Friday, October 31, 2008

Introducing: Lucky Bamboo

Happy Halloween!

I have a new pattern to introduce to the world. This was a design for's October Sock Club, in conjunction with Sunshine Yarns. I'm now introducing it for sale. (The original plan to introduce it on November 1st has sort of been bumped up a bit, based on a myriad of technical reasons that mostly amount to me only being able to access the web through iPhone or at work during lunch, and doing all of this by iPhone would have been a total nightmare.)

So! Lucky Bamboo:

Lucky Bamboo a top-down construction crew-length sock that utilizes an easy-to-memorize lace pattern - which extends onto the flap heel for a bit of sass. It calls for a fingering weight sock yarn - I suggest Sunshine Yarns, of course, because it's fabulous stuff, but you could certainly use any other sock yarn you had in stash or had been dying to purchase. (Wink!)

Lucky Bamboo

The pattern does contain a simple chart for the lace pattern, and the pattern is easy enough for a newbie sock knitter to follow. I'm doing this one as a Ravelry PDF download for $5.00. If you don't have a Ravelry account (why don't you have a Ravelry account?! it's awesome!) or you really don't care for downloads and need a printed copy mailed to you instead, hey, drop me a line by e-mail or comment. I'd hate for you to pass it by....we can work it out! If you want to check out the Rav download, click da button:

ETA: Kristi, who be smarter than me, sez: Click da button, non-Rav-accounters, it'll still let you buy and download! Whee!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I'm Gonna Show You My Wood

Shhhh....don't be frightened.

In honor of falling down and buying another beautiful spindle today (yeah, thanks Cristi, ya big enabley jerk .... I can't blame myself in this, that would be admitting weakness - it's her fault!) I thought I'd talk about spindling, something I haven't alluded to much, ever.

When I decided to try spinning, I started where most of us do - with a spindle. I sucked at it, my arm hurt, and I didn't make the greatest yarn. Or, to phrase it another way, I made sucky yarn. So rather than give up like a normal person would do, I went and blew a wad of cash on a (now sadly neglected but still passionately adored) Lendrum wheel. I can spin like a champ on a wheel! So, after determining that I was not the world's crappiest spinner, what did I do? Stick to what I knew and did well, forsaking all spindles? Hell no. I started snatching up spindles and forming a small but enviable collection of pretty woods that hardly ever get any attention. I think the only time I really start focusing on spindles again is whenever I'm around Kristi, or visiting wool festivals. (I can't be certain which of those is the real influence, since I'm only really around Kristi at festivals, and I'm only really around festivals with Kristi. Hmmm.)

I have been hitting the spindles a bit more lately and have zeroed in on a project in mind. I'm going to spindle three four ( spindle) different two-ply fingering weight yarns from natural (undyed) fibers and knit one of those wonderful simple garter stitch lengthwise scarf/wrap things. I'm not one for stripey crazy shawls or for letting the majesty of handspun work for itself (mainly because I never let the majesty of handspun do anything but sit on a shelf) but I think spindle-spun yarns are allowed to stand alone. And if the stripes run the full length of the wrap every few rows, it's not so ... you know? Chunk-of-color/chunk-of-color/chunk-of-color. Nothing wrong with chunks of color, but when it's only grey/brown/tan to begin with, it lends itself to those thinner stripes. I'm not even close to the knitting yet, though:

Bosworth mini spindle, camel down fiber

I picked up this Bosworth mini at Estes Park Wool in June. And gee, look how much progress I've made on the camel-down fiber I've been spinning on it! (Admittedly, this is the toughest fiber to spin of all the ones I'm working on. That's my excuse.) Gorgeous little spindle, light and twee.

Kundert spindle, cormo fiber

This was my other Estes Park Wool spindle - this is a Kundert, and isn't it a beauty? I'm working up some creamy delicious cormo wool on this one, and making more significant progress than on the camel down. What's that, you want a better look at that wonderful woodwork? Mmmkay:

Kundert spindle, cormo fiber

I'm amazed at this sort of thing. How....what....I wanna....

