Saturday, March 31

Contest update and other projects

We're up to 58 triangle shawl patterns for the contest. Keep sending them in. I'm considering adding a 4th prize if the list gets up to 100. I've had a lot of submissions for free patterns. How about sending in some that have been published in magazines/books or are purchased patterns such as Jade Sapphire, Fiber Trends, etc.?

Here's the finished Corriedale/merino in all it's glory. 4.7 ounces and 716 yards of lusciousness ready to be knit up. The color is a mix of pink and peach and white tencel plyed with peach rayon thread. I suspect the shiny tencel and rayon are the reason it's so hard to get an accurate picture of the color. Believe me, it's really beautiful.

On the needles, is another Forest Canopy Shawl using a 440 yard skein of yarn I bought at Michigan Fiber Fest from Sandy's Palette. I love the colors! This one is a prayer shawl for a friend's wife. Sirnaj had surgery last Monday for a molar pregnancy. I'd never heard of it before but it's really nasty. Read more about it here. She's undergoing chemotherapy treatments to get rid of the cancer-like cells. Imagine having to deal with the fact that you weren't really pregnant at all and have a life threatening condition from it.

Last, but not least, I started a new spinning project. Don't you just love the colors? When I saw this spinning fiber last Saturday at the Fiber Frolic, I had to have it. It's more of Liz's handdyed fiber. She's good! It's a little shy of 4 ounces so I'm guessing I'll get 400+ yards out of it. Can you see why I'm running the shawl contest? I keep spinning up these smaller amounts and need something to use them for.

Liz just got in some tussah silk top from Carol at the Sheep Shed. I can't wait to see what colors she dyes it.

Thursday, March 29

Update on triangle shawl contest

As of today, I've received entries for 49 different triangle shawl patterns. I love the new one at!

Remember, free patterns from the web, purchased single patterns, or in books or magazines. Must use 300-500 yards of yarn (but don't worry if they use a little more or a little less) and triangular in shape.

Please email them to me directly. Don't post them in the comment section. I won't have your email address if you post a comment. I'll have no way of contacting you if you win a prize.

Scroll down to the contest posting for my email address. If I get 100 patterns on my list, I may sweeten the pot with another prize or two. Keep 'em coming!

Expandable Tote Bag pattern

Click on the diagram below to enlarge it. Print a copy along with these written directions. Set your printer for landscape to get it to print on one page.

1 yard - 45" wide heavy weight fabric (like home dec or canvas)
5 yards - 1" wide polypropylene belting for handles

Cut the fabric 31" long. Cut down the middle of the piece to make two 31 x 22½" pieces. Place fabric right sides together. Stitch across the short end (bottom). Turn, press the seam to one side and top stitch for strength. At the top of bag, turn the edge down ¼" and stitch along the edge. Turn it down again and stitch once more.

Lay the piece right side up. Cut two 11" pieces from belting; set aside. Starting just above the bottom seam of the bag, pin the belting to the bag about 5¾"(or 6") from one side (see diagram). When you get to the top edge, measure 14" for the handle and mark with a pin. Pin the second handle 9" from the other one and pin in place. Keep going until you are back to where you started. Leave a little to fold over and cut off the extra. Measure 16-1/2" up from the bottom seam on one handle. Slip the 11" piece of belting under the handle and pin into place. Do this on the other side. You’re ready to sew.

With thread to match your handles, start sewing along one side of the handles. (Do not sew over the pins. Remove as you go.) When you get to the 11" handle piece, you need to reinforce it (see diagram). Do part of this as you sew one way and the rest of it on the return. Sew to the top edge of the bag, pivot and sew back and forth at the top edge to reinforce the top edge. Pivot and sew back to the short handle, finish reinforcing it and continue on in this manner until you have one side of the handle sewn on. Sew the other handle. When you come to where the webbing meets, pivot and stitch carefully over the join, turn and go back and finish sewing the handles into place.

