May 23, 2009

In which I try to sew a skirt the day before I leave on vacation...

Yesterday, actually, the night before yesterday...oh my I don't know when. I'll start from the beginning. What better way to do that, then to start from right now & work backwards.

Today is Saturday. I leave early in the morning on Sunday, which means I pretend I leave tonight so that I am ready to walk out the door in the morning and don't have to pack in the wee hours. I am going on a wonderful trip to the east coast, which in my mind is like entering a different world. I am very Alaskan. I can wear floor length black to the symphony and know that there might be a man next to me in Carharts. And I roll with it. That man might even be my husband (heaven forbid I let him escort me in such an outfit, but I can't always control the man.) But I have this sense that the East Coast is not so forgiving. For 1/5th of my trip I will be staying at a lovely place with a wee bit of a dress code. The dress code did not scare me too much until I read what was NOT allowed. All of my wardrobe. No denim, shorts, casual sandals, athletic get the picture. Now, this is not a bad thing. This is a chance for me to elevate my wardrobe. It needs to be elevated--I lost 25lbs and look like a waif in most of my clothes. (mind you, this is the ONLY time I look waif-like.) But in my initial panic I decided I needed new clothes BEFORE I left so I would be ready. This sudden energetic idea got me out of bed at 6:30 am on Thursday.

3 days and counting.

I went online to my favorite clothing store--Anthropologie. I usually just try to knock off their knitted sweaters, but this time I needed to research style & skirts. I found this lovely skirt and decided I needed something like it.

I happen to have lots of eyelet cotton in my fabric stash from an eyelet phase I went through some time ago. I think it was intended as curtains for yet another crappy apartment.
Psychoanalysis Moment: This is why my house that I love has no curtains. Every crappy apartment we lived in I sewed new curtains and now putting up curtains makes me feel like I don't like where I live. Go Figure.

I whip out the fabric, find some lovely white silk to line it with. Yes, also in my stash. Maybe I should sew more? Looked at my paltry collection of patterns. Decided, yes, I need a pattern. No I do not own one that will work. Hemline? No idea. Make emergency call to friends who are required to be ready at a moment's notice to analyze, opionionate and decide on any wardrobe glitch a friend might have. I then race off to town. Meet with friends & try on every potential piece of my traveling wardrobe and pick the ideal hem length. Buy a zipper & pattern. Return home. Get distracted until late at night after the kids are in bed.

Now, just because I don't sew many clothes now, doesn't mean I haven't sewn a lot of clothes in the past. The problem arises in that I was sewing clothes for the stage and the nearest audience member is rarely closer than 20 feet or so & there was a LOT of fudging in my sewing. Dress making is VERY different.

I lay out the fabric, the pattern, the skirt to match length...and realize a problem. The pattern I picked has a curved hem. Eyelet is straight with a finished edge. The two do not mesh. At all.
I stare at it for a long time. I know what I would do if it was a costume, but it isn't & I don't want any funkiness. I chose the "call a friend" lifeline. While well meaning & probably good advice if I had an iota of sense in me. It didn't really help. Clearly, I was going to have to call in the big guns.

I called my mom.

"Please, mom, could you come out & show me how to sew this eyelet skirt?"

2 days & counting...

SAVED!! She not only sewed the skirt & the lining. She modified 2 patterns, combined them, adjusted things not even present on the pattern, fitted it perfectly & finished in less than a day!!

I now have a new skirt. Almost, just like the one in Anthropologie. For the price of a zipper, pattern & forever indebtedness to my mother.

1 day & counting...

On the left is the Anthro skirt. Below right is my new skirt.
Far below is a closeup of the eyelet cotton of the skirt. Please forgive the unpressed state of the skirt. I unpacked it to take the picture. I realize now there are a few more pleats in the Anthro skirt making it a bit more full, but I don't need fullness around my body, so I like mine how it is.

And yes, since you asked, that is a bear in the background. He is a foam archery target that we use to terrorize our visitors.

May 20, 2009

Manly Man Durrow Sweater

Drum Roll Please......

This is my manly, man in all his glory. And new carharts! I finally finished the Durrow Sweater & this was the first day cold enough for him to wear it. I really like how it turned out. I threw out the pattern almost when I began. I followed the cable charts religiously. I knitted the body in the round up to the armpits. Then I knit the sleeves 2 at a time on a long circular needle, also in the round. Then I followed The Sweater Workship by Jacqueline Fee (sp?) and finished with raglan shaping in the round. I added many shortrows in the sleeves to fit over his extra wide, muscular shoulders. Apparently, only being bone & massive muscles makes them a bit squarer than normal. Then I paniced just before starting the collar and thought the back of the neck would be too low so I tossed in a couple more shortrows across the back. In retrospect, I don't think I needed them, but they didn't hurt. Below is a shot of the sweater back. If you can see the shortrows you are a better knitter than I!

