Monday, March 31, 2014

Welcome to my craft room!

The urge to spring clean our apartment has been difficult to resist lately, and my craft room has been especially in need of a good reorganization. I probably should have taken a "before" photo, but I would have been too embarrassed to share it on my blog - that's how disorganized it was!

I've been scouring pinterest for inspiration for organizing my craft room lately, but what really started the ball rolling was a flash sale from Thirty-One, where I was able to snag three roomy collapsible storage bins for 50% off!
I realized that they would be a great way to make the most of the ginormous armoire in the corner of the room, and that my spinning fiber would be much happier if it wasn't shut inside a plastic bin. As you can see, the first two bins are filled with fiber; though you can't tell in the above photo, the third bin is stuffed with my finished handspun skeins! I have plenty of cedar sachets and blocks placed throughout the armoire (including a block at the bottom of each bin) to protect against pests, and there is also room for my hand cards.
To the right of the fiber bins, I've stashed my bin of design samples as well as the bin of socks needing to be darned (which is shamefully full at the moment). On the bottom shelf, you'll see my collection of project bags, most of which are all filled with yarn and patterns so that I can grab one whenever I'm ready to start something new. This is an idea I got from my friend Sam back in the days when we worked at Lorna's Laces, and I've been doing it ever since! The topmost shelf is filled with household linen storage, which probably isn't of much interest to you, and the storage drawers below are filled with purse handles and other hardware for finishing projects.
When closed, the armoire has two full-length mirrors (you can just barely see the table with the sewing machine reflected in one of the mirrors). My dyeing crockpot is sitting on the floor in front of the armoire, and you may notice a random collection of items waaaaaay on the top of it: this is where my husband's home brewing equipment is stored when not in use, plus I also have a spare bag of poly-fil and some posters waiting their turn to be framed.
The rest of the wall is still more craft storage: the largest bins contain my sock yarn (on the top), worsted weight yarn (in the middle), and bulky/chunky weight yarn (on the bottom), and I have all of my plastic sock blockers stacked on top and ready for action. The smaller green bins contain leftover oddballs of yarn as well as my small collection of sport and dk-weight yarn, upon which my blocking mats are stored when not in use.
Finally, the bookcase contains a collection of all of my other craft-related items: craft magazines, pieces of fabric and felt, pipecleaners, paints and paintbrushes, a hot glue gun, an iron, mod podge, etc. In the unattractive cardboard box you'll find the cat's fluids; I tried to make it cuter with a few bird clothespins from CB2, but I should really just get a nice-looking storage bin where they can live.

My favorite wooden sock blockers are hanging on the wall along with a vintage sock blocker which used to be in my grandparents' basement; I remembered it from my childhood and couldn't believe it was still there when I went looking for it a few years back!
The walls could use a little dressing up; I was thinking of finding an embroidery hoop large enough to hang this odd piece of embroidery I found amongst my great-grandparent's linens, which I inherited when my grandfather passed away a few years ago. I have no idea which person in my family embroidered it, but I think it would be fun to hang it on the wall after it's been in storage for all of these years.

I wish I could say I spent more time actually crafting in my craft room, but it's just not the case: my preferred spot to work is in the living room, which is another area I'm working on organizing as part of my spring cleaning efforts (and will be sharing with you on this blog soon!).

I hope you enjoyed this peek into my craft room, I would love to hear your tips for keeping yarn and other craft supplies organized!

Friday, March 28, 2014

FO Friday: Handspun Terra Shawl

Last weekend, I finished my handspun Terra Shawl! It took pretty much both weekend days of working faithfully on the border stitch pattern, but I was so excited to finish that I didn't even think about working on anything else!
As you can see, it's quite large, and it's soft and squishy, too! I've been wrapping myself up in it all week since it's still quite chilly here in Chicago.
You may recall that I purchased the fiber from WEBS at the beginning of the year - 12 oz. total of Abstract Fibers' Targhee Top in the Gorge colorway. I started spinning it near the end of January and continued to work on it ever-so-slowly throughout February and into the beginning of March!
Thankfully, knitting the shawl was much faster than spinning the fiber into a usable yarn; the entire shawl was completed in just 13 days! I used Jared Flood's Terra shawl pattern from Brooklyn Tweed, which was super-easy to follow, and US 9 Nova Cubics needles from Knitter's Pride.
Imperial Yarns Tracie Too in Denim Dusk, Natural and Sweet Plum.
In other news: Craftsy is having yet another flash sale which ends at midnight tonight! I know it seems like they have one pretty much every other week, but this one actually has some pretty killer deals that are worth checking out. Here are my top picks: most Cascade yarns are 35-40% off (and a few are over 50% off!), but I think the really tempting offer is 30% off Erin and Tracie Too yarns, both of which are sustainably produced by Imperial Yarn!

