The Cat And The Hat

Say hello! This vermillion kitty cat doesn’t have a name yet but he (she?) is heading to a new home for the holidays.

Will there be catnip, snuggles, and tea parties? This cat does love a good tea party.

Traveling with the vermillion cat is a matching hat. Since I knit the hat in the 18 month - 4 years size, I was able to make both from one skein of Tosh Vintage. Even had a few yards to spare. I knit the cat mostly as written with the few mods I used detailed here. The collar is garter stitch and 5 stitches wide with a yarn over buttonhole. The hardest part of the whole pattern wasn’t the knitting but embroidering the face. Ripped out the nose and the whiskers several times to create just the right expression. 

 If you’re looking for safety eyes to use on your toys and softies, I recommend 6060 on Etsy. The selection for safety eyes - cat, round, or handpainted - and safety noses is amazing. There are plenty of different sizes and colors to choose from at reasonable prices. I picked up a 12mm variety pack of 5 different colors so I could pick out the eyes that would pop best on the vermillion yarn. Plus, my order shipped quickly so I’ll definitely be ordering from that shop again. 

Cat Pattern: Greta the Captivating Cat by Rebecca Danger

Hat Pattern: Slouchy Babe Hat by me - Download it here

Yarn: Madelinetosh Tosh Vintage - Vermillion

Relaunch!

Good news! The radio silence is over. I’m back with a new site and a new name, With Wool. I’ve got lots of new things - patterns, reviews, tutorials, you name it - planned for 2015. One of those new things is a weekly newsletter about knitting, spinning, interesting links, and plenty of wooly goodness. Sign up below!

 
 

With the new name, I’m taking the opportunity to take this site in a slightly different direction. Don’t worry. There’s still going to be knitting, spinning, and more wool than you can shake a knitting needle (or crochet hook) at. Over the 5 years (!) I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve wanted to talk about playing and about enjoying the process of making be it wooly or not. Most importantly though, I wanted to focus on kicking the fear of failure to the curb; of making and starting something even if you don’t know how to do it perfectly the first time. I’m not sure how well that’s shown through during the past few years but it’s coming to the forefront now.  

If you follow my posts through an RSS reader, click on over on check out the new site (the feed shouldn’t be affected by the switch). Let me know what you think!

Spinzilla Eye Candy

Last year I was living in a different city and, having just gotten my Sidekick, still getting to know my wheel. Spinzilla was just a fun challenge. I had a few ounces of Perendale that I spun and chain-plied into 310 yards (there was no plying credit that year). After the competition was finished, I read about other spinner’s yardage and it was obvious that they took it far more seriously than I did. To put it mildly, my 310 yards seemed a bit lacking. Still, I was and felt like I’d leveled up a spinner anyway. Spinning 3 consistent skeins was something that I’d never accomplished before. 

This year, I started Spinzilla with a little intention, not that I got up early or anything, and set a few goals for myself. 

  • Spin (or ply) everyday.

  • Spin more yardage than I did last year and aim for at least 1 mile, 1,760 yards.

  • Not hurt myself.  During Tour de Fleece this year, I hurt my shoulder spinning long-draw, thanks to poor posture and technique. Didn’t want to repeat that.

  • Have fun. What good is a week full of spinning if it feels like a chore?

By Sunday night, I’d done all of those things even if my shoulders were a little sore. Plus, I had yarn to show for it, 933 yards - 2,533 with the plying credit - of Targhee, BFL, and Polworth. Since I was going for speed and ease of spinning, I stuck with my favorite fibers that I could spin long-draw because it’s my fastest default method. Even better, I love the resulting yarn. Why churn out the yardage if you’re not going to love it and want to use it in the end? The only exception is the neon pink single which I spun inch-worm style in hopes of a smoother finish and a little more durability.  

