Apr 30, 2007

Mail in

I think it was about April 28: Newbie/changing bad ratings from Sue Fitzpatrick

Apr 27, 2007

Mail in: April 27, 2007

"Surf the net with me" from AJ Dubois. That is all. Woo.

...and for the writerly types

I also finished covering a journal for an UberLate swap, and duh, I forgot to upload the pictures till just now.

I'm a little paranoid that it's too plain, but I was going for natural and kind of meditative, so I didn't want to overburden it with swirly things as I so frequently do. ;)

Another woven tote and a washcloth

Here's that pink tote; interestingly enough, I managed to follow the color guidelines for Project Spectrum 2007 (the colors for April and May are green, yellow, and pink) without intending to.

I also knit a washcloth for the same swap as the purple tote went in:

The pattern is the "ballband dishcloth" from Mason-Dixon Knitting, and I like it so much I'm knitting another to go with the pink tote. The pattern was easy to memorize, looks interesting, changes enough to keep me from getting completely bored, and I can stop whenever I want, if I want to make a nonstandard-shaped washcloth, unlike with the circle dishcloth. And unlike the reverse mitered dishcloth, I don't have to increase constantly and make myself feel like the thing will never end, nor do I have to count constantly or risk messing the thing up. Yay for good washcloth patterns. Plus, I can use up funky scraps of yarn in this pattern for the "woven" bands, and it won't look horrid and random. This pattern is love. :D

Woven eye candy

My first tote bag off the square loom:

I like it. :D I'm thinking of having Brian make me a larger square loom so I can make bigger tote bags without seaming smaller squares, but we'll see.

There's a brightsummery tote bag picture coming along sometime soon, too.

Apr 26, 2007

A Spring of Listings (SpoC 2007)

That's it!

Done with my lack of progress on doing My Own Thing, inspired by the Four Seasons of Jewelry project of old, I now pronounce another addition to the programs in which the Quicksilver Crafter is participating: A Springtime of Creation (SpoC). It sounds kind of melodramatic, but I didn't want to be too specific and limit myself into not succeeding. ;)

The parameters are simple:

From now, April 26, 2007, until the summer solstice, June 21, 2007, I will make (or finish) one saleable item per week and list it on Etsy or in my web site store.

That's it. It can be something small, it can be something large, and while it should preferably be something started specifically for this project, it can also be something I previously started (no use in discouraging myself from finishing UFOs ;)), but I must list one new item a week. No cheating and listing items that I already have made; or rather, I get extra points for doing that, but the requirement is that I finish one thing every week until and including the week of the summer solstice, which is on a Thursday. Conveniently (I didn't plan this, so it really is convenient ;)), today is also a Thursday, so the "week" begins today, and I'm not required to make something by this weekend. That also makes Thursday the deadline date for each week.

That's only eight weeks, and eight items. Doesn't sound like much, does it? But it's more than nothing, and that's the idea. :D

If I do well this season, I'll do a Summer of Creativity after. (Maybe I'll call it SmoC, since that's kinda funny. ;))

And since I've given myself an idea with the mention of points above, maybe I will use a points system and reward myself based on how much I do. After all, "failing" one week doesn't mean I get to slack the next week. I should have incentive to continue creating even if I fall behind. Here's the bonus incentives program for SpoC 2007:

I get two points for every week I succeed in listing a new (or newly finished) item. Since I'm a slacker and I know it ;), I'll count it if I make an item in time but post it late, or make an item almost on time and post it late. It's still for the week I mostly made it during -- as long as I tried, I get points.

I also get two points for every newly finished item I list beyond the requirement. (I can't get this two points without fulfilling the initial requirement, so it's okay that extra items get the same point value as the items of the original goal. Meaning, I can't "cheat" with these points by slacking and still getting the same point value as I would if I didn't slack. I can "cheat" and get all my productivity done in a shorter period of time than allotted for the whole project, but since this is about productivity and not about pacing myself, that's okay, too. ;))

I get half a point for each previously finished item I list during SpoC 2007. (That way, I'd have to list four previously finished items to equal the effort, and earned points, of one newly finished item, which seems fair enough.)

And I get one point if someone buys an item I listed for SpoC 2007, because part of the goal for SpoC is to get stuff listed so people can buy things. If you're out there watching, see? You can help me get SpoC points. ;)

At the end of SpoC 2007, based on my points total, I'll give myself something nice, or do something nice for myself. The rewards point categories will be...

>0 - 7 points: Anything more than zero points gets a small reward, because I did something, and something is better than nothing.
8 - 15 points: The halfway mark reward. I got halfway to my goal, and that's still cool.
16 - 19 points: I win! This is like winning NaNoWriMo; I got where I intended to get, and that's going to get a significant reward!
20 or more points: I made a special effort and got notably more done than I set out to do, so I get something extra-special to inspire me for the future.

I'm making up a chart right now of potential rewards. I'm not sure yet whether I'll set one specific reward per category, or give myself a range of options depending on what I feel like choosing at the end of the project. Practically speaking, the second is always an option, since it's my project, and all, but. ;)

Speaking of doing things at the end of other things, and of achieving goals, I think I'm going to narrowly miss my Personal Challenge deadline to fulfill all my UberLate Swap obligations. Eep. The "or else" for the challenge is that I'll finish three UFOs in the next month. I'd better pick my UFOs now ... ;P

Mood paintings

There's a page where you can create a digital "painting" based on your current mood and personality. Here's mine:

Can you guess my current mood? ;) (Apparently this is influenced by my being sad at the moment. Hmm.)

