For all 3 of you still reading: Mint Calico

Heya. It’s been a while. How’s it going?

This past turkey sponsored weekend I spun my first batt AND my first non-sheep fibre. A while ago I found some terribly tasty looking batts on Etsy and I just couldn’t resist buying them. Finally after spinning spinning spinning wool, I really couldn’t wait any longer to take a shot at the bamboo.

First I followed the batt to roving instructions I found in one of Mr. Peabody’s newly purchased spinning/dyeing/colour books. You know how you can take a sheet of paper, rip a strip from one end, but not all the way to the other, turn and repeat until it ‘unfolds’ to make kind of one long thin strip instead of a rectangle? That’s what I did to make the batt more roving like.

But I didn’t think to take pictures until the next stage of drafting the ‘roving’ to a more consistent size.

And then again when I drafted it to more of a pencil roving, time to spin me size. I’m very glad I thought to clear my desk as it took the entire open surface.

THEN it was time to spin! Let me remind you that this was my FIRST time spinning bamboo and only the SECOND time I’ve spun something that didn’t come from a sheep. I have the feeling that spinning cotton candy would be very similar to spinning this bamboo from a batt. It REALLY wanted to stick to my fibre supply hand, even more so if there was any sort of moisture (I am a sweaty palm/feet girl).

But in the end I made it through all the prepared fibre.

And got a pretty kick ass yarn out of the whole experience. I like to think of it as some sort of calico cat-like yarn.

Mint Calico
loop – Mint Chocolate Chip
3 oz. 2-ply handspun
100% Bamboo from a batt

Oh and there was some festive holiday weekend food related/chore related activities too. I now have eco-puritan friendly lighting and evening lighting options. Overall a very productive and yet somehow very relaxing as well.

Happy Yarn Day to Me

“It’s my yarn day and I’ll buy what I want to, buy what I want to, BUY what I want to.
It’s my yarn day and I’ll buy what I want to, buy what I want to, BUY what I want to.
You would buy too if it happened to you. [do di do dooooooo do]”

First let’s start with this. Robyn tagged me with that 7 Random Things thing).

List seven random and/or weird facts about yourself. Tag seven random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs. Let each person know that they have been tagged by posting a comment on their blog and also so they can look at your blog and not tag the same people all over again!

My 7 Random Things:

1. I’m quite afraid of heights (I like to say that’s the reason I’m short) but LOVE to climb to the tops of things (trees, zip lines, tall buildings in a touristy context: Il Duomo—Florence, St Peter’s Basilica—Rome, Eiffel Tower, Empire State, St Paul’s—London which was quite nerve racking with the wrought iron stairs and sweaty flip flops, etc.) and have NO issues with flying in airplanes.

2. Despite having been on many a flight since grade 8, I ALWAYS insist upon a window seat and WILL make you move if you try and sit in it. It’s mine. I asked for it first. And if there’s good visibility I will get a crink in my neck from starring out too much, if there’s not, I’ll still get a crink from take off and landing.

3. I’m a sweets person, not a chocolate person. My favourite thing about being a grown up is being able to eat candy whenever I want. I have been known to have a bag of wine gums or swedish berries for dinner (not because I’m poor, just because I want to and no one’s around to tell me different). Oh and wine gums are best when properly aged, the very best being the no-name ones you get out of those HUGE bins at Safeway that have been there for 20 years.

4. I never had a baby blankie. Instead I had a velour housecoat of my great-grandmother’s that I would have over my pillow and I’d scratch the surface to feel the texture under my nails as I fell asleep. The housecoat was replaced over the years (always velour and always as a top pillow case, some were sculpted and made the texture more interesting) and I kept it up into High School.

5. a) I hate Hate HATE the sound of vacuum cleaners. SO loud! This is likely why I have no carpet in my apartment and only sweep (vacuuming hardwood is the WORST).

5. b) My favourite cupboard in my kitchen is where I keep the cleaning supplies. I heart the little submarine-like door with the little latch and how the cupboard itself is perfectly suited to storing and organising all the cleaners inside. Plus it smells like cleaners which is strangely comforting.

5. c) Despite my odd love of the cupboard and its contents, my place is not kept obsessively clean. I think this is a peculiarity of living alone.

6. I like working with my hands (again with the very tactile person that I am). I’m a geeky gardener and wood worker in addition to the craftyness you see here. This comes from spending summers at my parents’ lake cabin. I’ve also taken sailing lessons and love Luv LURVE to swim. Ocean, lake, pool: anytime anywhere.