Continuing the cables up and over the shoulders emphasized the raglan shaping, but he can pull that off with his shoulders. Overall, a lovely knit & I am ready to start my own sweater! But first to finish the lace neck warmer and the little girl's dress...
isn't he cute!

May 19, 2009

The latest in Needle Case Fashion

I have finally taken pictures of my roll-up needle cases!
That took a while. (embarrassed sigh) I am not going to post these on Etsy until I get back from vacation. I need to whip out several more. There are only 2 left at the Tangled Skein which makes me sooo pleased.

To the right is a purple flowered case in the closed position.
The case is closed by a loop of elastic which hooks around a lovely button. In this case a big silver filigree button.
One of my favorite parts of the cases are the buttons. It is delightful to pick out just the right button for the fabric.

Next we have a close-up of the pocket construction. Each case has 19 pockets ranging from 1" to 3" wide. Each row of pockets has a labeling strip that the owner can label what size needles go into each pocket. Seams are sewn with a double needle for additional reinforcement.

Each case also has a hanging tab with 2 eyelets for hanging your roll-up case on the wall when you are not traveling with it. You can easily unhook it from the wall, flip the top flap down over your needle points, roll up and go.

Here is a brown, flowered batik needle case.

Both of the cases shown here are going on sale at The Tangled Skein this week, so if you want them call me quick or stop by the shop after Wednesday. They will be $35 at either location.

Off to Wonderland!

I am going on vacation!!! East Coast here I come! Hopefully I will return with fibery goodness. I am lusting after a set of 4 pitch combs. Not likely, but more likely than Alaska to find a good deal. I am also hoping to come back with some Alpaca. Never worked with it before. And a bunch of dyes. They are a pain to get shipped up here. Let's just admit it, I hate paying for shipping. I would rather buy an airplane ticket and go pick-up stuff. I have been feeling stagnant in my dyeing life. Now I am off to sew some more needle cases.

5 days till lift-off!

April 29, 2009

Fiber Whiz Kid!

The Fiber Whiz Kid Strikes Again!!

Lil' Pea is a wonder. She has wanted to spin for some time. Like a good mother, I said No. But, I have finally relented. Just days before her 5th birthday we sat down and had a little spinning lesson.Here she is learning to treadle. She is really quite good at it. She can treadle all day. The hard part comes when she has to have her hands even with the orifice & her feet on the treadles.

Here she is sitting on a small chair with a phone book on top so she can reach the treadles & the orifice. She is spinning, I am helping a lot. There were lots of breaks & I would fix them & she would go on. Here are the results of our spinning. I can't quite say this was all spun by a 4 yr old, but a whole lot of it was. Pretty cool, eh?

She also has a Groovy Girl scarf she knitted for sale to raise money for her ballet recital costume. Nothing like motivated children.

April 28, 2009

My Bathroom Smells Like a Barnyard!

Oh my, have I got myself into something!

I got an offer of some free fleeces. Any offer of "free" things should be taken with a large pause and deep thought. It could be a great thing or it could be the first steps down the road to insanity. I immediately said yes to the free fleeces. Then I (almost as quickly) said, "I have to see them first". Make sure the barn isn't coming home inside the fleeces and all. I didn't know where they were coming from so I had NO idea of the cleanliness. On the spur of the moment Lil' Pea & I drove up to Wasilla to get the fleeces. After many things going wrong--we got there, only an hour late. My friend hopped into the car & we drove to her neighbor's house. The fleeces looked fine to my very virgin eye. I had only seen fleeces once before, a year ago. I do not hang with "sheep" people. I buy very nice clean roving. Not fleeces removed from the animal less than 24 hrs before. I was rather surprised at how clean the fleeces looked. After some reading (once I got the fleeces home, heaven forbid I read up on this BEFORE diving in.) I learned that "meat sheep" can have less than desirable fleeces. I think these are pretty decent for free fleeces. Here is a picture of the brown fleece as it fell out of the garbage bag.
There is also a white fleece, but we will visit it another day. It is still in the bag. The brown fleece looked pretty cool. Here is a shot of the underside of the fleece, very tight, lots of lanolin...all in all, I think it came from a happy, healthy sheep.
Then I unrolled it.
It is a HIPPY SHEEP!! Talk about a bleach job! The roots are a rich dark brown & the wool is long, shaggy & blonde at the tips. It is SO cool looking. Sorry for the faded pictures. I think the big window I was standing by wreaked havoc on the photos. I have opted for posting them instead of wasting all my time trying to tweek the color balance.
ah, the pretty curls...