Apr 24, 2007

Good mail week(ish)

It's been a good weekish period (since technically the influx started last week and continues early this week ;)) for mail. Last Friday I got my latest batch of destash fluffies, the box of silk/Merino laps and a box of dyed uncarded wools; then yesterday I got four things (this list to be edited once I have them in my hands again to note accurately ;)):

*Spring Cotton Yarn Swap plus fluuufffiiiessss! ;)
*Newbie Pick Two swap with tons of hand-made stuff, way over swap requirement
*Two "Ten Things I Want to Do Before I Die" letters

And today I picked up the Breed Swap package -- finally! :D -- and a small package of yummy LiberTeas tea from my parents' house: refills on Namaste Chai and Creamy Irish Breakfast (part of the last batch of that for the year, which is why I had to put in the order), and some Chocolate Rose Romance to help celebrate my anniversary with Brian next month. Whew.

Now, to balance out my good mail-in, I must send some good mail out. ;) Off to prep packages and finish creative thingies.

It's sure taking longer to catch up with everything than it would if I weren't with anyone to distract me and mess with my schedule ... but that's all right, as long as I do catch up. :D

Apr 20, 2007

The Corriedale wins

...today's drawing for "Which fleece shall I wash next?" This is a) because it's already sorted into smaller bags, so I don't have to break it up for washing, and b) it smells all sheepy and could use a nice cleaning.

I have it bagged up in interesting categories, too: Short, Medium, Nice, Long and Dirty, Long and Clean, and Try and See. ;) I'm going to weigh the bags before I decide which to do today, so they're dry and ready next week.

...Starting with (according to the seller) 4.5 lbs of fleece, which apparently skirted down to about 4 lbs. when I did it a while ago. Bags weigh as follows (in the plastic bag, with a small piece of paper in), in approximate order of niceness ;):

Nice: 3.6 oz
Long and Clean: 10.8 oz
Medium: 1 lb. 5.2 oz
Short: 10.1 oz
Long and Dirty: 14.5 oz
Try and See: 4.3 oz

I'll do "Long and Clean" and "Short" first. Here goes!

Hmm, this batch only needed one initial rinse soak, one soap soak, and two rinses, and the water was pretty much completely clear when I was done, unlike the still somewhat clouded final rinse water from the Romney/Dorset/Rambouillets. Nice! I can use the final rinse water for the next batch's first rinse water. I think I'll do ... "Nice" and "Medium" next. Whee!

All right, and now I've officially run out of room on the drying racks, so "Try and See" and "Long and Dirty" will have to wait till Monday. That's almost three pounds washed today. Whew.

Apr 19, 2007

Fiber information

The Charkha Fiber Book appears to have a lot of neat info on different types of cotton and their spinning qualities. Yay. :D

The Spring Genie tally

In the box, I found...

*6 personalized notecards, each different
*Kool-Aid packets for dyeing with
*jumbo clippie stitch markers
*a beachy tea-pot-shaped tea bag holder
*2 Sevi Kay natural lip balms
*fine-point Sharpies in pastel(? anyway, not standard ;)) colors
*pink socks with a Martini glass and a wine glass embroidered on
*green flower-embroidered springy hand towel
*pastel pink scoop hat (the kind useful for wearing while gardening ;D)
*a salsa mix variety pack: fruit salsa, super-hot salsa, and gourmet salsa
*Adult Pop "Gotta Get It Hits" CD
*clip with a sandal and my name (the kind you hang from your backpack or use as a keychain)
*flowery magnetic shopping list, magnets, and spiral-bound address book
*Luminessence rose-scented tulip pillar candle
*Hershey's Cacao Reserve dark chocolate truffles
*Aleeda Smoothie body wash and body cream set in Pineapple Mango
*New Delhi Tea & Coffee Co. raspberry white tea
*SBS Teas Decaf Cinilla Moon tea

Whew! Thank you, Secret Genie. :D

Holy mother of swaps!

I must have been a good little crafter at some point, because I'm getting some incredible swap packages suddenly. It's like I saved up all the goodness by not whinging too much about not getting my goodies from Swap-bot flakes, or something. ;) Check out what I saw when I opened the giganto box that was sitting on my step from my SBS Teas Secret Genie:

Whew. Now I have to convince myself to open it all. ;) It's like swappy Christmas in spring...

Weaving three-stranded

It's a little more strenuous than weaving single-stranded, at least on the square loom, but still nowhere near tedious. It looks quite nice, too. :D

I'm using three strands of worsted-weight cotton. The front is cream, pink, and orange, and the back will be pink, variegated pink and white, and orange, because I don't have enough cream to finish another square. The effect is much the same, anyway. :D

The squares won't be big enough on their own to meet the tote bag size requirement for this swap, so I think I'm going to end up doing some picking up and knitting, and I may use this opportunity to try the "belt weaver" thingie I picked up from Jo-Ann on a whim, to see if it will make a decent strap, too. This swap probably won't go out this week, but hey, at least it will contain an awesome bag. ;D

(Unrelated, but just in case my swap partner is watching, I haven't forgotten my Spin to Knit Orphan Handspun downstream partner, either! That package will probably go out next week, too. ;D)


...Okay, it didn't turn my giant stash or pile of projects into something sillier (though one could argue the giganto-ness of both is pretty silly to begin with; maybe that's why it didn't work ;)), but it was worth a shot. Many times many updates today.