Turn the bag inside out (right sides together) and match the side seams. If you have a serger, use it to sew the side seams. From the top edge, match the side edges and sew to the bottom. (With a sewing machine, sew a seam and then overcast or zigzag the edge to keep if from fraying.) Thread the serger ends at the top edge through a needle. Run through the seam for several inches and pull snugly. Cut off thread ends.

Now box the corners to make the bag sit flat. Turn the bag upside down and lay the bottom flat so that the seam forms points at the end (see diagram). Measure and pin 3" from points along the seam. Stitch across here. Fold the sewn points toward the bottom of the bag and pin in place. Carefully sew the V to the bottom of the bag. Turn right side out and you’re done!

Use full size or fold down so that the shorter handles are at the top of the bag.

You can add a pocket if you like. Cut a piece of fabric 10½" x 8". Sew a hem along the longer top edge. Place between and under the handle webbing when you pin it into place. Sew along the bottom edge of the pocket. Sew handles as directed above to secure the sides.

You can make the top handle longer if you want to carry the bag over your shoulder.

Tuesday, March 27

Blog Contest: Triangle shawl patterns

Today, I am starting a blog contest to locate triangular shawl patterns. I have a lot of stash yarn that I would like to knit into shawls. Trouble is I only have 300-500 yards of some of them. I haven't been too successful in finding shawl patterns that use these smaller amounts. So I'm asking you for help. The patterns I'm looking for must fit the following criteria to be considered:
  1. knitted,
  2. triangular in shape,
  3. uses 300-500 yards total of yarn, and
  4. no novelty yarn (mohair is ok but not fun fur and the like).
The patterns may be free on the web, purchased, or in books or magazines. Email me at (junkyarn AT yahoo DOT com) the following information about the shawl pattern:
  • Pattern name
  • Free or cost to purchase
  • Where I can find it (web address for free or purchased pattern, name of the book it's in with the page number, or magazine it's in along with the issue and page number)
  • How many yards of yarn are needed to knit it
Here's an example:

Forest Canopy shoulder shawl
350 yards
PRIZES: 1 Opal Prisma orange sock yarn (100 grams/425 meters), 2 Polo Zitron cotton/acrylic in light green (100 grams/280 meters total), and 1 Artisan NZ Merino Lace Weight yarn in blue/green mix (20 grams/300 meters). Winners will be drawn randomly from the entries.

This contest is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada. It ends at midnight (EDT) on Sunday, April 15, 2007. Enter as many times as you wish.

Can't wait to see what you come up with. I'll post a pattern list on my blog after the contest ends.

Monday, March 26

Five things to be happy about

1. The new Mystery Shawl started on Saturday. Clue #1 for the Shetland Triangle shawl is up. Click on the "Join the Mystery" button in my blog sidebar to sign up. It does cost $3.50 to join. Believe me, it's worth it!

2. The Scherazade lace stole I donated to the Pet Refuge auction (held on March 17) sold for lots of $$ in the silent auction. I'll report the actual figure when I get it. So many people wanted to attended the auction this year they had to turn people away.

3. My bunny egg cover pattern was published in the West Toronto Knitters' Guild Ravellings newsletter (March 2007). They asked for permission before they did this and sent me a copy of the issue.

4. My fiber arts group, Frog Pond Fiber Arts, has a short write up about it in the Spring 2007 issue of Spin-Off magazine. Peggy Coffey, who writes a Spinner's Connection column for the magazine, lives in northern Indiana and attended our January Fiber Frolic. Find it on page 101.

5. I'm signed up to taken an Orenburg Lace class with Joan Schrouder. She's teaching several classes for Knitting Today at their IWannaKnit Retreat in early June. It's being held in Shipshewana, Indiana this year, about an hour drive from me. Several of my friends are signed up too. Sorry, the lace class is closed. You can read more about the classes being offered at Knitting Today.

Sunday, March 25

Fiber Frolic and more

Yesterday was the day for our March Fiber Frolic at Liz's house. Her living room was crammed full of people and spinning wheels. The few knitters in our fiber arts group are slowly but surely falling under the spell of spinning. I showed Chris and Sandy how to use a drop spindle yesterday and sent them home with a spindle and some spinning fiber.

