13 December 2010

The Amazing 6-day Shawl

A family friend is giving me her mother's Singer Featherweight Sewing Machine. I'll be picking it up when I go home for Christmas. In exchange, I knit her this shawl out of some of my handspun yarn. Despite the amassing of large quantities of handspun, this is only the third project where I've used my handspun and the first one that's handspun only.

Shawl blocking
Pattern: Echo Flower Shawl by Jenny Johson Johen
Materials: 2-ply
'Pinot Gris' Girls like Boys like Fiber
approx. 304.75 yards
100% Cormo
4 oz.
Start Date: November 21, 2010
End Date: November 27, 2010

This handspun was so nice to knit with that the shawl was finished in 6 days. I was very focussed. Though I still need to re-block it. I set it up to block on my bed on a weekend, and it wasn't dry by bedtime. I think I'll use steam for the next blocking. But still I'm declaring this shawl finished.

24 November 2010

I am a quilt machine

This past weekend, my group of Montreal ladies and I headed over to my brother's place (aka - the House of Quilt) for an Intro to Patchwork. It was super fun! Though some ladies left earlier, Amanda and I hung out and played Quilt Machine until 11pm or so. It was epic!

I (of course) chose a complicated, advanced block and spent the entire time cutting out the fabric pieces for my blocks. I originally intended to cut out fabrics for 2 blocks. Due to some confusion and the fact that the cutting instructions were for cutting out for double blocks, that, er, became fabric for 4 blocks. Er, yeah.

After cutting out a bazillion pieces of fabrics for these blocks, I also had to mark little dots on each piece. By the time I finished marking pieces early Sunday afternoon, I REALLY wanted to sew them together.

Chrysanthemum Block 2

So I did. The blocks aren't perfect, but the block design is kind of forgiving? I like to think that it is.

Chrysanthemum Block 3

These are really the first "real" quilt blocks that I've pieced since beginning quilting.

Chrysanthemum Block 1

My machine was mostly co-operative about the piecing. Though I can't wait to get my hands on the Singer Featherlight from my mom's friend. It will be so nice to have a machine that sews straight lines (don't tell Greenie that I said that).

Chrysanthemum Block 3
Mixed Bouquet Block from American Patchwork & Quilting, December 2009. Issue 101

4 blocks down, 6 more to go. I think I want to make some of those crazy itty bitty square blocks I've been seeing around. And maybe some of those asterisk blocks I've come across.

23 November 2010

Spun Seaweed

I have been a big fan of CosyMakes dyeing since I started getting her Falkland Fiber Club earlier in the spring. I think there's an entire cubby worth of her fibre in my new shelving unit. I ended up buying lots from her Etsy shop in addition to my fibre club instalments over the summer.

When I saw one of the instalments of the Farm Wool Club, I switched over. Who could resist fun fibre blends like Alpaca, wool or Angora, Shetland? Not me it would seem. I got the first instalment of my new Farm Wool Fiber Club from CosySpins with the last instalment of her Falkland Fiber Club.

Seaweed Braid

As soon as I unwrapped this fibre, took photos and added it to Ravelry, I started spinning it.

Seaweed skein

I spun it long-draw. It may have been a good idea to pre-draft or "pop" it a bit before spinning. It was a bit of a forearm workout as it was. I finished the yarn over the weekend and it's super lovely! That little bit of mo makes all the difference.

Seaweed skein detail
Farm Wool Fibre Club for September
'Seaweed' CosySpins
50% Wool, 50% Alpaca
4 oz.

Now to think of what I want to knit with this. I think I need a LOT more lace in my life.

22 November 2010

Nini's Martini

A friend of mine fell and broke her face walking home from work on the Friday before Hallowe'en. She expressed an extreme love of this fibre when I received in during the summer so I decided to spin her up some yarn.

Nini's Martini

At her request, I spun this Noro-style. I separated all the colours and spun them up "in order" from the green to the maroon then chain-plied it to keep the colour transitions. It worked out pretty well, though in future I think some drafting of 2 transition colours together would be wise.

I think I'm a long-draw convert. This spun up pretty quickly even if it's a tad underspun in areas. I might need a smaller ratio for my wheel. Further investigation required.

