Thursday, December 30, 2010

Daisy Dear

In the midst of all that madcap holiday knitting I took on a test knit project. I don't really know what I was thinking, but I'm glad that I did because it was a really fun hat to make.


This hat was designed by my friend Lenka who is one of the most amazing colorwork fiends I've ever met, and she designed this one as a good 'beginner's' project. Which it actually is (heck, I did it) since the design is very intuitive, there are no overly long yarn floats and the motifs move you along very quickly.


The crown of the hat is especially masterful, I think, with a strong architectural theme that is again very easy to memorize. I didn't even choose those colors, they just dropped into my lap, unbidden. And who am I to protest? I used the Brown Sheep Lanaloft Sport, which is a blessedly forgiving yarn which helps give a professional veneer to my amateurish colorwork skills


This hat will be published soon under the Twisted pattern line -- check in with them to try it out for yourself!

Monday, December 20, 2010



The sun came out, after all that moaning, and I lost no time in getting out my camera. To see what there was to see on my walk to work, and to find those instances of my colors that I could. The above photo is of a mysterious window display that has captured my imagination for years now.




We had a birthday party for the boy yesterday, complete with some crafts which I'll blog about soon...right now, I have to finish knitting! Gahhhh!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

stone soup

My life has been shockingly photo- and wool-less lately. I'm knitting but it's yielded nothing since it's the time of year when I'm constantly interrupted or else what I'm working on is hush-hush. Nothing terribly exciting, though, all the same. The weather has been nasty so the light has been poor and I've barely even taken pictures. Lest I be accused of whining, today was lovely and my whole family and a passel of friends loaded up with hot cocoa in thermoses and went to the zoo lights. For some reason I always have a great time. And the boy wore his brand-new birthday fish mittens that Sorren made for him (pictures someday) and we laughed and jumped up and down and flapped our wings to keep warm.

But this is what I'm really here for:


I make soup every week, and lately it's been a version of the same everything-in-a-pot-to-clean-out-the-fridge sort of old world economizing soup. Sometimes I bake a nice crusty bread for dipping, or noodles, or crostini out of the old stale bread my father blessed us with. I love soup. It's hearty, tasty, includes all the necessary food groups and generally only dirties one pot (plus some knives) and then one bowl each. One night as we were eating our soup my dearly beloved said I should blog about it for you, since -- as he said -- it just seems like soup and knitting go together. So here it is, friends, my baseline poor-person's soup of winter heartiness:

** Measurements are generous and approximate. It's really hard to run afoul with your ingredients in soup **

3-4 quarts stock (I often make my own and then supplement with store-bought)
several celery stalks
a few pounds of root vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, celery root, turnips, sweet potato, unsweet get the idea.
2 cups pearl barley
1-2 cups legumes (precooked, or dry if they're quick-cooking like the lentils)
2-3 pounds protein (I like beef in the winter, but I'll also use the baked chicken from the previous night and sausage or hambone for flavor...if the meat is not already cooked, I brown it before adding it to the soup. And before you go judging on the amounts, I feed at least three boys most nights and they always eat up all the meat.)
1-2 large cans whole peeled tomatoes, roughly chopped
spices: cumin, thyme, a whisper of cardamom or cinnamon (I often add these to stocks), rosemary, etc.

Procedure: 1) Put the barley and lentils (if using) in a bowl and cover with cold water to soak while preparing other ingredients (to reduce the amount of your stock they use up -- you can also cook them separately and add them in, but that's another pot dirtied). 2) Saute chopped onion in pot until translucent, add spices and throw in the cubed celery and root vegetables, stir for a bit. 3) Cover with your stock and bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. If using uncooked meat, brown it while the stock is heating, then add to the vegetables. 4) Add the drained barley and lentils, cook until tender (approx. 30 minutes). 5) Add tomato and any precooked ingredients and let simmer gently for a bit to meld.