First, weaving: I tried out the 12-inch square loom last night. It's super-easy and fast, and now after looking at all the idiotically pretty pictures in the TriLoom gallery, I want a triangle loom. I really really want a triangle loom. I want to make crazy woven pretties with the pre-warp and cut length stuffs.

That's the first square I made, still on the loom. I made three last night, in Wool-Ease (worsted weight, which I never noticed was so uneven in weight till I saw it in the open weave), and so far one today. Still no real idea what I'm going to do with them. A wrap? A pillow? They're pretty lacy, and I'm not entirely sure whether washing them will take care of that, or what will. More research to be done.

I think I'll try to make a tote bag on the square loom today, since I'm supposed to make a bag for the mildly late Earth Mother's Day swap.

You can also see in the above picture that the table is still swamped by my piles of wool to be processed, but I did make it through the short-staple hand-carded bits last night, and it worked much better than before. Whew. Plus it got out a huge amount of VM, which is a wonderful fringe benefit. I only have one little bag of that left to card ... and I should be done with it just in time for the next two destash boxes to arrive. Eep. ;) I'm upgrading with these next two boxes, and I got them for less than the first box, entertainingly enough: one box is silk/Merino laps, and the other is pre-dyed fiber that needs carding. I also need another processed batts box, as I seem to have reached capacity on the other one without squishings going on.

In more wool (or at least fiber) processing news, I love the Spindlers list. I asked how to dehair llama by hand, and behold! An answer is given. So probably as soon as I know whether to wash it before I try to dehair it, I'll embark on that project, so I can card (or comb) the nice llama.

Finally, there was a contest being held at UFO Knit Club, and apparently ... I won. As you can see from my comment there, this baffles me somewhat. ;) I can't decide now whether to ask for spinning fiber or knitting stuff, since I do both. I'm marginally leaning toward spinning fiber, but it does kind of depend on what spinning stuff it is vs. what knitting stuff it is...

Apr 18, 2007

Yellow postcards, a belated pin cushion, and a fleece update

Sent three yellow postcards the other day for a swap. This scan is of two of them, because the third was basically a repeat:

As always, there are metallic bits that don't scan as metallic: in this case, the hand-drawn swirls. I really like how these turned out and I ought to make a bunch more stuff in this style. ;D

I also finally finished my Fabric Scrap Craft. OMG. I was originally making a coiled rag basket, but, er, it was in a plastic bag on the floor at Brian's and one of the lovely kitties, in a fit of pique, sprayed the outer bag. Although the rag basket in progress was hidden inside some scraps in the bag, rather than risk sending something that stinks of kitty bitchiness, I made an entirely new object and will leave the potentially stinky rag basket in the potentially stinky house. (Brian does clean a lot, but you start to get paranoid that you're desensitized ... ;))

Anyway, here's the pin cushion I made to replace the rag basket:

The scraps are left over from Virginia's first recital dress. I waffled between whether the light side of the fabric or the dark side of the fabric would be better as the official top of the pin cushion, and went with the dark side for some reason, but I think it looks good either way, so the recipient can really take her pick. ;)

The lace on that is hand-knit, too. :D I even blocked it (and now that I think of it, I either meant to take a photo or did take a photo and am now not sure where it is. Erk). It says in my swap recipient's profile that she likes Jane Austen novels, so I was inspired to make something that reminds me a bit of that time period. I hope she likes it. :D

In the Great Fleece Adventure, the black wool I washed earlier this week seems dry now, so I'll probably take that to visit the roving carder tonight. More wool washing seems in order for today, and while I originally intended on doing the llama next, I'm trying to figure out if I can dehair it, and I don't want to mess with it until I know whether I can and what I need to do for it. Chances are it'll need washing before I dehair it, but you never know, and it's not like I don't have other stuff to wash. ;)

Also, I did try hand-carding the short-stapled mystery destash wool, and it did work a lot better on the hand cards. I haven't tried putting it through the drum carder again yet because I still have some of the Lovely Long-Stapled Fluffies on there and I don't want to have to clean the drum carder twice in as many days just to spastically interrupt my current batch with a trial. ;)

Apr 17, 2007

Chloe lives!

Processed about half of Chloe's wool tonight. Mmm, it makes delicious batts. I'm not going to want to share any of this with anyone ... ;)

Apr 16, 2007

Mail report: April 16, 2007

Received today, two envelopes from Australia:
*Old Box ATCs #3 from Vegee (nice!)
*"If I had a million dollars" from nellbe

Sent today:
*Yellow postcards

Fleecy goodness

The pound of fleece I washed last week, from Chloe of Desired Haven Farm, is now dry. Woo! So I'm going to take that back to Brian's with me, where my roving carder currently resides, and start carding it tonight or tomorrow. (For interesting reference, if I didn't do something funky while I was weighing it ;), the wool now weighs about 8.5 ounces, about half its previous weight, although I didn't weigh it before to make sure it really was a pound.) I'm also washing another pound of fleece today, this one from Desired Haven Farm's Maggie, a black Romney/Dorset/Rambouillet (according to -- I think -- the owner of the farm). If I have enough time and room, I might also wash all or some of that tan llama from the Davises.