Nini's Martini
'Olive Martini' Sweet Georgia
June Fibre Club
100% Falkland
4 oz.

Oh and it's SUUUUPER soft.

21 November 2010

Fear Factor Fibre - Cotton Sliver

It's been a while since I posted any updates on the whole Tour de Fleece thing. And to be honest, I haven't spent any time at the wheel for a while. But the past few weeks I've been ploughing through the fibre that's been half spun on the wheel for months.

Here's the first half of the cotton sliver spun & plied.
I spun cotton sliver!

'Leaf' Blonde Chicken
100% Organic Cotton Fiber
2 oz.

For the record 4 oz. of cotton sliver is a HECK of a lot to spin!

20 November 2010

Socks for Grumpy

I was chatting with a friend earlier in the summer and she was feeling down. So I knit her some socks. She was quite pleased to pick out the yarn even if it was from photos of my stash. I'm mailing them today.

Cubist Toes

Socks for Grumpy

Pattern: Cubist Socks by Cookie A
Materials: Trekking XXL
Start Date: May 30, 2010
End Date: October 23, 2010

19 November 2010

Oyster Pie Blanket - Finally Finished

I'm feeling rather laconic at the moment so here we go.

My best friend got married in October so I made her a blanket. I finished all the blocks a week before leaving and finished mattress stitching them together on the plane ride down to SF (where she lives with her new husband). They love it.

Finished Oyster Pie Blanket

Oyster Pie Blanket Detail

Finished Oyster Pie Blanket

Crinkled up goodness

Pattern: Sunny Spread
by Ellen Gormley
Materials: Louet Gems Bulky in 7 colours + cloud grey
Start Date: March 23, 2010
End Date: October 9, 2010

4 October 2010

Mattress Stitch Marathon

So I'm nearing the deadline of this dotty blanket which I now realise I really haven't mentioned before. It's been hanging out on my Ravelry page since March and I've been working on it in the background while getting on with all sorts of crafty shenanigans.

It's now reached the point of putting together and it's really coming along. Here's a photo I took for my own reference once I finished the layout one morning on my kitchen floor:
Dotty Blanket layout

This project is really making me fall in love with mattress stitch all over again. As nice as it is with knitting, I find it even awesomer with crochet. I especially love how the blocks will really smoosh up to one another and give this great square delineation from one block to another.

I did make one of those 5 min videos of me working on it, but somehow YouTube magically turned 5 min into 1:34 but strangely the soundtrack is fine...weird.

After my tech support helps me figure out what happened and how to fix it, I'll be sure to let you know.

ETA: Here's the non-smushed version of the video:

18 September 2010


Yikes. Sorry kids. I didn't mean to be gone for so long. Things have been quite busy at work. Not so busy that there hasn't been any crafting. Just busy enough that spending more time in front of a computer isn't terribly appealing when I get home from work. That and I feel like I have to finish spinning the cotton sliver before moving onto another fibre. For future reference 4oz. is a HECK of a lot of cotton to spin up. But I'm definitely getting better at it. Much less swearing and breakage is happening.

But lately the hexagon quilt has been revived in a big way. And apparently the hex is really quite contagious.


I've had quite the stack of fat quarters waiting to become hexes and finally got down to adding them all in. Add in some fabulous Liberty hexagons and the hex is back on folks! I have one last "small" section to add on to the "big" piece and I've reached the width I was aiming for. It's very exciting to see the progress. Though it's going to have to go on the back burner for a bit while I finish some other secretish projects.

I'm also faced with a bit of a quilting mental block going with my box bag. At a recent group patchwork day, we all selected fabrics to combine with some sent from one of the homegirls in semi-permanent absentia abroad (the Matryoshka dolls and the colourful apples as seen below).

Final Fabric Selection?

I have to say I had a REALLY hard time selecting these fabrics. Once Janina brought out the irrepressibly fantastic rainbow fabric (exclusive for Fabricville) I got started. Every once in a while I would get up. Look at all the fabrics and make some selections. Stare for a while. Get frustrated and then sit down and baste more hexagons. I added the red/pink polka dots after I got home and those fantastic rainbow stars a week later. The stars are from my mom's 80's fabric stash that Mr. Peabody recently brought back with him. They're SO Rainbow Brite, I love them!

