Friday, March 30, 2007

Moving Forward

I quit my job! It feels so good to finally be done with a job that was not my true calling. What did I do, you ask? I was doing food photography for a local organic grocery store. I had done wedding photography a long time ago, and some artwork photography at my pre-baby job. The food photography came up at a time when we were consolidating debt and it was a great opportunity to make some extra money to pay off the debt. I have been doing it for two years now. Over those two years I have fallen in love with fibre arts. I could spend all my days with wool and fabric; sewing, knitting and spinning. It started small at first - I picked up knitting. Then I learned how to spin and dye. Sewing has always been a favorite (I won an award for it in high school, but I never took the hint and pursued fibre arts as a career). I have been collecting stuffed sheep from long before I knew how to knit - I always knew it was in my destiny to care for some of the darling animals. So now it is time to move forward. I am so happy to take the W out of WAHM and be a true SAHM or can I amend it to be AAHM (Artist At Home Mom). I can be creative and not worry about guidelines. Yay!!!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Secret Santa Project

Last Christmas I participated in the CanSpin Secret Santa exchange. I have never done one before and I found it to be lots of fun. My Santa sent me a box full of samples of different kinds of fibres. I finally got the nerve up to spin them on the weekend. Each fibre was unique to spin.

First I spun up the Navaho Churro roving. Donkey, non? I thought I'd take a risk on the weirdest one. It is the first time I have spun a naturally dark fibre. It was a dream to spin. Soft, too.

The Llama was in a batt - not combed or washed. I found it frustrating at first because my fingers were turning black from the dirt and there were tones of earthly matter attached. Some of the hay fell out as I spun, some fell out when I washed it and I picked out as much as I could when I balled it up. My carpet looked like a barn. The fibres pulled from all directions when I was spinning so the yarn ended up with lots of slubs. I loved the final product, though. Once washed, the caramel colours showed through and it is incredibly soft. See photo:

Next I did the soy and mulberry silks. Not my favorite. They are slippery and shiny. Once washed, they were stiff. They feel very "plant-y" - like linen. I think I will stick to animals.

I saved the best for last - tiny bags of cashmere and baby camel down rovings. Both were not that easy to spin, but felt so soft to the touch. The cashmere is is warm grey colour and the camel is, well, camel coloured.

One last bag of goodies - green cotton. It scared me. I remembered from my spinning class that cotton has a very short staple (short fibres) so it makes it very difficult to spin. It was. It kept falling apart. So I gave up on it and have saved it for another project - maybe stuffing?

Well, now all of these fibres are spun, washed, dried and balled. Ready for a project. I am thinking that a scarf would be fun. All the fibres to show and tell.

Thank you, Santa, wherever you are!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Coffee & Wine

Well, grapes, really.

We have been making smoothies for breakfast lately. We used up all the blueberries in our freezer, but found some frozen concord grapes hiding underneath them. They reminded me of the organic concord grape popsicles that stain B's teeth and tongue. So why not wool? I boiled up the grapes and smashed them to smithereens. I soaked only half the skein in the pot. I really like the purple! The other colour came from coffee. I was hoping for a darker chocolate brown, but this caramel colour is nice too. So many non-toxic things to dye with! I must find more....

This skein of mohair soaked in the leftover grape juice and turned a very light shade of lilac. Very pretty.

Friday, March 09, 2007


I did some experimenting last night. I had spun and plyed the wool last week and had it sitting around, waiting for inspiration. The beets I cooked for dinner left a beautiful red soup that called for wool. I added some vinegar. I added the wool. And this is what appeared. The top skein was natural. The bottom skein was light green (previously dyed with kool-aid, but not all that attractive). I like the results, but I thought the colours would be brighter. I envisioned reds and purples, not peach. I'll have to do some research to find out what else needs to be added to the mix.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

My Knitting Bag

I love my knitting bag. It is an ancient doctor's bag. My Oma gave it to my a long time ago. It is in such good condition. It had been in storage - i was saving it for something special. I have slowly realized that there is no time like today. Carpe Diem. Why hide it away. it must be used. And since it holds itself open, it makes a great knitting bag. What do you use to carry your projects around?