My numbers aren’t record breaking by any comparison but I had one other goal, to only spin against myself. It was one that I had to remind myself of every time I read a number more than twice mine. “Spinning against myself. Spinning against myself. Just spinning against myself.” A hard mantra to repeat and remember while reading other’s yardage but, at the same time, the right one for me. I’m proud of what I accomplished during Spinzilla and the yarn I made. Plus, I don’t have to recover from  sleep deprivation or aches and pains . So, there’s that.

Spinzilla 2014 Yardage Calculator

Spinzilla is going fast! The competition ends at midnight this Sunday, October 12th, just 2 days from now. Whether you’re just having fun spinning yarn or treating the challenge like a full time job, I’m sure the yardage is adding up. So we can all spend more time with our wheels and spindles and less time with paper and pencil, I made up a handy spreadsheet that does all the math for you. It even calculates the plying credit. All you need is the yardage of the finished skein or single and the number of plies. There’s room for 30 different items which should be enough for even the most dedicated spinner.

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As an example, here’s what my spreadsheet looks like. So far, I’ve spun 2 full skeins and I’m working on my third. Each skein gets a name along with it’s yardage, plies, and notes. At the bottom, the grand total is tallied and you see if you’ve joined the Monster Mile Club for spinning more than 1,760 yards. When you’re ready to submit your yardage, all your numbers are in one place and ready to go.  

Note: To have your own personal copy of this spreadsheet, please click "File" in the main menu under "Spinzilla 2014 Yardage Calculator". To use in Google Docs, click "Make a copy..." To download for use in Excel or as an Open Document, click "Download As". Thanks!

Happy Spinning and Good Luck!

Download The Spinzilla Yardage Calculator

Spinflix

Sure, there are podcasts, audiobooks, and music but, like Alex Tinsley does with knitting, I do most of my spinning by the glow of Netflix. Since we’re at the start of Spinzilla 2014, I'm taking a page from her book and offering up a few tips for making the most of your spinning entertainment. 

  • TV shows top movies. Like Alex says, you don’t have to pick something as often if you start watching a tv show with several seasons. There’s one other healthy benefit. TV shows are shorter with commercial breaks which are great reminders to take a break yourself. Stretch, get a drink, and walk around for a couple of minutes. A few moments of rest, especially during the week-long challenge of Spinzilla or any spinning marathon, will help keep you injury free and ready to spin. 

  • Go back to your old favorites. Me, I’m going to be binging on Futurama. I’ve seen every episode and know the jokes. It’ll be easy to follow along with the story and laugh while still keeping a close eye on the twist going into the single. 

  • Follow subtitles with caution. If you can read and knit stockinette at the same time, you can probably spin and follow subtitles at the same time. Just stick to techniques you’ve already got under your belt that don’t require looking down at your hands 100% of the time. I can draft long-draw and follow subtitles but I can’t keep up with subtitles and draft inch-worm. 

A few of my favorites that I'll be watching and spinning with this week:

Futurama - Knitting robots and lobster men from outer space! It’s animated sci-fi set in the year 3000 that follows the adventures of a pizza delivery boy frozen for 1,000 years.

Psych - Wasn’t fond of it at first but I was hooked after watching a few episodes. It’s funny and light-hearted with lots of great characters that solve crimes.

Warehouse 13 - Objects with special powers and the secret service agents that track them down. It can be completely off the wall but that’s what makes it so enjoyable.

Black Sheep - My one exception to the ‘TV shows top movies’ guideline. Genetically engineered sheep turn carnivorous and it’s up to a reluctant farm boy to stop them. Lots of black humor in this one.  

What do you like watching while you spin?




Tips for Making and Spinning the Most of Spinzilla

Spinzilla-2014-Dates

Spinzilla is almost here and it kicks off 6AM on October 6th. If you’re on the fence about signing up, you can do that here, October 3rd is the last day. This is the last weekend to prep so here a few last minute tips and info to help you get the most out of Spinzilla. 

