Kids in the Kitchen 2013

KKIt’s that time of year…  Tomorrow is Kids in the Kitchen here in podunk.  If you’re local, please drop in!   You can also learn more about Kids in the Kitchen programs around the country here.   There are also recipes and activities online to explore anytime, anywhere.

Sunday is Stony Mountain Fibers‘ spin-in with a really dear friend.

What are your weekend plans?


Finally a Handspun FO

DSC01391Oh, I have knitted with my own handspun, but it’s been a while, and it’s been ridiculously infrequent.   While I don’t have a photo of the fiber or the yarn in a hank, it appears I spun it in the fall of 2009 on my first wheel, the Heavenly Handspinning Bellus

It seems I never reported on the fiber to yarn process, so let me capture some of that now too.

Fiber:  Gypsyknits BFL, c/o Gypsyknits  Pure heaven.  If you haven’t spun with BFL, do.  It is a GREAT novice spinner fiber.  Its staple length (the length of each single hair from the sheepy-sheep) is long enough to not be too hard to spin, soft enough to be worn next to the face or neck, and even in a novice’s hands, it has sproing and a touch of loft.

Yarn:  Over-spun, under-spun, but roughly DK at 15 wraps per inch.    In reality, it ranges from laceweight to worsted.

Plying:  Navajo plied… the only way I ply unless I’m using an accent thread or something.   In plainer language, it is a 3-ply yarn.

Verdict:  For my first “real” effort with “good” fiber, it’s pretty impressive.  I’ve come a long way as a spinner, but this is nothing to be ashamed of.

Now, for the finished object report.


Paws to observe…

Project:  Handspun Tea Cozy Hat

Pattern:  Wooly Wormhead’s Tea Cozy Hat.   A great, simple pattern, designed to “vent” a high ponytail out of the top of the hat.

Yarn:  See above, but note that this photo is the most accurate on my monitor for the hues…

Needles:  Body of hat, US #8 16″ bamboo circular.  At least a size too large for most of the yarn, but I like a hat that breathes, so it suits me just fine.  #6 metal dpns used for crown decreases and i-cord. 

photo.JPGVerdict:  This hat will work for the ponytail-less too, but unless you have a long enough mane for a HIGH ponytail, this probably isn’t the design for you.  I’ll get plenty of use though because when my hair isn’t a in ponytail (generally a lower one) for dog walks, it’s in a clip of some sort, and those  don’t sit well under most hats either.

Yarn verdict?  I’ve dragged out more of my handspun still in my stash and I’m going to knit with it more often!  I do regret that I didn’t use but about half of the ball for this project, but luckily, I have a friend with two little boys who is willing to care for an extra-finicky handspun handknit hat.  If I knit it this year for the eldest boy, the two of them should get lots of wear out of it, right?

Now, to find the right projects for more of my handspun…

Spinning Retreat

Roughly 10 days ago, I went to the Dog House Yarns spinning retreat at Graves Mountain Lodge.   I really enjoyed the speaker, the scenery, the camaraderie, the food and just spinning for hours on end!

DSC03240Rosanne and Dog House Yarns always have great goody bags and door prizes.  Here’s a glimpse of the contents: two mini-braids of fiber from Greenwood Fiberworks, a wraps per inch tool complete with an attached list of gauges, and some Mary Kay lotion.  Sissy and Gretchen supplied the dog hair on the fleece throw.   Hem. 

The WPI tool was hand-crafted by Fritz of Dog House Yarns.  It’s a handy little thing and will live happily in the end table with my other fiber-like tools.

I also managed to score a door prize of even more Greenwood Fiberworks “pigtails”. 

Aren’t they pretty?  Pigtails – the small, sampler-sized braids – really appeal to me as I can spin them in one sitting.  I’ve done one cowl with some of my first handspun bits, so I’m already pondering what I might do with these beauties.

I brought home some other goodies as well, including some “faux” cashmere for Gg.  While it is synthetic and thus, doesn’t smell like cashmere, oddly that’s what the girl went for as I spread everything out to admire my haul.  No, I don’t have a photo, because I was too busy rescuing the fiber from Gg.  Since it was bagged and she couldn’t rub all over on it, she clamped the bit sticking out of the bag in her mouth and was about to trot off with it!  