7. I used to take gymnastics as a kid (Mr. Peabody too). Saturday mornings at the University of Alberta’s Gym. I did the same level for 3 years because I couldn’t do a backwards roll. I was at the point of being able to do a cartwheel on the balance beam (not so scary) and starting to do mid-air changes on the uneven bars (SUPER scary. See no. 1). Finally Mr. Peabody and I ended our careers by protesting the inability to watch Saturday morning cartoons (that or our parents didn’t like having to wake up and drag our bodies out of bed and around town every week). But my parents bought us a trampoline so the best of gymnastics was still to be had.

8. I have sweaty, hot palms and feet. It’s not really a nervous thing (but they are of course moist in such situations as well) and is especially bad when I wear synthetic shoes. This meant I never had (and can never wear) those jelly sandals they had when I was a kid. Even Havainas are rather iffy but somehow the super cheap ones from Longs Drugs are A-ok.

Oh and 7 people to tag…..uh consider yourself officially tagged. Yes. I’m going to be lazy and cop out like that.

My birthday was on Saturday (26) and the present I got from my parents was a day of sponsored yarn shopping and a renewal of my Interweave subscription. Mr. Peabody tried to be sneaky and steal my list of future projects and yarn that each requires (made during a slow day a few months ago) but didn’t know it was in the notebook I take with me to work everyday. Hrm. But I didn’t mind making a day of it. Half the fun is going and fondling the fibres.

I woke up to find a Happy Birthday email from Mr. Peabody and many a festive Facebook wall post. Mr. Peabody came over and made me breakfast. Yummy maple bacon and eggs, fabulous sold by the inch bread toast and maple butter croissants. After he had washed down the inside of my fridge, we set out on the town with totes in tow.

First stop, Effiloché. Wandering around and squishing the pretty yarn, I ended up finding some lovely sock yarns. In fact, some of the things from my previous list of tasty fibres. And some others that are just tasty.

Some lovely Colinette Jitterbug in Velvet Plum (I think that’s the name, the stamp doesn’t read so well) for like some socks of some kind.

Self-striping Regia in some tealy greys (5542). Uh. I think there’s probably some city or something related to this colour, but I just think it’s pretty. It may become some Jaywalkers. I was looking for this other color that I saw last time I was at Effiloché with like burgundys and reds and teals (self-striping) but there was none to be had.

But my favourite is really the wild card Trekking pro natura. I’m LOVING these as my future Entrelac socks. The pattern is great, but I wasn’t crazy about the colour choice in the pattern. The subtleties of the yarn are lost to the contrast in colours. But I do enjoy the teal. I think these colours that are closer in value will play off each other nicely. The blue has some variations in tone which will be set of nicely by the charcoal. I’m actually racing through my test knitting because I want to immediately cast on for this project.

I had wanted to get some Felted Tweed for that Tangled Yoke number but they didn’t have the colour I wanted. Plus ordering online isn’t nearly as fun as squishing in person.

Our next stop in our journey was Ariadne where there was food, fibre and fun to be had. I showed Mr. Peabody my choice for Juliet and he poo-pooed my choice as being much too bright. He suggested some subtler purpley colours. I considered it but in the end decided to go with my original choice.

I want this sweater to be the focus of whatever I wear it with and the duller purples would make for a frumpier piece. They are nice colours, but darker duller purple + my wardrobe of grey shirts = frumpy boring Jane. And I don’t need any more help to be frumpy. The photo really doesn’t do justice to the colour. It’s really quite fabulous.

After hanging out and partaking of some bagels and tea, we headed out again. Our next part of the quest was ‘Chercher des patin pour faire patiner sur la patinoire’ (to find skates for skating on the skating rink, it works better if you imagine me speaking the Bad French. Though I assure you that I can speak the Good French, it’s just not as fun). Both of us left our ice skates in Alberta because, well, it’s like not a thing that people really go do. Yes there are community rinks all around, but you’ve got to pay for the community membership to be ‘allowed’ to skate on them. And winter’s pretty cold and miserable most of the time to just get up out of the lovely centerally heated house, to go skating. Plus I want a pair of real live leather skates. No more of this vinyl exterior shiz. I want me some grown up skates for keeps as I’m now in the new age box and everything.

We went to a few outdoorsy equipment places in the Plateau and found all sorts of fancy ski-boots-with-blades-attached, but not what I know as skates. What I call skates are white, leather that you have to buy a size smaller. Cram in extra socks and tie until you barely have any blood circulation so that there’s enough ankle support. There’s no concern about feet hurting as you can’t feel them anyways. THAT’S a pair of skates. Not these silly Reebok numbers that I’ve seen. Just because they stick some picks on the front and tie them with pink laces doesn’t make them girl skates either. There shall be further investigation.