Devour for three meals a day for several days. Or if you're crazy organized, freeze some and save for a rainy day when you don't feel like cooking. My favorite trick (much to my family's chagrin) is to make the same pot of soup stretch out for a week or so, adding some different ingredients and more stock here and there as they present themselves until the character of your soup changes into something totally different than you started with. I always feel like my Croatian grandmother when I do this, since I hate wasting food and soup is such a great, cheap, nutritious way to feed the voracious hordes (and we have us some of those here in this house), especially if you're baking your own bread to go with it.

So long, friends, and keep warm!

star mitties2

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The {big} little things

The quality of life depends so much on the quality of your friends. My friends, I tell you, take the cake. I am the luckiest girl. Sorren (who we've discussed before with her impressive array of talents) presented me with these yesterday:


We have to rewind a bit first because it wasn't all a surprise. A year ago, another very good friend, Star, gave me this yarn for my birthday, a lovely hand-dyed sport weight that just kept taunting me and not really wanting to be anything except socks. And I don't really do socks (not adult-sized ones anyway) but I may just start because hand knit socks really are a world apart. I was musing over this out loud in Sorren's presence one day and she said, 'I'll make them for you!' After I picked my jaw up off the floor I ran to my cabinet and stuffed the yarn in her hands before she could change her mind. Like I said, I'm just weak that way. Some weeks later, these, the most gorgeous socks ever to grace my feet are allll mine. It's her own pattern, one which she says she'll be writing up.

I love the comfort of the turned cuff


and the texture of the simple stitch pattern really lets the yarn shine

(The white balance and I are having uncharacteristic arguments lately, I don't know if I've changed or if my camera did but I miss our golden relationship of yesteryear! Imagine all this a little less blue and you'll be there.)



I love these, they are perfect, and I am indebted to her generosity for life. To both of them, really. I defy you to think of how I could be any luckier!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Albatross

I said to myself some weeks back that it was high time I spin up a laceweight yarn. For kicks, you know, and the satisfaction of it. Some people do this all the time, and I now believe that they are sadists because it is a bit of a slog, I tell you what. Maybe I'm not doing it right (hail to the self-taught crafters) but this humble little skein probably took about fifteen hours to squeeze out (perhaps I exaggerate just a skosh) and that's not including the many hours I spent ignoring and avoiding its heathen self. So I'm calling it The Albatross, but even for all that, I am very satisfied with it because this skein has some serious squish.

That right there is almost 1000 yards (985 for those with hair splitters), and it has a companion mini-skein of 188 yards because I plied it up until my bobbin literally could not turn any more under the duress of so. much. yarn.

I've had a bit of a spinning frenzy in the resulting void left by this yarn's absence, and I'm pleased to say that many more yarns will be making their debut to the shop this week. I'm not going to make you suffer through an exegesis here, just head on over and see them soon.

But before I go, look! I dyed! (nyar-de-har, I never tire of that threadbare pun.)



Carrie of Big Alice Dyes had Sorren and me over for a very generous dyeing tutorial and holy rusted rocks, batman, this is some crazy fun stuff. While I am clearly in some sort of a Green Period, we have big ambitions to start doing this for serious reals and spinning up and selling our very own roving in all colors of the rainbow...we're trying to come up with a good marriage of our names, Spindleshanks and Puddlefish. My vote is on Spindlefish, any other bright ideas?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

on love

So far I've been approaching this blog as fiber-exclusive and leaving all that other 'life' stuff to my other blog and never the twain shall meet. But seriously, doesn't that kind of segregation get a bit tiresome? So perhaps this blog is about the things that I truly love about this world, which happens to include a lot of fiber. And a lot of grey and red.

This is the house that my grandfather built on the Oregon coast, where we went visiting on Sunday. The one thing that I love (exclusive of my people, bien sur) more than wool? The Oregon coast. I love all beaches, but none quite so much as we have here.


It's not something that I can explain exactly. It's about how relatively empty they are, and how soft the sand is from those big Pacific waves, and our incredible hills and the fog and the clean smell and oh, just Everything.




And lookie, there's me wearing that hat I just made. So there's fiber involved as well.



I could do this all day, but instead if you're as crazed for coastal images as I am, you can see all the waves and sand you want in the flickr set.