Thanks for stopping by this week - for FO Friday inspiration, visit the Tami's Amis blog.

Have a crafty weekend! 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A belated WIP Wednesday

I'm sure no one but me is noticing the lateness of this post, but it's just been that kind of week! I very nearly skipped today's post entirely, but in the end I decided to stay the course and try to keep up with my self-imposed blog schedule.

I haven't accomplished much on my Cute Girl top for the #HKKAL, but I did manage to knit past the halfway point on Tyler's never-ending scarf of doom! Look at how long (not to mention linty) it has become since I last posted a photo!
Over the weekend, I was inspired to try a little DIY fiber dyeing (using the 99-cent Paas easter egg color kit)! I'd been saving this naked Polwarth roving I picked up at the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool festival last fall for just the right time, and with the upcoming Spring Training spin-a-thon beginning next week, it seems like there's not time like the present!
I'm thinking I want to hand-card it into rolags so that it makes a more consistently heathered yarn (plus it fulfills one of the Spring Training spinning challenges!).
I also recently purchased two braids of superwash BFL (colorway: #hashtag) from Nerd Girl Yarns on impulse; everything is dyed to order, so I have been anxiously awaiting this package! I was hoping to find them at the upcoming YarnCon here in Chicago, but I don't see Nerd Girl listed as a vendor. Good thing I snapped this up when I had the chance!

Thanks for joining me this week! For more WIP Wednesday inspiration, visit the Tami's Amis Blog!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Spinning Spring Training

With the Tour de Fleece just around the corner and Spinzilla returning this fall, spring is a great time to get back into spinning shape! I'm not sure if you caught this video on YouTube just yet (plus: see if you can spot me!), but Spinzilla promises to be bigger and better than won't want to miss out!

I'm excited to be the captain for #TeamLouet once more, and I'm hoping to see some familiar faces on #TeamLouet later this year. What better way to level up our spinning skills (and welcome spinners of all skills to join our ranks, too) than a fun series of challenges to get spinning this spring. I hope you'll join me for a little spring training, sponsored by Louet and The Woolery!

We'll be taking to our spindles and wheels on April 1, 2014 - see you then!

Yes, for now we are joining forces in the name of spinning, although at some point you will have to declare your loyalty to #TeamLouet or #TeamWoolery. For now, let's enjoy a little friendly competition to tackle monthly challenges and win great prizes along the way. Below are our suggested monthly challenges to guide you along the way (note: there are different prizes for those of you participating in the Woolery Ravelry group, but the challenges remain the same!). We look forward to seeing your progress each month in either the Louet Ravelry group or Woolery Ravelry group - and yes, you can double-dip to be eligible for prize drawings in both groups, too!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Sans FO

It's FO Friday and for the first time this year, I find myself without a finished project to share! However, I've gotten lots of goodies in the mail recently which I haven't had a chance to blog about, so this seems like a good time to enable share.

In preparation for the Great Craft Room Reorganization (more on that later), I ordered some of the new cedar blocks and sachets from Knit Picks to test drive:
I also stocked up on Lavishea bars since they were having a buy 3, get 1 free sale (today is actually the last day - just put 3 bars in your shopping cart and then enter the scent you'd like to get free in the comments section at're welcome!). Anyway, I ordered my tried-and-true Lavender bar, and then three new-to-me-scents to try out: Aloe & Clover, Vanilla Jasmine and Orange Pomander. I'm pleased to report that I am digging all three scents, but my new favorite is the Aloe & Clover - it's nice and fresh!
I also wanted to try the new Lavender & Eucalyptus cuticle salve:
For many years, I have been using the Burt's Bees lemon butter cuticle cream every night before I go to bed. If I skip just a few nights, my cuticles become ragged and yucky, so it's definitely one product I absolutely can't live it out. I actually really like lemon scents (I'm addicted to the Fresh Sugar Lemon line of products), but at bedtime, it's not terribly relaxing. I'm really hoping that the Lavishea salve can get the job done since it has a much more relaxing scent.