Several people were snapping pictures. You'll find pictures on some of my friends blogs s
oon (check the sidebar for blog links). We're all trying to recover from all the fun we had yesterday.

Nancy came in wearing purple bunny ears and carrying a basketful of Easter candy. LOL! I hope someone got a picture of that!

Elizabeth bought a Tiny Tim spinning wheel from Janet to use as her traveling wheel
. It's so cute! She has pics of it on her blog. She was spinning away on it all afternoon.

We had a cake for Mic
helle, who will be leaving us soon and moving back to the East coast. I gifted her with one of the expandable tote bags I make. I was busy sewing 5 of them on Friday. They're very useful for carrying lots of roving at fiber fests. LOL! You can use them folded halfway down or unfolded to their full length (see pictures). I sold 2 and have 2 more left. I may post instructions on how to make them if anyone is interested.

No one went home empty handed. We had lots of door prizes, a swap table, things for sale, and free stuff. I came hom
e with more spinning fiber, a skein of Liz's pink and brown sock yarn, several crochet hooks, and some vintage knitting books.

On another front, I finally finished the Regia socks in time for the weather to get warm. Today it's in the 70's. Here's a picture of the singles from the
Jumbo merino yarn I spun some time back. Sorry it's taken me awhile to get a picture of it up. I have 837 yards to use for a knitting project. I finished the first bobbin of the Corriedale/tencel yesterday and started on the second one last night. I'm getting much better at spinning this fiber.

For those who are following the tale of the DSL rebate--we received our April bill. It has almost $100 in credits on it! That covers t
he DSL rebate plus the promised free month of service. We won't owe AT&T anything for several months. Happy dance! I'm going to send a thank you note to the Indiana Attorney General's office for shaking loose my rebate. I don't think I would have gotten it without their intervention.

I have more news to share tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 21

The Saga of the Eight Hour Black Stole

The black stole is finally finished and gifted. I'm so glad it's done. Happy dance! I do not like working with black or very dark colors. Even with an Ott light it is very hard to see what you are doing with black. (I plead temporary insanity that I gave my hairdresser carte blanc to ask me to knit anything without including some "I won't do this" guidelines.) I've been putting off getting a haircut because I didn't want to go back empty handed. It was clear this week that I couldn't stall any longer.

Sometime back I did start the stole twice using the Feather & Fan pattern. I ripped it out twice. I couldn't even manage this very easy lace pattern with black yarn. I put it aside and told myself I had time and tried to quietly talk myself out of shoving the hated yarn into the trash. I did promise and I have to deliver. But I kept trying to think of a way to get out of making the "obligation stole." Each day my eyes would fall on the black yarn in my knitting basket, reminding me that I had to do something with them soon. I was running out of time...

Inspiration struck 2 days ago. What if I crocheted the stole instead of knitting it? I can crochet much faster than I knit. Do I have something that would look good as a stole, and I'm familiar with the pattern? Hmm, how about that ripple afghan pattern I've made many times? That might work. I'm desperate! Hunt up the pattern, start crocheting about 2:30 pm Tuesday. I'm through ball #1 and into ball #2 when hubby gets home from work. The stole is looking pretty good.

Hubby took me out for dinner at Carrabas as a very belated Valentine's Day present. (If you look back on my blog, you'll see we had so much snow it closed everything down on V-Day. I can be very patient about these things if I have to be.) BTW, the food and service was very good. Came back and immediately started crocheting again. Ball #2 finished and starting ball #3 when hubby goes to bed. Finished ball #3 and tucked in the final ends about 1:30 am. Woo-hoo! Finished in only 8 hours! I'm a speed demon with a crochet hook! LOL!

Why the haste you ask? I had a deadline---a haircut appointment at 10 am today.

You'll be happy to know that Donna was thrilled with it! She said it was exactly what she wanted. Whew, what a relief! I explained that the stole was made from a wool/silk blend and gave her washing instructions. She's happy so I'm happy. :-) It's done and I can move onto something I enjoy working on.