Today's washings will be the first I've done with Dawn dish soap, rather than with either Eucalan or the natural/organic dish soap we have actually for dishes. The procedure from last week, to be followed generally today, was: shake out the fleece to get rid of ambient dirt and particles, put the fleece in a mesh laundry bag, two five-minute (or so) hot water soakings to remove whatever comes off that way (the first soaking was chocolate-milk-colored last week, but a super-clean fleece would obviously not need two pre-rinses), hot water + soap till the water feels "slimy" for about five minutes, then as many five-minute rinse/soakings as it takes for the water to stay clear, which last week was two, or maybe three. I'm squishing the wool a little at the beginning of each soaking session, even though that puts it at risk of felting, because I'm reckless like that and it makes me feel like I'm getting out more dirt. ;) Then I sling the mesh bag plus fleece around in the shower (since it seems prudent not to go outside and fling wool water all over the porch, at the potential hazard of passersby) to replicate the spin cycle effect and get as much water out as possible. Then I spread the wool out on a window screen in the front room and let it dry. Ta-da!

In processing news, some of the mystery destash wool has a rather short staple and is being difficult to drum-card -- it won't stick to the feeder drum so I can let the carder "tease" it for me -- so I think I'm going to have a go at it with the hand carders first. Even if I make a big tangle of it, at least a big tangle will probably stick to the feeder drum. ;)

And for today's pretties, I actually took a photo of the loom that Brian made me over the weekend:

He bought stretcher bars from Jo-Ann and put them together into a square, sanded it, marked and drilled the holes (1/2 inch apart), sanded it again, stained it cherry, then put in the nails and snipped off the sharp bits. I neglected to tell him beforehand that the nail heads should be on the ends of each pointy bit and not stuck into the wood, since they help keep the yarn loops from popping off the nails, but that's all right; he'll know for next time. ;) Some of the nails are a little crooked, and the heights aren't competely even, and the ends of the nails are still a little pointy because the wire cutters aren't the kind that cut flat, but all in all, it's a pretty little loom and it cost under $10 to make ... and he said the next one will be better. The square is 12", so the woven square that comes off it will be a little smaller, which didn't occur to me until we were in the process of making this one; doh. But that's all right, no one's going to be demanding precisely 12" squares from me.

So: Happy belated birthday to me. ;) Now I get to go try to figure out how to use this thing. The tiny Weavette came with weaving needles and instructions, but, er, I'm not sure whether I ought to use a needle with this, or what. Must go read the Files section on TriLoom...

Apr 15, 2007

New loom incoming! ;D

Or at least Brian is finally making me my 12-inch square loom. He started on it yesterday before he went to Quinn's bachelor party, and stained it today. On the way to pick up nails for it, he went, "I don't know why I didn't just knock this out before. That was like, nothing." And I said his punishment may be to make me a bunch more, like maybe a three-foot tri-loom, or something. (I still wish I could find something that would easily turn into a four-inch square loom, too.)

Brian also has some ideas for cool incense burners which, if I can convince him to actually follow through, I'll probably sell for him online. :D

Anyway, I'll have a new loom soon! Huzzah!

Handspun and Spring Bunny packages, illustrated!

Finally, a photo of my super-awesome Spin to Knit orphan package from Ina:

There are some Peeps, some saltwater taffy that Brian tried to steal right out of the package, a postcard (awesome, since I collect postcards), and two skeins of lovely handspun. The green one is laceweight, beaded and hand-dyed (and the beads are strung on the handspun itself, not on a plying thread); the royal blue one is sport weight, which I don't have nearly enough of. Huzzah! There's also a super-cool knit, beaded bracelet that's cool enough (I did say super-cool ;)) to have been featured in the pattern designer's blog, which makes me feel unreasonably privileged. This package deserves ubergushing, which I did in email, so insert tons more gushage and appreciation here.

This is the other awesome package I received recently, from Nancy for the Eccentric Pastiche Secret Spring Bunny swap:

There are tons of the goodies that I asked for, and I know that to stay under the spending limit, Nancy must have used some of her unending supply of Jo-Ann coupons. There's a Sand and Sea Teeny Tiny Cassette Punch, a flexible ruler I suddenly can't remember what it's really called, but which will be awesome for drafting patterns, two BIG nature-themed rubber stamps from the price category I never even consider looking at because it's way out of my range, a ColorBox Petal Point pigment ink pad (I believe I asked for pigment inks in any color, because I have only black ... so rather than pick, she got me ALL the colors! ;)), a tiny shoe pendant/charm in a super-cute hand-sewn tiny baggie that I think is made of ribbon, some non-gourmet jelly beans (I love the non-gourmet kind, is why I mention that ;)), a little hand-made notebook, a pendanty thing that looks hand-made, too, although I have no idea what it's made of, and some Kool-Aid packets for dyeing, two of which I pulled out to immediately dye some Columbia roving. Plus, the wrapping materials were so pretty I took a picture of everything before I unwrapped it, and the tissue paper and ribbons will so get reused later. ;)

Big kudos to both Ina and Nancy for sending awesome packages. I love my swappy pals. :D

And just for fun, here's a photo of Plankton, the hand-dyed Merino I bought from Neauveau and which is still being played with in terms of processing methods, because I want to do it justice:

Rainbow of fluffies

...but without pictures, yet. Just record-keeping, at the moment. ;)

Did two dyepot/batches yesterday. For the first one...

