Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Badly Needed Update

I just realized it's been over three months since I updated my site. My apologies and I promise, promise promise I'll upload some photos of my work soon. We've been back and forth with hard drives and also it's been a bit nutty with my job and family lately.

In the meantime just a quick update on what I've done when I've had that rare and precious spare time. Mostly I've been learning some new things - punch needle embroidery, cross-stitch, and hairpin lace. I've wanted to learn the latter two for quite some time and now I'm finally doing it! As always they ended up just looking a lot harder to do than they actually were when I sat down and gave it a try.

The end result is that all the ladies in my family (and a couple of the gents, if I have time) will get something handmade for Christmas. My daughter, mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and husband's aunt are all getting a punch needle project. I also did a cross-stitch brass bookmark mongrammed with my daughter's name that turned out wonderful, and I did a fun and funky scarf with hairpin lace and bright colored fuzzy yarn that I'll send her in her Christmas care package.

By the way if anyone who wants to try out hairpin lace is having a hard time finding a loom like I did (NONE of the Michaels, JoAnn or Hobby Lobby stores near me carry them in-store, online only), you can DIY your own. The Little Projects blog shows how to make one from wooden skewers and glue sticks, while 10,000 Great Ideas has instructions for doing one from a coat hanger.

I did the coat hanger one and while it works well I still wanted something adjustable. So I went to a Michaels, found myself a pair of plastic knitting needles, two large foam letter I's, and went to work. I poked "starter holes" at 1", 2", 3", and 4" spaces starting from the center out in each of the foam I's. I then pushed the knitting needles all the way through one, then I used the other to cover up the needle points. I find that the foam grips the needles really nicely and doesn't fall off.

I'm still planning to get myself a real hairpin loom come next payday *blush*. But, I sure didn't do too bad with the one I made, and at $4 total for the parts it's a bargain compared to getting something similar online that would have cost twice as much between the actual loom and shipping costs.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Pine Ridge Reservation Needs Your Help!

My husband just sent me the following email... if you knit or crochet for charity this is a great opportunity to help someone out:

There is an Indian reservation that is in really bad shape. Unemployment is 85%.
Apparently they need blankets for the elders and children.

"If you know how to knit or crochet visit the Love Afghans for Pine Ridge Reservation. This group collects knitted and crocheted afghan squares and makes them into for full size afghans to send to Pine Ridge. You can also donate yarn you have left over from your projects."
(if link above doesn't work, here's one: )

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Computer Down

Looks like our hard drive decided to say sayonara last week, it just went downhill fast all of a sudden while hubby was working on it. Fortunately he's very good with problem-solving these things, so we've got a spare drive hooked up until he can order a new one, and he was able to slave the bad one and with the help of a Linux OS called Ubuntu, pull off all our files onto DVD backups. So thank God I didn't lose all my photos of projects I've done or the ones I recovered from my business a few years ago.

But it does mean that until I can figure out how to use Gimp (Linux's answer to Photoshop) in conjunction with our digital camera on Ubuntu, I won't be posting any pictures. Hopefully I will catch that up fairly soon.

In the meantime, a quick review of stuff I've been working on...

First, I got my Mother Marion kick spindle a couple of days ago from the lady whose husband makes them. I absolutely love it! I tend to have a problem with spinning too fast and over-twisting the yarn with it, but then again I have that problem with the drop spindle so what else is new?

But it's definitely easy to learn and it works fast. I was able to crank out four ounces using dyed wool roving from Sullivans in Rich Autumn shaeds. I decided to try something different and spin fibers of different colors together at the same time - I spun the brown, blue and green together, then I did the purple, gold and red. From there I twisted the two separate yarn shades using the kick spindle to make a bulky double ply yarn that is quite stunning. I really am enjoying working with this roving.

I'm also spinning some yarn from the Vintage colors. I'm doing just one color at a time like I did with the School Colors for my daughter's hat. I spun half on my drop spindle already but I'm going to finish it on the kick spindle and then do another two-ply yarn. Since I picked colors randomly back and forth that should give it a different effect.

