December 2006 Archives

As I spin, so shall I knit


I generally do not knit variegated yarns. Firstly, when knit normally, they create a horizontal line that, in garments, may tend to add weight where not desired. Additionally, I tend to prefer solid or small scale patterns lest I be lost in all the noise. But I cannot deny the allure of colors combined beautifully and when spinning, it ads another level of interest to the whole process. So I've been thinking about ways to use my variegated handspun yarns. Chevrons and feather and fan stitches are a great way to add interest and I've used those in the past. Lace can produce a similar effect, but tends to clash with the variegation, leaving both looking a little haphazard. So how about a slip stitch pattern?

Good choices are ones that are meant to combine multiple colors and will work best with yarns that have a lot of very intense color changes. So a monochromatic or subtle variegation is probably not ideal. I thought this would be a great way to work my Autumn yarn.

This is a relatively simple slip stitch pattern meant to be worked in two colors. You work a series of double YOs over on one row, then slip those YOs for 4 rows, working the other stitches in stockinette. Then you fan out and work those YOs, over the course of 3 more rows, to produce a leaf like motif. The idea is that you'll probably be working a different color in the yarn than that used when you first created your YOs.

This breaks up the very horizontal effect of the variegation and introduces some interesting vertical lines from the slipped stitches.

Here's a close up for you as well. And for those of you who think I'm a consistent and skilled spinner, you'll note all the thick and thin/over and underspun sections as well

I think this is the first time I've ever wished my yarn had even more variegation. The whole piece will need some good blocking, but I think you get a good idea of the effect.

The goal is to work this up into a little hat, and maybe a pair of gloves or mittens. It'll be a nice reminder of the colors of autumn through the long winter months.

Purple and Green make...


I have finally finished all my unbloggable work except for the editing portion which will probably be ongoing for a month or more. That means I can now do stuff just for me! Yay. Don't get me wrong, I love the stuff I was doing, but it's a relief to have the work done.

The first thing on my plate was to do something with that yummy sage green silk/merino blend I've been spinning.

I only had a small amount left, just enough to half fill a bobbin, so I decided, instead of doing another navajo ply, that I would make a funky tweedy yarn with something else from my stash. But what? I have some beautiful green fiber from my parents, but I have enough of that to make a garment and don't want to disperse too much of it amongst other projects. Plus, green and green is not so exciting a combo. It occurred to me that I have a nice quantity of purple merino/silk that my brother gave me last year. Basic color theory would tell you that purple and green are not generally a combo that would blend well, but I wasn't going to be deterred by none of them thar theories. So I cranked out a half bobbin of beautiful purple roving into some very fine gauge singles to be plied with the green.

In total, I spun up about 1.6 ounces of each fiber.

I plied them together and noticed that the bobbin, when being filled (i.e., spinning really fast) was actually a navy shade. Who would of thought?

Close up, there's no navy at all, but the overall effect is sort of a deep muted shade of bluish something.

It's a little hard to put your finger on it.

I love all the various colors that shine through. The green had a lot of red, yellow and bits of blue in it, so that areas of the yarn show no green at all, but instead, soft shades of pink or a shocking flash of blue.

I'm not sure I'd suggest this color combo, but I think there's a place for it in my stash.


  1. Ounces: 3.6 ounces
  2. WPI: 20 (give or take)
  3. Weight: Lace/Sock
  4. Yards: 380

It's fairly consistent though, while getting used to the WooLee Winder, I did manage to get a few underspun bits in the green singles. even so, the yarn should knit up pretty evenly.

Best looking beach bunnies


Both Leo and I have a 4 day weekend so we decided we would take the little poopers to the beach, come hell and especially come high water. She really digs that. We bundled up on the first relatively dry day, and packed into the car.

Cannon Beach has really been our beach of choice if only because it's the closest one for us to go to. So a lot of these pictures will give the regular reader of this blog, a vague sense of déjà vu all over again once more...again.

It was a brisk day with a light breeze and nary a drop of rain. Perfect weather for a game of doggy tennis.*

All the fun was set against a gorgeous foggy backdrop.

But Panda is a bright girl and she knows a dog cannot live on tennis alone.

Bring on the SQUIRREL!

I got it in my head that we really needed a "family" photo for once, so I propped up the camera and set the timer.

