Monday, June 6, 2016

Mood Board Monday - English Rose Garden

This Monday's Mood Board is inspired by my tailspun art yarn, "English Rose Garden". I loved spinning up the silky soft mohair from Peavine Hollow Farms with the luscious Teeswater and Wensleydale locks from Namaste Farms. The peaches, pinks, creamy yellows, and ivory create a beautiful palette for the start of the summer season.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Beach Reading

In an effort to get my creative juices flowing freely, I plan on doing some inspirational reading this summer. Here's what's on my list:

1. Happier At Home, by Gretchen Rubin
2. 365 - A Daily Creative Journal, by Noah Scalin
3. Unstuck, by Noah Scalin
5. The Creative Habit, by Twyla Harp
6. Steal Like an Artist, by Austin Kleon
7. The Anti 9-5 Guide, by Michelle Goodman
8. The Book of Doing, by Allison Arden

What will you do this summer to inspire yourself to create more, smile more, and expand your mind?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Deb's 45 Minute Arm Blanket Fail


I was intrigued when I saw the "How To Arm Knit A Blanket in 45 Minutes" pin pop up on my Facebook feed (photo by I immediately ordered the yarn from Amazon and sat down today to give it a whirl. 

Here it is a bit "staged". I scrunched the sides in a bit so that you could see the stitches more clearly.

And here it is spread out a bit more:

The finished blanket is making me feel a bit meh about the whole thing though. Here are my thoughts on the process and the finished item:

OMG, the knots! The yarn used in the tutorial, Premier Yarn "Couture Jazz", is full of knots. I was pretty surprised that they couldn't pull off a continuous run of yarn for skeins that only measure 16.5 yards.  

For anyone looking to use this yarn in their project, check pricing. I ordered it with my Amazon Prime account and ended up paying $6.47 per skein with free 2 day shipping. A later web search revealed that I could've paid $2.50 per skein with $10 shipping (a $20 savings) if I'd ordered directly from Premier Yarns. They didn't have the same color way but they had one that was close.

The arm knitting itself wasn't too bad. From start to finish, it took me about 48 minutes (this included the time spent unknitting messed up rows, stopping to tie on new skeins, and dealing with loose ends/knots).

I had a hard time figuring out which way to turn the stitches when transferring from arm to arm. Simply Maggie's video instructions are wonderful - she goes slowly and repeats the instructions several times to make sure that you "get it". I'm obviously not a visual learner though as I ended up twisting half of my stitches. Next time I'll have to pay way more attention to my knitting direction.

Weaving in ends was an exercise in frustration for me. The blanket is so loose that they have nowhere to hide. I ended up just pulling the knots REALLY tight and snipping the ends off.

The blanket grows a lot more in width than it does in length. I ended up only using nine skeins of yarn to get a blanket that reached from my chin to past my toes (approximately 60"). The 18 stitches that I cast on grew to a little over 72". If I were to do it over, I'd cast on 14 stitches and knit an extra 2 or 3 rows.

I must have fat arms. Even though I tightened the stitches on my arm, my gauge looks nothing like the video. If I were to do it over, I'd definitely have to double the yarn. Even though it would double the price of the blanket, I feel that it would make it more useable. With a single strand, the blanket is very mesh-like. Doubling things up would make a thicker, more solid fabric. This yarn is so light that I don't think that it would add too much weight.

So, would I do it again? Maybe. Eh. I guess I'll have to.  I'll probably end up unknitting this thing, ordering a second set of skeins (the less expensive ones from Premier Yarns in the lighter grey color) and redoing it with the revisions that I mentioned. I just don't see myself using the blanket as it is right now and I hate to feel like I wasted $78 worth of yarn. 

On the bright side, now I can cross arm knitting off of my Crafting Bucket List. I'll have to think of some other projects where I can use my newly acquired skill. Hopefully I'll have better results the next time.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Looking To The Year Ahead

Happy New Year everyone!  I spent New Year's Eve home with a nasty cold so we had to cancel our plans for the evening.  Boo! On the upside, being home gave me lots of time to reflect on the changes that I'd like to make for the upcoming year, both in my personal life and for my business.

On the home front I plan to strive for the usual resolutions - an organized, uncluttered be a better wife and mother than the year lose 10 pounds.  This year I'll add "have more fun!" to the list, because as I reflect on 2012, "fun" isn't the descriptive word that pops into my head. It wasn't a bad year,  just a nondescript one. Pretty boring, ho hum, and run of the mill. 2013 will be the year of fun! I'm going to implement weekly "date nights" so that hubby and I can have more fun together. I'm going to make family fun a priority this year too. The kids are both teenagers now and I've only got them for a few more years, so I want to make them count. Movie nights, board games, and weekend getaways are in the cards.