Kinda makes you want to curl up and knit now, doesn't it?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


It's up!


Gridlock is a ridiculously fun hat to make, and fast, too! Between all the, erm, ideating and revisions I've probably knit half a dozen of these in the past week without breaking a sweat, and I got some other side knitting done, too. Many thanks to Sorren for test knitting that grey and red one on my brother's head (he took it over as soon as it got home) and to my lovely models, Chris, Anatole and Lorelei. This was the fastest hat shoot ever as I made them hang around on the coldest day we've had yet...


This hat is worked up in a worsted weight yarn for the adults, and a light worsted/dk for the kidlet. We have Malabrigo worsted, Tosh Merino, and Rios up there. The astute among you will have noticed that these colors are awfully similar to The Big Easy and you are correct. I bought one skein each of Tosh Merino in Filigree and Norwegian Spruce and got two Big Easy hats and a Gridlock out of them. I like that kind of economy, myself.


If you are interested in toasting your top with one of these, head on over to Ravelry or just jump right in here with your $5.00 and click on this button:

And thank you, as ever, for your support and compliments! Any questions, you know where to find me. Now go eat yourselves silly and have a great long weekend!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

holding pattern

My friend Sorren just started spinning. Keep that in mind, she just started. She brought this lovely, opalescent yarn in to show off the other day and I snatched it, literally, away from her and declared it mine.


Fish gotta swim, she gotta spin. And knit. I should mention that the girl is also a knitting phenom, she knits at the speed of desert lightning. I have conned her into doing much for me lately so it's unfair of me to also be stealing her yarn, but what can I say, I'm weak.

Fortunately we have more collaborative plans on the horizon, involving these adorable little packets that arrived this week:


Live free or dye! I went to school in New Hampshire for a year, and I tell you what, you would never know that it was populated by such zealous textile artists. But yes, we're going to start dyeing our own fiber! And then, presumably, when we get good enough we will be selling it on the etsy, and we are just so dadgum excited! Any tips, tricks? I'm especially interested in this Greener Shades Dye because it's an acid dye that is free of heavy metals so you get all that vivid color but without the Mad Hatter's diseases.

I'm fairly itching to spin with all this fibery goodness going around, but I got myself deep into this laceweight polwarth dyed by the famous Tina at Blue Moon Fiber Arts, and boy is it kicking my butt.


It's wonderful stuff but, oy, it's a lot of spinning. I've promised myself that this will be the week that I get it off the wheel, after my next hat pattern comes out (shhhh), perhaps during the snow that our region has been promised tomorrow...

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Big Easy

Last October I was hanging out with Alex at a craft fair and I cast on for this hat. I intended it to be a present for my son but it just never really made it off my head...


And then people started asking me about the pattern and I just went, uhhhhh...It's easy! But finally something had to be done, so I made up another one, slightly larger (for all those large-headed people in the world like the ones I live with) in another beautiful yarn.


The red one is Malabrigo worsted in Sealing Wax (heart!) and the second in the equally swoon-worthy Tosh Merino in Filigree. I wear these all the time, people, in fact one of them (I forget which) is on my head right now. It takes approximately zero hours to knit up and it just sits so nicely over the hair and covers those tender ears and slouches in a way that is far cooler than I can ever hope to be.


Many thanks to Lorelei for helping take photos and for modeling with me so winsomely. And that grey coat I'm wearing? Yeah, that's the best-ever coat that I wear every single day, if only to remember Alex. And keep the wind off. Red/orange and grey is all I need to have a happy day, folks.

Oh! So if you are interested in purchasing said pattern (for $3.00!) you can head on over to Ravelry or just click this button right here:

Many many thanks to my brother for the pictures of both of us, but most of all for opening up the doors to his bike shop (!) on his day off so we could make use of that nice natural light on a very grey and drizzly day. Go on over and check out the journey of his new shop, Crank, and if you're local just stop on in their new location on SE 27th and Ash because these guys can take care of you like no one else can.

And stay tuned, there are games afoot.


Monday, November 8, 2010

Show the World!