I’m spinning a rather non-descript, long-staple processed wool right now, and she couldn’t care less about that, even with the PANK in there.   I’m almost done, and I’m eager to finish it up and get it plied so I can see what the girl thinks of the faux cashmere when I spin it.

To the spinners out there… what’s on your wheel or spindle? 


Do you have any Aura?

May 2010 006

No, I’m not talking about my Majacraft Aura, which is still my dream wheel and I am going to return to Friday night spinning with her this week… I hope. 

No, I’m talking about Wrangler’s Aura jeans.   I’m not about to ask the Knight’s uncle to take pictures of me in my jeans, so just trust me… they fit well, look awesome, and I can’t believe I found the perfect pair of jeans at Tractor Supply.   The Knight has snagged a few pairs of jeans, work coats, etc. there over the years, but I tend to forget they have a clothing section.

Stock photo from Aura's website

Who knew?!  These jeans are great.   Now that I know what size I wear, I’m tempted to order another pair in another style… 

Rest assured, my legs are NOT that long, and I’m wearing Clarks with a heel, not spikes!

A great-fitting pair of jeans is definitely a wardrobe staple, and its been a long, long time since I’ve had a great-fitting pair of jeans.  I was going to reward myself when I got to my goal weight with a high-end pair of jeans, but at this point, I’m wondering why I would bother, when I’ve found a “perfect fit” at Tractor Supply?

So… what should my new goal weight present to myself be?

Floatin’ Along

Welcome to my entry in the Bark ‘n Knit WIP Parade.

A group shot was out of the question, so grab a cuppa’, a snack, and settle into a VERY comfortable chair…

But wait!  Every parade needs some pagent queens, right?


Haddon Wood’s Princess of Joy, more commonly known as Sissy, is riding on the well-used chair of the late Pop.  She is wearing a glow in the dark ruff, accented with orange bells.  She is sponsored by the Woodridge Hound Club.


Next up is the Haddon Wood’s Junior Miss Princess Gretchen Greer.   L’il Miss GG is a foot entry (and thus, she sulks).  She sports a very seasonal gown with a glitzy jack o’ lantern.  She is sponsored by the Hogwarts Crup Alumni Society.

Both princesses’s attire was donated by their doting Gramma MJ.  (And yes, the girls are at work today, and they’d like you to read their very important post today too.)

We now return you to the parade in progress.

First up are my spinning works in progress, just because there are fewer of them and they are easier to cover.


April 2008

This definitely holds the title of oldest WIP.  It’s an unknown fiber that came free with the first spindle I purchased.   There’s a tiny bit on that spindle, and even more on my Kundert.  I’ll be practicing with this until I feel like a slightly competent spindler.  (Is that a word?  It should be.  Spinners who can master wheel and spindle are special.)

DSC01804Next up is the first pound of wool I bought.  It’s of an unknown, coarse, krinkled crimp stuff that LOVES to be a tightly twisted laceweight single.  I spun about a 1/3 of it on my Bellus and another 1/3 or so on my Aura, and it is what I’m spinning on now.  I want to finish it this month, as I started it immediately after a friend lost her battle with breast cancer.  I think I’m going to navajo ply it and then it’s definitely going to be Grace’s Comforting Embrace, the shawl she had just finished designing when my friend died.  Grace kindly donated the proceeds from the sale of this pattern for a time to cancer research. 

October 2010 003

Last in the spinning WIP division is the silk merino the Knight gave me for my birthday.  It’s all spun up, waiting for me to find the right commercial yarn to ply it with.  It’s roughly a fingering weight single, and I have visions of it being knitted into a lovely stole or cresent for dressier wear.  Any and all suggestions would be appreciated, both in terms of a plying yarn and a pattern.   I think I want either black or pewter…

Now, to the knitting projects on the needles.  I am happy to say there are no crochet WIPs.  For whatever reason – maybe because crochet is sooo quick? – I tend to finish what I start in crochet in a short order.

