-stocked. (I said stocked, people. With an “o”.  And yes, that too…)  But I think that’s a short-sighted attitude, personally.

I mean, what if a world-wide yarn shortage hits?  And what about 2012?  I figure if I’ve got enough yarn, there’s no way the world can end, just like if Sarah Winchester never stopped building…right.  Never mind.  But ok–what if 2012 is only a partial apocalypse?  The LYSs will probably be closed for at least a few days, and I’m determined to have enough yarn to see me through.

Which is why, despite already having reached SABLE (stash acquisition beyond life expectancy), I’ve bought a spinning wheel.

Although I have had plans for just such a purchase for some time, this purchase was very spur of the moment.  A spinning wheel, a quality one, is an investment, and I just didn’t feel my interest and skill (I’d just stated drop spinning) justified that much money.  So a spinning wheel was on the “someday” list.

Then I saw the tweet from Knitting News, a Twitter account I follow, that someone was selling used spinning wheels for great prices.  I hopped over to the website in question, The Thrifty Knitter, and found that Nikol (site owner) was selling several spinning wheels she’d had for her spinning school.  So many students were now bringing their own wheels that she no longer needed all these wheels, so she was selling.  A few of the wheels were already purchased, including my favorite of the bunch, but several were still available.  The prices were all under $300…it just seemed like the opportunity I hadn’t realized I’d been waiting for.  I checked with Steve, got an enthusiastic concurrence, and sent an email about one of the other wheels.

Nikol emailed back quickly to tell me that one had since been purchased, but she listed the ones still available…and it turns out I’d misread the site–my favorite was on the list.  I fired off another quick email, and shortly after I had a Paypal invoice for an older model Louet S10.  I’m not sure the electrons had all settled in my computer before I’d sent my payment back.

I knew there’d be a delay in shipping because life was rather busy for Nikol just then, so I managed to wait patiently…right up until I got the UPS notification that the wheel had shipped.  Then I became a bit obsessive about checking the tracking website.  How obsessive?

spinning wheel trip

Yes.  I tracked the wheel across the country.  All 1300ish miles of the journey–every time the UPS site told me there’d been a new stop, I plugged it into Google maps.

Delivery was scheduled for today, and sure enough I saw that it went out for delivery from the nearest hub at 5:57am.  I’d planned to go to one of my LYSs today (she got a new order of Three Irish Girls in!), but I didn’t want to leave before the wheel arrived because I didn’t want to risk missing it.

Just before 4pm, I refreshed the website just for the heck of it, and was stunned to see the status was now Delivered.  Really?  I checked location:  PORCH.  So I flew to the door, ripped it open…and there it was.  My UPS driver needs a refresher on doorbell ringing procedures, apparently.

No matter–I had my wheel!  The kids came pelting downstairs at the sound of the door; I’d told them about my expected delivery.  “Wow, Mommy!” Jeffrey blurted when he saw the box.  “That’s a lot of steering wheels!”

So, my son’s a bit more NASCAR than Yarn Harlot.

We all sat down together so I could reassemble my wheel and they could supervise/ask a lot of questions (“Why’s that a spinning wheel, Mommy?”  “Because it’s a wheel that spins yarn.”  “Why’s it a wheel?”  “Because it looks like a wheel.”  “Why does it spin?”  “Because that’s what wheels do.”  “Why’s it a wheel?”…).  The directions were terse but clear, and Nikol had kindly sent me an email with some assembly/spinning tips.  The only problem I was having was with the drive band; I knew where it was supposed to go (at least, I thought I knew), but I couldn’t see how to get it there.  So I pulled over my trusty laptop to do some internet research, much to Jeffrey’s dismay. “Mommy, why are you doing computer when the spinning wheel isn’t finished?” he scolded me.

Pleading ignorance wasn’t getting me anywhere, so it was fortunate that I quickly found just the image I needed and verified what I thought was the correct drive band placement.  Then I learned the drive band was more elastic than I realized.


my first spinning wheel

The wheel came with 3 large dual-speed bobbins, and Nikol even added 2 bags of fiber to get me started. One bag looks like a natural colored brown, and the other is a purple and blue dyed roving (I adore cool colors).  Haven’t started spinning yet–I’ve got a design I’m working on, and the proposal deadline is Sunday!–but I will be soon.  Very, very soon.

Posted by: jinniver | June 4, 2010

When is it too much yarn?

The flooded basement couldn’t have come at much of a worse time.  I was in the middle of (slowly) pulling out unpacked boxes and trying to reorganize our seriously cluttered basement.  It wouldn’t have earned us a spot on a hoarder reality show, but it was bad.  Unfortunately, this was one of those situations that have to get worse before they get better, because I had everything spread out all around the basement while I tried to figure out just what I had, what we were keeping, and what was going where.

When the flooding happened–the result of a discharge hose coming detached from the back of the washing machine during a load of laundry–I was able to save everything…but that meant it had to be piled out of the way while I shoveled the water.  Yes, I said “shoveled”–when you can’t find the hose to the wet/dry vac, a snow shovel is a slow but effective way to pick up a decent amount of water.  By the time Steve was able to get home after my phone call, I was in the mop up stage.

What we didn’t realize at first was how much water had gotten under the carpet in the finished area of the basement (I’d blocked that off first thing, when I realized that the carpet was at the lowest point of the basement and the sump pump was at the highest part).  We tried to dry it out, but the restoration team that was called in declared the carpet a loss.  So that meant even more shuffling stuff around at top speed so the old carpet could be pulled and new carpet put in.

