Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Holidays are here again!

I've always loved the holiday season, and this one is no exception. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, exchanging gifts and having an overall good time. The only problem I have is TIME - time never seems to be on my side during the month of December. I'm constantly running around either to parties and gatherings or to performances and jewelry shows (got to capitalize on the Christmas cheer and shopping!) By the end of the year I am so pooped I swear the next year will be different and I'll get all my shopping done before the 23rd! Well do you think I've done any of my shopping yet? umm nope and I probably won't be able to till a week before Christmas...Oh well another year where procrastination and poor time management come out on top! I always get it done so I guess it's not too bad...BRING IT ON! Good thing I don't knit gifts or I'd really be stressed.

Speaking of shopping, I've updated the Store with some handpainted sock yarn and some of the yarn I posted about last week. I'm in the midst of spinning so I don't really have any new yarns to show but I do have plenty of jewelry

These are a little more unique with all the crystal pendants.

This one was one of my favorites - Baltic amber and a ancient fossil of a shell - but this past weekend it sold. Selling the necklaces can be bitter sweet - I'm very happy that someone loves it and is going to enjoy wearing it, but I'll miss looking at it especially if it took me forever to make!

Don't think I haven't been knitting (even though I was such a slacker this weekend, knitting and spinning wise!)

One sock down and close to halfway on the next.

This weekend I performed in the last two shows of Die Fledermaus - it was fantastic! I had so much fun - even though I whined and bitched about all the time it took up - it was absolutely worth it! I'm already sighed up for the next opera L'elisir d'amour! I'm only doing chorus for the first few productions since I came late in the season after all the shows were cast - but I'm hoping to get a chance at leads for next year. I got some of the best compliments after the last show - a few people came up to me and said I was their favorite non-lead part, and that I really took command of the stage and the part even though it was all really pantomime. That really made me feel good...and more confident in my acting abilities.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll have a shot of me in full costume as well as some cast pictures!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


I think I am all spun out from this weekends marathon spinning sessions, I haven't been in the mood to spin. Although, I have been dreaming up some different styles of yarn to spin - getting those supercoils just right and blending in mohair curls.

Ohh I just got 2 lanaset dye kits from Julie at Sheep Hollow I'm so excited to start playing with them. My mother also brought over a huge stainless steel pot for steaming. I'm going to try my hand at the traditional dyeing methods and then see how I can speed them up!

I've also been in a knitting mood. I have made some progress on my self stripe sock as you can see - socks really fly with enough train knitting time.

I really like the way it is striping out and the pink is pretty cute - not really my style but still cute. The only problem with the sock is I don't really like the way the heel came out I think it's a bit to narrow and I think next time I'll choose a different heel flap this one is too boring. Actually next time I'll be following a real pettern - jaywalkers here I come!

I've got more yarn soaking destined to be stripes and some slated for a varigated look. I really enjoy experimenting with the dyes and the combinations of color. The great thing is, if you mess up you can always overdye!

Well I must finish cleaning off this desk and then I'm off to a nice long weekend with my family, and my last two shows (I'm going to miss being on stage although the next opera is in Jan. or feb. oh yeah!) I wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving and for those who are in other countries and/or don't celebrate i, have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Finally I have time to post

Just because I've been busy (and have been whining about it) doesn't mean I've been slacking on my fiber addiction.

I've been busy in the dyeing department - I got some natural sock yarn in and here are my results:

I really like the way these came out! Especially the red/sunset one. Each of these skeins have 440 yards of merino which is plenty to make a pair of socks

This one is about 400 yards of a fine two ply merino which is so soft! When I wound it into a center pull ball it looks a bit more pastel but I still love it.

This is my very first self striping sock yarn and the sock I'm knitting with it. I was so anxious to see how it turned out I took it out of the dye bath WAY too early, and so it's really pastel - at first I wasn't very happy but it's really growing on me.

It's not all about dying commercially spun yarns around here I've also got a bunch of spinning done.

This is a batch of 8 skeins of 130 yards of very bulky BFL plied with a commercially spun novelty yarn and a metallic thread. These are going straight to The Point one of my LYS's. The owner ordered 8 skeins of this fun stuff. It's enough to knit a scarf with on big needles and it's totally unique. You had to see me spinning like a mad woman this weekend to get 8 of these done - she ordered them on friday and wanted them today! It would have been easy if I wasn't in the opera from 6-midnight on sat. and 3-8:30 on sunday! But I got them all spun up - marathon spinning let me tell you.

Here are two skeins of Austrailian Merino - not quite as soft as some of my other merinos but still very nice. It's a two ply which has some tropical firestar thrown in for sparkle. These two skeins together have 350 yards of DK weight.

Ohh I love this one it is silky and soft BFL 2 ply dk weight 200 yards in this skein.