The short pieces are 3"-4" and the longest part in the middle of the back is up to 8" long. Wow! I have no idea if this is good or bad, but it really looks cool.

So I started washing the fleeces today. Below is the first batch of soapy water after a 15min soak.

WOW! There is a lot of dirt in there. Each batch has gotten progressively cleaner. I am making classic newbie blunders and hopefully I will not have a ball of felted wool at the end. My first blunder came while staring at the manure filled water in front of me and REALLY not wanting it to touch my bathtub. I had the brilliant thought, "This would make great fertilizer for my soil outside!" Some of you might catch on to the fallacy of that statement right away. It took me quite a bit of time. Enough time to take the tub outside, pour it onto my hillside full of plants waiting to come up, refill it for the next soak and start adding the dish soap again. Again? Yes, that last batch of water that I poured all over my hibernating plants was full of dish soap. I hope I didn't kill an entire hillside of summer joy. The next mistake came when I carried the next full tub of water out to dump it AWAY from my plants and dropped the tub full of water. It busted. It was a really nice tub. Arg. Now my fleece (or rather a small portion of it) is sitting in a clean water soak to get the soap out. Next will be a vinegar soak to get the remaining barnyard smell out and then I should be done. Just have to wait for it to dry...I hate waiting.

April 20, 2009

Yes, I am still alive.

I am almost embarrassed to post. It has been so long. I realized that I had been avoiding my blog because I was embarrassed that I had totally slacked off. I have retreated from my online life. The real one has been getting in the way. Go figure.

Here is a quick review of my life...

In my fiber life I have been knitting wildly on My Man's Durrow sweater. I have ditched the pattern and am following the ideas of The Sweater Workshop by Jacqueline Fee to finish the yoke & collar. I am also continuing the cables up & over the shoulders. Why stop a good thing early?

In my spinning life I have tons of natural camel 3ply ready to dye or skein up & post on Etsy. But, sadly, there it sits. I did have a friend over to spin and that was way cool to spin with someone. I actually didn't spin, I taught my 4yr old fiber wiz-kid to spin. She did a fabulous job seeming how she couldn't treadle & keep the fiber at the right angle to enter the orifice smoothly. My majacraft is set up pretty high and her little body is just too short. I will post pictures when the cows come home. I am thinking about getting another really short band that goes around the wheel so I can adjust the wheel to fit her. She really liked spinning. As her mother it is really fun to watch her balance (or really try hard to) all the different parts of spinning.

My dying life is comatose. Talk to the camel about that.

My sewing life is all about Needle Cases. I just finished my first 5 roll up cases for single & double point needles. They have graduated pocket sizes, labeling strip on the pockets, roll up, hang up & come in lovely colors. You can find them at my LYS The Tangled Skein! Now I have to make more of the hanging ones because all but 2 have sold! I am changing the pocket sizes on the hanging ones to make them more user friendly for the larger needle types. I think I might keep some in the old style for all the sock & other fine knitters out there.

My real life is quite exciting! I went back to school this semester to start learning how to be a computer drafter and actually make a decent wage when my children are all in school. I really like it. It has slowed the fiber life, sadly. That is part of the reason for the lack of posting. The REALLY exciting part is that I had applied for a grant way back in December. I found out about it on the internet. About 5% of applicants are chosen. I thought I had about a snowball's chance in hell.

I am not a Heller for no reason.
(note to readers: Heller is my maiden name.)
They picked me!!
They are going to give me lots of money to learn how to be the best lil' Computer Drafter out there!!!

yes, I realize that the use of exclamation points has gone a bit over the top. I am REALLY excited though!!!!

I think I will end on that exciting note. Ya know, someone has to get all that money out on the internet! Today, it happens to be me.

March 5, 2009

Snarl Design New Product Release

Needle Holders for the discerning Knitter/Crocheter/Crafter!!

Below are pics for the holders soon to be listed at Snarl Design on Etsy. This here is a sneak preview! You can find more colors locally at The Tangled Skein in Eagle River. I hang mine in my studio and find that I can actually find my needles on a regular basis. That is, if I put them away...or finish a project.

The holders are designed to be hung on the wall. Each holder has 37-42 pockets in varying sizes.
For example the Purple Batik case pictured here in the blog has these pockets:
4 3/4" x 4 7/8" (11)
1" x 4 7/8" (22)
7 1/2" x 4 7/8" (1)
3 5/8" x 3 1/2" (4)

Holders are 20-21"x 7 1/2-8" in overall size. They are made from 100% Cotton fabric and each pocket is lined with muslin. Pocket divisions are double stitched for strength and eyelets are 1/4" metal. There are 14 tabs on the side pre-labeled in US Knitting Needle sizes or you can request them blank, mm needle sizes or just not there at all. The tab changes would be if you request a custom made holder.