Last but not least, the new issue of PLY magazine arrived this week! It's all about spinning silk, which is something I haven't explored too much. Even though I'm not a vegan by any stretch of the imagination, I sometimes have issues of conscience when it comes to things like leather and silk. That's not to say I don't own some items which are leather and silk - I can't claim to be that pure - but I always try to find an alternative whenever possible, especially when it comes to leather items (full disclosure: I have spun some prepared silk-blend tops, and I do have a fair number of yarns which contain silk in my stash....see what I mean?). Anyway, I'm looking forward to becoming better informed about the production of silk!
On a more general note, I think it's really important to know how and where things originate, especially if it involves a something which was once living. Most ecosystems are built on a hierarchy of animals eating other animals - it's just a fact of nature, although it's a fact that personally bums me out. Hence, I've been a faithful vegetarian since college - at least I have control over what I choose to eat! Of course, I don't think it's realistic to expect the world at large to make the choices I've made, and if other folks choose to consume animal-based products, I'd rather they go into "a stomach that respects it," as an old college friend used to say. I know that not everyone bothers to find out whether or not the hamburger they're about to eat was ethically raised (and that sometimes it's just not possible without a trip to the actual farm a la the Portlandia sketch below), but I find it encouraging that many more people are starting to take notice.

Thanks for stopping by this week - for FO Friday inspiration, visit the Tami's Amis blog.

Have a crafty weekend! 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

WIP Wednesday: in The Name of Progress

I had a pretty productive weekend in just about every way: I ran some errands, got a few household chores taken care of, baked cupcakes, and even managed a little "me" time at the spa (something I should really do more often). Of course, I found some time to knit and crochet, too!

I've made quite a bit of progress on the Terra Shawl - as you can see, last night I started the edging, and there was a fortuitous color placement where both plies of the handspun were suddenly all the deepest shade of teal. I love it! Of course, it is now at that too-big-to-fit-on-the-needles-and-be-photographed stage, so I'll just share a close-up of my favorite part:
I also hit the halfway point on Tyler's scarf, but it's too overcast today to get a decent photo to share - you'll just have to take my word for it that it's coming along!

The most progress was made on my #HKKAL project, however! On Friday night, I finished the last of the granny squares, and I spent a few hours on Saturday weaving in allllllll of the ends. It actually wasn't that bad - really! On Sunday night, I began to assemble it - slowly but surely, it's starting to look more sweater-like!
Thanks for joining me this week! For more WIP Wednesday inspiration, visit the Tami's Amis Blog!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Mini Skeins Are Back!

My Etsy shop is officially reopened for 2014, and you'll not only find some of my best-selling knitting patterns, but I have also listed new mini-skein grab bags!

Check out this amazing list of luxury yarn possibilities:

Anzula Dreamy & Squishy
Baah La Jolla Sock
Bijou Basin Ranch Lhasa Wilderness
Black Toad MCN (Chicago Indie Dyer)
Dream in Color Smooshy
Green Mountain Spinnery Sock Art - Forest
Grinning Gargoyle Seda Sock
Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock
MadelineTosh Merino Light
Malabrigo Sock & Finito
Neighborhood Fiber Co. Watershed Sock
ShiBui Knits Sock
Sincere Sheep Tenacious Sock Yarn
Spud and Chloe Sock
Sunday Knits Eden 3-ply
Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock
The Wool Dispensary Deadly Stimulant (BFL Sock)
Three Irish Girls Adorn Sock
Trekking Bamboo XXL & Trekking XXL
Valley Yarns Charlemont Kettle Dyed
Wollglöckchen Handgefärbte Sockenwolle

Each mini-skein is at least ten yards, but most have more yardage than that! It's enough to make a few hexipuffs or a Zoom Loom square, although don't let that limit your creativity - there are so many great patterns for scrap yarns on Ravelry right now! 

I'm offering FREE first class shipping to all US addresses (and if you would like faster shipping or live outside of the USA, you can convo me for a shipping quote) - plus, each package ships with a fun surprise! 

Friday, March 14, 2014

FO Friday: For the Modern Baby

My nephew Ethan turned one earlier this week, so of course I couldn't resist crocheting a few things from my favorite new book (Modern Baby Crochet) to celebrate! I started with the big project, the Asymmetrical Basket-Weave blanket. I chose my favorite superwash yarn, Berroco Vintage, and whipped up this blanket in just 12 days! Here is a shot of it blocking in my yarn room:
...And a finished shot - I can't believe how well it turned out! This is the biggest crochet project I've ever attempted, and I have to say I was a little nervous about it. However, it turned out well and I know that it will be well-loved for years to come!
I had purchased an extra skein of yarn when I placed my WEBS order; since I was subbing in a yarn, I didn't want to run out! I ended up not needing my 'safety' skein of yarn, so I used it to crochet a matching Owl Hat!