October 2010 005First up is the Tea Party Cardi, which I hope to finish this month too, but I need to get knitting.  I have the back done, but only a couple of inches of one front panel.  That’s a close-up of the broken rib pattern that dominates the sweater.  It’s a very fast knit, but I haven’t had much time to knit at home, and it’s a bit too bulky to take it with me as a travel knit.   I’ve had it on the needles 2.5 weeks, so a more realistic completion date might be mid-November.  I’ll need three buttons for the front.  Any suggestions?

DSC01318My most recent cast-on is a mystery sock a bunch of us are doing together in the Stash Sock group on Ravelry.   Since it is a mystery knit along, I’m not sharing photos, but that’s the yarn.  The goal is to finish by year’s end.  I’m really enjoying knitting with the Shi Bui yarn, even if the color is “peony”.  I’m pretending the color is merlot or some other lush, red wine that makes me think of fall.  I’m doing these socks magic loop, one per circular needle, but I’m knitting each clue on each sock before I move on.  I’ve finished clue #1 on one sock, but not the second.  And I believe clue #3 is being released today, so I’m falling behind, right on schedule.

October 2010 004I have another sock on the needles, the awesome Cotty pattern in a custom hand-dyed colorway by Ann.  This is my easy, breezy travel knit, and there’s no deadline, although the colorway says muted Christmas to me, and Ann did give me the yarn for Christmas 2008.  She calls the colorway Spring Ahead/Fall Back, and I can see that too…

As an aside, because this post won’t be too long already, I do need to tell you how much I love the ChiaoGoo Stainless circ.   I wasn’t at all sure about that bend in the metal tip near the cable join, but it makes the join a non-issue.  And the stainless wrapped in rugged plastic is a GREAT cable too.  I need more circular needles like I need another hole in my head, but…  Of course, you might guess that they’re available at Dog House Yarns & More.


Those are the three projects I’m actively working on.  Next up is the shop sample scarf for Dog House in a laceweight cashmere.  The pattern is one Plymouth released for their Eco Cashmere, and it’s a nice pattern, but I cast on for this in April, right before my knitting mojo went on a summer sabbatical.  I haven’t been able to get back into it, but I need to, because it’s a heavenly little cashmere… just ask Gretchen.  I’d like to finish this before I go up on Halloween to teach a magic loop class at the shop, but something has to give…  I can’t finish everything NOW!

DSC00804The other lingering WIP I worked on over the summer was MooSon.  I’m ashamed to admit I cast on in April, 2009.  It’s a great pattern and an even better Gypsy Knits custom-dyed yarn.   It was supposed to be a birthday gift that year, so I’m still hoping it’ll be a Christmas gift this year.  If not… well, there’s always said birthday 2011…  Christmas 2011…  You get the point.  Can the intended recipient guess this is for her?

DSC00375Even older is the gift made from another Gypsy Knits custom dye job.   Ravelry says I cast on in February, 2009.  Anita found it and figured out it was for her when she was doing some graphics work for me.  The mystery is though… neither of us have a clue when she’ll get it!  Sadly, despite this photo, it is almost done.  I think I have a bit of one sleeve to finish and then all of the second sleeve and the trim.  You’ll understand if I don’t remind her of the pattern or tell her when I hope to have it finished, right?!  😉

Do parades have an intermission?  Maybe this one should.  Get up, stretch, head to the bar for a latte or something else to wet your whistle…

DSC01415Actually, we just have one more hibernating project.  Sadly, I’m going to have to frog it and start over (it’s a good thing – I need a smaller size!), but I think it’s next up on the sweater agenda.   I cast on for Whisper in December 2009 (look!  less than a year ago!) almost immediately after Jessi sent me some of her laceweight to try.  I haven’t broken it to GG – Gretchen Greer – that her second favorite yarn is no more, but I’m not beyond a shameless plea for any remaining laceweight in her former shop inventory to head my way!  For Gretchen’s sake, right?!  It is a FINE merino, in every sense of the word.  And if ever you need help deciding how soft and premium your yarn might be, Gretchen works for cashmere, new frocks, carrots and bananas.

My float would be bigger/longer, but I did frog two projects two weekends ago.  Just don’t go look at my queue, okay?