An actual WIP

I took this photo at B's class last week. I have started my third pair of socks! I love the two-up pattern from knitty. I like that the toe and the heel look like real socks. The heal flap that I have seen on other socks looks so "home-made". Too clunky. This pattern taught me how to do short rows. It was tricky at first, but now, at the third pair I have finally got the hang of it and I don't have holes at the joins. I really like the colour-way of this wool, but I was hoping that the stripes would be thicker, like at the toe. I must dye my own! It has to be cheaper too. $12 per sock. It seems obscene to pay that much for one sock - plus all the work.

Birthday Kitten

In trying to be a "good" natural parent I decided to make B's 4th birthday present. She has been begging for a real white kitten so I thought I'd make her a knit one. I started just after Christmas so that I'd have lots of time to make the kitten and a whole wardrobe of clothes. You see, she does not like dolls, but she loves animals. I thought that if I made clothes for it she might get the idea of taking care of a "baby". The kitten pattern came from this book. The pattern is for a mouse, but I modified the ears to make it a cat. Some of the clothes came from there (although those clothes didn't fit as well as the ones I made from these patterns). I was so happy knitting all of these cute miniature clothes. It was great to use up all sorts of small balls of hand spun and hand dyed wool. Here are some of the clothes:

Well, after all the hard work and love put into the gift - she didn't like it. She liked the clothes, and she uses them on all her other animals. But she doesn't like the kitten. It broke my heart. I ended up putting the kitten away with the beautiful Waldorf Doll I made her for her 1st birthday. Maybe she'll ask for it one day. Maybe she won't and it will be there for another child who will love it as much as I do. At least the clothes are getting used. Right?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


My new addiction (knit-wise) is baby bonnets. They are quick easy knits - something I need when I am knitting outside with constant interruptions from inquiring minds. I am hoping to knit enough that I can sell them on etsy when I eventually get a store up and running. I knit the first one with a badly dyed yarn (from the dye class). It was supposed to be rainbow, but the colour red didn't show up except for a few very light pinky/peachy spots. UGLY, but perfect for trying out a new pattern. The trial worked out so I decided to over-dye the whole thing with blue, hoping that the pinks would turn purple. Yes, I know I should be more scientific about dyeing, but I am a wing-it kind of gal. The Blues got bluer and the yellows turned green. The pinks disappeared. A very cute baby boy bonnet indeed. Before and after shots are below.

Fingerless Mitts DO NOT WORK!

I was always skeptical of fingerless mittens. How could they keep your whole hand warm if your fingers were not covered? Then I read a few blogs where the people swore that fingerless mitts kept your hands warm enough that the fingers stayed warm too. I have been knitting outside a lot at B's Waldorf class because she hates playing outside there (She claims that it is too boring because it has no swings and will only play outside if I am outside too). But my hands get cold. I have long skinny fingers as shown in this photo. There may be mild winters here in Vancouver, but my skinny fingers turn purple very easily. Anyway, I though that fingerless mitts would be the answer. I found a cute pattern. I attempted and loved my first cables. The colours are gorgeous! BUT THEY DON'T WORK! My finger nails still turn purple. So much for knitting outside. Thank goodness Spring is almost here.

Long Lost Chickens

I knit these chickens about a year ago. B's Waldorf Parent & Tot class had them. When I realized how simple they were - just a knit square - I had to make some. I had some hand-spun wool from my spinning class that I took to my dye class. Well, the colours were odd and the balls were small, so the odd balls became the chickens. Notice the playsilk?


I had my hair cut. A lot of it. I am actually very happy. It was so long and heavy and I had it tied up all the time anyway. I asked the guy to make sure to keep it long enough to make small pony tails. His logic was that if you are going to put it up, you might as well cut it off. So I did.

I asked the hair-guy to keep all the hair. It is a big pile that I hope to spin. Yes, I know it will have a rope-like texture. But I have heard many a story of spinners spinning hair. Now I need to figure out if I have to comb it or if I can just grab pieces and go for it. Maybe it should be mixed with some wool to hold it together. But I don't have a drum carder. Oh well, I'll just have to jump in and try it.