New Stash!

New Stash: Wooly Mastadon

In an earlier post I had mentioned going to a yarn shop while a family member was in the hospital. I thought I might as well take this opportunity to share what I got from the shop as well as some yarn I got from a family member for Halloween (yes, I like yarn for Halloween just as much or even better than candy). Here’s what I got.

In the photo above is my stash from the yarn shop. For starters I got another skein of Patons Classic Wool Worsted in black. This is a security net for my Splitstone. If I do run out, I don’t care about dyelots, I just want to be able to finish this sweater. Second I got a skein of Caron Simply Soft in Sage. I use this brand of yarn for all of my amigurumi because it is soft and machine washable. Whenever I see a new color that would make a great animal, I snag it. Finally, I picked up some Patons Kroy Socks Jacquard Prints in Turquoise Jacquard. I have heard about the cool patterns this yarn produces and was excited to see it. I also got a Tunisian crochet hook because I haven’t tried a bamboo hook and it’s in a size I don’t have (M 9mm). We’ll see how it works.

New Stash: Wooly Mastadon

As for the yarn from a family member, my aunt always keeps me in good supply of yarn and other things. She picked me up three skeins of Premier Home Cotton. I haven’t even heard of this yarn so we’ll have to see. I am thinking of making some home decor items because of the nylon content. Has anyone used this yarn before? If so, what are your thoughts for what I should knit with it?

So that’s it for stash in this part of town. What are you knitting in this lovely beginning of winter?

~Stay Inspired

PSA: Thanksgiving is Next Week…

PSA: Thanksgiving is Almost Here, Wooly Mastadon

So, I’ve had some moments of panic in the last two days, mainly because I realized that a) Thanksgiving is next week and I have so much to do, and b) my birthday is next week as well (which I completely forgot about, true story). Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal. However, this year I had promised to make cookies for the family’s Christmas Cookie Exchange that happens at Thanksgiving…and I forgot. Cue the frantic cookie baking that will ensue when I am not working today and this week. It is also a family tradition that I make the Thanksgiving place cards for the dinner table, as I am the crafty person and have been doing this since I was little. I had decided this year to use my graphic design skills and design the cards in Adobe Illustrator. I started months ago…and then promptly forgot. I have to get those finished, printed and cut out still. Sheesh.

But that is not my main reason here…I don’t want you to forget that with Thanksgiving next week, we only have around a month to finish off Christmas gifts. That is not a lot of time. I am thanking myself for simplifying this year and making potholders for everyone, but I am still not done…and I have made 14 already. Alas, this is going to take some time, but I hope it will be worth it. I am thinking about using the tags I designed and posted here for the packaging of my gifts, perhaps with a ribbon. Simple. Easy. Sweet.

I guess that has been my main reason for popping in. I started getting Christmas decor out of the attic (which means crawling through a small space and hitting my head on the beams because my family does not have a full or even half-height attic). This will be an undertaking but Christmas music is playing on the stereo, cookies will be baking soon, and the spirit of the holidays is in full force. I am so blessed to be in the mindset that this truly is the most wonderful time of year, despite all of the bah-humbug. Well, that is all, time to get the oven pre-heating.

PSA: Thanksgiving is Almost Here, Wooly Mastadon

P.S. I just had to throw this image into the mix. This is my pooches face when I start to get crazy about something…like Christmas and it’s activities…or, it also might be the look I get when I whip my camera out and start taking her photo for the millionth time. That face is so perfect, I need to perfect that for those who annoy me, haha. I promise I only took this one photo this time.

~Stay Inspired

Some New Avenues

Hand Dyed Yarn: Wooly Mastadon

In a past post I discussed how stash enhancement is rare and exciting in my life. Thus, this means that I have to get creative with the stash I have. Mind you, I have a healthy yarn stash, and I feel blessed to have all that I have and to have friends and family who gift me quite a bit of what I have. Yet, sometimes I need something different.

Cue dyeing yarn. Several months ago I invested in a few supplies to dye yarn at home with Kool-Aid, icing colors, gel food colors, and regular food colors. I had been inspired after a class I took this spring during my last semester of college. I had dyed one skein of yarn and one braid of roving and wanted to do more. However, I wasn’t comfortable using commercial dyes in my kitchen, thus food safe dyes. Last summer I had messed around with dying single skeins of yarn one color with Kool-Aid, but never got very far. This past week, I took it a bit farther with more experimentation. Once again, the wool is old, some yarn I got from my Aunt ages ago and didn’t know what to do with because of it’s boring white color. Dying was clearly the solution because although my results are so far from perfect, I really want to knit with this now. Any suggestions? I really want to get into yarn dyeing for myself and thus I used one of my hand-bound sketchbooks from a fiber class a year ago to keep dye pot notes. Let me know if you are interested in what I did to get these colors and if you are interested in this type of dyeing. I love it, but do you want to hear about it?