Faerie-ly Late

Well, I missed the contest deadline for our Blue Mountain Handcrafts group on Ravelry, but I finally finished my blue batt.    The Knight and I were working on wrapping the yarn on the niddy noddy during the crazy storm that rocked the city, and then, I gave it a nice bath.

It dried overnight, so I snapped photos while the girls had their first trip outside of the morning.

Blue Mountain Scyllia Batt

 This was my first true laceweight yarn.  I spun extremely fine singles and then plied 750 yards or so of them with a blue metallic thread.   THIS  is one yarn I’m keeping for me.  While there’s plenty of room for improvement, I think it’s going to make a lovely shawl of one sort or another.

Not all of the yarn got plied with the metallic thread.  When I ran out of thread, I just navajo plied the remainder. 


It turned into a nice, fingering weight yarn.  Pity I only have about 135 yards.  

That’s a close-up of the laceweight.  You can really see all the extra bling from the metallic thread!

So, what are your plans for the weekend for the last weekend in June?

Catching up is hard to do

I’m so far behind on what I want to share with you that I have no idea how we’ll ever catch up. 

Oh where oh where has our Mama gone?

There is a very rude, fussy post on the fur-girls’ blog.    I’m wondering now – in the hour plus since I wrote that post – if maybe Sis is just stressed out because I wasn’t home enough this weekend?  I know stress can cause rashes on humans, and while this isn’t exactly a rash…  I’ll be interested to hear what y’all – and wondervet – think.

So.  The weekend!  Friday night, I went to a League-related cocktail party.  It was great to catch up with some old friends, and I met a few new (to me) people too.   Saturday, a League board retreat, complete with a DISC assessment.    What I got out of it is that I can over-think my way into such a hearty misrepresentation of myself that even a facilitator will note that clearly, my results weren’t accurate for my personality.

Sunday was the spin-in.  Please see Amy’s report for more photos and her take on the day.  It was the first time I’ve spun with more than one or two other people, and it was almost overwhelming.   There were friends I don’t get to see often, new friends to make, and such a variety of expertise and spinning wisdom to take in…

One such expert sat just to my right.  That’s a supported spindle, and she’s spinning a batt she made yesterday.  (Hold that thought – we’ll talk more about batt-making later.)  She also spun some of the finest, softest cotton I’ve ever seen with the same spindle.  She gave me some great ideas about how to catalog my fiber stash, but I’m also shopping for a Takhli spindle.  She suggested starting with a metal one, usually found in brass…

Oh – don’t miss her basket in the bottom of the photo.  That was her grandmother’s knitting basket.  My own heart swelled up so that I thought it would burst!  I love the history – personal and general – in fiber arts.

Barbara of Stony Mountain Fibers planned this lovely event.  That’s the great woman in the center, and a local gal (I finally figured out that I knew her from work!) making her own batt.  Barbara generously brought lots of fibers for us to blend via the Strauch Mad Batt’r.

There’s the batt I made.  I ran it through twice, because smooth and blended was what I was feeling yesterday.  It’s almost exclusively mohair.  There’s some teal wool in there, a bunch of different blue and green mohair locks, and I THOUGHT I was blending some soysilk roving in there, but that brilliant lady with the supported spindle used the same stuff to make her batt, and she reported that too was mohair.  I can only aspire to that kind of fiber, tactile awareness.

There was also a swap table, and I came home with two goodies.  The gal who fell in love with what I’d taken hadn’t planned on participating in the swap table, so she forced some hand carded and processed alpaca on me.  The plum-colored stuff is also mohair.  Seems I like mohair.

I  had the best time!  I do believe this is going to become a regular event, and there’s even a rumor of a local spinning guild forming.  I hope more of you can join us next time.  We have room for at least 100 spinners, I’d say.  I also vow to bring my spindles next time and get some help making friends with those little buggars!

Somehow, that reminds me that Jessi had so much fun moving into her new home that she’s moved to a new blog too, and she’s having a contest for some Wollmeise.  You don’t even have to tell her I sent you.

How was your weekend?

Toot, toot!

We'll both be there!