Tuesday, March 20

Vintage knitting book

One of the new members of my fiber arts group, Janet, brought a box of old knitting and crocheting books to our meeting last week. I snagged an old Patons booklet 7115 Bazaar Novelties and Gifts by Beehive. There's no copyright information. My guess would be 1960's. It has patterns for dog coats, tea cosies, toilet tissue covers (hat, doll, poodle), stuffed toys (clown, cat, teddy bear), lots of poodle patterns (soap cover, bottle cover, cleanser cover, etc.), and lots of slipper patterns (cabled with purchased soles, ripple, TV boots, cuffed, mens, and corn slippers). That's a lot packed into a 22 page booklet for only $1.50!

The sock heel is done and I'm ready to start the cuff. :-) I pulled out my spinning wheel and a Corriedale/tencel blend I got at Michigan Fiber Fest last year. It's a nice blend of pink and peachy tones with shiny white tencel running through it. It's spinning up pretty fine. I should get a lot of yardage from it. The roving did have a very strong smell of perfume or something that really bothered my eyes and nose. I left it out overnight to air out. My first attempt at spinning this fiber gave me fits. The tencel is not evenly distributed through the wool and as it changed from wool to tencel and back, I had to be careful. It was slow and careful work and not a lot of fun. I predrafted the roving but it didn't help much. Last night, I tried another tack. I pulled out a length of roving, held it widthwise between my hands, and gently pulled sideways to loosen it up. It had gotten a little felted in storage. Next, I split it lengthwise into two long pieces. I drafted a few of the thick spots and left the rest alone. Ahh, this time the spinning was much easier. I have to learn with each new fiber or blend how best to handle it for spinning. Each one "tells" me how it wants to be spun. For me, spinning is not science. I don't count how many treadles to how much twist or such. It's much more intuitive and what "feels right" to me.

Sunday, March 18

Shetland lace scarf progress

I frogged and re-cast on the Shetland lace scarf using fewer stitches. Doesn't it look pretty knit up in my handspun (Fleece Artist merino plyed with silk)? It will look even better when it's blocked. The size is now 9" wide unstretched on the needles. I'm thinking it should block to 11 or 12" wide. The bonus with making it narrower is that it will give me a longer scarf. Here's a teaser pic of my progress. If you look closely, you will see the traditional Shetland diamond, cat's paw, and tree patterns.

I'm almost through the gusset on the second sock. Hubby and I watched the Celtic Woman: A New Journey on DVD last night while I knitted. We thought it was appropriate viewing for St. Patrick's Day. We have tickets for the Celtic Woman's April 12 performance in South Bend. Can't wait to see them in person again. We won't be setting in the nosebleed section this time! The tickets are a Christmas present from my hubby. We ordered them in December when our local PBS station premiered the new show and offered tickets for the April 12 concert. I admit it's a long wait to collect my Christmas present but it's well worth waiting for!

Last night, I also made two loaves of Irish Soda bread using a recipe from King Arthur Flour's Baking Sheet newsletter. It's the most flavorful and moist soda bread I've found. I modify the recipe a bit. I don't add the caraway because it tastes awful to me. I'd rather eat dirt! LOL! For the dried fruit, I used a blend of dark raisins, dried cherries, and Craisins. Yum! I froze one loaf for later consumption (i.e., to keep me from eating it all. LOL!). It may go to the Fiber Frolic with me next Saturday.

Friday, March 16

Wacky weather and what's on the needles

It's been a wacky weather week here, typical really as we transition from winter into spring. Our average high this time of year should be about 46 degrees. Tuesday we tied that day's record high of 74 degrees; Wednesday was in the 60s and raining; and Thursday morning we got up to this--1.4" of snow that coated everything. It was beautiful and gone by afternoon.