Now I'm not sure how I want to piece my fabric. I was originally thinking strips. But that was before getting the fabrics together. Now I'm thinking diagonal strips would be better. But I'm not entirely sure anymore. And the fabric has been hanging out on this chair in my living room for a few weeks now I feel like I should do something with it. I should just jump in and do it already. I'm not sure what I've been waiting for.

16 August 2010

Non-spinning update

I just wanted to pop in and let everyone know that my old cranky sewing machine and I have seemed to make up with one another. I managed to work for most of the day on my scissor shirtdress with minimal complaints. I think his bobbin cartridge needs a tune up but other than that he was very well behaved. It would seem that he likes his new more permanent home beside the refrigerator instead of the more temporary digs in front of the stove/washer/dryer/fridge. I guess being in the way made him nervous.

I think my sewing machine is definitely a he though I'm not entirely settled on his name. Edmund jumps to mind but I'm not sure about it. Ooo, or Oliver? Any thought? I'll have to get a photo so you can be properly introduced.

Since I believe in posts having photos, take a gander at what happend at the last session of Les Courtepointistes:
Block Check

Mr. Peabody's tumbling blocks quilt is coming along REALLY nicely. We decided that he was about halfway through making all his blocks and it looks FANTASTIC. Don't you agree?

14 August 2010

Super Awesome Hexagon Swap

While browsing through my groups on Flickr, I came across many packages of lovely little hexagons for this swap called { Handsome } Hexies - THE SWAP and decided I REALLY wanted to play along. They were in the middle of the first round so I had to wait ever so patiently.

But then round 2 came around and I finally got to play!

I was to prepare a package for Flickr user wishes, true and kind.

In her questionnaire, she mentioned that she liked Amy Butler, Heather Ross, Heather Bailey and Anna Maria Horner. As it happened, I had just received a scrap bag as part of my pattern order from Anna Maria Horner's website. I decided to start making hexagons from the scraps. I then proceeded to dig through my growing stash of fabric for suitable matches.

For my partner

I find that the resulting grouping of hexes is a nice range of reds, oranges with some touches of green and blue (heavily favoured in my stash). I added a piece of the Kokka strawberries I bought at Purl Soho on my trip to NYC and put it all in an Amy Butler zipper pouch. I added some goodies and sent it away. And waited.

I waited patiently for my partner to get her parcel and not-so-patiently to get mine in return. I keep prowling the Flickr group, at first to see what other people were sending. But then people started getting their parcels and this is where I started to get antsy. I had favourited so many of the parcels and they were arriving in other people's mailboxes. Mine stayed annoyingly empty for the better part of the week. This clearly was the way to madness. Thankfully a busy work week and many evenings out with friends kept me from getting to obsessive and start making charts (yes I had considered it).

But then something magical happend on friday. I came home from work to find something in my mailbox. It was down in the bottom so only reaching in did I get my parcel. It was from the UK! Only now did I dare to think, did I get it? Did I get THE LIBERTY package I had seen posted to the group?


Well, yes indeed I DID get the Liberty package from I'm a ginger monkey (from her Flickr id I thought it was imaginer monkey, funny how the mind is?). I kind of feel like I won the lottery or something. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Liberty. I have loved Liberty ever since I lived in London and would often go there with my friends to browse around in the fantastic Tudor-style building. I think I bought some loose tea there once to send to someone, but never bought anything for myself. And I wasn't quilting or sewing at the time so definitely didn't peruse the fabrics. But of course now that's where I would spend my time.

I love ALL the hexagons that I got. How could I not love 30 some hexagons of different Liberty fabrics. Heck, even if they were the same fabric I would love them. It's Liberty!

In addition to the mind blowing fact that I got 30 some charm Liberty hexagons, I also got 2 pieces of Liberty oil cloth AND a very very lovely zipper pouch also made from oil cloth. I plan to leave the hexes in the pouch and pick them out one at a time when it's time to pick one for the quilt.

Here are some hexagons that particularly stuck out when I first opened the package.

Beautiful pansies

Beautiful little pansy flowers!

Fantastic geometric

Fabulous fussy cut mint green geometric! (mint green is my favourite colour).

Dancing fruit

And dancing fruit! How could anyone not love getting dancing fruit? So fabulous.