Used 1 jar peach Cookie Baker's cookie stamping colors, and put in one batt of non-soft mystery destash wool, then added vinegar and dye; wool turned bright pink first, then when there was only orange/yellow left in the dye bath, put in a second batt of non-soft mystery destash wool, added some vinegar, left till dye nearly exhausted (leftover water vaguely yellow-tinted). Results: one bright coral pink/orange cloud, one melon orange cloud.

For the second one...

Used a couple of squirts of violet Wilton brush-on color added just after vinegar when the water was steaming, and put in one batt of soft mystery destash wool, which again turned bright pink first. ;) Put in another batt of soft mystery destash wool when it looked like there was just blue/purple left, and it absorbed a little bit of the pink in places, then sat there not really absorbing any of the blue, so I put in one packet of Kool-Aid Ice Blue Lemonade and left it till I felt like the white had all been filled in with a not-too-pale shade of blue. Results: one batt variegated bright pinky purple with bluish bits, one batt variegated light blue with lavender bits. I really liked this dyepot batch, and would like to try to reproduce something similar in a larger amount. ;D

Today, I did a big batt of non-soft mystery destash wool with one packet of Lemon-Lime Kool-Aid.

All the above batts were sort of pre-soaked, meaning I put them in hot water right before I put them into the dye bath, which seems like more of a superstitious ritual than anything else, but, well, there it is. ;)

And the latest batch is a jar of Cookie Baker's cookie stamping colors in forest green, on two of the smaller batts of non-soft mystery destash wool, pre-soaked for as long as it took the dye bath to heat up. Vinegar added before heating, dye added right before batts. I added a third NSMD batt after the first two looked sufficiently forest green and the dye bath looked dark blue, just to see if it would take any of the remaining dye. And then after I took a shower and the water was medium blue, I added one of the soft mystery batts. Wheee. ;) Results: two forest green clouds, 1 dark teal cloud, 1 teal cloud. I liked the results with this dye, too. :D

Apr 13, 2007


I started on my box of Mystery Destash Fluffies last night and discovered that there are, in fact, different types of wool in the box, although they're all pretty much the same color. Eep. ;) I'm trying as much as I can to separate out the different types, but since I don't know what any of it actually is, I'm probably going to end up labeling them all "mystery wool" regardless of whether I succeed in efficiently separating them.

Anyway, I had fun carding up a storm while Brian looked for a job online; I made about seven batts of some unknown weight, since my scale isn't at Brian's. The first wool I picked was terribly easy to card, but not very soft. I should probably try to make a socky blend out of it. This weekend will probably involve some dyeing of carded fibers for future blending, and I ought to finally take some photos of the awesome Spin to Knit orphan handspun goodies I got, and the Spring Bunny swap goodies, too.

Maybe I'll be able to convince myself to wash some fleece today. :D

[Added 11:58 a.m.:] I am going to see how much of a start I can make on the list of semi-abandoned fleeces. I wonder how much I can wash before I have to leave to pick Brian up ... and whether I'll have enough room to lay it all out! (Ready ... go!)

Apr 12, 2007

Mail report: April 12, 2007

Received today:
*Yellow postcard from NMJulie
*World Music swap from OrcaSong
*Item Scavenger Hunt from rosehueglasses (haven't even looked at it yet but it looks promising! ;))

Sent today:
*Personalized Value Matchbox Shrine

Blending experiment #2

Performed Fiber Blending Experiment #2 today: .1 oz the twice-carded gray spinning batt + .1 oz Berry Blue Kool-Aid Columbia roving + 2 hand carders = .2 oz cute foggy blue blend. The blue is much less loud and the gray much less severe in the blend, which is part of what I was going for. Although I was imagining a more streaky roving result (I like that not-fully-blended look), I definitely can't call this a disappointment. I think I'll card up the rest on the drum carder after I finish with Plankton, that 4.something oz of green hand-dyed Merino I bought from Ashley of Neauveau a while ago. I was planning on doing the box of Mystery Wool next, which I acquired in someone's destash, but that can wait while I make pretties, and it'll give me more time to consider dyeing it first.

For comparitive purposes, though, the blue mohair that gave me a little hand-carding trouble in Fiber Blending Experiment #1 was probably about as annoying to draft in places as the gray spinning bell was originally, though it may actually have been easier -- point being that after being carded twice, the former spinning bell was super-easy and quick to hand card with the (somewhat felted ... ::whistles innocently::) Columbia roving. Of course, I'll have to try spinning some of it before I can really pronounce this experiment a success, but regardless, it's been a pleasant ride so far. Oh, and for personal reference, it might actually be easier to card the Mystery Wool (and pull it into roving?) before dyeing, since I'll disarrange the fibers less if I dye them while they're already arranged, and then I won't end up with as many funny little lumps in my batt. Maybe?

Now, to get to finishing a project for someone who doesn't like lateness. (Too bad! I may consider running for Lateness Queen ... if I ever get around to it. ;)) Must not be bothered by other people's botherance, must be creative and enjoy the process regardless ... must enjoy ... must enjoy...