Below is a Fiddlesticks Holder.

Needles not included with purchase.

It was very humbling that I could find only 1 full set of double point needles to fill the holders for pictures. Somewhere in this house there are a whole bunch of WIP's full of double points, waiting for me to find them and finish them.

February 27, 2009

Something is Waiting in the Wings...

I have not dropped off the face of the earth as my blog would look like. I have been working on product development for Snarl Design!! I have an exciting project I am developing and will be out in the world by the end of next week. (nothing like making a deadline public) It is exciting & scary for me as it branches out of yarn into...something else.

February 4, 2009


Where does inspiration come from? I suppose it is different for everyone. I recently read a post from one of my fav. bloggers/designers and she posted pictures about her inspiration. It got me thinking. Where do I get my inspiration? Right now, in the dead of winter, I have NO inspiration. I am stressed about a non-fiber issue in my life. Stress is a killer of inspiration. It also kills momentum & energy. I find my body reacts to stress rather strongly. Even if I would say that I am not stressed, I find that I have no energy, no concentration & no inspiration to create things. I can therefore deduce that I am stressed. I think this is called, "Listening to Your Body". Something I have spent my life avoiding & am now trying to learn.

If I can pinpoint what kills my inspiration, I should be able to figure out what feeds my inspiration.

A clean kitchen inspires me to cook. Would empty Bobbins inspire me to spin?
Beautiful fiber? Maybe I should put my fiber out where I can see it?
Dye some fresh colorways. Freshly dyed fiber screams to be spun! My current dyed fiber is not inspiring. Overdying would be a fun experiement and definetly inspiring.
Color boards. I love them. Maybe I should rifle through my fabric collection?

I feel creative juices just writing about all this. First, I will do all I can to end the stressful non-fibery problem in my life. Then, clean the kitchen. I might even dye today! Or colorboards...which one? Who knows!

January 31, 2009

The Newest Arrival!!

There is NOTHING more divine than seeing your own creation be placed on a newborn infant. My new nephew Sam was born yesterday and got to wear his new hat right away. aww, soo cute! He has mittens to match, but they haven't let his arms out of the swaddling yet.

The hat is mostly Andean Silk & Brushed Angora for a truly soft hat. And yes, that is a flower sprouting from the top. I will post more pics of the set later, when I get them off the camera. I have to laugh b/c I keep doing this to my sister--making difficult to wear, but adorably cute children's clothing. Colorwork doesn't have a ton of stretch. lol The same sister's kid got the ballet slipper socks that are impossible for a 4yr old to tie on. Some people buy each other's kids really loud noisemaker toys to drive the parents crazy. I just knit things kids can barely wear. I think the mittens will only stay on if the baby is holding his arms straight up in the air. hee hee!

January 29, 2009

Saying Goodbye...

Etsy is fun. I can check it every day and count how many people have looked at my yarn. I can also remake my banner every day and watch it slowly crawl towards something I like. It is still not there, but I have had some busy days and haven't been able to remake it since, like, Sunday.

But there is a really sad and difficult part of Etsy. I have to say good-bye to yarn. Ok, I realize I have only sold 1 skein, but look at it...How do you say good-bye to this?! I LOVED this yarn! Clearly, selling yarn is going to be like raising children. At some point you have to say good-bye and let them make their own way in the world. And it is so hard to say good-bye. Packing Lupine Valley into the package was torturous. I had to SQUISH it flat. It killed me! I felt like I was abusing the skein by sucking all the air from it and sealing it into plastic, sealing that plastic into a bubble wrapper and THEN, THEN I had to drop it into a HUGE mail bin that other packages could smash on top of it. Well, actually, a mail-lady was taking the last bin of the day into the back of the post office and she hand carried my yarn package into the back with her. But, it could have been smashed. And as soon as it got to the back of the post office, it probably was smashed.

Then there is the Azure Mongolian Cashmere. My first hand-painted cashmere. I gifted it. I know that it is in really good hands. But I find myself going back to her blog posts here and here and reading about the yarn over and over again. I fully agree that the first pattern choice didn't suit the yarn. But we have to let our children experience the toils of the world. Sometimes life isn't good to you. We must presevere as did my little azure cashmere. She stuck with her knitter and let those stitches come out and get restarted into something even better. Now she is doing really well in life--starting to look like the beautiful peacock feather I always knew she could be.