Next was shopping for dinner. Mr. Peabody very kindly offered to make a dinner of my choice. I went with roast beef with Yorkshire pudding and all the fixings. How Anglo can you get? It’s something my mom makes pretty regularly and I really haven’t had a proper Sunday roast since leaving London (I’ve only been home in the summer, and it’s really not a summer meal). Dinner was fabulous. We didn’t eat until 8 pm and then keep eating and eating and eating until midnight.

Oh and I didn’t have a cake. It was a lemon meringue tarte. That’s 9. I heart all things lemon (dessert wise). If there’s a lemon choice, I’ll take it. Lime will serve as runner up.

Other birthday treats? A great book from Sharon. After I finished reading Marie Antoinette, we had an impromtu book club about it, especially in relation to the movie. I’m kind of addicted to biographies these days and Antonia Fraser writes a great, interesting, informative, compelling biography. So Sharon gave me a copy of Love and Louis XIV: The Women in the Life of the Sun King and I look forward to see what shenanigans Louis gets up to.

I leave you with a couple of extra cheerful sock yarns I treated myself to last week:

The flood gates have been opened

I wouldn’t say I’ve been on a “yarn diet.” We all know how I don’t like trendy terms like that. But there has been a general lack of yarn being bought for new projects. My ‘sporadic employment’ has kept me from being a proper North American consumer, buying things willy nilly just cause their soft/sparkly/pretty. Instead I’ve had the challenge of what to make with the soft/sparkly/pretty yarns I’ve bought in the past.

This has brought you projects such as the Deep V Argyle Vest (though one of the yarns was purchased for the project), the Noro Surprise Jacket (still in a time out, but we’ll talk about that later), some Endpaper Mitts, the Cable Eyelet Ribbed Cardigan (still in the works: shoulder shaping!), the Sideways Pullover (did have to buy a couple of skeins to be able to finish), and an Itchy Pink Lopi Raglan (I think I have WAY more than I’ll need) not to mention a few Le’Slouches.

Though there has been some yarn buying for projects, I don’t consider any of them major project purchases. I haven’t bought a sweater’s worth of yarn in years.

But the past month or so my professional life has been quite productive and busy so I have been able to reward myself with some yarn for future projects. I hear you laughing, ‘MORE Briggs & Little Sport?!?!’ Yes, thank you very much! Working with the Sheep’s Grey for the Ravenclaw Knee Socks was such a pleasure that I used it again for the Latvian Mittens. I have been wanting a charcoal and a light grey cardigan for quite a while now, so rather than just buy one at the Gap, I’m going to have fun making my own. And with the yarn for one sweater costing $20, who’s laughing now? Huh? That’s what I thought.

I mean it may not be Rowan Felted Tweed destined for greatness but I really like how the straight-from-the-sheep yarn from Briggs & Little knits up. And to be honest, I’m not a cardigan against the bare skin kind of girl. That’s just too risqué for moi!

Oh and the Anniversary Twist I plan on becoming a Sunrise Circle Jacket. Having seen a really nice one out of a handspun yarn, I thought the Anniversary Twist would lend itself really nicely to the pattern. Plus at the time of getting the yarn there was no way to get the pattern for the Central Park Hoodie (though I’d still like to get my hands on that issue of Knitscene, there’s some other great patterns in there.

Oh and I snuck in some goodies for myself at Ariadne Knit’s Opening Day Celebrations. The Whiskey was not to be resisted, and I have too many sock patterns and not enough sock yarns.

But while all this yarn buying hasn’t broken the bank, it did open the flood gate. I spent the better part of a slow day at work pricing out yarn for future projects. In order to resist ordering it all on the spot, I made myself price out including shipping/taxes/exchange rate (benefits of working as a Cashier during University) to see exactly what projects will cost. Uh, for future reference, yeah, that’s it.

Invasion of the yarn cakes

They have escaped from their natural habitat of Rubbermaid and have been out exploring. They have been establishing base camps in various locations in my apartment after the scouts returned to the mother ship with their findings. It’s official, the yarn is taking over!

After an initial test base on the desk with expeditions into the printers, the yarn chose to use the coffee table for it’s base of operations. This facilitated the production of fully knitted garments through the power of suggestion.

While the yarn continues to explore new environs such as the couch, it has encountered other foreign beings that feed on full grown yarn cakes. These horrifying half beings have long been established in this land. The scouts are sure to report back that security needs to be tightened back at the camp.

One of the early and well most successful established camps is the bookcase. This real estate is most coveted by the yarn out of sheer proximity to family and friends still in the comforts of the bin.

Born from fortuitous juxtaposition in the new world, these three yarn cakes have formed an unlikely friendship. They are in talks with some very eager charts to create a lovely knitted brocade of sorts.

While work has keep me from having the energy to knit most evenings (or even stay awake), knitting is still on the brain.

Have a good weekend all.