Finally (for now), my new Ledbetter, procured at Taos Wool. I didn't do much shopping at Taos Wool, and this is pretty much my one big score. You know what I did do a lot of in Taos? Taking pictures. Sure wish I still had those pictures. But it would cost me less money to fly out to Taos and spend a week re-taking those photos than to recover the ones I did take from my poor crashed hard drive. (Got a new one though, and my laptop is back up and running and I'm trying hard to not look back! I'm not looking back in absolute silence, of course, since all my music is gone now, and I'm not looking back without retouching, because Photoshop is also gone. Ah well. I'm sure one of these days I'll find a way to reverse-engineer my music back into iTunes from my iPods/iPhone, and I can use the Canon software instead of Photoshop for now. I'll survive. It is nice to have my hard drive all cleaned up and tidy....yeah, that's the ticket.) Right, back to my wood:

Ledbetter spindle + alpaca

The inset wood is olive wood, which is the main reason I had to have this - my dad lived in Israel for a few years, and growing up there was olive wood evidence of his stay all over the house - little sculptures, wooden vases, wooden bangles my mom and I argued over whose turn it was to wear...this spindle is special. (And I know it was probably a real challenge - olive wood is difficult to work with because it grows differently, in circular spirals and knots.)

The fiber pictured is a yummy grey alpaca also from Taos Wool. But there's not any actually on the spindle - I know. But behold:

Handspun Alpaca, spindled

An ounce of fingering weight two-ply handspindled alpaca! Hurray! It doesn't suck! I used a little "cheating" technique Kristi shared with me for the plying that made life SO much easier**.

When my new spindle arrives, I have the option of either another alpaca, a little softer tan color than the camel, or a wool/angora blend I also picked up at Taos, which is nearly white but seems like it's almost a pinkish white - it's lovely, and soft as a cloud. I want each fiber to be different, so I'm not sure about the alpaca since I'm already using that grey alpaca - but so many people in the world are allergic to angora, and I don't want my wrap to make someone sitting next to me at the movies all sneezy. I have plenty of time, though - fingering weight yarn doesn't spindle itself, and with everything else that's going on lately, that wrap might well be my retirement gift to myself!

**Basically what you do is wind the single off onto a ball winder, then take the ball you've made, match up both ends (from the inside and outside of the ball) and wind them together into another ball. There's your two-ply - you still have to spin it onto the spindle to get enough twist into it and all that, but it's so much easier than working with two balls of singles!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Yarny - Updates and Destashes

First: there was a shop update this week and I totally forgot to mention it. Check that out, if you like.

Second: Fairly respectable-sized destash on my Flickr and Ravelry. Good stuff - TVYarn, Sknitches, Numma Numma, Socks That Rock, Duets, Dream in Color, a few other things, and - dare I mention this? - one skein of Wollmeise. I hate to set paramaters but people being all crazy about the stuff and whatnot, I'll say that I'd really really like the Wollmeise to go to someone who hasn't tried it yet. Here's the Flickr set and here's the Rav set. (They contain the same stuff, it's just up to your preference.)

Send a RavMail or e-mail to alysonknitsATgmailDOTcom. (I prefer one of the two - commenting on a photo on Flickr or on a yarn in Rav is harder to track. Please don't send a message to both e-mail and Ravelry, as I confuse very easily and good LORD I hadn't realized how many different methods of communication there could be on this destash!)

Happy hunting!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

All In Good Fun

We're having a grand old time watching the debates and sharing some laughs. A few favorite moments:

Candidate: blah blah US has the 2nd highest corporate taxes etc. etc. Ireland has an 11% corporate tax!
Me: Oh, yeah, and what better example of centuries of shining opportunity, wealth and glory than Ireland?! Prosperity! Potatoes and whisky for everyone!!

Candidate, later: blah blah cadillac insurance policy covering things like cosmetic surgery, transplants...
Me: Ah, those costly, foolish and unnecessary organ transplants!
Husband: Hey, you got heart failure? Head to Ireland! They got money to burn, let 'em throw a potato in there!

We have a policy solution - invade Ireland!!

I don't know who "won", but the the real star of the evening? Plumber Joe! Watch out for Joe's ego - ugh, that guy's going to be a NIGHTMARE at work tomorrow.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Oh, That Blows. Oh, Cool. Oh, That Blows.


Yeah, that cold chill you just felt was my laptop tanking. The bad news - yes my hard drive crashed and yes the warranty is up. No telling whether the data will be recoverable. (The iTunes, the photos, the PhotoShop Pro I don't have the discs for because the ex got those...)

