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Surreal Field Trip

19 Dec

On Saturday Doug and I decided to get out of the city and head on over to the other side of our mountain. I wanted to get some hand carders and thought it’d be cool to see what the Weaver’s Cottage was like (since there are so few spinning brick and mortar stores around).

It was really nice — they have a great selection of yarn and such. Some nice roving (although Stick and Stone will always be my favorite in terms of selection). We walked in on their holiday party, though, which, although they were super friendly, felt a little awkward. Also got a tour of the weaving studio out back — amazing what these people do! All in all it was a fun place to visit and if you are in the LA area, quite a cool little jaunt into Canyon Country.

We then popped across the street to eat at a little cafe that’s been around since the 30’s. Love roadside cafes. Sugar splurged on a piece of hot homemade apple pie and both of us were feeling all warm and cozy inside. Then decided to travel around the mountains toward Wrightwood, which is a local ski resort hoping to see some snow.

On Pearblossom Hwy we saw signs for a place that sold date shakes. Although I can’t eat them while pregnant, we decided to stop into the store and see what else they had. This is when our truly surreal adventure began.

This place was called Charlie Brown Farms. Our first view of this place upon getting out of the car was this…

Wide shot

Dinosaurs, the Eiffel Tower and a few other assorted animals.

We went in and found out that this is the store that never ends. There was a candy shop, BBQ, goth gift shop, wine tasting room (with some strange tropical fruit wines), 2 smaller kitschy gift stores and…

House of Gnomes

The House of Gnomes (which had been mostly taken over by Santa, some reindeer and a wild assortment of flying Jesuses.)

We also spotted the cheesiest cookie jar imaginable. I present you with…

lucy cookie jar

The “I Love Lucy Cookie Jar”.

I think that every known kitschy thing that has been produced in the history of the world has somehow found its way into this store. The scary part is that people actually seemed to shop there on a regular basis. I guess there’s not much else to do on the other side of the mountain.

After a while Doug and I started getting headachy and just really wanted to escape from the innermost reaches of this florescent-lit place. We had a few things we wanted to get, but Doug decided to go back and get a map of the area. The cashier rung me up and I waited at least 10 minutes for him. See, Doug got lost. All he wanted was a map and he discovered even more rooms leading one right into the other full of life-size flying pirate babes and monsters.

This was truly the twilight zone of all gift shops.

Once Doug managed to get out the door he had a slightly scared look on his face, one that can only come from having been over-exposed to too many life-sized resin products and scented candles.

Here are a few more shots of the place..

3 wise men

lord only knows

Oh and yes, on the sign it does say that they have bear meat. We couldn’t actually find it, but we did find alligator, antelope, and ostrich.

After this we were content to drive for a while hoping to put some distance between Charlie Brown and us. We did manage to make it to Wrightwood by dusk. Got to walk in the snow and found a gift shop that had handspun yarn and some basic spinning supplies. Turns out there is a small spinning community there and two women who sell their yarn and other goodies. Got some really nice handspun made from cotton and ecospun from recycled plastic bottles.

The return home was uneventful. I guess nothing can really top a flying piratess.


There’s Been Some Knittin’

6 Dec

I know I haven’t posted a lot recently. It just seems like everything takes just a little bit longer to get to these days. But, there has been a lot of knitting happening (mostly when I work at my new job grading oral tests online. Since I’m a visual and kinesthetic person, knitting keeps me from getting frustrated at just having to listen to things…)

Here’s the first FO. A calorimetry done in my handspun from Fleece Artist. I call it ‘Spumoni Calorimetry‘.


Spumoni Handspun (Fleece Artist Roving, spindle spun)


Spumoni Calorimetry

I also finally finished up a sweater I have had waiting to be seamed. It’s the first long sleeved sweater I’ve knitted with a commercial pattern from The Yarn Girl’s Guide to Simple Knits and with set-in sleeves. I have to say that even though I got stitch gauge and for row gauge measured it against myself as I went along and blocked it out when I was done, I still don’t like the way the arms turned out. It was a good experience to try something like this to learn a few new design techniques (never had done set-in sleeves before) but I prefer to stick to my own devices and knit/design as I go. I used Knitpicks Wool of the Andes Bulky.