I'm planning to use these yarns to knit felted clutch purses for my mother in law and sister in law as Mother's Day gifts. Yes, I know I had mentioned doing a jacket for MIL, but I'm running out of time... and I admit I'm having so much fun with the handspinning it's taking the fun out of knitting from premade yarn.

Speaking of felting, I did my first project in that a couple weeks ago: A pouch for the rosary my SIL gave me as a Mother's Day gift a couple years ago. It used to belong to her and hubby's grandmother and it deserved a better place than the cardboard box it came in, so I made the pouch out of the remaining yarn after my daughter's hat was done. I then followed the directions I found online for felting using a washing machine. I just thought it was the coolest thing when it came out the way it was supposed to - I'm so used to the opposite on everything I do the first time!

So hopefully I can turn out some nice projects for my SIL and MIL too... and hopefully they aren't going to visit my site in the next week or so and have their surprise spoiled *blush*

Finally, I bought two pounds of natural white NZ Corriedale from Paradise Fibers this morning, which I'm hoping to spin into yarn that's a bit better than my first efforts for that sweater I might finally get around to knitting for my husband (gah, my procrastination is showing!). It looks like they have a pretty good selection of different fibers, colors, dyes, etc.

I was very impressed with their prices - even with shipping costs I still saved seven dollars over what it would have cost me to get what I wanted over at my local spinning supply store. I was even MORE impressed when they let me purchase it through Google Checkout, so I was done in less than five minutes... and then they shipped it out not even an hour after I placed my order! Woo hoo!

So once I figure out how to get the camera working with Ubuntu to post new pictures (and learn how to edit them in Gimp) I'll throw up photos of what I've been up to... and maybe the wool I bought will be in by then too. I'll let you know whether the quality of their product is as good as their customer service.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

My New Toy...

I got an early Mother's Day present... or maybe a belated birthday present, since we're right in between the two.

I have been looking at alternatives to drop spindles that would let me crank out yarn a bit faster but still be fun and fit within my budget as well as my tiny living room. I looked into
charkhas and possibly making my own wheel or charkha.

Enter the
Mother Marion kick spindle. While I automatically fell in love with the idea, the original models, however, are still a bit out of my price range.

I decided to look for them on eBay and found someone whose engineer husband not only figured out how to make them but improve on them. He added ball bearings to reduce friction so the spindle can spin longer between kicks. I've included links to their YouTube videos on the left that demonstrate how these work.

After patiently answering my many questions (including a "yes" to whether I could buy one directly) I settled on a wooden model with a scalloped wheel. My total cost was about half of what I'd pay for an original Mother Marion, not to mention I'm plain impressed by innovative these are. I should be getting it pretty soon.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

First Handspun and Hand Knit Project

Well it's not much but I've knit my first item out of yarn that I spun by hand - it's a hat for my daughter that I'm sending as part of her belated Easter package later this week. I used Bev's Stretchy Hat pattern in the adult size:

I've tried it on and it's comfortable, stretchy and kept my head very warm. It'll be good for times her Dad takes her up to the mountains.

Spinning Cotton

I've been playing around with cotton a little bit. I found a Web site called Cotton's Journey a couple weeks back (I have their site under my links as well), they sell educational material on growing cotton, supplies, even a spindle with a sliver of cotton for someone who wants to spin cotton thread.

So I ordered a bag of Pima cotton bolls (you get about 30), and a 4" cotton mini-bale that is enough to make a long-sleeved top if spun fine. I originally thought of buying the seeds as well to grow my own, but realized that there would probably be more than enough contained in the bolls... that is if I can get them to grow in the climate where I live, apparently I do not live within the cotton belt so I may not have much luck.