Ohh here we are with the rainbows again - a single ply thick and thin from sport weight to chunky 205 yards of austrailian merino.

This one is 95 yards of thick and thin austrailian merino plied with the leftovers of the first two skeins with the firestar.

This soft lovely is 2 ply BFL and a metallic thread added for holiday sparkle - 155 yards.

If anyone is interested in any of the yarns on my site just email me for price and availability. I'll have a site soonbut until then email works great!

And just cause I love to embarass myself here is a picture of me (on the very left) with some of the other cast members at this weekends performance of Die Fledermaus - btw, I am playing a 19th century lesbian - how hysterical is that!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

I am so special...

Well I have a bunch of pictures of my recent spinning, my first few dyed variegated sock yarns and some cute kitty pics, but..well I forgot my friggin card reader! I have my Camera and my CF card but without the reader I'm pictureless.

And as of today I'm almost Yarnless! A Wonderful customer in Mass. just purchased a large chunk of my inventory, and she is very nice to boot! I have an appointment to show some of my yarns to my LYS so I have to get spinning tonight. Last night I was busy making earrings and necklaces for a jewelry showing my sister is doing for me at my mother's job. I whipped up 10 pairs of earrings and 4 lariat necklaces last night and I added them to my display. I hope they sell cause this is going to be the money for our next vacation!

I'm starting to feel that maybe I'm taking on too much, I've got the Opera rehearsals, weekly voice lessons, holiday jewelry parties and sales, spinning and sales of yarn to companies and individual customers, my new idea of dyeing and selling sock yarns - btw, self stripe socks are really a pain to do - although the results are wonderful, and working my day job. Not to mention Thanksgiving is coming up, and Christmas shopping - I pray I don't implode! I guess sometimes I set too many goals for myself and take on a lot more than I should. I have a hard time feeling like I am good enough - I'm not spinning fast enough, or making enough money, not in the opera career I wanted to be in, or doing enough to get out of this day job and onto something I love full time. Maybe it's, I'm 27 and feel I should be so much further along than I am career wise. Intellectually I know that I'm young and such things take time and you can't rush life but ARGH if only I could not have to work this day job, I'd have more time to do the things I love. Hmmm I need more lotto tickets!

Oh well I've bored you enough, here is a picture of one of my favorite places:

This is the Medieval Clock in Prague, isn't it wonderful! E and I went there this past April and I really want to go back. The 3 years before that we went to Italy, first Florence, then Rome, and lastly Venice - can you tell we LOVE Italy - it also helps that E speaks Italian and Spanish. The questions is, where should we go next year? I really want to go to Morocco but in this political climate it might not be the best idea.

Monday, November 14, 2005

And the Winner is...

YAHAIRA! congrats girl, I'll be emailing you shortly, but if you read this before I get a chance to, send me over your address and I'll send you out some yarn. I don't have a picture of it right now but I will tomorrow! (just to let you all know I used a random number generator to choose the winner)

Thank you for all the responses to my contest/poll! What I've gleaned from this is you all want sock yarn!! Especially the likes of "socks that rock" and vesper sock yarn. In addition, most people love to look at the bulkies and novelties but would rather knit with dk or worsted.

I'm working on the sock yarn thing and getting my spinning down to some dk and less thicknesses. I've also been planning my next dying adventure for the self stripe socks and the richly saturated variegated color yarn. I'm going to do some testing tonight and hopefully tomorrow we'll have some good results!

On Saturday Stephanie had us Spiders over for food, drinks, knitting and yarn swapping!

This pic really sums up the night

That's socks that rock in Jewel of the Nile colorway and a fabulous blueberry pomegranate martini! Stephanie can really whip up a cocktail let me tell you!

Here is the loot!

We also got a ton of knitting in -

Here is Lisa, Katie and Veronique, not in the picture but there was Sarah, Abby (who wound and ran but left behind some really yummy cookies!), and of course Stephanie the hostess with the most-est!

I had a great time and can't wait for our next little adventure - dyeing at my place!

Spinning and knitting pics tomorrow when my camera is nice and charged!

Friday, November 11, 2005

I'm a convert!

Yup, you heard right I've converted - I will now, and forever use two circulars instead of DPN's for sock knitting!!! Of course I've seen many people use this technique and they have always said it's much easier and faster than DPN's, but since I didn't want to go out and buy two circ's in every size, I decided to stick with the multitude of DPN's I already had. Well, a few weeks ago I picked up two size 3 16 inch circs on sale and this morning for train knitting I decided to experiment. I cast on and it was so easy, I thought it would take more practice but after 15 min this is what I got:

A tiny tube 20 st. around. I love it, I'll probably go to ebay and pick up a few pairs of those Addi's everyone is addicted to and then hopefully the next pair of socks will fly off the needles.

