June 2008 Archives

Coming Attractions


Yesterday was Julia's baby shower, where crafty women, from far and wide, came to rain gifts and well wishes on Julia and her li'l bun in the oven. It was so great to see my local friends and meet some amazing women I hadn't met before. Such a great day.


Honestly, so many people were taking pictures that I didn't go to great lengths to get all the prime shots, but you can see what I took, over on Fickr.

But there are a couple of shots that I'd like to highlight, for totally selfish reasons.

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See those bad boys? Their name is Alsace Le Monstre and the patterns for each will be available soon.

Here's a more detailed shot that will appear in the pattern.

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In the mean time, I leave you with a little more sweetness


Townes sleeping in Mary-Heather's gorgeous mobile from Kat's Baby Boho book.

And, my friend Chrissy's dog, Akasha, wearing a hand knit sweater.


Yes, she is real, not a stuffed animal, and yes, yes, yes, she is ridiculously cute.

The results are in...


The winners of the contest I entered, are posted and... I didn't win. Awww.

But that's OK, it's a yearly event and I can always try again.

Don't forget to check out all the winning shots here, and consider donating to your local Humane Society.

A super quick lunchtime post to show you some handspun yarn.


Spunky Eclectic 100% merino in Sage.

There are about 272 yd/248 m of two ply, slightly thick and thin yarn. I used mostly a supported long draw method combined with the spinning for speed and softness technique I've been practicing.

This is thick and thin partly because I did a little experiment with this fiber. For the first bobbin, I predrafted and spun, as usual, producing a softly variegated and relatively even yarn. For the second bobbin, I didn't do any predrafting at all, I just spun directly from the wad (technical term) of fiber. The roving is pretty wide, so I carefully directed the drafting zone back and forth across the expanse of unspun fiber, to ensure that each color change was worked completely before going to the next color.

The result is that bobbin number two has more intense colors and less gradual color shifts. I found it harder to spin an even yarn, but my technique got better as I practiced. From the picture above, I think it's easy to tell which ply came off of which bobbin.

There's something to be said for the instant gratification of just sitting down and spinning without any prep or much agonizing over a perfect yarn. Still, I think my technique could do with some serious fine tuning and my goal is to produce yarns that, if I saw it in a store, I'd want to buy it. I like this yarn, but it's a little thicker than I normally like to knit with, so it doesn't quite meet that expectation.


The singles were spun fairly lightly to keep their softness and were plied together with a little extra twist to help control pilling (I hope.) After that, I just gave the whole thing a wash and thwack and hung it to dry with no weight.


If Panda kills me in my sleep, I doubt anyone would fault her.

Supporting the local economy



My mom and I are in beautiful Eugene, Oregon, to see the Black Sheep Gathering. It's a lovely event, not too big but not the least bit small, either. It was really hard to leave for the day, but most likely a good idea that we did. There were more than a few fantastically beautiful spindles calling my name, and trying the Louet Julia is going to haunt my spinning fantasies for a while. I should curse Wooland Woolworks for having so many wheels out for test driving. Evil temptresses, every last one of them. But they were so nice, I can't be mad.

The sheep and goats (Parenthetically, I have a hard time distinguishing certain breeds of sheep from goats and am not diligent enough to actually read the tags describing each animal. So if I call something a goat and it's actually a sheep, that's just my own flakiness.) were endearing though I was a bit started to realize how much like Babe, the male sheep were. Yowza! No, I didn't snap any proof, you big sicko.

Anyway, a cute sheep in a coat, makes googoo eyes at me.


And two little goats snuggle up for a nap.


A few more cutie pies over on flickr, if that's not enough.

And if you want still more livestock, here's a little movie I put together to give you a feel for how loud those goats can be.

I swear, some of them sounded like sarcastic older men trying to mimic the sound of goats. It makes me laugh. I'm easily amused.

I also got myself some damn fine roving. I'm so in love with this haul.

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And my mom treated me to a gorgeous new, hand blown, glass orifice hook.


For those unfamiliar with the purpose of an orifice hook, I promise, it's not at all what you are imagining.

And of course, my mom got a few nice things too.


All in all, a really fun day.

More gratuitous dog shots


I know, big surprise.

A few of you have asked if Thea ever gets to catch the squirrel. Well, if Panda's playing along, generally not, but if it's just Thea, heck ya!

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Here she is having a little bit of fun while we take a break from mowing the back yard. She doesn't have the muzzle-eye coordination her sister has, but she has tenacity to spare. Even in the blaring heat she would have gladly played all afternoon. She's happiest when she's playing.

Panda, on the other hand, is my patient and reserved girl.


Here she shows off some of my fresh picked flowers from the garden. It's nice having a pup who'll stay still and not chew the scenery (literally).

If you were to look at my Ravelry notebook, you'd notice a lot of projects that are super top secret. (If I showed them to you, I'd have to kill you, and nobody wants that.)

Sadly enough, this doesn't even represent the full list of unbloggables. Two are to come (awaiting yarn) and one two-part pattern isn't represented (didn't get a good swatch shot before I sent it off.)

So, that means I've been very busy and haven't much to show for it around here.
But, in the next month and a half, or so, I expect to have a new self published pattern for you, which will reveal the whole behind these two little pieces.

Swatch1 Swatch2

And, the premier issue of Twist Collective will be out with this bad boy.


The rest will come in its due time. So funny too, I had this grand idea that I'd work on all self published stuff this year. How silly I am. I have been trying to do more of my own designs, but the opportunities that have arisen, to work on other projects, have just been too good to pass up. In the end, I think it's all worked out for the best.