My order came in the mail just a few days after I placed it. Here you can see the process as I've prepared the fibers and then spun them. First I pulled the cotton locks out of the bur:

From there I extracted the seeds out of the locks:
I then did a process called hand carding, to straighten out the fibers and prepare them for spinning. Yes, that is a dog slicker brush I'm using - I bought two of them and find that it does the job just fine for an amateur. Not to mention it costs about half as much as it would to purchase a set of hand carders and, well, sorry but I'm cheap:

From here I gently shaped the rolags of cotton I carded into slivers:

Finally, I spun the cotton fibers into yarn:

As you can see it spins a little finer and tighter than wool. Like the wool, I also have had to get a feel for just how much I need to draft out while spinning so my efforts are uneven, but better than I expected for my first try. Unlike the wool however, I plan to make this a two-ply yarn since it is spinning so fine, at some points it's like thread though bulkier in others. But that's all right with me, it just makes for a more interesting yarn :-)

Once I'm done with the bolls I'll try to figure out how to bust open the mini-bale and spin that too. Though at the same time it just looks cool the way it is... then again, nah, I can always get another if I want a conversation piece.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Nephew's Hoodie - Finally Done!

Gee, I'm only, what, a month late on this? Oy...

So yes, I finally finished my oldest nephew's hoodie, a belated birthday present that more or less ended up being an Easter present. Again this is the one in which I used a free pattern from Lion Brand using Bernat's Soft Boucle yarn in Slate Shades.

He wasn't as thrilled about it as his Mom was. As with my friend's son, she will be able to hand it down to her youngest when it's outgrown, so it will get to see a lot of use.

In the meantime, I've continued with my handspinning. My ball of natural wool has continued to grow - it's up to four ounces now:

I also spun four ounces of multicolored yarn this week. Hobby Lobby has bags of wool roving that's for needle felting but I found it spins into a real nice yarn - this was six small balls of different bright rainbow colors:

It proved to be a lot of fun to spin. I've since set the twist on it and am using it to knit my first handspun project - a hat for my daughter, yet another belated gift that will go out with her Easter package when it's done.

I am also working on another project, a jacket for my mother-in-law as her Mother's Day present. It's a cute swing jacket pattern from Lion Brand and once again I'm using Bernat's Soft Boucle, this time in Richest Red.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

My First Ball

I wound my first ball of handspun yarn yesterday.

I was right that I spun it too tightly but fortunately I've been able to correct it. I first followed the suggestion of placing the yarn in warm water, which helped loosen it a bit. It's interesting how when wet you can smell the grass in the fiber, it reminded me of being on a farm. Not sure if that would be the case with the dyed wool, I'll find out eventually though when I spin the blue batch.

Since then I've wound the yarn into a ball a couple of times, twisting the yarn in the opposite direction of the spin just enough to un-kink it where it curls over on itself, then work that down towards the end, and so on. The end result turned out rather decent for a first effort, I think:

I'm guessing this is about half of one of the ecru/natural balls of wool fiber, or two ounces. That's about a fourth of the total amount I bought in this color - it's going faster than I thought it would. I'm still entertaining whether I want to leave the yarn as is or wind it with another strand to make it two-ply.

In the meantime I'm still working on my nephew's hoodie. I've gotten the front and back done and am almost finished with one sleeve, so we're getting there.

I also gave the hoodie I made for my friends' son to him at his birthday party over the weekend. His parents pointed out that when he's outgrown it, with the neutral colors his little sister can have it afterward, and with their beautiful complexions it will look great on both of them. So it will get plenty of use down the line. Hooray!

Monday, March 26, 2007


All right, all right. I admit, the sweater knit from cat fur got me all fascinated. NO, I am not pinning my long-haired baby to the floor and shearing him, you can relax.

"Don't you EVEN THINK about it, lady!!!"

But, it put a bug in my brain nonetheless and I started looking up resources about handspinning my own yarn. I started out by looking at The Joy of Handspinning, where you can see mini-videos that demonstrate how to use a drop spindle or spinning wheel, as well as pages upon pages of where you can get fibers, wheels, spindles, and even shop at an online store.

Eventually I stumbled upon a site for a local handspinning supply shop called Shuttles, Spindles and Skeins over in Boulder. I dialed them up - do you have drop spindles? Why yes we do, the nice lady said, and our spinning instructor will be in the next day if you're interested!

I wasn't able to get there in time for the instructor. But, I was still able to talk to a couple of really nice ladies who shop there regularly, one of whom told me more about drop spindles than I could have imagined. She helped me pick out a good one, a gorgeous 3" whorl Schacht Hi-Lo Spindle that she said is fine for beginners.