Attempt number two was foiled by a bad case of "shake the squirrel."

Maybe today wasn't the day for a family photo.

Back in the car, just out of the beach parking, we saw a field of bunnies. I all but leaped from the moving vehicle and ordered Leo and Panda to find a place to park for a moment.

The bunnies, they are very cute. I crouched down and tried to get a good photo, when suddenly, one began bounding full speed ahead at me.

Being the entirely sane and not-at-all-girly person that I am, my initial reaction was "OH GOD! I'm about to be attacked by a charging WILD ANIMAL!" I stepped back. And then reality tapped me gently on the shoulder and mentioned that it was a bunny rabbit, nearly domesticated, and probably unlikely to prevail in hand to hand combat.

Having regained my momentary lack of composure, I was able to get some rather fetching, if I do say so myself, photos of the little chap.

Ahhh, all weekends should be 4-days long and full of such joy. Here's hoping all of you are having just as much, or more fun.

*Doggy tennis involves two people standing relatively far apart and each calling said doggy, in turn, so that she must run back and forth until she tires her cute little butt out a little.

Some Figgy Pudding


My friend, Janet, sent me several lovely gifts this year, to celebrate the Winter Solstice and all the adjacent holidays.

Amongst the gift was a little something I feel I can only share with you in movie form.
It's a big file so you may need to give it a little time to load.


Click the image above to see the QuickTime movie, turn up your volume, and make sure to stick around for the blooper reel.

And as a last note before the weekend; whatever it is you might be or not be celebrating, I hope it's filled with happiness, health, and people you love.

New Toy


Leo Claus had some elves delivery me a gift today.
I'm so excited I could plotz!
In LA, I never had to worry about getting enough sunlight, but even so, there were many winter weeks when I didn't see a scrap of daylight and would have found much benefit in this toy. Now that I live in Portland, I can't count on bright sunshine every day, and even when I do get it, it can still be a challenge to get a great picture.

Take this picture for example. The color is warm and inviting, but that's really not the color of the yarn. And even though I have some pretty good natural light, it's shining a little harshly, causing blown out highlights and indistinct shadows in my subject matter. Let us not even discuss the blurriness.

Now check out the same fiber, all glammed up in my mini-photo studio.

Go ahead, click and see the detail!

My camera tends to add a redish cast to most images, so I still needed to touch it up a little, but the raw image has so much more information, now that I have a little tripod and good, diffused lighting.

In my next post, I'll answer the question: "What does a secular Jew give a godless heathen for a Winter Solstice present?"

Today is a very special day


Nope, not for it's proximity to some major holidays, today is Miss Panda's 6th birthday. In dog years, she's officially become the oldest member of the household.

She may be 42 but she doesn't look a day over 25, don't you think?

Panda was born less than a month after Leo and I started seeing each other, though we didn't meet her until nearly a year later. In the time we've known her, she's become our little sunshine and joy.

And what's a girl to do when her birthday's approaching?
Why run through our mushroom laden back yard...

And make a filthy mess of herself and the kitchen floor.

I'd gladly mop 1000 floors for her though.
Happy Birthday, Little Girl! Here's to many many more to come.

Getting a little work done


No, I didn't augment my T&A (heaven knows the "A" doesn't need any help), no I got a little work done on my tattoo.

Some of you might remember that Leo got a tattoo recently. Well, my little tattoo was several years old and in need of a 30000 mile tune up, so we headed back to Lady Luck for a fun filled night of needles and blood.

I've always liked my little tattoo, which I designed to be something with absolutely no emotional, symbolic or in any way special meaning to me. Thinking back to what was meaningful to me at, say, 15, I'm certainly glad I didn't put Edgar Allen Poe or The Vampire Lestat on my body. What's important to me now may have little meaning to me in another 15 years. So to be sure I'd not suffer "buyer's remorse" in the ensuing year, I decided on something I thought would be pretty, and placed it in a spot that I didn't have to look at every day. The combo of the two has held up well for me so far. A little fresh coat of paint ups the joy even more.

The artist who worked on both Leo's and my tattoo is Jea'nine.

She reworked my tattoo for over an hour.

Did I mention I didn't need any augmentation in the "A" department?

When the work was done, and the entire staff had popped by to look at my tush finished tattoo, the results were more beautiful than I could have hoped.

