Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Step 3 and 114 Days

Now after you've made your shopping list its time to go stash diving!

This is the perfect time of year to start using up some of your stash and free up room for all that Christmas yarn you'll be getting from Santa and the yarn sales!

If you do not have the yarn in the stash then start cruising the sales bins of the local yarn stores. The key to this is to always carry your shopping list with you so you know how much of what weight of yarn to get and what person it’s for so you can get a color they like. Don’t forget to write on your list what yarn you got for what so you don’t forget what it is for. It’s also helpful to write down what needles you might need and check to see which sizes you need to pick up.

There is nothing like the smell of victory after you’ve hit a yarn sale, gotten yarn for a gift, picked up the needles, and sat down with the pattern for a Christmas gift months before the actual day. You can even keep the printed patterns in a binder in the car so you can nip over to the coffee shop to cast on the new project immediately! This is also a good idea if your significant other has commented on how much yarn you have. They rarely realize that a project coming into the house on the needles might be new yarn. If it’s already cast on then you must have gotten it out of the stash and not gone to the yarn store.

For those of you that are like me, a little OCD on the organization, or if you habitually loose patterns, printing all your patterns out and putting them into a binder is a great way to keep them together (just make sure not to lose the binder). Make notes on them, like who it is for, what colors and yarn you’re using, how many hours you think you might take to knit it, ideas of where you can knit it (plain sock at the movies, cabling while watching Glee, lace while listening to books), and you can even print a calendar to put in the front to remind you of how close the big day is or mark out what weeks your working on what and deadlines, (really make the deadlines and then enjoy the sound of them whooshing by).

Feel free to now cast on as many projects on the Christmas list as you want! The idea here is to create enough projects so if you to get bored with one you’ll have something else to switch to while still keeping yourself on task. Or you can keep you projects around the house in places you might knit them. Sock and an emergency knitting in the car, blanket by the couch, scarf in the kitchen (think of knitting while your waiting for water to boil, but keep it away from fire), hats with the camping stuff, mittens in your purse and shawls with your iPod.

If you get bored with one rotate it to another place, like the kitchen. If you’re bored with it then knitting it in small doses is your best option to still get it done. I can’t stand knitting the cast off edging to the Girasole, so now it’s in two area, my dining room for when I’m cooking, and my car for when I need to just wait a few minutes for something.

So tonight finish up your list and get organized. Tomorrow we’ll discuss horror stories and if you would like to share one please email it to me or include it in a comment!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Step 2 for Coping with 116 Days Left

Having scared you all yesterday with the Christmas count down I would like to show you what I do when I realize how close it is.

I make a shopping list. This list will include everyone, wool people and unworthy ones, and I will pick one non knit item for everyone and one knitted item for those I deem worthy.

I also budget out how much each person gets out of the budget. It’s normally around $30 per person and this is to include yarn and non knitted item, or just something nice for the unworthy ones.

Then I rank the worthy people for how much they deserve knitted items and why (the why is where I guilt trip myself into knitting them something really nice).

Here is my ranking this year:

Mom – 2 Christmases ago she only got one silk glove and I’ve yet to finish the other. She’ll be getting the other glove and something else

Grandma Jane – Grandma Sue and Grandma P have both gotten challenging blankets in the past year. Her turn

Grandma Sue – She’s an artist and I have a soft spot for her for this reason, she’ll get something with nice fiber and in a challenging pattern, like a cowl with alpaca and silk yarn

Grandma P – Last year I killed myself over her Giant’s blanket, this year she gets either a scarf or socks

This is the line where the knit gifts can either be skipped, replaced with something nice, or they would understand if it is late. I will not kill myself for these people (usually because I did it last year for them)

Ben’s Folks – Last year I set a standard by giving them a lace throw, but this year I might opt for getting them each something small but nice.