From there I picked out several ounces of a natural Corridale wool and a few ounces of Corridale in a pretty lighter colonial blue to spin - I'd read wool is the easiest to start with, plus it appears to be some of the least expensive fiber. To be honest the cost of buying your own wool to spin is I think comparable if not even a little less than buying wool yarn.

I started spinning Saturday night (why does that sound like the beginning of a rock and roll song?). While I think I'm still doing it kind of tight and I had a couple of fits and starts, this was my first effort:
This is where I ended yesterday after continuing it: I am learning how to get a feel for the fibers and just what thickness gives me certain widths. Again I'm not sure if I'm doing it too tight, it wants to twist around itself at points and I'm worried that means it is. I sure hope that doesn't mean I'm going to have to undo it and start over.

After watching me quietly the past couple of days, my husband wondered aloud where we might be able to scam a spinning wheel. He knows I plan to use the yarn to make a surprise for him, perhaps he's trying to hurry me up :-)

But I told him that is QUITE the pricey investment - you're looking easily at $400 to start in some cases and it only goes up from there. Maybe if I got my business started again and was whipping out items left and right it might be something that paid for itself, but as it is I don't think I'd ever get there.

For now I'm having fun learning for now with the spindle. Not to mention it's proving a fantastic stress reliever, even when I huff and grunt because parts of the yarn unravel or break and I have to start over.

But my troubles sure do seem to disappear when I sit down with that spindle. Whodathunkit??

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Hooded Sweater

I've finished a hooded sweater I mentioned in another post. It's for the son of my friends for whose daughter I made the matching sweater and hat last month. It was her birthday then and now his is coming up later this month.

I used a free pattern off Lion Brand's Web site designed for their Homespun Yarn. I used the Sierra shade to do this one. I love the earthy, rich colors that come out of it and I think it'll look good on the birthday boy.

I'm currently working on another one for my nephew who just turned five last week. I got a little burned out on doing so many projects at once and had to take a break so this will be a belated present. I'm using Bernat's Soft Boucle yarn in Slate Shades for his, it's a lighter weight yarn but it's almost as bulky so it's knitting up in about the same dimensions. It'll be nice for these upcoming spring days.

On a side note, I found an awesome Web site I've added under my Good, Bad and Interesting section called the domiKNITrix. It came up in a Google search I was doing for knit skull patterns (my husband has been bugging me to do something for him with a skull in it for years). Definitely worth checking out.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Colorado Woman Knits Sweater From Cat Fur

From the "What the...???" department: A Colorado woman (no, NOT ME, so don't even ask!) saved up all her cat's shed fur, sent it off to be spun into yarn, and then had one of her coworkers knit it into a sweater:

I mean, sure, it's pretty... but what do you do when it coughs up a hairball on you while you're out shopping? Or begins clawing its way to the top of your head when a barking dog comes rushing towards you?

I can see all her friends getting mad at her. "Damn it, you've shed all over my couch! Off!"

Seriously, I think we can label this as being overly devoted to one's pet. I'll stick to the sales at Hobby Lobby for my yarn, thank you :-)

Monday, February 19, 2007

Rosary Pouches

A couple of rosary pouches I crocheted as a free gift with rosaries I created and sold on eBay a few years ago. Yep, Kneedle Junkie does more than knit and crochet - I've dabbled in jewelry making and rosaries.

I'll post a couple pictures of rosaries and necklaces I've done another time. I have a little one requiring my attention at the moment so this is all I'll put up here for now.

Another Bolero

As I mentioned in an earlier post I decided to make another Barcelona Bolero (pattern available for free at Lion Brand) for myself after doing one for my daughter. I managed to finish it just in time for my date night with hubby on Saturday:

I'm really happy with how it turned out - I used the Adirondack color once again. The Homespun yarn is not only soft and comfortable but it kept me really warm while we went out to dinner and a movie - and that's saying a lot for these chilly Colorado nights!