In other news: Save Up to 50% on All Craftsy Classes!
This weekend only, check out the Craftsy Endless Creativity Sale! ALL online classes are on sale for up to 50% off for a limited time only through March 17 at midnight MT.

Click here to shop Craftsy's Endless Creativity Sale!

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. Thanks for your support!

Thanks for stopping by this week - for FO Friday inspiration, visit the Tami's Amis blog.

Have a crafty weekend! 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Targhee Terra & HKKAL

New project alert! I couldn't resist casting on for a new project with my Targhee handspun; after carefully scouring Ravelry, I decided to start the Terra Shawl from Brooklyn Tweed, which has been in my queue since February 7, 2011.
I have been able to keep up with my daily goal of 4 granny squares for the Cute Girl Squares top, which is my Holla Knits KAL project! I currently have 36 of the 48 squares I need to proceed to the next step of the pattern, which will probably happen this weekend...after I weave in all of the many ends!

In other news, I just started the third skein of yarn for Tyler's scarf (do you really need a progress photo?) and over the weekend, I finished knitting the body of my (no-longer) 30-day sweater. I tried it on and it fit just fine, but not exactly the way I wanted it to fit; I am clearly a bit off in my calculations. There is also a very noticeable line where I joined a new skein from what I thought was the same dye lot of yarn...but apparently that wasn't the case! I decided to block it out, but not to weave in any ends. As you can see below, that line is no joke, but I want to try it on one more time before I make the decision to rip. the. entire. thing. out. Gulp!
Thanks for joining me this week! For more WIP Wednesday inspiration, visit the Tami's Amis Blog!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Conductive & Productive

After finishing these fingerless mitts at the beginning of the year, I had a small amount of SilverSpun yarn left over. I thought about knitting a new pair of gloves or mittens and using the remaining yarn to knit the fingertips for a few of the fingers, but then I had a brainstorm: why not use the remaining yarn to retrofit all of my mittens for smartphone use?

So, one by one, I'll be embroidering little SilverSpun dots on each thumb so that I can use my phone when it's cold out without having to take off my mittens - starting with my Robot mittens! As you can see in this Vine video, it's quite easy to do, not to mention effective: 

Friday, March 7, 2014

FO Friday: Crocheted Placemats

I whipped up a few crocheted placemats recently when I needed a few last-minute gifts. They were the perfect one-skein project using some of the Cascade 220 Superwash yarn I bought from a Craftsy sale and the leftover safety skein of Berroco Vintage I'd purchased for another project. I used the Grit Stitch Placemat and Coaster set pattern from the Cult of Crochet, which is a free pattern on Ravelry.

I was pretty happy with how they turned out, plus I learned a new crochet stitch pattern!

Thanks for stopping by this week - for FO Friday inspiration, visit the Tami's Amis blog.

Have a crafty weekend! 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

WIP Wednesday: HKKAL & Targhee Spinning Project

Ah, the first WIP Wednesday of March - and I have a new project to share! I finally started my Holla Knits KAL (HKKAL) project...which is actually a crocheted top, but it still counts! I'm making the Cute Girl Squares Tank by Allyson Dykhuizen with the 3 skeins of Valley Yarns Charlemont I bought from WEBS in January. It involves making a LOT of granny squares, which luckily I am both good at and happy to do! My goal is to make four a day for the next ten days - so far I have hit the mark each day!
My next project is something I've been working on rather quietly since the end of January: 12 ounces of dyed Targee Top from Abstract Fiber (also purchased at WEBS, as a matter of fact!). Since I have been working on a lot of time-sensitive knit and crochet projects, I haven't had much time to devote to spinning so far this year; then, near the end of February, I was having issues with my right shoulder which prevented me from spinning altogether. It was kind of a bummer! 
Luckily, the shoulder issue resolved after about a week of rest and ice and I was able to get back to spinning this past weekend. Last night I finished spinning through the final 4 oz and immediately got down to plying before I could even take a photo of my loaded-up bobbins! 
Since I wanted to let the freshest bobbin rest a day, I only plied one bobbin's-worth of yarn to produce this lovely little two-ply skein: 
I was shooting for a sport or DK weight and almost hit the mark - this first skein is 9 WPI, a medium worsted. Considering I'm not terribly scientific or precise in my spinning approach, I'd say that's pretty good! I'm curious to see how consistent I've been with my singles since so much time elapsed from start to finish. 

Thanks for joining me this week! For more WIP Wednesday inspiration, visit the Tami's Amis Blog!