(Photos of Fiber Blend #2 forthcoming. Someday.)

Apr 11, 2007

Mail in: April 11, 2007

Received today:
*Personalized value matchbox shrine from Barbara Brandt - lovely! :D
*Destash fibers from Rose Garden Fibers

Sent today:
*Charity fat book pages
*Charity ATCs
*Charity altered puzzle piece
*I (heart) lists #2
*"Different" scarf
*Spring Grab Bag Cotton Yarn Swap
*Secret Spring Bunny package

More art: Orient puzzle piece and Zetti ATC, plus a spinny challenge

This month's spinny challenge on Spindlitis is spinning non-wool fibers. Hmm. I do have a bunch of non-wool fibers sitting around waiting for me to do something with them ... but I can't yet, since I'm on that UFO diet. ;)

Anyway, here's some more art I sent out today. One is that puzzle piece for a travel-themed puzzle to raise money for Robin, and the other is an attempt at Zetti-esque art for part of my Secret Spring Bunny swap.

I'm not entirely sure what "Zetti" actually means, but I based my attempt on what I got when I searched for "Zetti" on Flickr and Google, and tried to keep it something I actually liked at the same time. ;)

Another swap I'd love to do...

...except I'm not allowed to sign up for any more right now ;), is the Fiber Swap. Fibery goodness! Must ... not ... sign up ... yet...

New art: charity fat book pages and old box ATCs

Here's the latest batch of old box ATCs for the swap on Swap-bot:

Since being disappointed with the whinging and negativity over there, I've signed up for virtually no swaps, and I'm not currently participating in the latest Old Box ATC swap, but I still have a bunch of boxes saved up to maybe do old box ATCs with, for myself. :D

Also, I finally got around to doing those fat book pages for Robin's charity fundraising. There are two fat books being put together, one on a nature theme, and the other on a tea theme. Pardon the crappyweird color stuff on the nature themed one; the original was actually worse, if you can believe it, and I didn't really finish tinkering with the color, but I got impatient and wanted to upload it. Yay, impatience. ;)

I'm going to send some ATCs along for an ATC binder that will also be auctioned off for Robin. These are the ones that are going, one called "Butterfly Wing Spring" that I did last year, and the middle one in the bottom set, which was made for a hand-carved stamp ATC swap:

Oh, and I dyed some roving over the weekend with Kool-Aid packets that my lovely Spring Bunny partner sent me. I think they were Berry Blue flavor, or something like that. ;)

I was thinking of trying to blend it with the gray formerly-spinning-bell batt that came off my carder once I gave up on the Columbia for a bit. I'm not sure how well the ridiculously bright blue will do with the dark gray, but I'll do a test batch on my hand carders first, I think. Mmm, blending excitement.

Apr 9, 2007

Mail in: April 09, 2007

Received today:
*Crafty business cards from Deadbeat Leather
*Different Scarf swap from Sandramatos - nice lace crochet with a flower :D

Apr 7, 2007

Mail in: April 07, 2007

Received today:
*Old Box ATCs #3 from Penny Boss [extra nice ones!]
*Yellow postcard from Victoria Dalton [liked my profile, studies tarot and numerology, works in homeopathic pharmacy]

Apr 6, 2007

Mail IN! April 06, 2007

MAIL IN! WOO! ;) Guess what got here today? ;D

Received today:
*Yellow postcard from Billie Jo
*...and, obviously, the ROVING CARDER! That's it sitting on the cluttered table of projectage. It was slightly less crowded for about half an hour yesterday before Brian cleaned out the closet in his spastic quest to fit both our wardrobes in there.

For some reason, I didn't foresee the roving carder arriving at the last second on Friday before I went over to Brian's for the weekend, so I wasn't really sure what to do with it. I went with throwing the unopened box in the car with a random bag of long-ago-washed Columbia that's been waiting patiently for processing.

I also bought a shoebox-sized amount of random destash fiber from someone today. Oops. ;) Well, everyone slips ... and hey, I'm not on a fiber diet yet. ;D

Tonight ... I shall play with the carder. Wahahahaha.

Mail in report: April 04 & 05, 2007

Arrived April 04:

*Spin to Knit Orphans Handspun swap from Ina
*Mystery Skein Swap from Elabeth

Arrived yesterday:

*Crafty Business Card Swap from YooperHill
*Crafty Business Card Swap from themissiah
*Old Box ATCs #3 from Diane Yates

Apr 5, 2007

Motivating me/Breaking out of the creative obligation cycle

Some mornings I really don't want to start creating. It can be pretty grumpy-making to know that I'm behind on a couple of things that might not get appreciated no matter what I do, just because I'm a few days late (thank you, Swap-bot); and it's also grumpy-making to wake up to the knowledge that I have a bunch of obligations to fulfill before I can start doing something I really ought to be doing, that I only just decided/found out I should be doing.

Not that I'm just whinging. ;) There are solutions to this sort of thing: First, I should do less frivolous swapping as a habit, and next, I should clear my space of current obligations so I can do what I Need to do sooner.

The problem then becomes obviously circular, 'cause it's more difficult to create when I'm grumpy, and I can't move on if I can't create well and be satisfied with the results. Creating stuff for people isn't like being in school, or at a job you hate, where you can -- or at least I can -- just do what you have to do without your heart being in it, and still do quite well by the standards they're using. My heart has to be in what I create, or it's that much more difficult to actually finish and send my things out into the world.

