Wednesday, February 26, 2014

January/February update

It just occurred to me that I never posted about my spinning wheel (!!) I got last month. I was finally able to switch from my drop spindle to a proper spinning wheel thanks to a Christmas present from my dad and I''m never going back. I can spin AND ply 4 oz of wool in 2-3 days, whereas it would have taken me months on the spindle. I'm not even exaggerating, it took me three months to spin and ply about 200 yards on my spindle.

She's an Ashford Kiwi 2 and I have named her Millie, because apparently that's what you do. I got her unfinished and stained all of the solid wood an English chestnut and painted the wheel an off white color called 'horseradish'. I think it gives it sort of a nautical vibe.

Because I finally have a spinning wheel, I was able to compete in the Ravellenic games under the 'fleece to finished object' category and spin the yarn I needed to knit The Age of Brass and Steam shawl. I'm still supremely proud of finishing my project before the deadline and I've been wearing it every chance I get.

luna moth colorway
My little yarn business,, has been humming along and I'm excited to say I have exceeded my sales goal this month, along with completing all of my other business tasks for the month. I'm looking forward to seeing what I can improve on next month and the following months, and I'm so thankful for all the support I've received. Sometimes running a creative business is hard because the items you put out are a representation of you and it's really easy to get insecure, but every sale builds my confidence and makes it a little easier to put myself out there.

I also have some exciting new things to update about, including STITCHES West and a brand new office space for BruteForceGames, which of course means the even more craft space for me! All that will have to wait for now, though.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Au Revoir December

We had a fabulous December, I'm sad it's over already. It was our second Christmas together and it was fun putting up the tree with all of our ornaments from last year, plus the new ones from this year. We always try to do Christmas-y things while we can. Last year we decorated wooden ornaments and saw the Nutcracker ballet, this year we made a gingerbread house and got fancy ornaments from the artists at Balboa park. I got a hand blown glass ornament and Sean got an ornament made from a goose egg.   

December has also been a good month for my house plants. I tend to be a little neglectful, but somehow my plants have been thriving. I managed to get my African violets to bloom again after months and months, and all of my orchids (I have five now) are so happy and are putting out new leaves and roots. One of them is even growing a new flower spike! This is completely new to me. The spike has grown about twice the length since that picture was taken. Both of these plants are really easy to care for, but it still feels like such an accomplishment to not only keep them alive, but to help them thrive.

Another big December announcement... I opened up a hand dyed yarn store and bought myself a spinning wheel (thanks for the Christmas present, Dad!). The yarn above was spun on my drop spindle from Queen Bee Fibers, and while a drop spindle is a great inexpensive way to get into spinning, it took me three months to spin 160 yards. To give you an idea of how minuscule 160 yards is, I could probably make A mitten from this. A single mitten. I will be able to spin much faster on a wheel and I've already ordered a bunch of delicious fiber for when I receive my wheel.

Arguably the most exciting event in December has been Squirrel Stash. It has been a work in progress for a few months and I finally decided to roll it out a little over a week ago. Within an hour of uploading my current inventory, I had one sale and another inquiry. It was incredible. I wasn't expecting any sales for weeks! I'm currently in the process of building stock and upgrading my equipment. I hope it only goes up from here.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Not just yarn (but mostly yarn)

Yes, we've already started to decorate for Christmas! It's the best time of the year. First there's Halloween, then Thanksgiving, then Christmas, then nothing until Halloween rolls around again! We didn't do much for Halloween, carved some pumpkins (can you guess which one is mine? I bet you can't), had some decorations up, but mostly ate too much candy. I'm determined to enjoy the holiday season for as long as I can. We also picked up a new bookshelf for our books and movies the cat. There's a tree right in front of the window with lots of birds, and it overlooks the neighbor's yard where all the street cats hang out. He's been pretty happy with his new spot.

I finished knitting a pair of socks just for myself as part of a Halloween knit-a-long. I dyed the yarn myself with food coloring and I'm so in love with them. I've been wearing them around the house for the past few days. I was going to try to wear them out but the only shoes I have are bright orange flats and it looked kind of ridiculous. Regardless, I love them. I picked up some professional acid dyes to experiment a bit more with dyeing yarn. Most of what I have come up with has been extremely ugly, but some of it looks nice. It's definitely a work in progress. I'm currently making a pair of Endpaper Mitts for myself with the teal yarn I dyed and some glittery mint yarn and I am thoroughly impressed with my progress so far. It's my first time doing any kind of color work. A month ago I had never knit anything more than a simple scarf and now I'm doing fair isle. Look at me go. My advice for anyone who wants to knit something scary looking is to just go for it, it looks much scarier than it actually is.

