Improved Yarn Storage

Since I couldn’t play in my garden yesterday, I opted to play in my stash.



What a relief!
No more lifting two or three plastic crates out of the cedar closet just to find the yarn that I need. All I have to do is pull out the drawer that holds the yarn I need, grab it out, and go. To minimize opening of drawers, they are labeled according to fiber content. Since the drawers fit nicely into my cedar closet, I need never worry about moths. (Though that hasn’t stopped me from planting lavender in our backyard to use as extra protection against those nasty beasts!)

It’s funny; I used to hate these storage drawers when I was keeping my fabric stash in them. Yet, they work perfectly for my yarn stash.

Of course, no yarn storage could be considered “improved” if there wasn’t any new yarn to put into it. In my London epilogue, I mentioned that I visited Socktopus, the Fulham neighborhood’s LYS. You didn’t think I left there empty handed, did you?

Of course not. I came away with 2 skeins that at the time I thought would work very well together. Whether or not, I’ll actually use them together remains to be seen.

This is Spunky Eclectic’s Skinny Sock in color Swimming Lessons.

And this one is Shelridge Farm’s Soft Touch Ultra in color Natural White.

I did have one other new skein of yarn, but it never made it to the stash last night. Instead, I knit a coaster for the side table in our living room using the double knitting technique.

This yarn didn’t come from any store; it came out of my pile for Purple Heart (similar to Goodwill but specifically for our local troops & veterans).

From Polka Dot Pineapple’s blog, I learned how to make t-shirt yarn. It was so much fun!


2-Year Blogversary Celebration

To be honest, it seems like I have been writing this blog for a very long time. Yet according to WordPress records, I wrote my very first post on April 11, 2007.

I started this blog for the selfish reason of promoting my Etsy store, the very store that I have removed the lion’s share of my inventory from. I would have closed it months ago if it wasn’t for my affiliation with the Etsy Knitters Street Team.

I keep writing because I love it. Some days, it is my motivation to actually finish the knitting/sewing/quilting project that I started. Other days, it is my outlet for frustration. Mostly, it is a place where I can come and share my hobbies with other people who understand and are just as passionate as I am about them. Dan is sweet and supportive, but he has never once elicited the correct response to a skein of yarn or a bolt of fabric. 

I have met some wonderful people via this blog; people that I refer to as my friends. It is time that I properly thanked each and every one of you who reads my blog and sends me lovely comments.

Properly = with Free Yarn

For example,

To win, just leave me a comment. I’ll randomly pull a number, or 2 or 3 numbers, out of a hat (i.e. use a random number generator) on Monday of next week, April 20th.

Stitch n Pitch with Yarn

I received my invitation.

The Philadelphia Phillies will be hosting this year’s Stitch n Pitch on Wednesday, April 29th at 7:05 pm.

I love my Phillies and I love knitting, so it’s a no-brainer for me. I’ll be there with bells on.

Also recieved from my wonderful mailman was lovely packages of yarn. He’s so good to me.

Yarn for Twin #2’s Baby Surprise Jacket
Yarn Love’s Marianne Dashwood in sport weight

I purchased the same yarn as for Twin #1 except in a different colorway. This is called Warm Tulips, a mix of reds, oranges and yellows. It’s so warm and bright; I can’t wait to cast on. I am trying to be very strict with myself and not cast on until the day we leave for London. It’s supposed to be my plane project; You know, the project that will keep me from losing my mind while stuck on a plane for 7 hours. If I start now, I might finish it en route and that would be very bad. My patience level for sitting still with nothing to do is about 5 minutes.

The green yarn was a surprise from a lovely woman I have been corresponding with over the past few months. We met in Ravelry’s Love of Letters. She hand spun the yarn and then dyed it with Kool-aide. I hope to pair it with the yellow merino wool sitting behind it. I can see a spring short-sleeved sweater (or fall, depending on how long it takes me to knit it).

