fiber diva

This is the chronicle of one woman's forays into knitting, crocheting, spinning, embroidery, papercrafts, and whatever else catches my fancy at any given time. Oh, and I talk about my cats a lot, too.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Progress on some fronts

Well, the good news is that I finally got my tote for the International Tote Exchange III sent out to my partner. Nothing like cutting it close, though---I sent it yesterday via express mail for a deadline of today! The bad news is that because my partner lives clear across the country, they couldn't guarantee that it would get to her today, even using the "more than $20 to send a package" express mail.

Since the tote has been knit for quite a while, and even felted for a while, you may well be wondering what took so long. And the answer, as it frequently is when I'm procrastinating (which some would tell you is really my favorite hobby), is that I couldn't quite figure out what I wanted to do to finish it. I realized when I first went to put it together last week that I'd messed up the handles by felting them separately instead of sewing them to the bag first so that they could felt together. And that, dear reader, is the lesson of actually reading the #*$&(@ directions first, instead of thinking that I know what I'm doing! (A lesson I should have learned in the first grade, but, apparently, didn't!)

So I spent a good couple of days debating with myself what I should do about it, whether it was worth redoing any or all of the bag, definitely didn't have time to do the whole bag again(!) (besides which, what am I, crazy?) I finally decided that the answer was to get some of those cute plastic handles that I'm always seeing in stores and thinking I should figure out a way to use.
I ended up cutting the felted handles up a bit to make the tabs that I slipped the plastic handles under to attach them to the bag. I also found a couple of cute silver buttons that, I thought coordinated nicely with the colors in the Kureyon that is threaded through the tote. (the tote is one strand of Kureyon in black, grey, and bits of other colors, and one of Patons classic wool, held together)
And I added a knit flower made from the Kureyon Here you see the finished product: And here is a close-up of the flower, which is a detachable pin, in case my pal doesn't want it on the bag. Kinda cute, if I do say so myself. I really hope my tote partner likes it and the goodies inside it. These include a knitting notepad, magnet, some Debbie Bliss cotton/cashmere, Burt's Bees hand creme (which I really like on my terriby dry skin), and of course a big ol' bag of chocolate!

The other inclusion, which I'm also a little proud of, are the hand-made (by me!) stitch markers. It was a bit of a learning process (don't look at the shapes of the loops!), but I think they, on the whole, came out cute, too. (Feel free to "oooh" and "aaahh"---heaven knows, if you don't, I'll have to ;-).

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Pleasant week that wasn't quite

Just sharing a little, since I keep swearing I'm going to post more often and then not quite managing to post more often (sigh). Despite weather in NJ that warmed to lovely springlike temperatures (before a predicted frosty, snowy, sleety weekend) and a professional event that pulled away most of my office colleagues (wearing jeans to work--yay!), this week has been a tense one for me.

I have reasons for my stress, but it occurs to me that life is going reasonably well (knocking wood). So I was wondering to myself why events that aren't really more stressful than usual seem to be putting me quite more out of sorts than usual. And a possible conclusion came to me while I was explaining my seeming ambivalence about spring to a friend. On one hand, I love the extended sunshine, going out with only a light (or no) jacket, and the smell of damp newness that greets spring in the NE United States. But I frequently find myself tensing at the advent of warm breezes and rebirth that spring signals.

Why? I think it's because spring also means the end of winter, and the end of a kind of social hibernation I allow myself in winter. When in winter I think something like, "Do I actually want to apply for a PhD program? Do I have that kind of stamina?" or "Wow, car's getting old---I really should start looking around for a new one." I almost-automatically smother the questions with decision not to decide....till spring. After all, winter appointments with faculty, to investigate the possibility more, might need to be cancelled because of bad weather. And no one wants to truck from car dealer to car dealer in frigid temps, in and out of cold cars, no opportunity to run the air conditioner (without risking frostbite). Besides, in winter I have the holidays and then a series of family birthdays to worry about.

"No, I'll wait till spring to think about it," I tell myself, confident that when spring finally comes I'll feel that much more capable. In spring---when my heat isn't constantly running and I'm worried about how much that bill will be, and I'm fretting about buying a new car in bad weather, and the short days drive me inside where I can surround myself with light (if artificial) and cats for comfort---I'll be ready to bloom with the rest of the world. Spring cleaning will be a welcome task and I'll charge ahead with renewed vigor!

Except....except...this year that renewed vigor seems a bit slow in coming. When I was a kid, I always thought that butterflys must just love breaking out of their cocoons, spreading newly grown wings and achieving flight for the first time. My wings are hardly fledgling, but I guess flinging yourself in the air is always a bit scary. But I'm trying to take a lesson from the season, and take joy (rather than worry) about the wealth of possibilities I seem to be facing now.

That, and I'm going to try to spin more.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Tales from a spin to knit swap

Well, finally got my February (ahem) spin to knit package out to my poor, patient downstream pal! This is another silk-merino blend (50-50) that I made from laps dyed by Leah at Yarn or a Tale. This is spun on a hand-spindle, one of the Bosworth midis, but I managed about a fingering weight throughout most of it. I also sent some samples of different rovings that I've bought in the months since I first started spinning, but I didn't get pics. I haven't checked to see if Brooke (my downstream pal) has gotten it yet, but I'm hoping that she'll like it when it comes in.

And since I'm being so late, I'll finally post the great yarn and goodies that my upstream pal, Holly (from Oceans of Fiber), sent in my February package that she actually got to me in February! (Wow, people who send Feb packages in Feb.....I'm overwhelmed by that level of organization ;-).

And not only on time, but this is really fun yarn. When Holly and I started corresponding, she wasn't sure that my tastes aren't quite a bit more conservative than hers, and that still may be, but I just love the colors in the yarn she sent me. I'm not sure the pictures do it justice, really. It's also quite a bit softer than I think the pictures suggest. Along with the yarn, Holly sent me this lovely batt, called Mermaid, to spin up, too. It's a blend of different fibers in gorgeous bright shades of of blues and greens. Mermaid is very much the right name for it. (this is the spun yarn and the batt together.) I'm now trying to decide what to make with them that will do them justice! I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Well, that's what I get for waiting so long before posts

See, I took so long between posts that I completely forgot that I'd already posted the yarn I sent to Debbie! Pfft. The ol' memory is not what it used to be, I'm afraid. Or I should say that it's not what I remember it being....whether it was ever as good as I give it credit for is anybody's guess!

So, I'll try to post pictures I'm pretty sure that I haven't already posted. Here is a shot of me at my sit-n-knit, working on the red scarf for the red scarf project back in February. I was so late getting that scarf off that I'm starting work now on the scarf for next February. Don't laugh; it's my best shot at actually getting it done and sent off in time!

This yarn is some of my handspun, from a 3-oz batch of Ramboulet roving that friend Pam (who seems to have given up the spinning bug) gave me. Here the spun yarn is in the front with a bit of unspun roving in the back.
The interesting thing about this was that the yarn came out self-striping, with consistent sections of pinkish, pink and blue marled, etc. Because I Andean ply (or perhaps because I'm just not that clever at it yet), usually I have a difficult time getting any consistency to how colors come together in the plying stage when I'm working with variegated dyed roving. I can't seem to control it, probably in no small part because I can't seem to predict it!

But in this case, I was able to split the relatively small amount of roving right in the middle to pre-draft, and I was very careful to follow the same pattern with the colors. Though I have to admit that I had no idea I'd managed any real consistency until I knit it into a small bag, then felted, as a thank-you to Pam for this and a bunch of other roving and spindles she gave me. (Sorry, no pic, though I did think it came out kinda cute, if I say so myself )