Ben – He’s my honey (therefore his gift can also be late if need be) so he gets socks and something cool (like last years meat smoker/bbq)

Dad – Last year he got a sweater vest and he has a 52” chest, I feel that should count for 2 Christmases but he still might get socks in Slytherin colors

Anna, Courtney and Stina – Though I love them, they’d feel bad if I killed myself over something for them, I’m thinking something small for this reason or I’ll take them out to sushi and we’ll enjoy each other's company as we did last year.

Aunt Bobby – Though she is cool, I rarely see her

As you can see I have the worthy people listed and ranked. Now I will go in search of patterns for them and make a table that looks like this:

I used my store's pricing, my favorite patterns, and listed the people to the right. Feel free to list people twice so you have options!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Spinning and 117 Days

Sunday was certainly for Spinning.

I spend the morning quickly cleaning up and started the laundry with the idea Ben would be home from his guy trip early, but since he was not home till after 1pm I used the time to watch Dr Horrible’s Sing Along Blog and spin up some alpaca, blue face Lancaster and Angelina I’d blended on Friday night.

I’m nearly done spinning my 4oz batt

I wanted something that looked like fire and I think I got it. WIN! Sadly I can’t say what it is destined to become because it’s for a Christmas gift for someone I know reads this. But what I can say is that it’s currently a light fingerling weight and I plan on using some plain red silk thread to ply it with.

Also, no one sent me any pictures of WIPs! So we’ll call this week a wash and extend the deadline till the 4th. Send them in and win a prize, or just post a comment and link of the pattern. It’s all about the works in progress!

Lastly with all these thoughts of the dye day coming up and that I’m spinning for Christmas I thought I’d give you all an inside look on how I hand my Christmas knitting!

I learned from my mother that you should spread Christmas shopping through out the year so that you don’t blow your budget at the last minute or forget anyone. For this reason I’ve always been picking up a gift here and there while shopping and I keep a box of knitted items that are not for me.

We all have those knits that go slightly array. Like you thought the color was great, but after you knit a hat out of it you realize its not for you, or the mittens you’ve been painstakingly knitting are too big or too small (I always try to block out the small ones or felt the big ones, sometimes it works). Then there are those things that you want to knit but have no purpose for them. I habitually go on baby knit sprees because baby stuff goes so quickly and sometimes a project is taking so long I need something with instant gratification. I know some people who don’t wear shawls but love to knit them, same with wash clothes. Things like this all go into the box. If it hits me that it should be for a certain person, it gets a tag tied to it with the person’s name.

Then around this time of year I go look in the boxes. I take a carefully thought out list of recipients and they are divided into two categories:

Wool/Knit People – These are the few that deserve knits:

My aunt, who married into the family (blood does not give you an up into this category), because she loves the sample lace scarves, cabled bags and because she rocks

My mom, she buys me wool and yet is allergic to it, but she will go into any yarn store with me and is one of my favorite people in the world.

My dad, he tends to shift in and out of this category because of his 52” chest, he funds my mom’s wool purchases for me and we love doing geeky things like Harry Potter opening nights. He’s a little hard to knit for but if its green and black and not obviously HP, it’s a win

Ben, he also goes in and out of this category for not wearing his knits enough, he helps with wooly problems like making me skeiners (they make yarn go from cone to skein) and he’s my honey. I normally knit him socks and if we were not dating he would most likely not get hand knit items.

Anna, she understands the wool.

People Unworthy – They for one reason or another don’t get hand knits:

My uncle, though married to the aforementioned aunt, he does not really get how much time or effort goes into knits and has mentioned that I can get socks cheaper and easier at the store. Though this might have been a joke, I don’t take to teasing well.

My other aunt, though a knitter herself, my giving her and others hand knits was taken as an insult. She’s competitive and her plain knit scarf was slightly outdone by my gift of a Swollowtail shawl to my grandmother.

Ben’s brother, because all he wants me to knit are things like willy warmers.

I use the plain knit hats, fingerless mittens and wash clothes for stocking stuffers, and if I have extras I add them to my donation box for St Anthony’s in San Francisco.