Coat Sweater

The other FO I completed recently was a basic pair of toe-up socks with Plymouth Sockotta. Because we watch and go to a lot of films, I find that even though I love working with fun surface design on my socks, I actually get more done if I have something that is just straight stockinette. So, because these are super basic, they are done. (My other socks, however, are still languishing in my WIP pile.)


Sockotta Socks

And a few WIP pictures…

Some Hurry Up Spring Armwarmers from Stitch and Bitch Nation.

Fingerless gloves

Fingerless Gloves

And the kitty and I working on the third side of our our baby blanket border (before I frogged it for the third time…)

Katie and Machan Knitting

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Where am I gonna put…

8 Nov

All this fiber!

See, all I wanted was a niddy noddy.

It began last week when Doug had asked me why I hadn’t taken my wheel out yet. (It’s only made one appearance since I’ve moved — for a brief 2-day spinning run.) I figured that in 3 months I won’t have the time or energy to get to know my wheel, so, since there’s no time like the present, the wheel came out of closet-hiding.

All of my bobbins were full of bits and pieces of wool or silk that I had spun. There was a bit of the parrot crock-pot dyed singles (which I hated and, after spinning a few yards, decided to over-dye with purple). A whole bobbin-full of the over-dyed yarn. Some silk on 2 bobbins that I naively thought I would spin to make a shawl for the wedding (with 106 degree temps, didn’t miss the fact that I didn’t get anywhere near done…).

The first thing to do was to clean up a few bobbins. Even though I haven’t spun more than two bobbins’ worth of singles, I decided to learn how to navajo/chain ply (see Spin Off for a great article on how to do this). First I practiced with the parrot singles. Then with some singles from a round with the spindle that had been sitting in my stash. And finally with the purple parrot over-dye.

Navajo 3-ply
Bottom to Top – Parrot, Old Singles, Overdye

Now I had two bobbins ready to start on a bigger project — I want to spin enough to design a sweater. My mom’s friend, Helene, had graciously given me tons of roving. The last batch contained 2 bags of brown combed top (about 1/2 lb. each). Since brown is not usually a color I’m excited about, I thought that I would use this wool to practice spinning with on the wheel. I got out the fiber and realized that I had gotten a pound of spinning gold. Not only is it super soft (maybe has some mohair or down carded into it) but that it is a dream to spin.

First Skein Brown Roving
First Skein Brown Top

Initially I wanted a worsted weight for knitting but decided to just let the yarn speak for itself. I wound up with a skein of semi-worsted bulky weight yarn that really works well for this fiber.

But, since this was my first foray into spinning 2 full bobbins, I had a problem. To date my niddy noddy has been my lower leg (knee to foot). It’s worked well for small bits and pieces on the spindle, but for more? (Not to mention that it’s getting harder to reach my leg these days.) I needed a real niddy noddy…

This was Saturday, so on Sunday, I was going to head on over to my local fiber store, Stick and Stone Fiberarts. I was surfing their site when I noticed that they’d be closed. They were going to have a booth at the Southern California Handweavers Guild which was having their annual Fiber Fest!!!

It was incredible! Three large rooms full of fiber vendors, yarns and books. What was a fiberholic to do?

I decided to take it slow. I knew I wanted a niddy noddy. There was a book I wanted as well and I was hoping to get some bamboo to play with on my spindle. I made a pass around all the rooms and decided to sit down, breathe (well, by then honestly I was slightly out of breath carrying little one around inside of me — I don’t think it was all due to the fiber…) and eat lunch.

When I made my rounds I found that within 20 minutes a lot of the place had already been cleared out. Yep, it was like those other fiberholics had descended onto the goodies like a swarm of locusts. And saddest of all…

The bamboo I had been longing for was gone!

Oh well. Never one to let something like this completely get me down, I decided on a budget and to get just a few things…

schg goodies
SCHG Goodies

I got my niddy noddy (realized when I got home that it’s metric, though…) A pound of wool, mohair, tussah roving from Nancy’s Custom Weaving, the book Teach Yourself Visually Spinning (lots of hints not in my other books) and some really soft cotton roving from Stick and Stone.