Project Bags: Wooly Mastadon

Another step in my crafty journey has been sewing. Many years ago my Grandma gave me my Grandpa’s sewing machine. She wanted someone to have it who would use it (she also gave me his guitars, I haven’t been as succesful with those but I love sitting down a practicing cords on the instruments my Grandpa made people happy with), and I had plans to do just that…but I never set it up. About two months ago I set it up with good intentions and then just never got to it. Last week after I dyed yarn I put another one of my days off to sewing. Now, I’m not a seamstress and I may have sent distress signals to my Mom a few times (she is the best seamstress I know, although she wouldn’t agree with that title), but I managed to sew the bags on my own. The drawstring bag is a formula I gleaned from my Mom a year ago with my own spin on it (flat bottom). The box bag is from this tutorial. I’m glad I found that because I had never sewn in a zipper or used interfacing so I feel accomplished for only ever sewing a basic apron before. A few things I learned…cut all of the loose strings, they make knots, and don’t use sew-in interfacing when it says to use iron-on interfacing. I spent probably an extra half to full hour messing with that stupid interfacing because it wasn’t ironed onto the fabric.

Crafty adventures unite. I hope to do more of both of these, dyeing yarn and sewing. Do you have any favorite projects? What are your tips for success? I’d love to hear what you have to share.

~Stay Inspired

Spinning Fest!

Bad Luck: Wooly Mastadon

Just as I expected I was able to do some spinning these past two days that I have had off of work. I decided I would just pop in and share what’s happening.

Pictured at the beginning of this post is my Bad Luck yarn. It was an unknown wool I purchased at a fiber swap to support my local community arts center. When I started spinning it I realized it looks just like those ‘fire gang’ creatures from Labyrinth (the movie with David Bowie). I love that movie so making a connection to it was awesome. I got 266 yards of a light sport/heavy fingering weight yarn, a 2 ply. I am not sure what I’ll knit with it yet, but I’m thinking it should be tied into Labyrinth in some way. Any suggestions?

Navajo Ply: Wooly Mastadon

The second thing I finished up was some navajo plying sampling. I had a tiny bit of blue fiber of an unknown fiber content that I decided to spin up to practice navajo plying with. I had finished spinning it two weeks ago and just never got to the intended purpose of the project. I plied it today and ended up with 20 yards of a 3 ply. I don’t know if I’ll do anything with it but we’ll see. It is extremely over-spun and wonky.

Rainbow Roving: Wooly Mastadon

Finally, I am starting something new. This spring I had dyed some roving in a fiber class during my last semester of college (info here). It is a bit felted because of my lack of knowledge and skills in this area, but it ended up pretty vibrant in a rainbow colorway. I decided to give it a try spinning it. I have divided it in half: pictured on the right is the drafted fiber ready to go, on the left what is left of the roving. If I can spin it despite the felting issue I might actually aim towards making this into an art piece for an upcoming local art show, but we’ll see. I don’t know if I’ll like this or not so no promises.

Oh yeah, and I actually updated my stash on Ravelry…well the only part of the stash that will ever get on there, fiber. I decided that since my goal with fiber is to stay on top of the stash, then I will post my fiber stash on Ravelry so I know what I have and can see at a glance what I have to spin. I don’t plan on doing this with yarn, because although I don’t have anywhere near enough yarn to run a yarn store, there is enough there that it would take way too much time and effort to photograph it and put the info into my stash on Ravelry. I feel I’d be wasting precious spinning, knitting, crocheting, and blogging time. Well, that’s about it. Until next time.

~Stay Inspired

Snowdrifts and Sweaters

snow Wooly Mastadon

It’s here! The snow has finally hit Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and in full force. We are expected to end up with at least 20ish inches of snow after this. Yesterday morning the ground was bare. This morning it feels like the middle of winter. Originally I had requested a day off from work today so that I could go on a field trip with a class from my college (yay for small colleges and letting alum come along). That was postponed due to weather so I got myself and old fashioned snow day. It has been great. Although some basic chores still needed to be done (stupid laundry) I have been able to fit in some quality time with one of my current WIPs. The Splitstone has been on my needles for a few weeks now and in hibernation for most of them. Because of the events in my last post, I ended up abandoning any projects that took a lot of attention and space and went for plain socks. Today I veered back onto the path of my sweater.

Splitstone: Wooly Mastadon

I wasn’t sure how I would keep track of all of the cables and shaping and I had read that some people created spreadsheets to track the progress of the sweater. I decided to get out my graph paper and go to work. The result is a grid with tons of numbers color coded and highlighted sections to alert me to a cable cross or increase/decrease section. I am not the best at memorizing patterns, I end up being one of those people who obsessively checks the pattern (unless I have done serious mods, in which case I ignore it) and makes sure I am on track. This chart has made that so much easier. At this point, my best tip for this sweater: make a chart. It helps so much.