That said, with several patterns being tech edited right now, and other patterns due very soon, I've been so entrenched in numbers and details that I needed to give myself a little break yesterday.

That's when El Matchador, some Spunky Eclectic merino and I, had ourselves a luxurious few hours while watching Deadwood on DVD.


These are the singles spun not-too-tightly, using a supported long draw method. I plan to ply it pretty tightly once I've spun the 4 ounces I have. I think this will retain the softness without being too prone to pilling. The colorway is called Sage and it's an amazing mix of greens and browns, ranging from deep leafy green to red and yellow ocher. The picture really doesn't show the color well. You'll just have to take my word for it.

I'm eager to finish spinning up the remaining fiber, yet also feeling mentally refreshed enough to dive back into my deadline work.

In unrelated news, my parents arrive on Wednesday when we will belatedly celebrate Father's Day with my now-legitimate-no-longer-step father. Huzzah! And to add to the fun, my mom and I will be at the Black Sheep Gathering in Eugene on Friday and, maybe, Saturday. If you'll be there too, please say "hi." I have a feeling my wallet will be substantially lighter after leaving the event.

Cheeky Monkey


Do you notice a trend here?

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See tons more pictures from our day trip to Manzanita, OR, here.

Oh and if you've ever wondered what it's like to hang out with the pups at the beach, you can check out this short video.

And I realize I really should have faded the music after the closing credit. Sorry for how jarringly the music stops at the end.

Most pictures may be clicked to enlarge.

This is the last in a 3-part tutorial covering this spreadsheet, and one of several tutorials on using Excel for designing. There are two previous tutorials in this particular series that combined, give you all the info you need to understand the various fields in the spreadsheet. And that spreadsheet? It's got the raw numbers needed to make this little shell.

NOTE: The attached spreadsheet is just a sample and contains measurements that may be useful but which may not meet the standards for some publications. You are welcome to use what I have for your own design purposes but it'll be you who has to ultimately support any patterns written from it, so do your research first.

Special notes:
I've used Ysolda's measurement chart as a reference for many of the basic sloper measurements.
I'm using Amy O'Neill Houck's tutorial on estimating yardage to create my yardage estimation formulas.

The goal

In the two previous tutorials, we learned about

  • Rounding
    • Round to a whole number
    • Round to the nearest Even or Odd number or Round, Round Up or Round Down
    • Round to a multiple
    • Round to a multiple plus
  • Intro to IF statements
  • Evenly spacing shaping
    • Every X rows Y times
    • Next and every X rows Y times

In this tutorial, we'll cover

Or how to keep your spindle in good spirits

I love to spindle and love it even more for its portability, but with an unsupported top whorl spindle, even a little abuse to the hook can turn your spindle from a delightful tool into an instrument of frustration.

Before heading out to visit some friends, this weekend, it hit me that I could make a great protective case for my spindle and store enough fiber for hours worth of entertainment.


For as long as I've know Leo, he's been a big fan of scotch. Over the past 7 or so years, we've acquired a few of those sleeves in which some of the bottles are sold. These sleeves are made to protect the glass bottles during shipping, as well as make them easier to stack, and they come in a variety of sizes to suit the different shaped bottles, contained within.

If you happen to know of some non-alcoholic resources for these sleeves, please leave a comment. The basic structure is a firm cardboard tube with a metal base and removable metal lid.

These tubes are generally big enough to store a single spindle as well as some fiber for spinning. Frankly, if you didn't feel like doing anything else, there's no reason you couldn't use the tube, as is, with just the fiber for added cushioning, but you can step it up a notch by adding a loop from which to suspend the spindle.

It's easy and I'll show you how.

Obligatory common sense safety note: Please be careful when working with bangy, pokey, pointy, stabby, drilly, or otherwise ouchie producing implements. Children and inebriated adults should be supervised or distracted with something shiny. Wear eye protection or at least be willing to don full pirate regalia, if things don't work out according to plan.

The weekend


We celebrated our friend, Todd's birthday.


I haven't been bowling in years.

The girls had their own victory dances.

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Todd bowls and Tracy poses.


If these scores were for golf, I would have been the winner.

During the party, I taught Tracy how to knit and showed Erica and Tracy how a spindle works. There are more pictures of both these activities, but I believe they are being held for blackmailing purposes of some sort. Little do these people know, I embarrass myself for hobby. No blackmail will work on me. HA!

Sunday, we did some grilling up a lot of yummies on our little outdoor fireplace doohicky thingy.

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The mushrooms and garlic were the best, but it was all pretty tasty.

Also, Thea is cute.


It's the final countdown


If you are humming the background music to Gob Bluth's magic act right now, you are fine and dandy in my book.

But, I'm talking about something that fills me with even more glee.

A few months back, I was asked if I'd be willing to contribute to a brandly spanking new online magazine. I feel like I can't really do justice in describing all this magazine aims to do, but for the designers, in short, it offers the best of the worlds of self and magazine publishing. As a customer, you can expect gorgeous, high quality and affordable PDF downloads, of pieces designed by some of your favorite independent designers. These patterns will be beautifully photographed, expertly laid out and meticulously tech edited.

Am I doing a good job getting you excited about this magazine? Probably not. Instead, bookmark the Twist Collective site and see a new teaser image of a projects from the premier issue.


Just roll over a number and see the center image change to another Twist Collective graphic.

I have to tell you, I've seen a couple shots of the finished pieces and I think there will be something, maybe a lot of somethings for everyone. And, even better, each pattern will be available individually, so no more buying a whole magazine for a single design, you like.

Is this designer excited? Do bears poop in the woods? That'd be a big old "yes" right here.

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