How to Prep for the Monster Spinning Challenge

There’s a photo contest this year! There are catergories for Best Yarn Photo, Best Team Photo, Best Sheepzilla Photo Bomb, and Most Creative Spinning Spot. 

Gale Zucker has a few tips for taking the best photos of your handspun.

Tips on prepping your wheel for the big spin.

Beth Smith writes about how to prep fiber for the fastest spinning.

How much fiber do I need? It depends.

Empty Those Bobbins for Spinzilla

Last week I signed up for Spinzilla, a week long event with the goal to spin as much handspun yardage as possible. This year, just like last year, I’m going Rogue which means I’m not spinning with a team. It was a lot of fun in 2013 since I got to know my new wheel and level up as a spinner. Spinzilla 2014 kicks off next week on October 6th and there’s still time to sign up as a Rogue if you too want to spin all the things. The proceeds go towards TNNA’s Needle Arts Mentoring Program which teaches stitching and fiber crafts to kids and teenagers.

There are only a few days left to prep for the challenge and step one is emptying my bobbins. I only have 4 that I can use on my wheel as well as 4 storage bobbins. Pretty sure that I’m going to need every one of them. 2 of the bobbins have been holding singles since July and that’s way too long. My plan when I started spinning the singles was to make a 2-ply fingering yarn. As I worked I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to match the colors without performing a lot of surgery. The urge to easily preserve the colors won out and I chain-plied instead. My 2 singles turned into 2 matching skeins of yarn. Won’t be sure until after the skeins dry after their bath but I’m pretty sure I made the right decision. 

The only change I’d make next time would be wearing a bandaid during plying. The constant friction and tensioning made the soft single cut into my thumb. I’m keeping lotion (might not have had a problem if my skin was softer) and bandaids in my spinning kit from now on. 

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Got a couple of bobbins to empty before Spinzilla. Chain plying these beauties. 

Got a couple of bobbins to empty before Spinzilla. Chain plying these beauties. 

Inspiring, fun, thought-provoking, and crafty links to round out the week and jumpstart your brain.

Cute sticky page markers by Duncan Shotton

Simon Heijdens turned a room into a giant kaleidoscope that you can walk around in. 

Yoke in a bag kits used to be a thing.

Sunken Apple and Honey Cake - This cake intrigues me.

Love these embroidered tents and cabins by Stephanie K. Clark.

Tell the bigger story.

All Washed Up Is All Finished

When I went to add this kitchen towel to my Ravelry page, I found out that I’d knit the pattern in 2012 as a gift. Glad I kept the pattern in my queue instead of deleting it after shipping it off to its new home. The pattern repeat is easy to knit, memorize, and read which was just what I needed for last weekend’s trip to Ikea. We went looking for a couch, an ottoman, and a couple of things to spruce up the new apartment. Yes, we did have to unpack the couch to get it in the back seat. It only hung out one of the back windows. 

Once the couch was set up, sans slipcover but protected by a blanket, I sat down with my knitting to assert my dominance. Seems to have worked. The couch didn’t eat either of my needles nor did it forcibly eject my yarn to the floor. Didn’t finish the towel that night but I made my point.

Now that the towel is bound off, I love it. The variegated yarn and the pattern worked wonderfully together. There was pooling but it repeated well and pooling yarn doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. The towel is just the right thickness for wiping up spills, drying hands, and acting as a trivet in a pinch. Good size too. This cloth is definitely going in the rotation and the workhorse pattern is definitely staying in my queue for a long time. 

And one more thing. Now that it’s finished, we’re officially moved in.

Pattern: All Washed Up by Jill Arnusch

Yarn: 1 ball Pisgah Peaches & Creme Ombres - Desert Sunset

Needles: US 6 (4 mm) needles

Dates: September 18 - 22, 2014

@Ravelry

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One last photo from the beach. This seagull was being friendly in hopes of getting a snack. Didn't work.

One last photo from the beach. This seagull was being friendly in hopes of getting a snack. Didn't work.