I teach an amateur photography class at the shop called "Show the World!", intended for this brave new world of mass communication via interwebs and the sudden proliferation of digital media. It seems like everyone and their dog has a digital camera, and they're using them to broadcast themselves and their lives (and, often, livelihoods) to the world. But not everyone has had the chance to learn some of the simple tricks of photography, which can sap a lot of the fun out of such endeavors. And thus, a class was born. This time, I happened to bring in my computer to use for practice editing so I got to hang on to one student's photos. And might I say that I am so honored and impressed.

(I also love the, erm, subtle -- and hopefully accidental -- commentary in this photo. Sometimes framing mistakes are priceless.)

We finished the class with a brief session with a model (yours truly) decked out in knitteds (none of them are mine) in front of the shop to capture that lovely post-storm afternoon light. I habitually have a none-too-gentle loathing of pictures that feature my own self on the other side of the camera, yet this student managed the impossible, A+ all around!

Here it's the subtle echo of the spinal curve by the window display that gets my attention, and the highlight on the beautiful stitch pattern of the lace.


Thank you so much to all my wonderful students, and I think that next time I'll have to make sure to get more examples that I get to take home.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Oh, wool is me


As promised, some new yarns for squeezing. These are all at Twisted, but soon, soon my dearlings, I will have more choices for the buying. And maybe even more kinds of things to buy! Goodness gracious, I could do this all day long.

Jane Austen
"Jane Austen," an aran weight merino 2-Ply

Cauldron Born
"Cauldron Born," everything under the sun is in this yarn. Alex gave me a crazy batt for my birthday (sorry, no before pictures) that was a riot to spin up, then I plied half of it with silk and the other half with alpaca. It's actually super pretty in real life, doesn't translate well to photographs at all.

Acid Test
"Acid Test," a very toothsome, chunky merino. This one and Jane Austen were originally going to be plied together, but then I had a change of heart. But a glimpse of them as singles, all the same:


Trout Tickling
"Trout Tickling," BFL light worsted. Another one that is so much better in real life, with this deep, subtle rainbow quality and that famous BFL luster.

At this rate, I'm going to burn through my fiber stash in pretty short measure, I get pretty obsessive about spinning. Good thing I have a plan...more on that later, I hope! Until then, happy November!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

goodbye Alexandra

Whew, we had birthdays back-to-back and then my best-good yarny friend, Alex, split town forever (?) to move back to Michigan...just in time for winter. Yeah, good luck with that, by the way :)

I spun up a really lovely yarn for her to remember me by, which I was so excited to deliver that I neglected pictures. Again. Perhaps she'll humor us with some in the future, but it was this roving (the blurry one on the bottom, sooo lovely) by local dyer Big Alice.


In return, she gifted me tons and tons of amazing things, including the best ever coat, a brand-new screen printing machine, and a dining room table and chairs...I think I'll keep making yarn for this girl, it pays. But best of all she gave me this beautiful batt she carded up that I've been drooling over for months and months, thanks so much Alex, and I'll miss you for always!


Meanwhile, I have been spinning like there is no tomorrow. I'm ready to take a break soon and knit up some sweaters as it's gotten downright brisk here in the PNW lately, but I have a few more days of hard labor first. And this time, I promise pictures. And selling.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

on sale now...

I love to spin, but once done I am often just as content to send the yarn itself out into the world, with my dearest wishes. Which often means it goes to Twisted, where I sell it. A few of my recent favorites that are there now:

"Wicked", 150yds of worsted/aran that is more silk than wool, and that wool is so soft it might as well be silk. This was a fun one to spin up, especially those bright bits of 100% pure silk. mmmm. A girl could get used to that.

"Beach Glass" (so named by Sorren), 132yds, another 3-ply in a slightly heavier weight out of a beautifully dyed corriedale that blooms and softens into something truly lovely after blocking.

"Pandora's Box", 400 yards of sport/dk weight in a riot of colors. It took a while to get all spun up, but it is a most satisfying skein...

Those are the ones that I reach over to squeeze most often when I'm at work, but I'm also very excited about the things that are on the list for this week (if I have the time...)!