In thinking about how I'd like to take my business forward into 2013, it's definitely going to be about having more fun!  Last year's goal was to grow the business and make it more profitable.  The best of intentions turned into me landing in a creative rut.  I became so focused on what I was making to sell that I stopped having fun.  As a result, my products lost their spark, IMO.  This year I'm taking financial goals out of the picture.  Do I want H.A.Y. to thrive? Absolutely! But my fiber business started out as a love of craft, not a love of $, and I'd like to keep it that way.  I'm going back to the basics of why I love playing with fiber.  This year will be about playing with new techniques and revisiting the ones that are the most fun/rewarding for me. resolution for this year won't include making more $ or pumping out more product or marketing on social media every day.  It will be about reigniting my creative spark.  I'm pledging to CREATE something that I find beautiful every day.  365 days of craft. For me. Just for the fun of it!  It could be a yarn, a picture, an inspired meal, an etching in the sand, a love note, a doodle.  I'm not sure what I'll end up creating, but I promise to share it with all of you!

Monday, January 4, 2010

My 1st weaving project!

My family got me the gift that was on the top of my list this year for Christmas - a 20" Ashford Knitter's Loom.  I'm not quite sure why I need ANOTHER craft in my life, but why not, right? 

I'm a regular contributor to the Phatfiber box and in return get a box of my own every month.  I always dive right into the spinning fiber samples, but the yarn samples have been totally piling up.  I just don't knit enough anymore...sigh. 

I thought that using yarn samples from my Phat friends would be a lovely way to start on my weaving journey.  Finally, FINALLY, I could use up those lovely little yarn bits!   I whipped right through this scarf in no time and totally loved the process - yay to weaving!!!

The yarns that I used were:

-  Naturally dyed handspun from Midnightsky Fibers
-  "Mango" from Lazy Perry Ranch
-  "Harlequin" Fingering by Sqwish
-  One of my own handspun (H.A.Y.)
-  "Iceberg" Lucky Sock yarn from Serendipitous Ewe
-  "Darby O'Gill" from Desert Garden Farms
-  "Princess's Gown" from Sheepshape Spinning
-  "Pirate" handspun from Carly Original
-  Handspun alpaca from Comfed Out Kaiser
-  "Fireweed" worsted from Aurora Fiber Arts

I have lots more PhatFiber yarn samples in my basket, so look for more weaving projects to come. :)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

November PhatFiber Contribution

The November PhatFiber Box's theme is 'Home For The Holidays'.  Well, one of my favorite things about spending holiday dinners with my family was getting to eat some of my Grandma Ruth's red cabbage.  In honor of her, I hand dyed some super-soft, squishy merino wool top in the colors of one of my favorite holiday dishes:

Thanksgiving was the only time of the year that Grandma Ruth would cook this dish and she'd always be sure to make a big enough batch that she'd have enough left over to freeze for Christmas Eve dinner.  Sadly, Grandma Ruth is no longer with us and I've taken to making this side dish for myself when the holidays come around.  I thought that I'd share her recipe with my Phat friends with a few of my personal adjustments to her classic (you should feel extra special - she never shared her recipes with anyone!):

1/2 lb. diced bacon (I'm convinced that she added extra - mine never tastes as 'baconie' as hers did!)
2 medium onions, chopped (I VERY thinly slice mine into rounds)
4 Granny Smith apples, cored, peeled and shredded
10 cups shredded red cabbage (about 4 lbs.)
3/4 cup cider vinegar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

  • In a large, heavy saucepan, cook the bacon, onion and apples until onions are very soft.
  • Add cabbage and cook for 10 minuntes over medium heat until the cabbage wilts.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients, reduce heat to low, cover & cook for 20 min. The cabbage should be moist, but not too juicy.  Remove the lid near the end of the cooking time to cook off some of the liquid if need be.
  • Give it a nibble to see if your vinegar, sugar or spices need adjusting.  This is where it comes down to taste...
Grandma always cooked this up at least one day ahead of time because she insisted that it was better leftover (just like chili and lasagna).  Also, unless you're feeding an army of people or making enough to freeze, you might want to cut this recipe in half.  Enjoy!

I hope you have a happy holiday with your friends and loved ones!
Deb :)