I'm almost to the gusset increases on the second toe up sock and am working on more fish cat toys. I was thumbing through some old Knitter's magazines for inspiration and stumbled on a Shetland lace scarf pattern. It will be perfect for the blueberry merino and silk I spun a while back. I cast on and knit several inches. I like how the pattern looks in this yarn but, I'll run out of yarn before it gets long enough. I'm going to start over and reduce the width from 67 stitches to 47 stitches. I do love knitting with my handspun! I should do it more often.

Wednesday, March 14

New fibery goodness

I got some more spinning fiber from my friend Liz last night. This is superwash wool combed top that she dyed with maroon, teal, and a few lime green and yellow highlights. It's really much prettier that the picture shows. It's going to be gorgeous spun up.

Liz is hosting our next Fiber Frolic in a couple of weeks at her home. Our fiber arts group gets together to spin and knit together on a Saturday. We have a swap table, some door prizes, and we each bring some kind of food to share. It's a lot of fun. I'm sure Liz will have some new fiber dyed up by then and some of it will probably come home with me. LOL!

The Fiber Event in Greencastle, Indiana is coming up on April 13-14. I'm going again this year to buy more spinning fiber. This is the first of the fiber events that is close enough for me to go to and it's still a 4 hour drive. I love to be able to see the color and feel the fiber I'm buying. There is one vendor who sells Shetland that I won't miss. I'm thinking about buying an entire fleece and having it processed into roving by Wooly Knob. They'll have a booth there to pick up fiber for processing. If I buy a fleece it will probably be Shetland, Corriedale, or Merino. I'll have to see what's for sale and decide if I can afford it and the processing cost.

I have a bunch of yarn, circular knitting needles, and other items, I really should sell. They're things I've decided I don't need or won't use. It would be nice to have some extra money to spend at Greencastle.

I finally cast on for the second sock in Regia. I finished the first one some time back. I'm still trying to decide which lace project to tackle next. It can be hard to match the right pattern to the right yarn. So many choices, so little time...

Tuesday, March 13

OT: Persistence pays

This post definitely has nothing to do with knitting or spinning. It has to do with taking on the big guys when they don't come through with what's been promised.

How many of you signed up for SBC's DSL service and were promised a rebate? Lots of us did and never got the rebate. We signed up in February 2006 and promptly sent in the rebate form (after making a copy for my records). It said it could take 10-12 weeks so I didn't think about it for a long time.

Months later, I ran across the paperwork and wondered what happened to the rebate? Checked with hubby and he confirmed we had not received it. I followed the instructions on the rebate form and go to the website for rebates. I input my phone number and zip code as directed, and it comes back with:

"We're sorry, but we were unable to find any rebate claims matching the information you provided. Please make sure the information you supplied is correct and try again.

Note: It takes approximately 10-12 weeks to process your claim. If you were unable to find your rebate claim status and you submitted your rebate form more than 4 weeks ago, please call 1-800-228-5015.

Thank you for choosing AT&T Yahoo! HSI Service!"


On October 25, 2006, I make my first call to the rebate hotline. Mark tells me they received my rebate post card in February 2006 but no rebate check was sent out. Why? He doesn't have a clue. He told me he would "escalate" it to the Finance Department to issue a check. I was given a case ID number, told to wait 4 weeks, and then callback. I was not a happy camper.

On December 1, 2006, I called again. I talked to Robert this time. He tells me no check has been issued. He blames Mark, who I talked to the last time, for not doing something correctly. That's his reason why no check has been issued. He tells me he has "fixed" the problem. I am again assured a check will be issued, but please wait 4 weeks and call again if I don't receive it. This is beginning to sound like a broken record.

On January 19, 2007, I call again. I'm persistent and I don't like that they aren't living up to their advertised promises. I talk to Greg. I explain that we signed up for DSL almost 1 year ago and still had not received our rebate. (This is where you wish you had tape recorded the two previous phone calls so you could play them for this guy and save yourself a lot of breath.) I told Greg that I was beginning to believe that this whole rebate deal was a scam and a fraud by SBC. He assured me it was not. He must have gotten tired of talking to me because he gave me a phone number for customer care and told me to talk to billing services. So I called that number and talked to Tony. I had to go through the whole history all over again. (Where's that tape recorder when you need it?) He assured me that a rebate check would be sent to me within 2-4 weeks.