So this swap was a great experience. I had fun playing and will definitely be playing again. But I don't expect to be getting Liberty every time. Wouldn't a full on Liberty only hexagon quilt be fantastic? A beautiful dream.

12 August 2010

Fear Factor Fibre - Cotton Noil

I bought this noil because the colour really struck me. I had never heard of noil before and realised after I bought it that there would be a need for some fibre prep before I could spin this. I knew I was going to have to bite the bullet and get some hand carders.

Up to this point, I have been resistant to getting into the major fibre prep thing as I knew it would be a slippery slope to drum carders, buying whole fleeces and generally turning my apartment into a wool mill. But my I was foolish enough to fall for some pretty pretty fibre in need of prep, so hand carders were in my future.

Luckily for me I wouldn't have to shell out for a brand new set of hand carders just yet. On a trip to Quebec city with my parents, while visiting the antique shops on Saint-Paul in Old Quebec, my dad pointed out to me this lovely set of hand carders. I looked at the price and pretty much squeeeeeeed in delight. A decent pair of hand carders for pretty much half the price of new ones. SCORE!

Yes, I know they say "N° 5 Wool" on the back, but I figure it's close enough for me to try things out without too much of an investment. And as my dad said, if they don't work out, they're still antiques. He spent the rest of the trip pointing out loom bobbins, flax combs and any kind of spinning wheel he came across. A side note, there are several shops on the way to Quebec along the 20 with a great selection of wheels. You can get a wheel in good condition complete just needing a belt for around $300. But of course you'll only be getting 1 bobbin at the most.

I've been studying up with my spinning fairy godmother, Ruthann Macaulley and researching making punis is no different. So following her demonstration in this video:

I went to work.

After a few awkward attempts, I really started to get the hang of things. Passing the fibre from one card, back to the other almost like a pro. Wouldn't you know it, but this fibre prep thing is kind of fun! Before long I had quite the stack of hand rolled goodness to spin up.

I never thought I'd like the fibre prep—lord knows I abhor doing hours of predrafting—but working with hand cards is a lot faster than I thought. And I guess add some technology/toy to the equation and it's party time!

Can I just tell you right now how much I LOVE the word puni. PUNI! P-U-N-I! I love that when spoken, it kind of sounds like a swear or something dirty but it's totally not. No really, it's ok to say puni at the top of your lungs PPPPPUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUNNNNNNNNNIIIIIIIIIII! Puni. Love it.

K, onto working with the punis (...puni). Spinning from punis is pretty cool. Much easier than working from the cotton balls. At least at my level of experience with spinning cotton. I found that they were somewhat easier to work with when rolled a little bit tighter around the knitting needle. A firm puni makes for happy spinning. The fibres are more inclined to stick together when somewhat strongly encouraged. Plus I found that working with slightly felted fibres when I was first learning to spin helped me feel like I wouldn't "break" the fibre while I was spinning it.

There was some breakage here and there when spinning the singles and overall they came out somewhat slubby and quite neppy. I think the nepps are mostly because I was working with noil. Overall there wasn't nearly as much swearing and heart break as I had when first playing with the cotton balls.

I was quite concerned about getting a lot of breaking when plying the singles so I kind of left it for a week or two. I even started spinning some of the cotton sliver (is it pronounced sliver or sl-eye-ver? anyone know?) which drafts like a dream. I just have to watch that I get enough twist to keep it from coming apart altogether. The twist in the singles was very well and set once I did get around to it. And the breakage was minimal thought swearing was heard when it did happen.

I decided to go chain-ply because I didn't bother to do any kind of puni counting (sounds kind of like cheating at strip poker doesn't it?) while I was spinning and just filled one bobbin. Ruthann advises against plying from the inside and outside of a center pull ball when working with cotton and I'm very inclined to believe her.

Overall I'm very happy with how the yarn turned out. I like the neppiness. I like how subtle the colour shifts are. The weight is nice. One comment from a fellow spinner "It feels like Rowan cotton." Not so bad for my first completed skein of cotton. It's challenging but rewarding enough that I will definitely be playing with cotton more in the future. And not just because there's a ball of sliver (sl-eye-ver?) on my coffee table.