As a result, yarn (and knitting magazines, and notions, and everything else) ended up everywhere.  And now I’m trying to get it into the order that it never was in the first place.

Step one was to get all of my yarn into one spot.  The result was a bit…overwhelming.

yarn organization (1)

yarn organization (2)
My project drawers, for any queued projects I’ve already matched to yarn

yarn organization (3)
Even my work basket, on the left, needed emptying and reorganizing

yarn organization (4)
These bins were all there was of my original storage system…and they didn’t hold all of my yarn even when I first bought them

yarn organization (5)

There were some nasty surprises during the reorganization.  A friend in the Three Irish Girls group had recently sounded the alarm about carpet beetles, so I did some research about them.  I was feeling quite relieved that I’d never had a carpet beetle issue, when I saw a cute little bug crawling on a wool/acrylic blend (mostly acrylic; I think he was confused).  The coloration on the back looked the same, although it was hard to tell since the bug was so small, and I immediately went to red alert.  A search of my stash had no signs of infestation, which was good, and I proceeded to buy out my grocery store’s freezer bag section.  I was searching for contact info for various pest control companies when a small note about carpet beetles caught my eye–a mention of size.  Apparently, carpet beetles and their larvae are about 1/4″ long.  The bugs I’d seen?  About 2-3 mm.  Not carpet beetles.  Cancel red alert…but all of my yarn is now bagged.

But that wasn’t until after I found a box of yarn that one of my cats decided to use as a litter box.  Could he have peed on the cheap yarn?  Nope–he chose some irreplaceable Three Irish Girls yarn in the limited edition Dye for Glory colorways.  These are 2 cats who had each had exactly one out-of-litter-box accident in their lives (neither their fault), even when they were new kittens…and who also knew better than to go anywhere near my yarn.  I was a bit beside myself.  Fortunately, my plea for advice on Twitter garnered some recommendations, and I started with a diluted distilled white vinegar soak.  That seemed to have done a pretty good job, so I did another soak in the vinegar, followed by a long soak in Soak.  End result–zero odor (other than the faint scent of the Soak).  Then all I had to do was untangle the skeins I hadn’t made sure were tied well enough…and the one that I forgot to take out of the washing machine (spin cycle only, to get as much water out as possible) until after it went through with a load of laundry.


I figured it was going to take me days to get this one taken care of–if I even could–but to my amazement it was just several hours of concerted work. Before I went to bed, I had this:


The first thing I needed to do was decide how I was going to sort the yarn.  Originally, I’d just put it in the bins as I came to it, and the only organization I used was to try to keep all the yarn from the same company or indie dyer together.  I wanted an organizational system that made more sense–even though I had my laptop set up right next to the yarn piles so I could enter location information on each stash page in Ravelry (thank you, thank you, thank you, Casey!).  I thought about organizing by fiber, but most of my yarn is or has wool…and I wasn’t sure of the best way to handle all the various blends.  It made a lot more sense for me to organize by weight, since I’m generally going to be looking for yarn of a certain weight rather than a certain fiber.

yarn organization (6)
The organization begins.

It took several hours, but I finally got all of the yarn sorted.  I eventually had about a half a bin each of lace and bulky weight; small bits of novelty, scraps, partially used balls (larger than scraps, but need to be rewound because they’re tangled); small bins of roving and handspun; a slightly larger bin for yarn I was planning to destash; and large bins for fingering, DK, and worsted/aran weight (which ended up spilling over into a 2nd bin), and Three Irish Girls yarn.

yarn organization (8)

What…you don’t store your Three Irish Girls separately to avoid it overwhelming the other bins?  Huh.

yarn organization (11)

At any rate, I was pretty pleased with my progress, but by the time I was done sorting I knew there was yarn missing.  I was on the lookout for 2 specific skeins of yarn that I’d allotted for planned projects, and I hadn’t found them.  Then I remembered I’d stashed some yarn away in the cedar chest in my bedroom.  So, just as I thought the sorting was done…

yarn organization (9)

There are some skeins still missing, but those were ones I’d purchased in Texas so chances are they’re just in a box I haven’t opened yet. I hope.

Not all of the yarn in the original piles were sorted in these bins–some went into the project drawers and my work basket.  For this, I went to my Ravelry queue, which I’d carefully organized in order that I want to complete the projects and linked each to yarn in my stash (did I say thank you yet, Casey?  Thank you!).  The first several projects went into my work basket, and the rest went into the project drawers–in order, from top to bottom then right to left.  Where I already had the pattern printed out (since most of the patterns I have planned are PDFs), I folded it in half and slotted it neatly in the front of the drawer.

yarn organization (13)

yarn organization (14)

The larger drawers were purchased mostly to handle projects that require more yarn than I can fit in the small drawers (like the upper left drawer, which has some Three Irish Girls Springvale Bulky to make a Heather Hoodie Vest for me).  Some of the yarn, though, like in the lower right drawers, are skeins where I know what I want to make, just not which pattern, and I know I want to do it soon–so I didn’t want to tuck it away.

After I had everything sorted came the tedious part–bagging all the yarn and putting it in the bins.  I had to make a few adjustments to my plans about where everything was going to go…but once I finished, every skein of yarn I owned was in a basket, a drawer, or a bin.  I was pretty darned pleased with myself…

yarn organization (12)

…and then I brought more yarn home.  Apparently, it’s not too much yet.

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