Every year St Anthony’s does a knit drive for hats, scarves and mittens, then they donate them to the homeless living in the city. I’ve got to say that it is cold and windy in the city and any extra knits helps.

This planning stage is step 1. It might look like I have few to knit for but here is the entire list of people I knit for:

Aunt Bobby
Grandma Sue 
Grandma Jane 
Grandma P
Ben’s Folks 

This list scares me, so to scare you I'd like to take a moment to remind you that there are 117 days till Christmas. :)

Friday, August 26, 2011

I'm all alone

Tonight is the first time since before Christmas I'm alone in the house and its going to last more then an hour or two!

Ben is usually home when I am, and the roommate sometimes leaves for the weekend but there are times Ben leaves and the roommate gets home at the same time. Does not help we all work at the same place and there was this short time period when I would leave for work at 8am and Ben would be on his lunch break at the same time.

But this weekend all that changes!

Ben and the roommate are going camping!

It started out as Ben and I going camping, but after some of his friends expressed interest in going I bowed out and suggested a guy trip.

While I miss my honey I have already cleaned the house, I'm sitting in the middle of the couch, ordered pizza with tons of vegetables on it, and I have plans to play with fiber.

You see on Tuesday night Penny dropped off over a pound of some really fun stuff I'd ordered through her. Its angelina. You can spin it with other fibers, or use it with heat to apply it to fabrics.

I plan on spending tonight eating pizza, watching whatever I want on TV and playing with my drumcarder while blending different color fibers and this sparkly stuff, then spin it tomorrow!

Can't wait to share pictures tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

WIP It Good

This week's preorder winner is Kallieen! She is the lucky winner of 3 skeins of sock yarn and a copy of Fitted Knits: 25 Designs for the Fashionable Knitter! She will now be able to join in the KAL in October when I and a few friends will be knitting the Airy Wrap Around Lace Sweater.

I highly recommend ordering your yarn now through the preorder, that way you can have your own colorway and join in, as there might be a contest/giveaway in October!

To answer a few questions, when you preorder your yarn your name will be entered in every week's giveaway from your order date till the last giveaway. Free shipping on orders of $100 means free shipping to anywhere, not just in the US.

So take a look at your Christmas list and think about what yarns you need and how you can get a jump start on it!

This week's giveaway prize for preorder prize will be another kit and the free giveaway will receive stitch markers!

This week's free giveaway ties into the WIP War! I want you all to share what your working on and email me a picture of it to radbitdyer AT! I'll post the pictures of some of the WIPs on the Sunday blog and if you include a blog name I'll share it as well!

Lets get those projects finished!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Declaring War

Recently I've noticed a small issue whenever I start planning a project, I don't have the needles to do it.

Now as a knitter that has been given an interchangeable circular needle set, bought sock needle sets, inherited needles from family members, and received more then a couple sets from friends, I seem to have no needles to work with.

I'm not completely out of needles, but there are things I'm out of, like needle connectors for my interchangeable circulars, the few pairs of fixed circulars I have are in use, and my favorite sock needle size (1.5 US btw) are all claimed by socks. But as I browsed new projects I realized I have a problem and this lead to something crazy that the yarn harlot has also done.

I gathered all my WIP and was not happy with what I found.

This lovely Bird's Nest Smoke Ring cowl still has the cable in it but I took the needles off. It is also the same pattern that Caren used with my yarn but then I remembered why I stopped working on it...

Do you see how many yarn overs there are? I kept dropping them and forgetting them, then my plan to use all my stitch markers to remind me to look for a yarn over failed. But I cannot bring myself to frog it because its 1/3rd done and I had planned on it being a Christmas gift last year but ended up getting my grandma Jane something else. This year I think I'm in a good place because I can make it for her and I'm already ahead.

I also have my grandma Sue's blanket still on the needles and I just need to finish one chart and cast off: Its a little scary. I currently have 640 live stitches on the edge and there is a border that I work as I cast off. Guess how many stitches I have to knit to cast this sucker off.