Sean took me up to Julian a couple weeks ago to get me out of the city. I get frustrated with driving, dealing with crowds, and never having any real peace and quiet. I'm not much of city girl. He got the most adorable little cabin. I'm obsessed with tiny houses so I was so excited to stay in an (almost) tiny house. It was just so precious. I can't wait to go back for a weekend, I would get so much knitting done!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Fiber Fiesta

I signed up for my first ever Ravelry knit-a-long earlier this month. I have admittedly become just a little obsessed with socks since I knit my first pair last month and will jump on anything sock-related. It was great to have the pattern designer in the KAL so I could ask questions about the pattern, because really I still know very little about knitting. I'm starting to become more familiar with the terms/construction and I'm so proud of myself to have finished a pair of "real"socks. Knitting is a lot more terrifying than crochet, I think. I'm scared of dropping stitches (how will I pick them up!?), having to rip out rows (it's so fiddly!), and doing anything wrong in general. Crochet is much more forgiving, if you make a mistake you just pull on the yarn and undo it and there aren't any weird loopy bits to have to worry about. I was originally going to crochet socks, but apparently it takes twice the amount of yarn to crochet than knit! I'm so cheap that I just learned to knit, instead.

The little pouch is a Needle Nook I picked up from the Vista Fiber Fiesta. It's the neatest thing. It holds your sock project on double pointed needles or circular needles in a snap pouch so you can throw it in your bag and not worry about the needles getting messed up, but the thing that really sold me was the zippered pouch built into it to hold your extra needles/findings. It's handmade in Southern California, and since I sew I hardly ever buy anything I think I can make myself, but it's so well made I didn't have any qualms shelling out for it. I'm just tickled with it.
Fiber festival // alpacas!!

Fiesta haul

I meant to update about the second day of the San Diego Yarn Crawl but I lost motivation trying to edit the photos. I went to another alpaca farm and two yarn shops with some friends and it was a lot of fun. We went to A Simpler Time alpaca farm and mill and they gave us a little tour of the mill so we could see how fiber is processed. It's basically just a barn full of a bunch of spikes that move, it's a little scary. They clean the fiber and turn it either into roving or yarn in a bunch of different weights. They also dye some skeins for their gift shop and I couldn't resist this gorgeous orange alpaca. I picked up a few small accessories I needed (gauge ruler, boring stuff) at Two Sisters and Ewe and my friend won a skein of yarn (!!!). I kind of expected the raffle and gift bag stuff Two Sisters was doing at more of the stops on the yarn crawl, but the most other stores did was a little pinback button. Ah, oh well. Our second stop at Yarn & Thread Expressions I bought hand painted sock yarn with the intent to make socks just for myself, since everything else will be used for gifts. And guess what? They will most likely be turned into a gift. I already started on a pair for Christmas but I had to frog them completely because they are comically large. Merry Christmas, have some clown socks.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Yarn Crawl day 1

I had an amazing time participating in the first San Diego Yarn Crawl today. We drove out to Ramona, CA to visit an alpaca farm and check out the Yarnover truck that was going to be there that day. I won't say how much I spent, but I will say that I'm glad I got paid today. ;-) I bought the top yarn to do a sock knit-a-long for the month of October. It's going to be a Christmas gift so hopefully being in a KAL helps motivate me to actually get it done before Christmas. The second skein is purely for myself. It's called Minty Unicorn and is a gorgeous mint green color with lots of sparkles, there was no way I was walking out of the place without it. The last one is baby alpaca, sheared from the alpacas on the farm. It feels so incredibly soft and silky, I feel like this is going to be one of the ones that I just keep in my stash and take out to pet every once and a while before putting it back.
The yarn crawl has a little passport that you can take around to the various shops and get it stamped. I made sure to print out mine this morning and kept checking to make sure I had it in the car with me, but sure enough, as soon as we pulled up to the farm I couldn't find it. I was really bummed because I had planned on going around to collect a bunch of stamps. Thankfully they had some extra passports at the farm so I could fill mine out again. I don't know how I lost it, but I still haven't found where the original passport went. Tomorrow I'm going to another alpaca farm to see how they process the fiber and then a couple more stores with some friends, so HOPEFULLY I don't lose this passport as well. If you get stamped at all the places you're entered to win $500 to a local shop. I'm not sure I'll get all of them stamped, but it's fun to collect them.

Thursday, September 26, 2013


I've been making slow progress on getting all the bracelets for Artoo's donors done. I've had some issues with my back and being hunched over trying to bead doesn't exactly help. I'm still not spinning yarn because my back just can't deal with it, but I'm able to do some short bursts of beading. I can't seem to keep myself away from the pretty sparkly things for very long. I also found some adorable cat/mouse findings and I thought they were just perfect for the donors. I had to refrain from saying 'purrfect', I hope you appreciate I didn't go for the easy pun. My favorite one so far is the brown/yellow one. I love the color of the seed beads, it's almost like an oil slick type finish, but as I was making it I really wasn't feeling it with the pattern. But then I added the yellow Czech crystals and it all came together. It has a really lovely Victorian type look to it when worn and it's not too flashy so it's great for everyday wear. I might have to make myself one because it's a little difficult giving this one away. Tonight I'm working on adding the remaining crystals and clasps so I can mail these puppies out tomorrow. There's 4 days left to Artoo's fundraiser for anyone interested. Bracelets are $30 shipped (US only) and there are a couple other perks.