Just a glimpse into the crazed mind of a knitter & spinner enthralled with fiber.

January 21, 2009

Computer Withdrawals


4 Lonnng days without access to a computer. Our former dog (who will remain anonymous because while I loved the dog's name, I hated the dog) partially chewed our computer cable and we have been nursing it along with electrical tape. Being careful not to let the sparks light anything on fire. Well, last Saturday, the sparks flew a little too heavy and the power ceased to flow through the mighty cord. Result--NO COMPUTER. I had no idea how addicted I am to this flat little black box. I missed the warmth on my lap, the hum in my was like an old friend went missing. My desk looked empty. I had to watch movies on the couch, looking at the bad TV. No up close & personal movies, snuggled in bed with the computer. No hourly checks to Etsy, no casual shopping, no pointless FB exchanges.

Until now. If I had known it cost a mere $25 bucks to fix the cord I would have avoided the months of trying not to burn the house down and fixed the damn cord!

The computer joy I am now experiencing is mainly because I found the Fluevog site. (hum your favorite dreamy song to go along with the next picture.)Lambchop

Aren't they beautiful? I think I need to knit something to match them. Not that I own them, or ever will. But I feel inspired by them. I could wear these boots all winter and never worry about looking like I come from Talkeetna. sigh. sigh. I want these. I think I will knit a school bag inspired by Fluevog's Lambchop shoes.

But first, I have a little hockey sweater to finish.

January 15, 2009

Etsy Repercussions

What are the repercussions of selling things on Etsy?

Buying things on Etsy!! Of course!

I am learning so much about how to tag & market my yarn from my Etsy Group on Ravelry. In response to that I am 'shopping' for my own yarn to see how my yarn appears in searches. My, my, it is amazing the beautiful things I am finding. giggle giggle. So far, I haven't bought anything and I do eventually find my own yarn. But look at this Handdyed Silk Lace Yarn, by SunnysideEllen. drooooool. Or what about this Imaginary Friend notebook by Shoofly. Really, anything she draws on is pretty darn cool. I am in love with all the talented people out there. For anyone who hasn't gone to you should go, right now, before you finish reading this blog. My one recommendation is to favorite anything you really like. It is really hard to find it days or weeks later. I like favoriting (is that a word?) sellers instead of items because if I like one item, I probably like lots of items by that seller. Of course, you could favorite Snarl Design right now because I will slowly be adding yarns to keep items showing up in the early part of searches and I am SURE you all want to be part of the excitement. Please excuse the blatant advertising, but this is MY blog after all.

Well, off to post a couple items and then return to the mundane life of doing laundry.

January 14, 2009

Etsy Is Up!!

I have pretties on Etsy!! 3 today, more tomorrow!!

All handspun yarns.

January 8, 2009

Christmas Knitting Results

Christmas came & went in a flurry of knitting. I thought I wouldn't have any last minute knitting because I started so early this year. But, I also didn't work on my knitting projects very often that early because, "I have tons of time..."
The boy LOVES his hockey sweater. He informed me that it was more Edmonton Oilers colors than Mustang Hockey colors (his team) but he still liked it. I told him I had planned that. Actually the yarn was stash yarn...but it did seem to fit his personality. I did not finish the hood & pocket on the front and am working diligently to finish that ASAP. He really wants to wear it! As far as first time knitting him clothing other than hats & socks it was a winner!

The Man's sweater Durrow was a bit trickier. I decided to give him the body for Christmas and the sleeves for his birthday in April. This was mainly for my own sanity. This is way too big of a project to not know if it will fit. The goal is a slightly fitted sexy man sweater. So far I think that this will fit the bill nicely. I found it quite humorous that he had no idea I was working on a sweater for him even though many a night I sat in bed next to him, knitting on his sweater. I never lied about it--when he asked what I was knitting on I said, "Oh, another one of my many projects." And he was quite content. Now that he knows about it, he is concerned the sleeves will be too feminine. Egads!! I told him he doesn't have a vote. The superman tshirt was my present to him also. It was supposed to be tight, I will be washing it in hot very soon. (Can you see the trend? Goal: get rock hard muscle man out of baggy shirts into tight ones.)

I saved my favorite project for last...

Ballet slippersocks for my delightful ballerina niece's birthday. She was born Christmas day, 4yrs ago!! I actually finished them in time to send them across the country on time for Christmas. A First! I wanted to make a pair for my little one as well...that will have to be a birthday present. I love these socks. Just love them. Nuff said.

All in all, a delightful knitting season. If I ignore the socks for my sister that did NOT get done on time and I had started them last May. Arg. I am totally embarrased.