Four weeks later, no check has arrived. It is now over a year since I had originally mailed the rebate form. Sheesh! Talk about poor customer service! I am really not happy that we haven't received our promised rebate. I've done everything I was supposed to but they won't pay up. What to do... I Googled the web to find out if I was the only one having this problem. I wasn't, there are many, many unhappy people still waiting for rebates. I expect a lot of them gave up. Isn't that what they want you to do so they don't have to pay up? But I'm not giving up. I mulled over my options. There definitely was no sense calling back the rebate hotline. All you get is excuses, promises, and nothing happens.

On February 21, 2007, I filed an online complaint about SBC's rebate program with the Indiana Attorney General's office, Consumer Protection Division. I promptly received a reply. The letter said that even though they had no jurisdiction against SBC, they were forwarding a copy of my complaint to SBC requesting a response. They would attempt to mediate a resolution. I'm impressed. They're trying to do something. SBC would surely take seriously a letter from the Indiana Attorney General's office.

Now it's March 12, 2007. The phone rings and it's AT&T's corporate office calling! Woo-hoo! Kerry tells me they are not happy I am having this problem with the rebate. He's read the form from the Indiana Attorney General's office. He's even followed the link to Business Week I supplied with tons of posts by unsatisified SBC customers who have not received rebates dating back several years. He tells me they want to make it right. He offers me a free month of DSL service plus a credit for the rebate on our April bill. I'll take that, thank you. He also assured me that they will be looking into why the fulfillment service (who is handling the rebates) is not sending out rebate checks. I hope this shakes loose rebate checks for everyone who sent in a DSL rebate form and never received a rebate check.

Success? I hope so, but I'll be a believer when I see the April bill with the promised credits on it. I had sense enough to ask for his phone number in case this doesn't come through. I'll be calling him back if that happens. And I still have a few tricks up my sleeve if that doesn't work. LOL!

UPDATE 3/24/07 - Our April AT&T bill shows almost $100.00 in credits--the rebate plus a credit for one month free. We won't owe them anything for awhile. In this case, persistence did pay off big!

Monday, March 12

More cat toys finished

I finished another load of cat toys last night and delivered them this morning. The toy jar at my vet's office was empty except for a few balls and one mouse. Must not have been a color anyone wanted. I've seen people empty the whole jar on the counter to pick the right color for their cat.

If I knit a couple of toys each night, I can finish a bunch in one month. I try to knit them before I start on my other knitting or spinning projects. Sometimes when I don't have the concentration for a lace or other project, I'll watch TV in the evenings and bang out one toy after another. I've even taken them along as car knitting when we travel. I have the patterns memorized I've made so many of them. Lately, I've been knitting fish as they are quick to knit and a change of pace from mice and whales. After 6 years of knitting cat toys, I do sometimes get bored knitting toys. LOL!

I decided to start a new lace project yesterday but got discouraged pretty quickly. The pattern is a beautiful scarf knit in variegated yarn. The instructions are terrible. The charts are chopped into pieces and not even printed at the same scale/size. I was going to copy them and paste together but that won't work because of the different sizes. I'm a very visual lace knitter and I need to understand and "see" how the pattern is going to work. Now what? Give up? No, I paid $7.00 for this pattern and I like it too much.

I sat down to chart the whole thing by hand using the written instructions. Guess what? The written instructions don't match the charts in the pattern! I checked online and there are no errata on the web for this scarf. This must not have been test knit before it was printed. Tell me, wouldn't you rather someone test knit a pattern and find the errors rather than having to pay for the privilege to fix the mistakes? Oops!

This shouldn't be hard to chart. The pattern is garter stitch with the yarnover holes forming a diamond in the center and V's coming off it on either side. With pencil in hand and several sheets of graph paper, I sat down and charted it. Even upsized it for a stole. I took my draft to the computer, charted it using Excel, saved it, and printed it out on a legal size sheet of paper. I'm ready to roll!