Inspiring, fun, thought-provoking, and crafty links to round out the week and jumpstart your brain.

Battle Dog! Magical girls! Swords! Cute dogs! Necromancers! It’s cute and fun and I read all of it in an afternoon. 

Villa Moerkensheide by architect Dieter De Vos

Mitered Ballband Dishcloth - Came across this novel approach to the ball band washcloth while looking for a new kitchen towel to knit. Should be fun to try. 

The True Cost of a Knitting Pattern - A breakdown of what it really costs to design and release knitting patterns from Wooly Wormhead. 

Opus the Octopus - And my knitting queue grows by one cephalopod.

No Churn Chocolate Ice Cream (Dairy Free + Vegan) What are the chances I make a batch this weekend? 100% 

Ply Like An Eagle

The Tradition Continues

It’s been a long week since my last post. I spent my last few days in LA packing, cleaning, and putting stuff on a truck. Then The Bearded One and I spent too many hours in a car and slept way too little. Once we were in San Francisco, everything happened in reverse. Take stuff off the truck. Clean. Unpack. Now that the internet is swiftly flowing, the apartment is officially home base and I can once again talk to all of you lovely people out there. 

Now that the bulk of the work is done, I have some room in my head for knitting. I hadn’t picked up the needles in a week and none of my current WIP’s were calling. Needed something I could cast on and bind off a couple of days later. Gladly, I’ve already unpacked the yarn stash so I had a few balls of cotton to choose from and my favorite washcloth needles. Then the Ravelry queue came to the rescue with a washcloth/kitchen towel pattern. 

Seems like I’ve made washcloths and kitchen towels since I first learned to knit. They’re small, quick, and relatively cheap. Without meaning too, I knit a new one every time I moved whether it was a new dorm room, apartment, or house for the past 9 years. Making that towel, or 3, makes that new place more welcoming. Sounds like a tradition to me. Yesterday, I cast on for the All Washed Up cloth and the apartment already feels more like home. 

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Things are rapidly disappearing into boxes as The Bearded One and I prep to move home base to our new home. My spinning wheel is packed and ready to go but I still need to decide what knitting is going to stay in arm’s reach. See you on the other side when I have internet again. 

Inspiring, fun, thought-provoking, and crafty links to round out the week and jumpstart your brain.

Sheep to Sweater - I’ve wasted way too much time playing this game. It’s awesome. 

Frozen Almond Chai

Weaving on a metal rack - Fun idea!

How to Tie-Die Tissue Paper - Looks like an easy project but creates an amazing result. I wonder how this would work with fabric.

Urban Farming Classroom by Colorado Building Workshop

Simple Yarn Garland - A cute idea fro what to do with all those little leftover bits of yarn. 

What A Soldier Carries - Bristith military kit from the Battle of Hastings to Helmand.

San Francisco

If you follow me on Instagram, you have some idea of what I was up to last week. The Bearded One and I drove up to San Francisco to tour the city and find a place to live. During the long Labor Day weekend, we walked 33 miles and wandered through Cow Hollow, Marina, Pacific Heights, Russian Hill, Knob Hill, and SOMA. We saw the city from the top of Twin Peaks and were reminded about hills after living in LA for a year. It was a lot of fun exploring a city that I’d never visited before with the thought that I’d soon be living in it. Picked a great weekend for it since everyone said that this was the first time they’d seen the sun in weeks. Plus, the temperatures hit 70º several days in a row and the fog stayed at a minimum. 

Looking forward to living in a city where I can decide if I want Austrian or Chinese for dinner. The sheer number of yarn shops doesn’t hurt either. 

My favorite meals in the San Francisco (in no particular order):

21st Amendment - Good food and amazing beer in the South Park neighborhood. The seasonal ‘Hell or High Watermelon Wheat’ is not to be missed.

Roam Artisan Burgers - A local chain with great burgers and fries. 