Monday, September 16, 2013

You'd think they'd never seen a girl and a cat on a broomstick before.

Kiki's Delivery Service is one of my favorite movies. It has a talking cat in it, so of course I'm going to love it! For those who don't know, in the movie Kiki is supposed to deliver a stuffed cat that looks just like her cat, Jiji. I found a pattern on Ravelry for Jiji and I knew I had to make it. I added the red bow so it would look like the stuffed toy, using this tutorial I found on Pinterest. Most of my Pinterest finds come out nothing like how it's supposed to (I don't even want to talk about the mess I made trying to use mason jars for a blender) but this one actually worked out great! I started the project when Artoo first got sick. I needed something to do to keep me busy for all the long waits at the vets, and then when we got him back from the hospital I would work on it at night with him at my feet. Now that he's all better I keep trying to get him to pose with it. There were a bunch of treats involved so I only ended up getting pictures of him licking his lips and making funny faces, but oh well, I'm just happy to have my kitty back to normal.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Spooky fall yummies

1 oz of squishy merino
The spinning madness continues! I bought 4 oz of deliciously soft and squishy merino from Kitty Mine Crafts on Etsy. I'm wicked excited about Fall/Halloween, so I was looking for something in that color scheme to keep me busy while I'm waiting for the lingering heatwave to pass. I have spun up about one ounce so far and it has taken about a week. I got just a smidge over 68 yards out of it in about aran weight. I was hoping to make a scarf, but a this rate it'll be Christmas time before I finish spinning enough yarn for one! I still really enjoy my drop spindle, but I feel like I will quickly outgrow it.
I reskein my yarn on the back of our dining room chairs. It makes for small skeins but it's free!
The internet has so many excellent resources for new spinners. I did navajo ply on the fly with this yarn, but I'm not sure that was the best route to go. It's a 3 ply yarn, which means I have to spin 3x the amount of yarn to ply it to the length I want. It also preserves the color variations, but as I was spinning it I really liked the barber pole effect I was getting as one color blended into another, and I feel like this plying method kind of muddled that. I already washed the hank and it's currently hanging up to dry. There are some over spun twisty bits, but I'm planning on snapping the yarn to try to get rid of those. We'll see what happens. And I totally painted my nails to match the yarn, I'm THAT excited about it.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Daily dose of fiber

I got my drop spindle kit from Queen Bee Fibers on Etsy in the mail today! The owner, Lexi, went out of her way to make sure I was happy. I didn't see any kits in her shop that I really loved, so she took some color requests for when she dyed her next batch. I liked the colors so much that I bought an extra braid, but I'm really wishing I was able to buy one of each because they were all so gorgeous. I'm teaching myself from YouTube videos so it's a bit of a disaster, but not as bad as I was expecting! I wanted to learn to spin for a couple years but I always thought it looked hard and frustrating so I never went for it. It's actually REALLY relaxing. I went to the park today and brought along my spindle and it was such a nice time. I'm doing navajo ply on the fly from this tutorial and it's alright. I keep getting weird knotty bits where I chained the yarn, but otherwise it has been mostly successful. I have also finished as much of the capelet as I can. Unfortunately I ran out of yarn! I'll have to dye some more before I can continue, here's a sneak peek at it so far.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The past couple weeks have been tough. Our cat got sick and then required a two day hospital stay. (For those who are interested, I provided daily updates here.) He's much better now, just fighting off a bit of a virus he got from his stay, but caring for a sick cat was very stressful and as a result I spent the past few weeks being a bit of a hermit. But a productive hermit. The truth is, I really enjoy being alone and having time to work on my various projects. Going out is nice, but having to constantly socialize gets a bit exhausting. All of this made me remember why I created this blog in the first place. I wanted a place to share all the things in my life that I loved and made me happy. It started off as sending blog posts out into space, but then I got a response! I didn't know what to do. My baby started talking back to me and I suddenly found myself at a loss for words. It made posting a bit awkward, I didn't know what to say or how to say it, and it just wasn't as enjoyable. Anyway, the point is I want to bring the blog back to what it originally was for me, so here's some yarn I made that makes me happy.

I dyed two skeins of white Patons Worsted Wool with Wilton's gel color and Kool-Aid following these instructions. I originally wanted the yarn to be light grey and rich pumpkin, with little speckles of blue. As you can see, that did not happen. I couldn't find blue Kool-Aid anywhere, and I couldn't figure out how to mix a grey dye (black food coloring is actually blue + purple + red  so it wouldn't have worked). To make matters worse, I mixed up my brown and violet dye! I kept wondering why it was turning purple in the pot! I didn't realize it until I was almost halfway done. I'm still using the yarn for my Ravelry project and I'm excited to show the ladies in my knitting/crochet group what I made. I also picked up some sock yarn for SOCKS!! I'm very excited, I haven't knitted in forever. On top of that, I also ordered a drop spindle kit from Queen Bee Fibers on Etsy so soon I can be spinning my own yarn.