I also plan to play more with the handcards. There will be punis and rolags and all sorts of hand carded fun in my future.

1 August 2010

Fear Factor Fibre - Soy Silk

Alright, I'm back from playing with my parents in Qu├ębec city. I've been back for a whole week. But turns out I'm kind of a busy girl during the week and wanted to finish spinning this up before posting about it. So here we go, I give you Soy Silk:

I did some internet research before attacking this bump of soy silk and came across a mention in the intro to this Knitty Spin article on Spinning from the Fold that it's a good method for spinning soy silk. The article has pictures of Lee Juvan spinning long draw from the fold with soy silk, so I thought I would give it a go. I figured it would be good to practise long draw with something easier to spin like soy silk instead of waiting for my cotton to arrive (this was before I bought some cotton balls to play with).

It's weird to try a new technique, almost like learning to spin all over again. Things break. The yarn ends up all slubby and weird. Generally feels strange. But it's good to learn new things. I like learning new stuff. And that's kind of the point of this challenge.

Breaking the top into little fingers definitely makes the spinning seem faster. Though I had to put them in a shoebox to protect them from the ceiling fan set while spinning. The soy gets really fluffy when drafted.

Overall, I went easy on myself, aiming to get a good spin rather than go for speed right out of the gate. The singles were pretty even I was able to get nice control and towards the end of the spinning, I was actually getting pretty quick with my long draw. I think I'm going to try long draw for the next bump of wool that I spin. Mostly for practise, but it's also kind of magical. And I like that my fingers don't get as numb or sore as usual.

'Pink Granite' Chimera
100% Soy Silk
4 oz.

The soy silk was pretty nice to work with. It's a little grabbier than the milk fibre which I might make it easier for someone starting to spin or who is used to spinning wool. Spinning from the fold definitely made the fibre draft easier though long draw isn't entirely necessary. I just wanted the practise. I would definitely spin soy silk again if I came across some nice colours to play with.

Next up: I play with punis while spinning up some cotton noil.

Yes, I know I haven't finished my complete list of Freak Fibres and July/Tour de Fleece is over. But I'm going to keep spinning through the list as I'm still interested, have the fibre and have the time to keep spinning.

21 July 2010


The recent radio silence is due to a awesome long weekend trip to NYC. We took the train down and talked most of the way. It was awesome even if it took all day. Much more civilised than taking the bus and less of a hassle than taking a plane. We hunted for vinyl, found great books and visited craft mecca. There's pics on my Flickr if you're bored/interested.

I won't have much to report on until sometime next week as my parents are in town visiting. But on the upside, my mom is actually letting me use her iPad. I know, I'm surprised too.

13 July 2010

Fear Factor Fibre - Cotton Balls

Over the weekend I was doing some research on how to approach some of the upcoming fibres when I came across these wonderful YouTube spinning tutorials by Spin2weave. I started off watching the cotton prep video, then intro to spinning cotton, then any of the other videos she has of any interest. I really like her presentation. I love when her dogs come a sniffing when she's working with dog hair in one of the videos and there's something fabulous about her spinning wheel/chair set up. The big fairytale wheel didn't appeal to me until I saw hers paired with the beautiful chair she uses with it.

In her second intro to spinning cotton video, she mentions that you can spin cotton balls. Yes. From the drugstore cotton balls. She even has some colourful ones and SPINS THEM RIGHT THERE FROM THE BALL!!! My mind exploded a little bit when I saw this.

So I of course stopped at the drug store yesterday and of course HAD to pick up some cotton balls to try. Extra bonus of learning by playing with cotton balls is that I don't have to feel bad about "ruining" my nice cotton when it arrives.

They look really fun to spin, like little marshmallows to spin and play with rather than eat.

But man, cotton is HARD. I've been practising a supported long draw while working with soy silk and I've kind of gotten the hang of it, but clearly cotton is a whole other animal. I had ALL kinds of breaking issues. I was getting into some decent long draw rhythms but then it would break or separate (not sure which) and I'd have to start again. I think I may have to go up a whorl but that's pretty scary too. I'm already using a higher ratio than I'm used to. I even swapped out the wheel ratio pieces when plying the milk.