There was also a vendor who had everything marked at $4 — cones and yarns. They had some of the softest cotton imaginable! I must say I restrained myself and only picked up 4 320 yard skeins.

$4 yarn
Newton’s Cotton Yarn

All in all not a bad day’s take. I restrained myself quite well. Found some interesting fibers to spin.

And, I got my niddy noddy.

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Book signing and a few other fibery things

12 Oct

So, yesterday I found out from one of my Stitch and Bitch friends, Catherine, that Laurie, aka Crazy Aunt Purl, was doing her very first official book signing here in LA to promote her book, Drunk, Divorced & Covered in Cat Hair. For any of you who read her blog regularly, you will find the book just as witty as her blog posts. This was her first book signing and I have to say that Laurie was her usual witty and very Southern self (in the good way — you know the way that all non-Southerners think is cute on people who don’t wear Red Man chewing tobacco hats or have tall bouffant hairdos). She did a great job and there was a really nice turnout of all the SnB peeps from the area (some I haven’t seen in while). Kinda like a SnB reunion of sorts.

I think that her book will do really well. She may be the next Yarn Harlot. (Maybe knitting books could actually become their own genre — instead of Chic-Lit, we could have Stix-Lit???)

I didn’t get a whole lot of pictures, but here is one with her and book in hand. (And no, she’s not drunk or demonic, I just haven’t figured out how to work the red eye feature in my camera yet. )

Crazy Aunt Purl
Crazy Aunt Purl aka Laurie Perry

I have to say that Laurie is truly an inspiration in terms of writing & I hope the rest of her book tour goes as well as this signing did!

Aside from that I have a few leads on jobs (kinda hard to job-hunt at 5 months pregnant, I have to say!) and I have…been…knitting and spinning! Yeah! It’s been so nice to have cooler weather and a little more time to get things done (aside from working on the 2 pairs of socks I’ve had going since March).

So, here is my main WIP, a baby blanket for our future little one, who, by the way, is a girl. (I wanted to have primary colors and big shapes that were not gender-specific…)

Baby Blanket

Baby Blanket WIP

It took me a while to decide what I wanted to do for this. I really love primary and contrasting colors for kids, and although I usually crochet blankets for my friends’ & relatives’ kids, (because they are so much faster to make, sorry to say) I decided that my kid’ll have a knitted one. Most of the patterns in the books I found were really super pastel-like or required gobs of expensive yarn (hard to do on my current yarn budget these days). So, I opted for choosing a few squares, doing them in Cotton-Ease, and modifying the patterns as needed from Debbie Abraham’s afghan square books. It’s been a while since I’ve done any colorwork, (fair isle) so doing intarsia was a really nice (albeit tangled) change.

Originally I wanted to make up 12 squares altogether, the border squares being stripes and such. But then I realized I’d have to seam all of those suckers and, unless I’m doing whipstitch or crochet, I really hate seaming. So right now I’m trying to figure out what to do for the borders.

I also finally set the twist in my first skein of wheel-spun yarn. It turned out okay — overtwisted — but fine for a first attempt. Would love to get back into spinning on the wheel but have do something with my bobbins — all of them are filled with singles! I’ve also done some handspun on the spindle with the rainbow roving I got in Toronto.

First Handspun on Wheel

Rainbow Handspun (on spindle)

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Fibery Goodness

26 Sep

Okay, I must be one of the last knitters on earth to finish up a Calorimetry headband. But the other day as I was organizing my fiber stash I realized that I had enough of some of my handspun to make one. With a winter storm approaching, I decided that it was the perfect time to make one of these. I finished it up on Friday evening, just as the first raindrops started to fall. (For some reason WordPress won’t let me upload this picture file normally — but here is a thumbnail to give you an idea…)

handspun fo
Calorimetry using Handspun

I also got some really nice roving at Lettuce Knit in Toronto. I wanted to get some Canadian roving, and it was the only place that really had cool colors. I started to spin some of the rainbow colored merino on my new Ashford spindle as soon as I got the roving. (Sitting in a cafe in Kensington Gardens spinning must’ve looked a little strange, but, oh well!) I love this little spindle. I have a Kundert which is really nice, but the Ashford seems so much better balanced and it is versatile enough so that I can spin thick or thin yarn.