Really guess. Now triple that guess, hell double it now, and take a look at the picture of it ready to cast off and take a breath before readying the caption:

The cast off is 8,107 stitches.

8,107!!! That is going to take forever and its done on 2 DPNs, but I need those freaking needles!

Then there are these plain socks that just need a toe and after thought heels:

These are also socks for myself
Here is Ben's birthday socks that I started in January that I loved:

All of these hold something special for me and they're holding my needles hostage!

So I've declared war against them! I'm only allowed to cast on a new project if I finish 2 projects. I just finished this shawl and after I finish the above blanket I'm casting on a plain knit shawl for myself. Kinda rinsing your mouth out with water while wine tasting.

Bluewings Shawlette with 1 skein of my hand dye

Gauge lied as my swatch matched but it turned out much larger then
planned and I stopped before the last 2 repeats of the second chart.

Think of everything you could get done if you joined the war!

A Riddle...

Well congrats to you who answered the riddle correctly! The answer was Lord Voldemort.

His name is Tom Riddle, but he is known as "he who can't be named", he also grew up in Wool's Orphanage.

The winner this week is number 14 Kate!

Kate, please message me to let me know your Ravelry username because you have won a $10 gift certificate to my shop and a copy of Luna's Moonlight Socks!

Thanks everyone for posting your guesses and check back in on Wednesday for the next free giveaway and don't forget to preorder your yarn so that you can be entered for 3 skeins of fingerling weight wool yarn and a copy of Fitted Knits: 25 Designs for the Fashionable Knitter so you can join in on the  Airy Wrap Around Lace Sweater KAL in October!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Riddle me this....

Today's blog will be really short as I have a stomach flu.

Sadly there were no preorders this week, but I did sell a skein of yarn and some roving, getting me $40 closer to my goal of $1,000!

Last night was knit night and I only dropped in for a short time but Meghan and I discussed buying a bunch of yarn with the next order for the Airy Wrap Around Lace Sweater, which you can make with 3 skeins of either of the sock yarns I have in my shop or 1-2 skeins of the lace!

Which brings me to this week's preorder prize! The winner of this week's preorder giveaway will win a copy of Fitted Knits: 25 Designs for the Fashionable Knitter and 3 skeins of custom dyed Merino sock yarn!

This week's free giveaway riddle is:

I am a riddle who shall not be named, I grew up in wool but was not warm till I went to school.

Who am I?

This weeks prize will be a sock pattern that is related to the answer and a $10 gift certificate to my shop!

So start commenting with your guess and get on over to the shop to preorder your yarn!!!

Good luck!

PS. Yes, I will ship prizes internationally for free and if you win the preorder prize I'll ship the prize and order together for free.

EDIT: just so you all know your answer does not have to be right to win. You just have to try!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

And the winners are...

Congratulations Margie (fairisle) and FelicityS (dude your so lucky you posted your Rav ID in the comments).

You have both won copies of my Baby Stars Pattern and $10 gift certificates to my shop!

Please check back on Wednesday for the next giveaway and don't forget to preorder your yarns!

Could have gone better

Well this weekend could have gone better.

First on the way to the campsite I find that my iPod shuffle did not download the last half of The Historian correctly and it was all out of order. 

Then I realized that because I planned on just listening to the last 17 hours of my audiobook, that I had not packed an actual book. Epic fail.

Ben was nice and let me stop at the Rite Aid on the way to the camp site where I got my choice between bad romances, some horror and the Twilight series. I sadly ended up with High Country Bride and Eclipse, as the horror leaned towards mystery murders and I prefer werewolves and ghosts.

Then when we settled in at the camp site I realized that I did not have my book holders and therefor could not knit and read at the same time. Having forgotten my sock I settled for reading a few pages of my book and then knitting Ben's hat. 

After his hat was done I got some work on the lace shawlette done and finished the country romance book. The book could have been much worse and having read some romance for the book store I use to work for it was on the decent side. Lots of story and not too much of the naughty going on. I got through 2 chapters of Eclipse which is more then the first time I tried to read it.