Before I get all crazed and forget, do stop by the spin-in on Sunday if you’re local, or live anywhere near central VA and want to see a bunch of spinners all in one place.  The link is to the Ravelry event page, but if you are planning to attend, you can also email me for more information. 

I shall endeavor to take photos, since I failed miserably at that task yesterday.  I took my little camera, so I had that AND a Blackberry with a decent enough camera within, and I was a good 10 minutes into my train ride home when I realized I’d not taken a single photo for you. 

I’ll get to yesterday’s adventures in a moment, but I might not have literally gotten there without Amtrak.  I’ve only taken the train once before, and that was about 15 years ago.  So, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I booked my ride from podunk to my college town and back again. 

It was the BOMB.  I somehow managed to have a seat to myself, which is to say I had two seats to call my own, both going and coming.  I know the drive well, since as I just said, DC was my college town.  The most thrilling part was driving through one of the farms I lived on in my teens.  Wow, what they’ve done with the place!  I couldn’t see much because I figure we were going around 70+ miles per hour, but the house and yard looked amazing.  You can’t see the house from Rt. 29, and I’ve never ventured any closer.

But you want to hear about my visit with Ruth, don’t you?   We met at Union Station, which was another blast from the past.  We used to grab lunch there all the time back in the day, and then wander around the shops.  And that’s just what we – and that we includes Ruth’s hubby too – did. 

I snagged some costume stuff for the fur-girls thanks to Ruth’s good eyes, but I honestly have no idea when I’ll get to take photos of such.  It’s way too hot out there now to get great photos of them, so just be patient.  Actually, I have a whole host of fun props to use with the fur-girls when time and medications and allergies allow…  And I snagged these Merrell sandals for me.  Mine are a little different,  with a solid brown footbed and a bronzy leather upper, but again, I don’t know what the chances are of getting a photo for you before I’m wearing wool socks and clogs again, so that gets you in the ballpark, so to speak.

It was a long day.  I figured up on my ride home that I spent about an hour in the car, about five hours on the train, and another hour either marching down to the right spot to board or de-train, or waiting to board the trains that carried me to and fro.  Still, I was in far better shape than I would have been if I’d driven, even to the nearest Metro station to take the subway into the city…  And it was all worth it to catch up with the Scrabblequeen and her hubby again!

Don’t look for another post before Monday morning, but in the meantime, those BonBon Rose Girls are giving away a ring I really want.   (That’s the catch-22.  To get more entries, I have to tell you about it, but that also means more competition.) 

So, will you be doing some resting and relaxing for me?  Or maybe folding the laundry I did last week that STILL hasn’t found its way into the drawers yet?

Toot, toot!  All aboard the weekend express!  Scratch that.  I want a good, old-fashioned steam engine to pull my weekend train, and one of those high-speed things from Europe for the weekdays.

Cuff of first sock... you're really in the dark on this one, eh?

P.S. – I am now working on the heel flap of my second sock.  Maybe on the 2+ hour ride to the family reunion later this month, I’ll come close to finishing them?

This used to be a knitting blog…

Finished Firsts

Finally, that finished report on the first yarn spun and plied on the new Aura.  It also happens to be my first beaded yarn.

Step 1:  I spun up some laceweight singles in a Corridale (wool).

That was the easy, breezy part, especially with the Aura, the wool-eater.

Step 2 is where it got dicey.  I bought some size 10 crochet cotton in a pale blue, and strung three small tubes of beads on it.  The stringing alone took almost an hour.

There were FOUR knots like that before I finished plying all 350 yards.  I actually had about 400 yards of the wool, but after going back for two more tubes of beads (still not quite enough) and cutting and RE-stringing those beads so many times, I wasn’t about to go buy more cotton.

The beads are actually blue lined with silver, and none of these photos  accurately reflect their stand-alone color.

As seen here with my yarn-guard in the background, I did quickly and sloppily navajo ply the remaining wool at the end too.  It’s hard to navjo ply laceweight!  I don’t think I’ll do that again.

Because my new bobbins don’t fit on my beautiful lazy kate, the Knight and I fashioned a very basic model.

One box, one long, thin needle, and voila!  I’ve already put in a request for a proper Majacraft Universal Lazy Kate AND ordered the Knight to create an “adapter” rod that will allow my lovely Yarndemon Kate to continue to serve me well, regardless of what wheel/bobbins I use.