Socks: Wooly Mastadon

I also have started on yet another pair of toe-up socks (full disclosure, I finished that other pair of socks and have worn and washed them once…I just still need to photograph them). When I started them I had received the comment from the people I was talking with that they couldn’t figure out how I could possibly knit socks while not paying attention, especially the toe of a sock. For most of these people, they can knit basic things but have never ventured into sock knitting so they view it with a sort of awe. For me to sit down and start knitting the toe of a sock without any effort while carrying the conversation was amazing to them. I thought it was kind of funny but these are my sanity projects and if I have to pay real close attention to them they just won’t happen.

Spinning is on the docket for this evening, we’ll see if I can finish plying up some fiber and wash some yarn. Look for some exciting projects and new features to come in the next few months. I feel my love of creating coming back with full force and a renewed focus on what my real passions are in life. It’s going to be fun. In the meantime, all of the comforting fiber projects sound perfect right now, along with hot tea, cocoa, a fire in the fireplace, a good book, and a great hand made afghan…oh yeah, and my pooch.

~Stay Inspired

P.S. I may or may not have spent some quality time trudging through the snow, without a jacket, hat or mittens because I had to get the perfect photograph of the snow…now!

Knitting Socks, and Thoughts

Socks: Wooly Mastadon

Well, it has been pretty slow around here…well, at least on the blog. It has been anything but slow in life. Last week, I found myself knitting in a hospital waiting room, wondering. Wondering if my family member would be okay, wondering what would happen, wondering how life was going to change, wondering, worrying, hoping. I sat there with family and friends watching the patient status board, hoping to see the status switch to recovery so that we could visit my family member soon after. I sat there at a loss, because there was nothing I could do…but knit. I brought along socks to knit, the ones that I had mentioned earlier but then ended up languishing in hibernation because of holiday gift knitting. I brought them out for this, and knit and knit and knit. I knit in the hospital waiting room and got about 1.5 socks done. Then there was relief; my family member was okay, although recovery would be slow. I could go to the room and visit. It nearly broke my heart to see my strong loved one so weak with the drugs and surgery still fresh. So I knit and knit and knit. I had nearly both socks completed minus the heals. It was therapeutic and helped me to keep my mind on positive thoughts and prayers.

During my stay in the town miles away from home, I found a yarn shop. I ended up stopping in on one of the several days of my stay since my family member’s recovery would take several days, perhaps even a week. When in the shop I purchased sock yarn, with the hopes to start yet another pair of socks soon after. The owner of the yarn shop started chatting with me and was impressed that I knit socks. It them came up why I was staying in town and she started discussing prayer shawls. She had worked at the very hospital my family member was staying at for 35 years and during that time knit or crocheted prayer shawls for some of the patients. On a stand by the door of the yarn shop, she had one of her hand crocheted afghans, one of her prayer shawls. She looked at it and gave it to me. She wouldn’t take money for it or anything. She told me to bring it to my family member, that it was a prayer shawl and that many people were praying for her. It was beautiful and heartwarming, it brought tears to my eyes. It brought my faith back in people, and reminded me of the generosity of crafters and creators. It was a wonderful reminder.

Shortly after I had to return home. I had work to return to and a pooch to take care of. It is lonely without my family around, and it was even harder knowing I would had to leave my family member at that hospital, that I couldn’t take them with me and bring them back to the comforts of home. I know they are in the safe place right now, that there is an arsenal of wonderful and friendly nurses watching them, and that the doctors and another family member are close by. But it doesn’t take away the pain, the nagging feeling that I should be there. So I knit, and knit, and knit.

And I hoped and prayed, that my family member will be able to come home safe soon, and that the path to recovery will be  as complete and swift as possible. All that hoping and praying will pay off in a day, when my family member will return, to gain strength and fight the illness that tried to take them: cancer. There is hope and I will hold onto it tight, and knit.

Such is life and absence here. Perhaps it will continue for a bit, where I only pop in once a week or so, perhaps it won’t, but you better believe that my creating will not stop and that it will help to keep me sane as a side project. My graphic design, photography, crafting, and finally blogging mojo is back…basically I want to create again.

The Lord is guiding all things, and he will bring my family through this.

~Stay Inspired

Happy Halloween!

Halloween: Wooly Mastadon

No fancy projects to share, no printables, just a holiday greeting. I’m not into horror or any of that but you better believe that I like Halloween. I’m more of a pumpkin everything, cute colors, candy crazed, kind of person. I have an arsenal of animal headband/masks and tails for several animals to use for different Halloween needs (cats (plural, yes), lion, mouse, zebra, etc). I may have even dressed up as the mouse at work today. Really though, I like Halloween for the lighthearted fun. Several years ago I made a few knit Candy Corn with a pattern by Anna Hrachovec. I also made the Sarcofocat shortly after her book Super Scary MochiMochi came out. I have all of her books to date and decided it was time to make a few friends for the candy corn. That is how I celebrate Halloween, with a cute ghostie, candy and cheesy movies.