Friday, March 9

Dyeing Yarn with Easter Egg Dye

Four skeins of Knitpicks dye your own yarn + Easter Egg dye = dyeing fun!

My recent stash organization turned up 2 skeins of sock and 2 of laceweight yarn cream yarn from Knitpicks. And seeing all the Easter Egg dyeing kits in the store reminded me I have some I bought last year after Easter. I solar dyed some yarn in glass jars on my patio last summer. It was fun and easy!

Since it's too cold to use that method, I went through my notes for inspiration. I had written an article about it last year. I decided to try the microwave method with a bit of a twist. Here's what I did:

1) Soak the yarn in hot water and vinegar for about 10-15 minutes.
2) Mix the Easter egg dye tablets in drinking glasses per the package directions.
3) Carefully squeeze most of the water out of the yarn.
4) Place each skein in a glass casserole dish in a single layer, coiling some and making Z shapes with others.
5) Apply the dye to the yarn as desired.
6) Fill each casserole dish until the yarn was almost covered with water. (This blends and mutes the colors so they aren't so strong.)
7) Cover with a lid, and zapped in the microwave for 5 minutes until very hot.
8) Remove dish to stove top. Checked to see if the water was clear or almost clear.
9) Let cool; dump into the sink and carefully squeeze water out of the yarn.
10) Hang to dry.

The first picture is the yarn cooling on the stove top. The other pictures show the yarn after I dumped the water out of them. I love the colors!

This would be an easy group project to do outdoors in the summer time. I may have to suggest this as a project for my fiber arts group. You could buy your Easter Egg dye kits in the after Easter clearance sales or you can use other types of food safe dyes. Order a bunch of inexpensive dye your own yarn from Knitpicks. Collect a lot of glass canning jars with lids (they can take the heat) or plastic storage containers you can reheat food in. Presoak your yarn or place it in a container and cover with a vinegar and water mix. Mix up dyes; add to yarn. Cover; set out in the sun and let cook until the water is clear or almost clear. Cool; rinse; hang to dry. If still damp, place in a plastic bag until you get it home, and hang to finish drying.

Thursday, March 8

Spinning experiment

You know you're a hard core spinner when you look at yarn and all you can think about is spinning it!

Last summer, at a clearance sale I found 6 balls of Jumbo merino, a bulky weight single in blues and purples. I loved the color but the yarn was too heavy and there was only 33 yards in a skein. That's 9 ounces of yummy spinning fiber! So, I'm thinking, what would happen if I respun this to a weight I like? That's crazy. But, tempted by deep clearance prices, I bought it. It's been lurking in my stash until recently when I stumbled upon it again.

I've already spun 3 skeins of it into singles. LOL! It's not that difficult to work with because the original yarn didn't have a lot of twist in it. I pull a length out, wrap a rubber band around the skein, and hold the yarn end and let the twist come out. If I need to remove a little more twist, I roll the yarn over my thigh before I respin it.

I skeined and washed what I've finished to see what would happen to my new singles. There is too much twist in them so I'll either have to ply it or run it back through the wheel to remove some of the twist. The latter option is calling my name. I'd really like to try knitting with singles. If the experiment fails, I can always rip it out and ply it.

Happy spinning!

Tuesday, March 6

Copyright info and new handspun

I've had some very positive responses to my bunny pattern. I hope everyone has fun knitting them. One person even contacted me for permission to publish the pattern in her knitting guild's newsletter. I'm flattered! It's good web netiquette to ask for permission to do this or use a picture from someone's blog.

But not everyone plays nice. Copyright means copyright. That means don't copy pictures from my blog and post them anywhere unless you ask first and I give you written permission to do so. Otherwise it's stealing.

If you want to let other people know about my patterns, send them a message with the URL to my blog.

Feel free to print one copy of each free pattern I've posted but do not sell them or rewrite them and claim them as your own. I've put a lot of work into them.