Yarn Arrived for 1st BSJ

Dan’s Uncle Charlie and his wife Maria are expecting their first and second baby in August. Twins!
The whole family is so excited for them.

Of course one of my first thoughts was “What am I going to make for them?” The first few thoughts that popped into my head were grandiose (matching knit blankets, entire knitted outfits, hand stitched quilts, etc). Thankfully, I had the good sense to think my plans through before starting anything. There is no way I would be able to finish any of those grandiose ideas before June. (She’s not due until August, but I imagine the baby shower will be held a few months prior). There simply aren’t enough hours in the day. Back to the drawing board I went.

Having long admired both the designer and the design for years, I opted to queue up the BSJ (Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Baby Surprise Jacket).

Next, I had to hunt for the perfect yarn. I searched my stash first and came up empty handed. Nothing matched the specific criteria:

Criteria for BSJ’s Yarn:
1. Superwash Wool, preferably Merino
2. Sport weight, approx 5-6 sts to an inch
3. Plyed – no singles
4. 300+ yards
5. Variegated yarn
6. Gender neutral colors because they haven’t announced the sex of the twins yet. 
7. No pastels – only because I’m sick and tired of knitting in pastels for babies.

I found exactly what I wanted on WoolGirl!

The yarn is Yarn Love’s Marianne Dashwood in color Maiden.
100% Superwash Merino Wool
330 yards

You’ll notice that I only bought 1 skein. Hope is high that they will announce soon one of the twins is a girl. Then, I can go back and buy yarn saturated in pink.

Rum Brownies with Yarn

“Why add rum to your brownies?”, you ask.
There are several good reasons: (1) rum tastes good, (2) the children aren’t allowed to eat these which means more for you, (3) it makes a dense, almost fudge-like brownie and (4) Why not?.

1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter
2 tbsp strong, black coffee
6 oz good chocolate, your preference of sweetness (I used dark bittersweet)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
3-4 tbsp rum

Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and walnuts together. Set aside.
Heat the sugar, butter and coffee over low heat until the butter is melted. Remove from heat. Add the chocolate and vanilla, stirring till the chocolate is melted. Add eggs, beating well.
Pour the chocolate batter into the flour mixture. Mix well.
Pour the brownie mixture into a greased 9-inch square baking dish.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
With a toothpick or fork, poke holes into the top of the brownie. Pour the rum over top. Let cool.

The brownies taste good with or without new yarn arriving in the mail, but if you have the choice, I’d encourage you to have yarn arrive on the day you bake these up. Or any other day.

Behold 100% bamboo yarn.

It was handspun by the talented Bobbi of Kitty Grrlz. She named it Ice Princess.

London Bound and More! Yarn

I changed my keychain over to this London bear last night because it is official now. We are going to London!

And we are not going alone. Dan and I are bringing with us a group of 7 from our family and friends.

It all started with an innocent enough conversation Dan and I had my sister-in-law Michelle. (My MIL will not be surprised it’s her daughter’s fault that we are traveling to another country. Michelle has been traveling since she was in high school going to places like China, South America, India, Turkey, etc. She just adores it!) Well, she complemented me on a pin I was wearing. I thanked her and then promptly informed her that I got it in Mexico. When she looked shocked, Dan informed her that I meant Mexico in Epcot, Walt Disney World. (grin) By the end of the conversation, my SIL had volunteered to be our tour guide in either London or Mexico, since I was quite nervous about traveling alone. At first, I refused. I have silly fears about getting lost or offending somebody because I don’t understand something or becoming overwhelmed by everything. It’s silly, I know. But, Dan really loved the idea. I had no desire to keep Dan in a pumpkin shell … and Michelle did promise that she would come with us and make sure we didn’t get lost. So, it was agreed upon.

Then, we told our friends and Dan’s father who were giddy about coming with us, since none of them have been. Even my godson, who is turning 4 next month, is coming!

Perhaps because of the small crowd we are bringing with us, my worries are mostly gone. I’m so excited about going now. Of course, we aren’t leaving for another two months.