While we’re on the movie front, here’s a list of my must see Halloween movies;

  • It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown
  • Hocus Pocus
  • Beatle Juice
  • Corpse Bride
  • Casper (the one with real people)
  • Adams Family
  • Adams Family Values
  • Scooby Doo (either of the two movies made with real people)
  • The Haunting
  • Nightmare Before Christmas
  • Ghostbusters 1 and 2

There’s a theme here: mostly family friendly movies that have a good amount of cheesiness or silliness. That’s my kind of Halloween. Enjoy it!

~Stay Inspired

Lions and Tigers and…Recipes? Ah Well

Sweet and Savory Binder Covers: Wooly Mastadon

  Sweet Cover — Savory Cover

For the bast two years or so I have been keeping a binder for all of the recipes I print from off the internet (I’m looking at you Pinterest!). This year, however they were starting to outgrow the on binder I had them in. I took this as an opportunity to revise how I organized my binder and divided it into two different volumes: Sweet and Savory. This is mainly because I end up printing a gazillion sweet recipes off Pinterest that I probably will never get to, but I digress. Anyway, because I enjoyed this project and it was a quick and easy way to dress up my binders, I thought I’d share my printables with you. Feel free to download and enjoy. Good luck on your recipe organization!

~Stay Inspired

Project Ideas Please

Camelot Dyeworks Haul: Wooly Mastadon

A few months ago I purchased some yarn from a new to me and local dyer, Camelot Dyeworks. I realized I never shared it with you and would like some ideas from you all. First of all, I just want to say, if you get the chance to visit her shop in person in Calumet, Michigan, do it! It is well stocked and a dream to see all of the handdyed yarns and fibers. She also sells some commercial yarns, needles, wool wash, and notions, but her own work is what I love the most. Thus far I have a skein of her Birthday Cake colorway on the Percival base. I also have a batt in the colorway Bad Fairy. They are both perfect.

Here’s the catch, I’m not sure what to make with each of them. I have decided I don’t want to make socks with the yarn (although it has nylon in it, so it would be fine) because I want the yarn to be seen, it’s so nice. Thus, I have conisdered knitting a hat out of it, perhaps the Sockhead hat. I’m not sold completely on that though, so I need your ideas. Thoughts?

I also would like to spin the batt, but this is uncharted territory for me. I have never spun a batt (that’s the main reason I purchased one of those as opposed to roving) and want to make something awesome with it. Do I ply it? Do I leave it as singles? What do I do once I’ve spun it? Perhaps the answer will come during the process, it often does.

Today I am here to get your thoughts on these projects. What would you make? While your at it, why don’t you go and check out her yarn for yourself!

~Stay Inspired

New Stash, New Projects, and Fun

LYS Yarn Haul: Wooly Mastadon

Since I can’t say that stash enhancement is something I do regularly, I was very happy to swing by my LYS (local yarn shop) and pick up a few goodies to play with. Last time I went I was on a mission to find yarn to knit my Dad some hats (which he loved…in fact, he liked them so much when KnitPicks had a sale in January he sat down with me and honestly, I think he had more fun picking out yarn than I did. What?!). Needless to say, I didn’t get anything for myself then but this time I went mostly for me. I ended up bringing home two skeins of yarn. Some Opal in color #8465 and some Plymouth Yarn Neon Now in color #002. I also picked up a pack of felting needles…finally…but it’s the wool I’m excited about.

Yarn Haul: Wooly Mastadon

I also figured I share some not so amazing but still stash enhancement yarn from a week ago. It’s nothing fancy, some Bernat Softee Chunky  in the Grey Heather colorway and some Red Heart Reflective in the Neon Yellow colorway. I have some plans for this yarn. I am hoping to design a cowl that features the neon as stripes throughout the gray, but that will have to wait. I’ve got way to much on the needles right now.

New stash is a big deal in my mind, especially since college loan repayment is taking almost all of my money. However, all of my crafty outbursts lately have mostly revolved around using what I have. My Splitstone is from yarn that was given to me and I’ve had in the stash for a few years. My socks and shawl are made with yarn from the stash. I’ve been pretty good at using what I have. That only goes so far before you need to do something different. Thus stash enhancement always makes for something interesting.

On the life front, it has been a rollercoaster of goods, bads, and just plain difficult times. Knitting has been my me time. The Lord has been my rock. It is something we all have to work through at times. Perhaps there will be less project posts here and more thought posts for a while until things fall into place, perhaps not. We shall see as life unfolds.

~Stay Inspired