Speaking of socks, so far, many people have commented and said they'd like to see some handspun and/or handdyed sock yarn. So....yesterday I went to a couple of my LYS's and picked up this:

8 oz of singles and 8 oz of 2-ply 100% merino sock yarn. Since I haven't had much time for spinning lately I figured I'll so some self striping sock yarn from this wonderful stuff. I also bought over a pound of 60% Merino 40% Acrylic to dye as well, this yarn is slightly thicker but I think size 3 needles would work well for a thick sock - think Regia. I'm going to swatch each up on different size needles and see what works. I think it'll be a fun project and hopefully it'll come out well and I can have them up for sale soon.

Although it isn't much, I have some spinning to show

Two small skeins of tan merino, one plied with a mystery mohair batt with a little sparkle in it, and one plied with a commercially spun mohair yarn. Also a nice large skein of turquoise merino with tropical firestar thrown in, it's 190 yards in a dk weight and I have more of this stuff to ply, maybe another 120 yards or so.

ohh here is some other stuff I scored at the LYS on sale!

I'll be adding these into my handspun for some funky novelty fun.

You can still get in on the contest/poll, it'll end at midnight tonight. For all of you who have already commented, thank you so much it's really a big help!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

dreams of knitting and spinning...

So, I guess it was wishful thinking when I said this week wasn't going to be as busy as last, cause so far it's busier! I won't be getting home before 11 for the next week and a half! well once the Opera is over, I'll be a free woman and I can get back to my evening spinning and knitting.

Until then, check out this Quiz by Veronique

You are The Point!
You want it all. You might have a hankering for
the most luxurious handpainted silk yarn. Or
maybe a couple of skein of Kureyon. Don't
worry, you can sit down, have a latte and
absorb it all...

What NYC yarn store are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

The Contest/Poll is still going on, I've been getting great feedback but would love some more. All you lurkers - get those comments posted and maybe you'll win some handspun yarn!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Back in business and a contest!

I have a feeling this week isn't going to be quite as crazy here at the job, and although my final rehearsals for the opera are coming up, it shouldn't be too hectic. I actually have some stuff to show, not much because my friggin camera's battery ran out before I had a chance to get everything.

On Friday I had a lovely time hanging out with the Spiders, and while there, I was working on a hat for my little sister which turned out to be way too short...yes yes you were right Veronique I really should have continued more before I started the decreases...man I am stubborn. Well I had to rip some out and here it is right after ripping.

Tonight I'll knit a few more inches before starting my decreases.

I've also finished my socks! Not quite in time for the end of socktober, but pretty close - they were done on November 2nd - not too bad.

They are so comfortable I have been wearing them around the house all week! I'm hoping to maybe score some sock yarn at the Spiders yarn swap so I can start another pair.

Oh here is a pic of the fiber I dyed last week, they are nice and dry and wrapped up into little fluff balls and ready to be spun up.

I went a little crazy with the blue and green this time (do the colors sound a little familiar Wendy?), I think next time I'm going to have more of a plan of action and make notes as to what colors I want in each roving, then I'll have more of a palette to work with after they are dry. It's so hard to get away from my favorite colors.

Here is a little bit of the spinning I got done:

This is 110 yards of the super silky soft Optim Merino...OMG it is so much like silk - I love it. Sorry for the crappy pic - the color is so much nicer in person.!

This one is 180! yards of the softest Merino, it's bulky and would make something perfect for next to the skin and very warm. It's a two ply one of 80's and one of 64's Merino.

I'm trying to figure out what kind of yarn people would like to see more of, so I'd like to take a poll and offer a random commenter a prize of one skein of handspun yarn with at least 100 yards - my choice of color and fiber.

So... would you like to see

1) single ply thick and thin
2) two ply balanced bulky
3) two ply dk
4) novelty yarn such as Glam Rock
5) any other ideas?

The contest will be over on Friday and I will randomly select the winner and then send out the prize! This will really help me, so thanks to all of you who participate.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

so. very. busy.

Last week was one of "those" weeks. You know what I mean, a week where you don't take a lunch hour and leave late every night from work, where every night after work you have to go to appointments you made months ago and can't cancel although you are so tired you aren't much use to anyone anyway. Well that was me last week. I seemed to be running around like crazy from Sat. to Sat. non-stop. Thank goodness today I can finally rest a bit and maybe, possibly, get some spinning in.

I must get some spinning in so I can show some of my yarns to one of my LYS's, How cool would it be to have my yarn at The Point! I heart that store. I'm also looking into getting together my own website for Brooklyn Handspun which will be together with my Sun and Moon Creations website where I have my jewelry. I haven't updated that site in ages so it's time for a fresh start.