In the meantime, let me show you the yarn I got recently.

First, there is the loot I brought home from the Pottstown Knit Out.

The two skeins in front are 100% alpaca spun in a bulky weight. They are from a local alpaca farm called Walnut Grove.

The skein in the back is hand-dyed mohair from Mountain Colors. I purchased it from a LYS, Olde Peddler Wools.

Then yesterday, Mandy of Sew Spun surprised me with a box filled with her stash that she had cleaned out in the hopes of organizing her new craft room.

What a lovely surprise! Thank you!

Trading Yarns and a Pin

Last week, I decided to partake in a Yarn Swap.

It was so much fun! I went shopping in my yarn stash and stuffed the largest box I could find with wool, cotton and rayon. All those little balls of leftover yarn I had been collecting for years were sent off to somebody who would use them. I was left with room-to-grow space. Oh, it felt so good.

Two days ago I received a box from my swap partner, Susan of Loom It and Made 4 You by Susan.

So much for all that room-to-grow space. Such a pity.

Most are in colors that I would never buy for myself. I love blues and browns a bit too much and my stash has suffered from my lack of imagination. These yarns will spruce things up a bit.

Speaking of breathing new life into something, I finally rescued a fiber ACEO, miniature art card, I had made over a year ago. It had been languishing in my craft drawer.

Last night, I stitched a pin clasp to the back of the ACEO.

Voila. Instant pin. I plan to wear it on Saturday when I attend (and teach at!) the Pottstown Knit Out.
The nervousness is starting to set in again. I’m going to go practice in front of the mirror now.

Review of Blue Sky Alpaca’s Dyed Cotton Yarn

In January when I had purchased this yarn from Loop, LYS in Philadelphia, I had confessed my hatred of cotton. To reiterate, I stated the following:

1. If my hands get the least bit warm, cotton sticks to them like feather to tar.
2. Cotton lacks the stickiness of wool. Wool wants to lay down with its fellow kind. Cotton has no such feelings. Thus, as the Yarn Harlot would say, “it’s not as forgiving as lovely wool”. It separates with the flick of a needle and is slippery to boot.
3. It’s not as warm. In Pennsylvania, the cold months outnumber the warm months. It’s important to have something warm nearby at all times.
4. It’s not as easy, fun or enjoyable to knit as lovely wool. It takes a steadier hand and more patience.

After using up the first skein of this yarn in the scarf I am knitting, I am singing a different tune.

Though I can’t deny any of the above statements, I must admit that I have enjoyed knitting Blue Sky Cotton.

Not once has the yarn separated on me. Not once has the yarn stuck to my fingers. Of course, the latter could be due to the fact that it’s Fall and temperatures have already dropped enough that Jake has no trouble going twice the distance we normally walked in the summer.

However, the best part about the yarn is its softness. It’s not as soft as alpaca or merino, but that is hardly a fair comparison. I wouldn’t rate it any lower than one rung down though.

Speaking of the scarf I am knitting, it’s 75% done. It has been such a quick and easy project.

Finding the Perfect Yarn for a Project

Fall is here and with it the cooler weather. Though I haven’t turned the heat on yet nor have I burned wood in the fireplace, I imagine it’s only a matter of time. Yesterday, I went in search of my wool socks for it’s my feet that are the first thing to get cold on my body. Dan, ever the good husband, bought me a foot warmer many years ago. I cart it all over the house in the wintertime.

Dan, on the other hand, rarely complains of cold feet. It’s his knees that give him the most trouble. They are first thing to get cold and last thing to warm up. Last year, I attempted to return the favor of the foot warmer by purchasing him knee warmers. I bought him two separate sets. Neither worked very well. The first set was made of cotton and though they were soft, they were constantly falling down from his knees. I should have know, since cotton isn’t very elastic. The second set was made of polyester and tinsel. They were scratchy and much too tight.