Now, if you wish to make items from my patterns and give them as gifts, please do so. It is not ok to sell items made from my patterns without my permission. (On my whale and fish cat toy patterns I do give permission to sell toys if all the money raised from the sale is donated to an animal shelter.) If you're not sure, please ask.

I apologize to everyone for having to blog about this. I'm sure you're as sick of reading copyright arguments on groups as I am.

On another front, I finished spinning Liz's merino last night. Here it is all skeined and labeled. I'm really getting consistent. Out of 3.1 ounces of combed top, I got 372 yards. I know that some people don't like yarn when it barber poles. I do. The colors are gorgeous! I am amazed every time by how different the roving looks from the completed yarn. You can see the roving in a picture in my February 4th post.

Monday, March 5

Bunny Egg Cover pattern is up!

Vicki’s Bunny Egg Cover

You'll need size 7 double points and about 15 yards of worsted weight yarn to knit one of these plus a plastic egg to fill the bunny. (This used to be a free pattern on my blog until some not nice person lifted the pattern and tried to sell it as their own design on Ebay.)

Cute little bunnies that fit over plastic Easter Eggs, hard boiled eggs, or candy eggs. The photo shows the front (left) and back (right) of the bunny. The little tail and ears are knit in as you go. Knit in the round for minimal finishing. Just tuck in the ends when done. You can knit these smaller by using smaller needles and yarn. Money from pattern sales will be donated to Pet Refuge.

Pattern has been revised and updated as of March 28, 2012.

For more information, visit my Ravelry pattern store to see all my available designs, current pricing information, and purchase pattern downloads.

Sunday, March 4

Ocean Tide is finished!

I was determined to finish the Mystery Pi shawl yesterday. I cast off last night and had it on the blocking board before I went to bed. I was beginning to suspect that this shawl was cursed. (I even said a few bads words at it from time to time. LOL!) The yarn was slippery and I kept dropping stitches on the k2togs. I made 2 repairs from dropped stitches. I wasn't ripping back to fix them! The extra skein was too far off in color to use. Pookie caught a claw in it on Friday night and almost pulled a hole in it! (That's him in the pic below with the shawl.) It took me awhile to work the length of yarn he pulled out back into the shawl. I was tempted to throw it in the trash! When I washed it, the yarn bled blue dye like crazy. The water in the sink was almost black. After the third time it was still losing dye, so I filled the sink with hot water and vinegar. Either the vinegar fixed it or all the loose dye was out. The color really changed. It lost all of the purple highlights and is now mauve. Blocking was the final challenge. I've never blocked a round shawl or one as big as this. I did the best I could.

Renee has named this pattern Ocean Tide. From the center out the stitch patterns represent shells, the ocean floor, seaweed, and waves. I would have used a different color if I had known the theme. The shawl is beautiful. Mine is only 52" across after I blocked it. That's a little small. Hubby asked me if I had knit a tablecloth. LOL! I used a total of 1,120 yards. I had maybe 1 yard left when I finished binding off. It was such a relief to get it off the needles. Now I can move onto something else.

Friday, March 2

The Buzz about Bunnies

With Easter coming up, I've pulled out the bunny pattern I designed last year. It's a cute little bunny that fits over those plastic eggs they sell everywhere this time of year. I knit a bunch of them last year, filled them with candy and sold them as a fundraiser for Pet Refuge. They were quite popular. I'm thinking about putting the pattern up on my blog.

I'm spinning up 4 ounces of merino combed top that was hand dyed by my friend Liz. It's dyed with blue, pink, purple, and a soft green. I stripped it into thin pieces and drafted it out to maintain the colorway. I've already spun up half of it. I don't know where Liz gets her fiber but this stuff is a dream to spin.

The Mystery Pi shawl now has a name--Ocean Tide. If I had know the theme I would have knit it in ocean colors instead of pinkish tones. Finished another repeat last night. Twelve more rows to go and it's time to bind off. My plan is to finish it in the next day or so. I want to move onto a new project, but won't let myself until I finish it. Then the problem will be finding a place to block it. I may have to fold it in half to block it.