This is my initial progress of spinning cotton balls:

As you can see I didn't get very far into it. I stopped after maybe 3 balls. I was tired and getting pretty frustrated. I'm going to try some more tonight. Or I might give up for now and go back and finish the second half of the soy silk.

11 July 2010

Fear Factor Fibre - Milk Fibre

Next on the Fear Factor Fibre list is Milk.

I found this very lovely braid of Milk Fibre on Etsy from Moonlight and Laugther. After buying it, the seller started a conversation with me and sent me a link to this post about working with milk.

After reading up on it, I tried just drafting straight from one end. It seemed to draft really quite easily. Especially compared to the issues I was having with drafting the silk so I decided to treat it as usual and spin from one end.

I found that the milk didn't like to go too fine or it would break so I left it a little thicker than I've been spinning lately. Also the milk has a tendency to slip out if there's not enough twist so I made sure I was getting that bumpy appearance to my singles before moving on. I've been using a higher ratio on my wheel lately, so this didn't slow things down much.

I originally planned to 2-ply this but after loading up my bobbin with all the fibre, I REALLY wanted to ply straight away. I just couldn't wait a day for the twist to set and then fight with a center pull ball so I changed my mind and chain-plied instead. I think it turned out really nicely.

Once done plying and off the niddy noddy, the yarn was perfectly balanced. That NEVER happens to me. Milk is some kind of wonder fibre. I wonder if I even need to wash and finish it. I might anyways just to be safe.

'Faerie Dust' Moonlight and Laughter
100% Milk Fiber
approx. 189.8 yards
15 wpi
3.75 oz.

I REALLY liked working with the milk, especially with all the difficulties I had with the silk roving. The yarn has this nice cotton-y/silk blend sort of feeling and is nice and shiny. I will definitely be spinning this fibre again.

10 July 2010

Fear Factor Fibre – Silk Roving

Next up on the Tour de Fleece Fear Factor Fibre challenge is working with pure silk roving. As it happens I already had 2 pure silk rovings in my stash. Since they're both sort of in the same colour range, I decided to spin them separately and ply them together.

'Ice Queen' Space Romantic
100% Mulberry Silk
2 oz.

I bought this Space Romantic mulberry silk this year shortly after buying my wheel, when I was sampling from various indie-dyer types. It's very pretty, soft, silky (of course) and was pretty straightforward to spin.

I spun directly from the top, no pre-drafting. Once I figured out the optimal drafting zone size (large), things went quite smoothly.

'Mermaid Darling' Ozark Handspun (my name for the colourway)
100% Silk
1.75 oz.

This silk has been living in my stash for a few years and for some reason was super difficult to draft properly. Early in my career as a spinner, I did work with another bump of Ozark silk roving and remember finding it pretty tricky. But as I was a new spinner, I figured it was me and not the fibre. I'm not sure if the issue was that it's been sitting in a bundle for 2 years, or that it's just tricky to work with. Whatever the reason, there was a LOT of swearing while spinning this up.

Randomly, there was a large piece of blue/aqua silk and this smaller piece of green/brown. Totally strange. I alternated a green piece with an aqua piece when spinning. For some reason, the aqua was more cooperative than the green/brown.

I tried a few things to try and get the silk to draft nicely.

I tried teasing open the roving before spinning, which didn't always help things. While spinning, if I got a largish lump, I stopped, teased it open and was able to draft out the extra fibre.

What I found helped the green/brown be somewhat cooperative was lightly pre-drafting the piece before taking it to the wheel. Really, just breaking things open a bit here and there so that it would actually draft. Still it was not nearly as nice to spin and the Space Romantic.

Look! Pretty singles:

Plying was pretty straight forward. The skein has a largish section with the Ice Queen plied back on itself near the end—I used an Andean plying bracelet for this which was kind of a bitch in places.

The finished yarn is very nice. The green has mostly disappeared making the blue more turquoise in places. The areas of brown seemed to have softened to a tannish. Overall the skein is very pretty.

'Ice Mermaid Darling Queen'='Ice Queen' Space Romantic + 'Mermaid Darling' Ozark Handspun
approx. 385.3 yards
100% Silk
3.75 oz.
19 wpi

I'm now partway through spinning the milk fibre and its a dream to work with. Drafts like nobody's business which is REALLY nice after all the swearing-inducing Ozark silk.