My daughter gave me lots of kudos on her bolero too when I spoke with her on the phone - she says it's so comfortable she wants to sleep in it :-) She wouldn't be the first, I've already napped in mine!

I've already moved onto my next project - a hooded pullover for the son of my friends, again a free pattern from Lion Brand. He'll be three at the end of March. I am also going to attempt to make one for my nephew, he's turning five in just a couple weeks. It's turning out to be a relatively quick and easy pattern - I'm doing my friends' son's with Homespun yarn in Sierra while I'm going to try something different with my nephew's and use Bernat's Soft Boucle yarn.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

My Son's Evolving Hat

Okay, one more post (I've been on here too long today!) and then off to Mass. The following actually ended up being an interesting exercise that showed me how much more yarn gets used crocheting projects versus knitting them.

This is a hat I crocheted for my darling son a year or two ago:

The little man got a lot of compliments on it, but being as he has grown consistently like a weed since birth it was quickly becoming smaller on him.

One day a woman who'd commented on the hat suggested I unravel it and knit a new one for him. But would it be enough yarn? I thought.

I decided to finally give it a try a couple months ago. I found Bev's Basic Stretchy Hat pattern, unraveled his crochet hat, and knit it in a size larger than he is now - the crocheting had stretched the yarn thinner as well so I used size 7 needles instead of 8.

The end result - it actually fits larger on him:

Sorry I couldn't get one of him modeling it. Last I checked many if not most boys nearing their third birthday are NOT fond of hats for more than thirty seconds.

But not only did I have enough yarn to redo the hat I even have a small amount left over to do a pom-pom if I wanted. Vive le difference!

Wedding Veils

Yet more pics I thought I'd lost forever - I did a custom wedding veil after selling the one I made and wore for my wedding on eBay. The lady had seen my veil that I'd made and wanted one similar, except with ivory materials.

Unlike my veil I hand-crocheted the larger trim on it for her. But both veils were sewn by hand and were chapel length. Here's a detail of my veil's trim:

I also put a headdress on mine. I purchased all the supplies from Michaels and then constructed the veil by hand from there.

Sadly the scans I did of our wedding photos were also lost so I'm not sure I have a pic on the puter of me wearing it. If I do track one down I will for sure add it here so you can see what it looked like.

OK, NOW I'm excited...

I can't believe I found this! It's a picture of a mermaid doll I crocheted five years ago:

This is exciting to me as a lot of pictures of projects I did from this time are gone - we'd backed them up to a CD when our computer was acting up before a reformat, and since then the CD has been damaged from moving to the point that I'm not sure we'll ever be able to recover them. So to find anything from this time period is a big deal!

Afghan and Pillow

Okay, we changed our minds about going out before Mass so I'm able to post a few more pictures. This is an afghan and a pillow I crocheted for my daughter as a Valentine's gift three years ago:

She was 12 years old at the time and I felt bright, vivid colors would be perfect for her. They not only were great for her age but they remind me of her and the sunshine she brings to my life.

Oh, Wow, I Forgot About This!

I actually have a photo of an afghan I made ten years ago - I'd forgotten we had a picture of it as we currently have it in storage somewhere:

I crocheted this using a wave pattern and several skeins of yarn in varying shades of pink, green, red and white. I think it's big enough to cover a twin bed at least, I made it pretty huge!

Well, hubby and son want to drag me out to do some errands before we hit Mass, so I must be going for now. I've been able to dig up quite a few pictures of older projects to my surprise and joy, so I'll post those when I have time later. Ciao!

Knifty Knitter

So far I've mostly done hats with my circular looms:

This one is of my son "modeling" his Dad's hat:

Hubby has since removed the pom-pom. He initially had wanted it but decided it was too goofy.

I've been looking at different sites that have patterns for the Knifty Knitter that go beyond hats and scarves, so maybe down the line I can start getting more creative with this versatile tool.

Poncho and Shawl

Some previous Christmas gifts I've done. This is a poncho I knit for my sister-in-law in 2005:

I used size 17 kneedles with Homespun yarn in Adirondack (I told you I had a lot of it...), and Red Heart Symphony in Earth Brown. I crocheted both the neckline and the hem.