She cleaned up all the fuzziness and really emphasized the gradation in the wings. It was even better than I could have hoped. I'm sure in time, it will fade a bit and soften, but at least I know I always have a reliable place to go to get her back to her former beauty. I love it.

She bandaged me up and sent me home with my care instructions. Luckily, I never sleep on my back so it was a restful evening.

The next morning I had a little rinse and a touch of A&D Lotion, and one more photo shoot, slightly less bloodied and red.

So if you are in the Portland area and looking to get inked or pierced, I can recommend Lady Luck highly. I've already started some sketches for what I'd like to do next.

Missed Connection


You: Humongous piece of metal meant to fly large numbers of people to and fro. Last seen glistening as you pulled away from the gate in the mid-day sun.

Me: Barreling ass through miles of the San Francisco airport, tapping foot impatiently behind that guy who stopped on the moving walkway with his bag next to him so no one could get by.

I had really hoped we could meet, have a drink, maybe some peanuts or pretzels. It could have been special.

My little girl's a star!


Oh man, how cute is this?

Have your people call my people


For a vacation week, I've seen a lot of 5AMs, and not the kind that involve hissing at the sun as it rises while you pray to the porcelain god. Nope. this vacation involved a day at the office, and several early call times for Knitty Gritty. It was all good fun and I got to meet some people I'd long hoped to meet and reunite with people I'd met before. First and foremost on the meeting people roster, was the one and only Stitch McYarnpants. I contributed a couple of kitschy patterns to her book, but this is the first time we had actually met in person. If you follow her blog, you probably know that she gnaws her nails like they are carrot sticks, so a manicure was in her immediate future.

She channeled her inner hand model and posed amongst the granny squares of Macy's. After spending the day browsing books, eating food and, having our cuticles bashed about, we headed back to our respective lodging and rested up for a long day at the studio.

My first Knitty Gritty duty was as knitster for Lily Chin. I'd taken Lily's class at Stitches West but this was my first chance to really talk to her and get to know her as a person. She's got a great enthusiasm and energy.

The other Knisters and I posed for a picture with her spectacular boots, but it appears to have come out a touch blurry. I would be the blob on the left holding the green, Lily shaped blob.

To the right of the lily blob is Eevone and Renaissance (forgive me if I spelled your names wrong), my knitsters in crime. We made needle cases using a method Lily developed for producing true crochet stitches with knitting needles. If you want to know more, you'll just have to wait until seasons 7&8 are released.

The same day I got to meet the Glampyre herself, Ms. Stefanie Japel. I even got a peek at the new book, and it looks great.

As Stefanie was shooting her episode, Debbie and I were prepping and rehearsing for our episode the next day.

Ours is a Kitchmas episode, so step one is trimming the fun fur tree. These won't be a project on the show but will be available as a pattern eventually. Nag Stitchy if you want more information since it's her friend's invention.

I'm not saying that the entire cast an crew liked the tree more than anything we did, but I'm pretty sure the cast and crew liked the tree more than anything we did. Having arrived at the set at 7AM, I didn't get out of there until almost 6, so I missed the opportunity to do dinner with folks who had shot episodes recently. It was worth it though, since I was up again at 5:30 AM to get back to set by 8AM.

I'm not sure why I insist on getting to set early every time, but as can be expected, having done so, the earlier episode experienced a plethora of technical difficulties and our shoot kept getting pushed later and later. If I had been late, that show would have wrapped up early and everyone would have been waiting for me. This is just the way of my life.

This left Debbie and me plenty of time to distract the crew. Stefanie, a producer who has been on the show for the last three years, had been pushing to get us beer can themed episode, to no avail. So instead, Debbie brought her samples in and we did our own shoot.


Finally it was time for our episode. Deb was act 1 and half of act 2. I took the other half of act 2 and all of act 3.

That's Deb's tissue box turtleneck.

And rehearsing with Vickie.

And here I am with our Knitsters, of the San Diego Craft Mafia

Of course, no kitschy set would be complete without a creepy clown.

After that, we met up with Jen of DomiKNITrix who shoots an episode on Monday. As a blogger, I should have photographic evidence of this, but I do not. You'll have to check her's and Deb's site for proof that I am not liar. We had dinner and chatted until we were sure the waitstaff would kick us out. I've been a huge fan of her work for years and I was so excited when I saw her book the other day.