Leopold’s - Delicious Austrian food and beer. ‘Nuff said.

Tacolicious - Walked past this place and it smelled so good we went back to get dinner. Tasty margaritas too.

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Inspiring, fun, thought-provoking, and crafty links to round out the week and jumpstart your brain.

Travel “By The Silent Line”, an abandoned Paris rail line; by Pierre Folk

Not a tutorial but an excellent Steek 101 from Kate Davies

Time Spent Consuming vs. Creating

If I knew this cabin was waiting for me, I’d go skiing. 

A behind the scenes look at Kramer yarn mill.

Art On The Loose; London’s National Art Gallery hid 45 replicas of their most famous paintings around London. Wouldn’t it be fun to track them all down? 

I’ve been blogging for 8 years. Pretty great, especially the part about shouting into the void. (via Elise Blaha)

I’m a sucker for good sorbet. This recipe just happens to be from Alton Brown and involve watermelon.

Corrections; Hits close to home.

Spinning Malabrigo Arco Iris

When this skein was freshly dry from its bath, it was my absolute favorite. One Tour de Fleece and a few more skeins of handspun later, it’s still my favorite. The colors are amazing, the yarn is ridiculously soft, and it has great density.

Way back in June, I was ready to spin Arco Iris but had no clear vision of how. So the fiber got to lead the way. Once I unbraided the bump, it was clear that was absolutely no chance of spinning identical singles. The colors were randomly dyed without a single discernible repeat. Spinning a 3-ply was out because it would muddy the colors. Chain-plying was out too because I wanted as much yardage as possible. Instead of going through some fiddly process, I decided to keep things simple since the colors were complicated enough all ready. Split the fiber in half lengthwise and spun the 2 pieces from opposite ends. Then I plied, let the yarn rest on the bobbin, and dunked it in the sink with some Eucalan. The only handling the wet skein got before hanging up to dry was a few pops over my hands. No thwacking against a shower wall or other stress relief.

The soak plumped up the yarn considerably. Before the bath, the yarn averaged 9 WPI, basically a worsted weight. The bath turned into an aran weight with an average of 8 WPI. It’s still a much denser yarn than I usually spin. The past few months have seen me trying to spin thinner and thinner yarns which usually meant double-drafted woolen creations. For whatever reason this bump of fiber wanted to be heavy and smooth. I’m not one to argue with wool so I went with it. Spun it inchworm style and went against every screaming urge I had to draft it finer. Sometimes I let to much twist into the fiber and snapped the single. Sometimes I had a good flow going. Drafting inch-worm is definitely something I still need to practice. The resulting yarn is a bit thick and thin but plying fixed many of its ills.

The yarn was content to sit on the shelf for the past few months but no longer. I might gotten a little distracted from writing the first draft of this post looking at cowl* patterns. After an exhaustive search through Ravelry and Pinterest, Present by Mademoiselle C wins by a landslide. The cowl looks like fun travel knitting and a great showcase for handspun. Not going to wait to get started.  


The Specs

Fiber: Malabrigo Nube - 4 oz Merino

Color: Arco Iris

Yardage: 202 + 29 yds

Dates: June 22- July 2014


 *I’m a little late joining the cowl party.

The Scorpion Submarine

Until the Bearded One and I went down to visit the Queen Mary, I had no idea The Scorpion Submarine existed or that touring it was even an option. Once we knew that we could, we couldn’t pass up the chance to see it. After buying our tickets and passing through the gift shop, we crossed a bouncing gangplank to the Scorpion’s top deck before climbing down into the sub. 

Once you get into the cramped halls and tiny rooms, you forget how big it looked when you were walking around on top of it. The photos don’t do the tight space justice. I somehow managed not to hit my head ducking through hatches and doorways but my toes were not so lucky. Seems like I violently found every step, rise, and pipe despite my best efforts not too.

