Thursday, February 26, 2009

"Happy Time"

Today we celebrated a co-workers birthday, and I ran into a slight problem with the cake that I prepped for her. The plan involved a great fat-free rainbow cake recipe from Aleta at the Omnomicon Food Blog. (It's a funny post, and a great theme cake.) I played around with the shape for a bit of a Seussian look. The candles, I thought, spelled out "Happy Birthday". When I assembled everything this morning, well... a slight improvisation was necessary:
"Time" was the best I could come up with out of "Retirement"!
February 26th is now official "Happy Time" day at work. :)

Here's a sample of what the tie-dyed cake looked like inside.

The cupcakes were all different colors.

Another co-worker wrote a "Green Cake with Icing" poem for her as well. Happy Birthday, C!

As a quick aside, thanks to friends, family and co-workers who have treated me like a queen in the past week for my birthday. (+ random Ravelry well-wishers as well!) From the fiber folks I loved the STR, spinning & natural dyeing books, crystal & pearl earrings, and great dinners out! To my family - what a treat to spend all day on Sunday with you!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Looking for a Knitting Break?

Clara is 93 years young and is just a gem. Her recipes from the Depression era are not only thrifty, but they look mighty tasty as well. My family may not have ever been this inventive when cooking with potatoes, onions, and oil over and over again. I've embedded episode #3 instead of #1 because her reason for quitting school is quite surprising, and it's fun to see her grandson and friends dig into her just-off-the-stove meal. Enjoy!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Handspun on a Tuesday Evening

+ gratuitous dog picture

Anyone a little tired of winter? I'm certainly getting there. Today the St. Paul mercury raised to a balmy 38 degrees (F). My lunch time walk was pure bliss.

My dogs have been living in their puppy parkas in my relatively cool house, and they're ready to take them off! (Sorry, I need to snap a pic of them. It's too adorable to miss!) Above is a rare moment for Toby-- sans puppy parka.
Honestly, I haven't quite figured out how to move pictures around in blogger on a mac. One of my favorite professors in college was a modernist who always stated that the only way to truly convey Dadaism in a lecture was to have an assistant project random Dada images for the entire conversation. So, here we go-- a post in Dada form!
For the past two weeks I've been spinning yarn to knit Deep in the Forest Mittens by Tuulia Salmela. As soon as I saw a pic of these mittens pop up on Flickr, I quickly added it to my "must knit" list. The plan was to spin squooshy fingering two-ply yarn. The trick was that I had different fibers for each of them.

For the background (white) I selected 4 oz of "Kansas Snow" roving from Art Club at, a glorious alpaca/llama/merino blend. This is Nikol Lohr's store, and yes - I did but this gorgeous stuff when I attended Yarn School last fall. The singles were unbelievably soft and squooshy. November kept on pushing them down on the bobbins and saying "wow. just wow." They were soo very different from the superwash sock singles I've been spinning. When I plied it against itself, and the yarn became the absolute opposite of the single. They were plied looser than I ply sock yarns, and I'm still mystified at the final resulting yarn-- a soft, dense two-ply that almost looks like a single. It did fluff up a bit after a soak, whack and dry-- but the plied yarn is a good deal thinner than the single ply. Clearly I have more to learn about this fiber combination. I was aiming for 200 yards per 4 ounces. The Kansas Snow came out to 208 yards in length.

The foreground (brown) is 4 oz. Crown Mountain Farms' superwash merino in "Wild Horses". Oh, is this a pretty colorway! The singles were just as puffy as the Kansas Snow blend, but no where near as squooshy. Once plied, it became a thick, poofy fabulous yarn that I expected the alpaca/llama/merino to end up. Wild Horses measured in at 210 yards once plied.

The really weird thing is that right after I took the picture below I wound both skeins into balls. They both became huge balls of the same size. Huh. After swatching, it looks like they will work perfectly for the pattern. The brown will pop out a bit from the natural white - but I think this will be a nice addition to the forest motif. It calls for 400 yards, so I should be fine-- but I also have enough fiber to spin another 400+ yards if necessary.

Over the weekend another five inches of snow fell. It certainly cleaned things up, but certainly doesn't help you at least pretend that spring is around the corner.

Last fall I spun CMF superwash sock singles in the "Born to Be Wild" colorway. They sat on my bobbins for at least 3 months. Last weekend I thought enough was enough, and I plied them while watching a so-so episode of "Meet the Press". (Oh, how I still miss Tim Russert!) It's about 650 yds of tightly plied fingering sock yarn.

When I posted this yarn to Ravelry in my stash, I couldn't help but call it "Soo Girly". It's not quite my taste, but will make for a great future gift!

Stonehenge Cowl

Was it last fall when I bought this beautiful BFL "Stonehenge" roving from Crown Mountain Farms? I remember Angela loved this roving after seeing it, and bought a bump of it, too. We both starting spinning at about the same time-- Interestingly enough, I think we both preferred each other's received version of the colorway. Mine (above) was pretty, yet muted. Hers had a bit more of a punch, and turned into this truly gorgeous laceweight!

I split the 8 ounces of roving in half and spun them into singles on my Reeves Frame. I did not use the fractal method. The color was spun just as it came.

The singles were tightly plied together, and I was really happy with the resulting sport weight yarn. All in all, there was 475 yards.
After letting the yarn marinate in the stash for a few months, I decided to knit the spiral cowl by Keri McKiernan with it. What a joy to be able to knit with yarn you have made!

After a wet block, it's just perfect.