So I propose an Obligation Diet, a.k.a. a UFO Diet! It's like that yarn diet that's so popular with bloggers, including me, except that this one is about myself and my achievements -- it's about destashing my obligations and my unfinished projects and my creative albatrosses, to steal someone else's word for it. ;) The parameters of the Obligation Diet, I hereby set forth thusly:

For a period of however long it takes:

1. I will work only on old projects and obligations, a.k.a. UFOs, or Unfinished Objects (or Objectives ;));
2. The exception to #1 being if I need to create something on a deadline based on a previous promise, whether that be to myself or to someone else (e.g., if a friend's birthday is coming up, I have a previous unspoken promise to give said person a gift, and I may choose to create one rather than purchase one, since I am Poor ;)).
3. I will work on at least one UFO per day, for one hour per day.
4. When I don't feel like creating for someone else, I will work on a project, or do a non-UFO-related cheerful thing, for me, because slogging through a creative project without my heart in it will do no one good. (See the List of Ideas for Cheering Myself.) This does not count toward the required daily hour of UFO progress.
5. Also, regardless of whether I feel grumpy, I will do at least one thing for myself every day, if possible. ("If possible," because some days it's difficult to do something easy for myself that actually makes me happy, and it's better not to do something just to pretend it makes me happy. ;))
6. Projects which interest me but don't fall into the allowed New Projects category will be added to the list of things I'd like to do, and will be dealt with once the Obligation Diet has fulfilled its purpose, that is...

...until I have no more than, say, two or three running creative obligations, or however many I am capable of sustaining without feeling stressed and without being unable to comfortably and easily add more obligations in should they come up unexpectedly.

I used to say I was happiest when doing the impossible, which is true, except that right now I'm not doing the impossible, I'm maundering through the unlikely and not intrinsically flattering. ;)

I shall now print out the guidelines for the UFO diet, and keep them in my pocket at all times, so I can't forget. Good luck to me. ;D (UFO Diet ... GO!)

Related lists to make: the UFO list, the Cheerful Things to Do For Me list

Apr 3, 2007

The quest for the spinning wheel continues

If sporadically. ;) Thanks to Rhonna, I've been reminded that I originally wanted a Majacraft wheel (my second "I want this" moment occurred when I became acquainted with a Schacht Matchless at the llama farm in Wisconsin). And apparently, Woolly Designs is a really nice place to buy a Majacraft.

...for future reference. ;D

The fair trade question

There's an interesting article with commentary here at BBC News, on whether fair trade is really "fair," i.e., whether it's doing any good, whether it will ultimately damage things more than it helps, etc. Since I like to buy fair trade on principle whenever possible (like with jewelry components, and I generally prefer hand-made items over mass-produced ones), and to do other things consistent with similar principles, like buying fibers from people who treat their animals like family ;D, it seems mildly related to my crafting habit...

The bottom line of the "oppose fair trade" argument seems to be based on assuming bad things will necessarily come of fair trade, when those things can't really be predicted and doesn't seem all that reasonable. It's the same sort of argument that some people use for why you shouldn't feed wildlife: it'll get dependent on you, and what will happen when people stop feeding it? Well, its instincts -- which it still uses, by the by, to feed itself when in fact it isn't snacking on your front porch -- will kick back in and it'll survive on its own. If it doesn't, it probably wouldn't have anyway. That happens; some things survive and others don't. And still, feeding animals isn't inherently the same thing as domesticating them, and feeding feral/stray domestics that act like they needneedneed you isn't the same thing as feeding actual wildlife, which still looks at you funny if you get too close. [There are, of course, more valid arguments for why you shouldn't feed wildlife, but this is a silly one. ;)]

Likewise, giving poor farmers a bit more money than they'd get otherwise doesn't mean that you're ruining them for the future and they suddenly won't have any market survival instincts -- on the off chance that what? Fair trade suddenly disappears? Since fair trade is specifically designed to give people a safety net if the market drops suddenly, it can't be "if the market drops." It is possible, however remotely, that the fair trade market could disappear entirely, but if it does that, I think the rest of the Western-dependent market (which is, by the way, a large portion of the entire world ;)) will be going through some interesting upheaval and everyone will have things to worry about. And it still won't be fair trade's fault that things are bad for poor farmers. And if someone doesn't survive on their own after a change in the market, it isn't intrinsically the fault of one stabilizing element from before the change. Neither casually feeding wildlife nor fair trade will suddenly cause the ecosystem/market to drastically change toward famine, and no matter what fearful or negative people like to say or believe, neither one is so dramatic of a change in lifestyle that it robs the assisted beings of their ability to subsist and adapt on their own if the ecosystem/market does change. If some individuals do become dependent, well, a lot of Western people do that unnecessarily ("I need my coffee in the morning!" "I need a girlfriend!"), and it still isn't the fault of the thing they become dependent on. Fair trade is not a true addictive substance, although it is a rather pleasant experience. ;)

Anyway, /rant off. I just thought I'd post that link here for my own personal reference, since this blog is, ultimately, for my personal reference. ;)

Oh, and World Fair Trade Day is May 12.

Apr 2, 2007

Another knit wig...

...Star Wars style. ;D Ha!