I had a bright idea last night while unpacking all our winter clothes. I will knit Dan a pair of knee warmers. They will need to have the following characteristics so as not to make the same mistakes as the ready-made ones:

  1. Next-to-skin soft
  2. Elastic properties but not too tight
  3. Warmth but ability to breath
  4. Durable since they will get a workout 4 months out of the year
  5. In a manly (boring) color

Based upon these requirements, I decided wool would be best. I eliminated Merino though due to its shorter staple, tendency to pill, and lack of durability.

I went rooting through my stash (Ravelry link). Insisting that the yarn be wool, but not Merino, eliminated the lion’s share of it. Then, I took out the brightly colored wool: Hand-dyed red and gold wool from Maine and Crystal Palace Yarns Taos. Then, I eliminated the not-so-soft wool: all my Briggs n Little (I can’t wait for the Soft version to come out) and Reynolds Bulky Lopi. Finally, I ruled out the Shetland I handspun, since I simply don’t have enough yardage.

I was left with 5 choices.

From left to right:
Manos del Uraguay Wool
Jamieson Shetland Marl
Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran Tweed
Cascade 220
MIL Brown wool, Hand-spun

Yardage concerns plague with a Jamieson and Cascade. I only have 1 skein of each. Though I have two balls of Jo Sharp, it equates to less than one Cascade.

So, that leaves me Manos del Uraguay and MIL Brown wool.

I love my husband, but I cannot use the MIL Brown wool for something he is going to wear underneath his clothes. If he would promise to wear them out in public with a pair of shorts, I might consider it. I’m not being selfish. OK, maybe I am. In my defense, there is a reason for it. This yarn was given to Dan’s mother by her Mother-in-law. When the MIL could not locate a pattern or project worthy enough for the $100 handspun wool, she gifted to my Mother-in-law. My MIL had the same problem. There isn’t enough yardage to make a sweater. There would be yarn leftover from a scarf. Though she considered making a scarf and hat ensemble, it just didn’t seem special enough. The yarn deserved better. I was thrilled when she gifted it to me. So, no, Dan is *not* wearing this yarn around his knees. I have dreams of a textured stole.

Process of elimination leaves just Manos. I should be happy that I found something. Last night I was certain that I had nothing at all in my stash.

Of course, I am a bit remiss that I don’t get to go yarn shopping.

Does anybody else have such trouble when searching for the ‘perfect’ yarn?

Summer of Love Part 2 and SewSpun’s Yarn

I received my 2nd Summer of Love package yesterday from Piney, not my real swap partner’s name.

Missing from this picture is a book titled Knit Noel because it was the first thing I snatched from the box. It wasn’t until I finished taking pictures of all the goodies that I realized the book was still laying on my desk open to the page of the Christmas Tree Skirt design. (My design of a Christmas Tree Skirt is still undergoing the embellishment phase.)

About those goodies – boy, did I receive a bunch of them!

First up is the roving.

It is 100% Merino wool dyed in bright green and yellow with a smattering of royal blue. All the roving that I have – and I have an amount that is bordering on too much roving – is undyed. I refused to purchase any of the dyed rovings because I was certain that I would fall victim to the rationalization of buying roving just because it’s pretty. I hope this gorgeous roving doesn’t push me down the slippery slope.

Here’s a look at the non-fibery goodies Piney included: a needle gauge keychain, K2tog magnet which has been relocated to my fridge door, and chocolate wrapped in tin foil.

The unwrapped chocolate:

Lastly, I unwrapped the yarn:

It is 100% wool named Taos from Crystal Palace Yarns. The color is a mix of blues and greens: my favorite color combination.

Thank you so much, Piney!

Two days before I received Piney’s package, I got a box filled with yarn from Mandy of SewSpun. Since she had chosen the name I had suggested for her blue-green handspun yarn, Lady of the Water, I won the contest and received one skein of yarn as the prize. Much to my surprise, I found two skeins of yarn inside the box.

The cream yarn cake was handspun by Mandy from undyed wool roving. The red skein was commercially-spun, but hand dyed by Mandy.

Thank you, Mandy!