The good news? The saintly guy at Apple talked to The Powers and wrangled me a free hard drive. Which is spectacular. Hopefully all will recover from the old drive, but at least I'm not out any money. I like to think it's my sexy voice that won him over, not the fact that I'm a total Mac geek who has gone through multiple laptops, iPods, and iPhones. (Which, incidentally, is the only gadget keeping me sane.) Go Team MacDork!!

I took amazing photos in New Mexico, and if they are recovered, I'll be beyond happy to share them with you. I should be back in business by Saturday. Please send healing thoughts to the old hard drive if you have a minute.... ;-)

Thursday, October 02, 2008

And I'm Off!

In a few short hours, I'm hopping a plane to Boulder (well, Denver, then hopping a bus to Boulder, if we're quibbling), where I'll meet up with Kristi for Friday's six hour roadtrip to Taos (note to all of you - say a prayer for Kristi tomorrow and thank some deity that you're not her, because I can get a leeeettle wacky when confined to a small space for many hours. There are frequently showtunes involved.)

The parallel obligatory shop news: Obviously, the shop won't be shipping until I get back (Wednesday). Trust me, you wouldn't want Travis packing up your order - it'd have peanut butter and jelly stains on it. (My husband does not do well fending for himself in the kitchen. It's not that he can't cook - he just doesn't want to.)

Taos Woolgoers: Find me, I have stuff to give away. I'll be wearing a white t-shirt with my shop logo on it. No, seriously. A homemade self-promotion t-shirt. Hot. Want to hear the best part? Unless she balks (and that would be okay too because who would blame her?) Kristi will be wearing one too. So yeah, say a prayer for her on Saturday as well. Poor kid. She's going to regret (n)ever talking to me on the phone.

There's going to be a lot of food and sunsets. I love Taos. I LOVE it.

I've knit! I have so far accomplished two pair of socks and one hat, and I've started a pair of Noro Silk Garden sock yarn socks. I'm doing them largely out of curiosity - everyone loves the yarn even though it, by all accounts, pretty much sucks, by usual standards. (Among other complaints, I've heard scratchy, twisty, tangly, and knotty.) So far I'm okay with the stuff - you do have to knit it right on top of the ball though - pull out more than a foot of yarn and you're on the one-way express to Tanglewood.

I also have two new patterns which are, for now, exclusive only to certain club members. I'll just wait until they're released to the public to post photos and that whole thing here, though. (If you're really dying of curiousity, they're in my Ravelry designer profile.)

And the latest batch of yarn should be arriving at Loopy headquarters any day now. It's my cashmere blend sportweight, and (this sounds obnoxious but here goes because obnoxious is okay as long as you acknowledge it first) I'm REALLY happy with the dyework this time around. I wasn't entirely sure I was happy with the first run I did - some of the colors were too close to solid (rather than shaded solid) for my liking, as I was adjusting to dyeing more skeins at a time than I was used to. I'm getting much more adept at that, and it's definitely smoothing out, as I get the results I'm actually going for. That's a nice thing as an artist, to kind of know what you're doing....

Back to the knitting....there's all this "I have FOs!" rambling I keep doing, with no pictures. I'll show you one of them - I love it! I finished my Habitat hat:


Things I love:
The pattern is amazing
The yarn is amazing
The softness is delicious

Things I'm not so sure about:
The fit. My gauge was iffy, and I made the small, but it's still crazy long - like, it bunches up at the base of my neck, and also resembles a chemo cap. Which, when combined with my freshly shorn hair (not pictured, and oh yeah by the way I cut all my hair off) REALLY resembles a chemo cap when worn. Not that I'm all "Ew, I don't want to look like that!" - if you've experienced this you know - like, you kind of get that eye from people when you wear a hat with your hair tucked up in it, that "Oh no, it must be so awful to....or wait, maybe she's just got her hair tucked up? Am I looking at her like I feel sorry for her? I've been staring for like 30 seconds now - oh crap, look away!" I see that thought process sometimes when I wear long knit hats with my short hair. All this is to basically make the point that when I block this hat (which I'm sure I'll do someday) I'm going to full it just a tiny bit to get it to shrink up and in.


The Pattern:
Jared's Habitat


The Yarn:
My own handspun cormo/angora blend. (To those with allergies: do not touch my head!! Actually, to pretty much anybody: do not touch my head. It's a little weird to go around touching peoples' heads. And it makes you look strange to passersby.) I picked up this fiber at last year's SAFF and it's absolute heaven, smooshy and squishy and soft.

Definitely my favorite hat.

Have a good however-long-it-is-before-I-post-again!!