One of the facts broadcast through speakers across the sub was that, during it’s operation, 79 souls lived and worked on the Scorpion. Imagining 79 people crammed into that sub is an exercise in claustrophobia. I’m not remotely claustrophobic but I was glad to be back in the open air after 30 minutes in that sub with a scant 5 other people. Happy I went during the week when it wasn’t crowded. The other bonus was that only the Bearded One got to see me awkwardly crawl/fall through the compartment hatches. Figured out how to climb through by the end but I wasn’t any more graceful about it. 

If you can push claustrophobia aside, the Scorpion Submarine is worth a visit. Just watch your toes. 

Part 1: To The Aquarium of the Pacific

Part 2: Exploring The Queen Mary

Part 3: The Scorpion Submarine

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Spun-Right-Round-Color-Bot-Single.jpg

Inspiring, fun, thought-provoking, and crafty links to round out the week and jumpstart your brain.

I’ve been sneaking in bits of spinning and knitting into my day to help keep my sane. The last few days have been the most I’ve spun since Tour de Fleece. It’s nice to see the bobbin slowly fill up and do something with my hands besides from clicking buttons.

How to turn a file folder into a book. Why have I not made this yet?

How hiring a handyman is like buying a crochet (or knitting) pattern.

And a little deeper, thoughts on (knitting) pattern pricing from Ysolda Teague

NASA developed origami style solar panels.

The Shape of Ideas by Grant Snider

Nina Lindgren’s Sprawling Cardboard Cities

Wish I’d been able to read this article when I first unboxed my spinning wheel

On Comparison 

Journey of the Aviator Hat

Now that this aviator hat has gone on its own cross-country journey, I can finally write about it. Knit for a brand-new baby boy, it was an easy knit that came out adorable. The hardest part was picking just the right buttons. My only mod was to tack down the corner edges of the front flap so it didn’t stick out due to sturdy button stitching. Thanks to the multiple sizes, all the way up to an adult small, I’m sure I’ll be making many more for both boys and girls.

It wasn’t until the hat was in front of the camera that I noticed something. The hat was staring back at me. Now I can’t un-see that face with it’s stubby legs and bulky body. What does it want? Cuddles, I hope, and maybe cookies. When I picked out this pattern, I never noticed the face. It was just a cute hat. To be fair, it’s still a cute hat and not all of the finished projects on Ravelry look like silly creatures. I’m glad this one does though.

The Specs:

Pattern: The Journey of the Aviator by Gabrielle Danskknit

Yarn: Rowan Pure Wool Worsted - Electric (143)

Needles: US 7 & 6

Dates: July 17 - August, 2014

@Ravelry

Exploring the Queen Mary

Ever since moving to Los Angeles last year, my Mom’s been telling me to visit the Queen Mary in Long Beach. Took over a year but the Bearded One and I finally went after our visit to the Aquarium of  the Pacific. Since we went during the week, the ship wasn’t crowded and it seemed like we had the place mostly to ourselves. The two of us trekked up and down decks, through quiet hotel corridors (it’s still a functioning hotel), down the promenade, and stopped to catch our breath on the bridge. The history and grandeur of the Queen Mary was impossible to miss and it was easy to image what taking a voyage on the ship during its heyday must have been like. 

Part 1: Aquarium of the Pacific

Part 2: Exploring the Queen Mary

Part 3: The Scorpion Submarine

Queen-Mary-Bridge.jpg

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Inspiring, fun, thought-provoking, and crafty links to round out the week and jumpstart your brain.

For all my writing friends. 

When street art and architecture work together

A summer camp for composing video game music? Awesome.

The craftsmanship on these embroidered animals is impeccable. Plus, they’re cute. 

A day in the life of Vanessa Knight of Able Ground

The Daily Routines of Famous Creatives

5 Secrets to Success

Tag-along with a robot to see the Tate Britain after dark. 

Found Lisa Congdon’s blog which is both vibrant and utterly exciting. Loved this peek into her sketchbooks and the Word for the Day.