But I got a lot done on the lace shawlette. I'm nearing the end of the ball of yarn, I have 53 rows to go, and my gauge is a little larger then recommended, but the pattern called for 416 yards and the ball of yarn I'm using is 400 yards. 

I'm knitting really quickly to see if I can beat the ball of yarn to the finish line. 

I really think I can!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Yay Weekends!

This weekend I'm going camping!

I'm big on camping and though I'm a tree hugging hippy pescetarian from Santa Cruz, one of the things I'm looking forward to most is shooting!

About once a year we go shooting, and though its not a skill I have ever used in a practical way, I do enjoy being able to shoot accurately. It makes the little part of me that always wonder about the zombie wars happy to know I have skills that would allow me to fight back and live.

I will also be following tradition and making a hat. Usually I cast on on the drive down but I already have Jared Flood's Turn a Square on the needles because Ben wanted the exact one I had made for Cody, and I cast it on so that I would not forget it. 

I'm also bringing a sample I'm knitting for Yarns by the Sea that I started on Saturday, grandmother's giants Sweetly Worn Shawl (pictured below, I have to finish it this weekend and block Sunday night because I see her Monday night), mPointelle sock, and my Reunion Cowl, just in case there is not enough light to do pattern by at night.

Taken at the Giants Stitch and Pitch
Think I have enough for 2 days out in the wilderness and 4 hours in the car?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


This month and next month are very exciting with 2 giveaways!

The first is every Wednesday from today till September 14th I will post a question, a riddle or we'll play a game. All you have to do to enter is answer the question or riddle, or participate in a game, by leaving a comment to be entered into the weekly drawing.

Prizes will include:

                    Stitch Markers
                    Gift Certificates to My Shop

I'll announce winners on the following Sunday at 7pm, so please check back to claim your prize!

The first game we will play is based off the Victorian game "I Love My Love" from The Girls Own Book by Mrs Child, 1864.

The rules are simple: You fill in the blanks of your poem basing it off of the letter that follows the person that posted before you.

I love my love with a ______ love for he is ______, ______ and ______.
I hate my love with a ______ hate for he is ______, ______ and ______.

I'll start off with an example using A:
I love my love with an awesome love for he is articulate, attractive and ambitious.
I hate my love with an awful hate for he is aging, arrogant and asinine.

Now check the the comments and see what the last letter a person used was. Winners will be announced on Sunday the 14th!


Second giveaway is in anticipation of the next dye day!

I'm currently gearing up for not only my next big dye day and school, but also for Phat Fibers and Christmas orders from shops. I'm a little worried because I can currently afford to only order 10 skeins each of Sparkle Lace and Sparkle sock yarns, but it sounds like most of my knit group will claim that yarn. I want to be able to fill not only my online store but also my local yarn stores with this yarn! So...

My goal is to raise $1,000 in presales for the next dye day in 28 days. That's roughly 40 skeins of my yarns. This will allow me to triple my sparkle yarn order and that means 30 skeins of Sparkle Sock weight and 30 skeins of Sparkle Lace weight!

What does it mean for you? 
*Custom dyed yarns at a 16%-20% discounted price
*Free shipping on orders of $100 or more
*10% coupon off your next order
*Entry into weekly contests for:
                    Custom Dyed Merino Sock Yarns
                    Stitch Markers
                    Sock Project Bags
                    A Turkish Drop Spindle with 4oz of Fiber

And once we hit our goal a grand winner will get:
                                 A September Phat Fiber Box
                                 2 Skeins of Custom Dyed Merino Sock Yarn 
                                 A Wrist Knit Bag
                                 my Wine Sock kit that will not be released to the public till mid November!

Winners for this give away will be announced by their Etsy name every Wednesday from August 17th to September 7th at 7pm PST here on the blog, and all prizes will shipped with yarn orders on September 24th.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

S√łndager er Spinne, a Pattern, and Being Domestic

I have been very busy spinning this:
The yarn is fairly fuzzy!