Fun with swatches, and discoveries at the Faire ;D

Sahara: Having trouble with the gauge; for Brian's Duel hoodie, I had 20 stitches per 4 inches in worsted weight poly/cotton yarn with size 5 needles, but for some reason, with Sugar 'n' Cream type cotton yarn, I'm still at like 19 stitches per 4 inches with size 4 needles. I may try another size down once I stop being annoyed with that, but then, I may abandon this yarn and try another, since I'm not really attached to anything about it except maybe the color.

Socks For Soldiers Socks: I finally started a gauge swatch for a pair of Big Black Socks, but I got about six rows in before getting bored. Knitting an item is one thing, and swatching is another. Laaaaa. I shall persevere this week.

In other news, I totally had a money-out day at the Bay Area Renaissance Festival yesterday. For one thing, I found a booth with really nice fountain pens and, er, whatever the kind of pen is called that just has a nib you dip into ink. (You know, like the ones at the Rainforest Site. I swear I knew what they're called at some point, but I'm having trouble remembering nouns lately.) Since Brian mauled my last fairly inexpensive metal-nibbed pen in this style by sticking himself in the hand with it and bending the nib out of shape ;), I've needed a new one for a few months. I usually use these for inscribing art type stuff -- 'zines, maps, chunky book pages, etc. I actually bought a faux feather pen that's sort of the same style, but I can't for the life of me figure out how to get the nibs to stick in the feather. So I saw these glass pens at Faire, like the ones I've been staring at online forever, and I pick one up that has a neat triangular cross-section, and it feels ridiculously comfortable in my hand. I'm like, I could totally write with this like forever. And the guy in the booth says in a lovely, conversational French accent, "You know, how you dip the pen in the inkwell? Those pens will write several lines on one dip." And I think we were both the same amount of happy with that idea. I tried it out, and I liked it ridiculously (I never did get it to run out while I was testing it, actually), and he very kindly looked in the back for a turquoise-colored one for me, but since there were no turquoise ones to be found with a triangular cross-section, I went with the light blue one I picked up first.

Rather demure for me, but I got peacock-colored ink to make up for it; and the nice man was terribly pleased with me for that, too, since most people apparently get standard colors like black and dark blue, which you can find anywhere. ;) But really -- if you don't want a standard pen, why write in standard colors? ;D And the shop owner apparently makes his own ink, too, and I think he may turn the wooden-handled pens himself. He's based in New Orleans, and if I ever go, I Must Make Time to visit his shop. He's terribly sweet, and he said he had fun talking to me, and I got a pretty pen and ink out of it. Parfait. ;D

But wait! There's more. ;D At the end of the day, we're about ready to leave, and we're making final rounds of a couple of shops I haven't seen. We see one of the kajillion people we know and keep running into filling in at one of the booths, and we ask her if she has any clue where this guy is that Brian wants to talk to before he leaves. She says no, but there are a bunch of people in the ice cream line and maybe one of them will know where he is; maybe we should go around that side of the lane on our way to check out the hand-turned wooden bowl vendor I suspect is the same one we saw at FLaRF. Brian gets caught up in talking to a couple of people, so I wander on ahead, figuring he'll catch up, and lo! In front of a little booth sandwiched in between two of the major lanes, where you don't really notice it, where *I* wouldn't have seen it except that I happened to want to stop by the wood stuff shop, a tri-loom is set up.

...and on the other side of the tri-loom sit three spinning wheels. One of them is an antique. And the people in the booth have spindles. :D

So at virtually the last second before we left, I managed to find not one, but three spinning wheels, a bunch of spindles ("They're by a maker called Greensleeves, I don't know if you've heard of them." "OH! Greensleeves! No wonder they look so familiar!" "We don't have any of the basic ones left, but..." "Oh, that's all right, I have enough of those anyway..." ;)), and a newly local shop with a blacksmith, looms, and spinnyspinny stuff. And the nicenice man taught me how to spin on their Ashford Traditional ... so now I have officially spun on a spinning wheel for the first time, and I liked it, and it was easy, and I'm sure I could be spinning smoothly within a couple of hours of sitting down at one. WOO!

Anyway, here's my new spindle, which I bought because I've been whining about needing a new non-homemade one, and because not only was it less than the spindles at the local yarn/fiber shop, it's also not the same as the spindle I have from them, which misbehaves sometimes:

It looks rather like a Lady Barbara, but the price doesn't match up, so maybe it's an older model that was just left in stock...? He said he thought it was walnut. Here's the inside of the top:

I even managed to hide from a searching Brian inside the booth despite my bright pink haremy pants, since I thought it would be funny to show up again for Brian while spinning on my new spindle, since I know he'd go, "Wait. You didn't bring that with you. Er...?" I didn't end up doing that, but there was a general round of amazement that he somehow didn't spot the loudness that is my bargain Thai silk wrap pants.

Oh, and I stopped by Ruban Rouge, the local scrapbooking store in Palm Harbor(ish), this past weekend while on the (successful!) hunt for Secret Spring Bunny stuff, and they're quite nice, and have all sorts of fun beachy-themed scrapbooky things. Oh, dear. I may have to go back in there for me someday. ;)

Now it only remains to get all this dang Faire dust out of my nose and lungs and pores and clothes, and to rest up, since I'm strangely tired last week and this. Must ... catch ... up ... with life...!
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