Hand-dyed Merino from Lettuce Knits

canada roving
Roving from Nova Scotia

I also broke down and purchased a whole bunch of yarn. Actually I got a bag of random cottons on sale at Romni Wools and some Karaoke yarn. I also found some corn yarn that I have yet to see here in the States.

Yarn Purchases
Cotton, Karoke & Corn Yarns

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The Cop From Hell

26 Apr

No, I haven’t been arrested (although I did get caught by one of those &%$#^ red-light-no-yellow things the other day…). This is instead a tale about greed. The sort of greed that stems from the desire to spin lots and lots of yarn on a drop spindle in one go.

It all began when I had dyed some really beautiful roving (see blog header and this post) and thought longingly about how I wanted to use it. My hope, or rather, my desire was to spin enough to make something with it, perhaps a scarf or a pair of mittens.

I spun as finely as I could, given the spindle weight and wool. Thinly made singles laying one on top of the other. Carefully wound onto the spindle so that they could easily be unwound for plying. As my rapacity for twisted fiber kept growing, so did the cop on my little spindle, with each turn, ever fatter and heavier. (Much like the cliched human ‘cop’ gets from eating donuts…) Little did I know that I had over 260 yards of singles waiting to be plyed.

Once I started to ply, I realized where my avarice had taken me. I knew that Andean-plying wouldn’t work, for nothing, even the lure of freshly spun wool, is worth losing my circulation. But, despite this, my impulsiveness took hold of me and I began winding the singles unto my hand. Winding, coiling, wrapping. On and on it continued, my hand turning a slight shade of blue. I thought it would never end until…

The Tangle.

My beautiful singles, so lovingly spun with such passion and desire decided to rebell. No longer aligned neatly next to each other, despite my carefully and consciously constructed order. Instead they were crowded, vying for space, clinging to one another, like commuters on the Tokyo subway. Becoming a tangled inseparable mound.

The desire to spin so much yarn so quickly had slowly turned into a lesson. One in patience. One in which I had to realize that getting so much done all at once leads not to triumph, but often, instead to a snarled mass of confusion. The gains I thought I had made were quickly lost. In untangling my cop, I had to divide it into two. Carefully coaxing the knotted singles out, freeing then from their constricting, limited space. Hoping that in time their liberation would allow me to try plying once again.

Although I was eventually able to ply, it took a long time. It was ultimately, however, a lesson well learned.

GVB roving 2

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Aching To Get Behind The Wheel

19 Apr

So, before the magic egg incident, I did have some fibery crafty news to share. I was all planned to tell my mom the weekend after ‘it’ happened, although I had a certain amount of caution mixed with elation, not sure if she’d be happy about my news or ‘tsk’ at it. For, 4 days before my world changed so completely….

I got a wheel.

It was about a week after the anniversary of my dad’s death and I had a little cash tucked away that was from him. I was surfing at my local fiber shop, Stick and Stone Fiber Arts, just for kicks when I saw that they had a Clemens and Clemens wheel for sale for only $125. I had been debating about getting a wheel, since I really love my spindle, but I’d also like to spin larger amounts of fiber at a time, so I impulsively got into my car and drove on up there.

Needless to say I didn’t get the Clemens and Clemens since someone else had already claimed it. But I did come home with the long-time (or at least since I’ve been spinning) object of my desire – a Lendrum…

Wheel 2

I was so excited! Here was something I could try out that actually fit in my tiny apartment. Even though my dad wasn’t into fiber stuff, I think he would’ve appreciated my spending a little on a passion that I had, so it felt like a nice way to honor his memory.

The only thing is that since April 8, I haven’t had the time to use it. Between taxes (took me two and a half days this year, the tax people I tried out were useless), working 3 jobs, and wedding planning (gasp, never thought I’d say those two words!), I haven’t been able to ‘get behind the wheel’ at all.

When I told my mom about it in the middle of last week she was psyched and asked why I hadn’t said anything earlier. Well, I said, you know there were much more important things to talk about than a simple wheel, namely the beginning of a new part of my life.

Even though I haven’t had a chance to really use my wheel yet, it’s ok, because a wheel lasts for a lifetime –I’ll be able to use it for a long time. But, I’ll only get engaged once!

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