This was my first beaded yarn, and it could be my last.  That’s why when Ann begged me to make some for her, I told her this is hers.  I honestly don’t know if I’ll go to this much trouble again.  Although, I’ve since learned there are little spinny bead bowl thingees that literally spin the beads onto  the needle, onto the yarn for you… 

I love to ply, generally, but the knots and running out of beads twice sucked the joy right out of this for me.  It isn’t perfect, but I know Ann will love it anyway, so the yarn is getting a better home than it would have with me, I think.

Oh – and I’ve called it light fingering, but it’s a REALLY light fingering at 15 wraps per inch. 

I do want to try plying with metallic thread, and I would love to hear other ideas you have for blending handspun with something else (to take full advantage of the yardage).  I’m spinning that blue Fairy batt now, and it will be laceweight when plied.  I am leaning towards plying it with a metallic thread to keep it a true laceweight.  It does  have some slubs (chunks of fiber that simply do not want to yield and be spun into something smooth), and for a change, I’m leaving those slubs in the yarn.

I’ll be spinning that batt this weekend.  I’m also on Sissy watch.  You can read her blog to find out why, but so far, she hasn’t been sick, thankfully.  Y’all were quiet too yesterday, so catching up on my blog reading is already crossed off the to-do list.  I also want to figure out how and where to store my fiber stash, not to be confused with the yarn library.  The other spinners out there… how do you store your fiber?  In plastic tubs like the yarn, or ??

Oh – I also want new running shoes, and if Sis continues to keep those pills down, I might scoot in to Ragged Mountain Running Shop for a personalized fit and shoe recommendation.  I do realize running is high impact and thus, not ideal for my back, but I can’t just walk – seriously.   My body just sneaks into a jog when I’m not looking.   I’ve even tried race walking, and while I have been known to complain that I hate running, I ran track AND cross country in high school, and then would go run the stairs in the hose tower at the firehouse when I was working and couldn’t get to the gym.   I think I’m a runner, so I may as well buy shoes that will help protect my back as much as possible.  There’s also nothing like running to burn those calories which I must incinerate to lose this weight, which isn’t good for my back either…

What’s up for your weekend?


This week, Thankful Thursday needs its own post, not just a paragraph in my regular Thursday stuff. 

In a nutshell, I’m thankful for all the supportive friendships I have in my life.  More than one has played out in a grand fashion this week, and I am well aware that I am blessed.

Y’all saw the lovely blankie Gmarie sent to save me from myself.   It allowed me to give a promised gift to a family, without hand pain or the guilt that I think a lot of us have when we realize a craft project isn’t working out. 

Many of you know that I’m on an uphill climb to regain the fitness I took for granted earlier in my life.   It’s hard to go from power lifting firefighter to an out of shape bookkeeper.  Again, I’m blessed with supportive, kind friends.  A local, blogless friend also struggles with proper nutrition, also needs a higher protein diet, not that you’d know it to look at her. 

Both of us have tried – and tried – to catch the Greek yogurt wave, but we were stopped by the strong, chalky taste.   I didn’t doubt her but headed to the grocery store when she told me she’d FINALLY found a creamy, tasty Greek yogurt.  Dannon does Greek yogurt a little differently.  My friend swears by the honey and vanilla, while I was forced to try the strawberry and blueberry, because that’s all that I saw on the shelf.   If you see me in the store this weekend, don’t get between me and the Dannon Greek; I’ll be stocking up and making it my go-to breakfast with some granola sprinkled on top.

Of course, what would Thankful Thursday be without mentioning my new wheel?!  It’s a Majacraft tradition to sign the base of each wheel and number it.  Owen is the husband half of the owner team, and that four on the end?  Not that there was any doubt, but 4 has been my favorite number since I started playing sports and wearing uniforms.  My first track jersey made me #14, and the rest is history. 

I’m also thankful for each of you, even those lurkers who swing by and I don’t even know your names.   I started blogging just because I wanted to swap and it was a requirement, but now, some of the women I chat with most came into my life through blogging!