This is a shawl I crocheted for my daughter in 2004:

I used a specialty yarn whose brand escapes me at the moment - if I find a ball of it with its label still intact I'll update this post with what it is. I only remember it has DK in its name and the color is Flamingo. I crocheted two large triangles using a basic mesh pattern then single-crocheted a neckline all around and added tassles to the bottom.

Edited 3/4/07 to add: I found a label for the yarn I used on my daughter's shawl - it's Sirdar's Salsa DK. It consists of 50% Merino wool and 50% acrylic. It looks like this one too is no longer manufactured, I bought it from a specialty yarn shop out of state five years ago so I guess it would stand to reason it's no longer around.

Silver and White Tank Top

One of the few times I knit anything for myself other than hats and scarves - I did this tank top using some silver/grey and white yarn I'd found at Big Lots:

I used the Trendy Tank pattern from TLC. It's a free pattern I found at my Hobby Lobby down the street but you can download it here as well. Normally they suggest using their Macaroon yarn, I decided to use a yarn from Sullivans called Crinckle that was in a bin at Big Lots for $1 apiece (I love a bargain!). The color is Cloudy Day - it's variations of grey and white with a lilac/pink shimmery fiber throughout that the pictures don't do justice. I get the feeling it's discontinued as I couldn't find it on their Web site.

Valentine's Present for Daughter

I knit a bolero for my teenage daughter as a Valentine's gift:

I used Lion Brand Homespun yarn in Waterfall - the picture directly above shows how beautiful this yarn is in both texture and color. I love working with it for those reasons... not to mention it's bulkier than worsted and works up quickly, so you can have a gorgeous garment or afghan in no time. As a bonus, it's also very soft.

I got the pattern from Lion Brand's Web site. They have tons of free patterns you can access with a free subscription. The pattern I used was Barcelona Bolero.

I am currently knitting myself this same bolero in Adirondack. I think Lion Brand has discontinued that color, I didn't see it available on their site and I haven't seen it in my local craft stores. I've had several skeins of it left over in storage and decided why not? So when I'm done with it I'll post pictures up here.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Little Girl Sweater and Hat

I knit a matching sweater and hat set for the daughter of some friends who's just turned one. Here's the front of the sweater:

Here's the back:

Here's the hat:
I used Red Heart Super Saver in Monet for the variegated colors, and Lion Brand Pound of Love in Pink and Lavender for the solid colors. The hat pattern I used was the basic stretchy hat pattern off of Bev's Country Cottage site (link is to the left). I improvised the sweater pattern by knitting panels in different colors and stitch patterns borrowed from various books I have on patterns including knit/purl patterns, laces and bobbles. I used one of my son's older sweaters to be able to measure the sweater for a size 2T.

I delivered the birthday girl's present at her party yesterday. Birthday girl couldn't care less as she was on a sugar buzz from the cake :-) But Mommy and Daddy loved it and said she'd be wearing it to church the next day.

I've slowly been able to load pictures of other things I've made the past couple months on the computer from our digital camera, and I've found a few pictures of items I've knit and crocheted, and a couple handmade things, in archives here and there. So I'll be posting those soon.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Thanks for Stopping By!

I've just set up this blog for my friends and family to see what I'm working on lately with my knitting and crochet projects. I have been knitting for roughly ten years and learned to crochet when my daughter was a baby, so that's nearly sixteen years. Nevertheless I do not consider myself terribly advanced... just doing much of the same things all that time.

I do both freehand and loom knitting and I have made garments, dolls, and knick-knacks. Unfortunately some of my photos from a few years back were destroyed while moving, which is a shame since I had done some really nice things for both my daughter and to sell on eBay when I had a crafts business.

Truth be told, I also have several large storage bins full of yarn that have been sitting around for ages, and it's time I started whittling down my supply. What better way than to finally put it to good use?

As soon as I'm able I will start posting pictures of various things I've done already. I currently have about six different projects going at once - no joke. I like to multitask, what can I say? :-)

So keep coming back, I promise I'll have new things up here soon!