Well, I'm completely exhausted and in need of a vacation but wouldn't take the week back for 20 lbs of cashmere fiber.

PDX again


So I didn't get to go to San Francisco this weekend. It's sad, but Leo and I were not going to let the weekend go to waste. On Friday, we met up with the bi-weekly Restaurant Roulette group to try an Ethiopian restaurant named Queen of Sheba. The food was delicious, the atmosphere; not so much. But, if you forgo any drinks, you can eat for about $10 a person and be pretty full. It's communal finger food, so bring someone whose cooties you don't mind getting or already have.

After a long week of working, Leo and I didn't make it out after dinner. We headed home and hit the sack. I've started a new book *sigh,* it is wonderful. If you are one of the 3 people who hasn't read it yet, pick it up. I'm supplementing this with some nonfiction, or a reasonable facsimile. With topics like String Theory and Quantum Mechanics, we move into the realm of scientific philosophy, which may or may not be classified as nonfiction. Feel free to let loose with your own thoughts on the topic.

On Saturday, we hit our favorite little hippy bar for some live music, good munchies and a pint.

Someone offered to take our picture for us and told me to do something silly.
So I did.

But lest you think I'm a face licking freak, I do have proof of my better behavior, or as itty bitty Marnie would have said "I am being ha(i)ve!"

But let me tell you, for all the excitement of coming home to see the ones I love, I'm embarrassed to admit how exceedingly excited I was to get this.

That's right, it's a WooLee Winder, in the

There was a slow start with my new toy. You see, the WooLee Winder works by way of a pair of gears; one on the bobbin and the other on the flyer. The two must engage in order to wind the yarn onto the bobbin. The whorls I have for El Matchador, appear to be hand machined and while they fit just fine for the purposes of general spinning, they leave a bit of a gap between the bobbin and whorl that causes the gears to barely touch and producing a noticable off balance load onto the bobbin. It's also distractingly loud. This is not a fault with the WooLee Winder. The gap was present on my old flyer as well. It looks a little something like this:

You can actually see my first attempt at filling the void, as well. It’s your standard issue rubber band. OK, but not great.

After a few nearly near catastrophic attempts to make the whorl opening wide enough to properly fit the flyer, I decided it was best I come at this from another angle. I'm not sure how many of you have read my two part series on stitch markers (if you are suffering from insomnia, this may be just the ticket!) but I've found yet another use for some of my most favorite stitch markers.

With three of my black rubber stitch markers, the whole system works like a dream. I have to apply a lot more tension with the break to get the bobbin to take up any yarn, but it sure beats trying to re-machine my whorls with a screwdriver and hammer. SHHHH! I know it was a bad idea, just be glad I’m not showing a broken whorl in this post.

I've been spinning some of my beautiful silk/merino blend that I picked up at Stitches West. The overall color is a soft sage green but spun very fine, the other colors really shine through.

The overall effect is still a soft green but more neutralized, with flecks of red and yellow glimmering through. It's hard to get a really great picture of the yarn that shows the color, but it's lovely indeed.

I haven't had a lot of luck working with these types of vertical color blends in the past, it always seemed like the color changed too abruptly and never looked quite right. But I think I've found a technique that normalizes the results a bit. Basically I use a fairly wide strip of roving, maybe 1/2 or 1/3 the total diameter of the roving as it comes. Then, I work the fibers into yarn by splaying them slightly and allowing the drafting zone to move right to left across the unspun roving. Does that make any sense? Perhaps I'll need to enlist my sweet Leo to help me take pictures when I'm back in Portland.

I think I'll still see some color variance from length to length of the yarn, but less so than if I had worked the fiber as I normally do — from a pencil sized diameter of roving — which would have given far more variance from section to section.

Ok, this is about as rambling and disjointed as any post I've made in recent history, so I'll sign off for now.

I only lived there for 5 years


I'm back to pester you guys for more free advice. Yes, I lived in LA for 5 years, but even though I did get some manicures last year when I was doing Knitty Gritty, it was a bit hit or miss. The first manicure was great, the second left something to be desired. Anyway, I'm not a manicure getting kind of girl, but I'll be getting another one for my upcoming episodes of KG and would love some recommendations in the Burbank area. If you know of any reliable places in the Valley that you can recommend, I'd love to hear. Just leave me a comment below.


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