Although I was tired E and I gave a jewelry making workshop to cancer survivors in queens on Thursday and it was great. Basically we go in there with supplies, show them how to string beads or simple earrings and they then head for all the bead boxes and bead to their hearts content. We only charge the organization for the supplies and we volunteer our time. It makes me feel so good to see them smile and look at the bracelet, necklace or earrings they have made. I think that the sense of accomplishment really lifts their spirit - there is something special and alive about handcrafting. This was the second time we've went and it won't be the last!

Well I'm going to clean the house (it's in desperate need) and then get to crafting so I can have lots of pictures for tomorrow's post! Enjoy what's left of your weekend!!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Fiber and Yarn Dyeing Tutorial - or how to dye cool stuff

First let me start off my saying there are lots of different techniques and styles of dyeing fiber and this is the way "I" dye my fiber. I call it the lazy/impatient/lack-of-space way of fiber/yarn dyeing in 10 easy steps.

Supplies needed:

-Fiber and/or yarn
-Large pots or bowls
-plastic wrap
-squeeze bottles - used only for this purpose
-white vinegar
-glass microwave safe bowl - used only for this purpose

Many people will tell you to do this in the backyard or garage and stay out of the house, although that is a wonderful idea, I live in an apartment building and I don't have the luxury of a backyard or a garage, and since the kitchen has the water, microwave and sink, this is where I do my dyeing.

Step 1:

Soak your fiber for at least 30 min before attempting to dye it.

The dye takes much better to fully wet fiber. Don't worry about using your food bowls for this step, no dye is going in there - just make sure you wash it well.

Step 2:

Prepare your work area, you can cover your counters with newspaper and then add a layer of saran wrap to put the fiber on. Since I don't do any cutting on the counter and I am hoping to get a new one I skip the newspapers - oh also because I am LAZY.

Step 3:

Squeeze out the fiber and lay it out on the plastic wrap. Spread the fiber out a bit to give you access to the inside of the skein or roving.
Since I have limited counter space I snake it out, if you have more space feel free to make one long snake - you will have more precise color separation.

Step 4:

Prepare your dyes - there are lots and lots of dyes to choose from. The ones I use are Procion MX, they are fiber reactive dyes and work for both plant and animal fibers. The reason I started with these dyes is because they are readily available in most art supply stores. I have amassed quite a few colors, 19 to be exact. Although I have taken the time to only use the primaries and mix my own secondary and tertiary colors, since this is the Lazy way I have all the colors I need (and then some) right here:

From what I know, these are not toxic dyes but you can become very allergic to them if you don't take some precautions. When working with the dye in powder form make sure you use a mask - the powder form is the hazardous state. I don't really measure the dye I just place about a 1/2 teaspoon into my 8oz squeeze bottle and then add to this a glug or two of vinegar. Once the dye is fully mixed with the vinegar I fill the rest of the bottle with tap water and give it a shake.

Step 5:

Start squeezing out some color onto your fiber. You could premeaure out sections of fiber, squeeze a bit of dye into each section and then take a foam brush and neatly press the dye into only whose sections - but I don't have the patience for that. I squeeze away either randomly or with some kind of pattern.

Go crazy, use color families, or lots of contrasting colors. If you don't like the dye job you can always overdye it!

Step 6:

Wrap it all up in the plastic wrap.

like this:

and then into fiber buns like this.

Step 7:

Nuke it! Place the buns (I'm afraid of what kind of searches are going to get to this site with all the BUNS!) into a microwave safe bowl and set it on high for 3 min. I like to put a few in each batch. After it is done let it rest for 3-5 min and nuke again for 3 min. I usually do this 2-3 times.

Step 8:

Wait for them to cool. This is the hardest part, I have been known to almost scorch my hands removing the hot (Note: VERY HOT!) fiber from the wrap to make it cool faster...this is not a good idea! If you let it rest over night the dye will have even longer to work on the fiber and you will get more brilliant results.

Step 9:

Remove the plastic wrap and dunk your fiber to rinse. Be patient with the plastic wrap it might have melted onto itself so you'll have to rip it open, but make sure not to rip the roving! Fill your sink up with room temp water and put the dyed roving in to remove all excess dye.

Make sure not to over agitate it you don't want felt! Just dunk it under a few times, if you have a lot of dye, keep refilling the water until all the dye is out. Then squeeze out excess water - don't wring - see above reason, and set aside.

look at all that dyed pretty stuff!!!

Step 10:

Hang it up to dry! I use some plastic hangers and my shower rod.

Right now they look a bit like psychedelic wet cats, but in a day or two they will be lovely and fluffly spinable fiber or knitable yarn.

Let me know if you have any questions. Or if I missed something, I'll post the dried results...umm when they are dry!