It's 62 yards of my dyed corriedale with fawn alpaca. I've done a Navajo ply with a very thin single. I plan on spinning up the rest so  I can start thinking up a project. I'm starting to lean towards mittens. There are a pair in Knit & Spin that take only 160 yards...

Oh and there was much excitement this week as my Baby Stars pattern is now up on Ravelry:

Its on sale at Ravelry for $2! Great way to use leftover sock yarn!

Also, Ben and I have been busy cleaning the house today and last night's and tonight's dinner is this:

Beer and cheddar soup with fresh made bread
We also cleaned up the third bedroom and Ben is currently running out to get a dresser he told me I could put yarn in! I was shocked when he pitched the idea and had to make sure he was serious. He was and I just about melted into a puddle. I think I might cook something special next weekend for him!

Friday, August 5, 2011


12 seems to be a very interesting number:

12 makes a dozen
12 is how many months are in a year
12 is a semiperfect number
The Western and Chinese Zodiac's have 12 symbols each
There are 12 hours in the am and the pm
There are 12 Function keys on most computers
There are 12 Cylon human models as well as 12 lords of Kobol in BSG

And it seems to be my average posts per month. Take a look ->

I credit this to there being about 4 weeks in a month and I try to post at least 3 times a week. It seems I'm hitting my goal then :)

This week has been a rather exciting and busy one. Its the third week in a row where I've been gone most nights with friends and knit night and the house is starting to show it.

The dining room table is covered in yarn, skeiners, and fiber, there is stuff piled in front of the third bedroom/storage room that need to go in but you can't get into the room because Ben and I have been taking stuff out since we went camping and then we put the excise bike in the doorway so you could move through the hall easily, and my dye stuff is still in the backyard all set up like I'm about to dye.

First off I've got no more fiber to dye. Its all dyed and I'm right now in the process of buying a little over 20 lbs total of corriedale, silk, alpaca, and angelina (sparkly stuff is all you need to know). Its for the Phat Fiber sample boxes in September. The theme is Enchanted Forest and I have plan for not only my samples but about 30 other bats as well. So the sooner I get the third bedroom organized the sooner I can relax about the huge wool order I'm placing next week.

Second, once I get the third bedroom cleaned I can put all the current fiber stuff in there and in a place I can get to it.

Third, I just need to clean the damn backyard. My next big dye day is September 17th with Caren, Meghan and a guest. I'll be doing one dye dye on August 19th, but that's just for fleeces and its a very relaxing dye process that will only require 5 colors for the sample bats. I just need to get the corriedale cleaned by then and the plan is to get a few crock pots, set them all up with fiber in them and then toss the dye in. It'll take one day for the dyeing and one day for the rinsing. Then I'll have 2 weeks to get all the bats blended. Currently I'm just keeping an eye out for crock pots for dyeing (they can't be used for food afterwards). I have a mini one that can do 1 bat or 1 skein at a time, but I'm looking for 4 regular/large size ones so let me know if you see any at a good price.

Lastly, I got the spinning wheel up and running! Pictures to come on Sunday of what I'm spinning!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Knit Night and a Book

Last night was that night I look forward to all week. Knit night.

I had brought my drumcarder with its new drive band to show everyone how it worked and to get fiber prepared for today when my new spinning stuff is suppose to arrive. On my last dye day I'd sectioned off some of my corriedale roving that my good friend Jeanne Marie had given me a couple years ago and dyed it in a bunch of colors.Then last night I blended each individual color with some fawn colored alpaca and my plan is to spin it all up tonight into a lace weight for a colorful shawlette!

I also have 4 more ounces of the grey corriedale that I'm going to blend with some black dyed alpaca for Ramble On mittens for Jay who gave me the wheel and carder. He's the kind of man that will not wear color on his hands. Sigh.

Also, Caren and Meghan gave me the best gift ever! A signed and personalized copy of The Secret Life of a Knitter, by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. I was so excited and touched by the gift I felt a little sick. I really cannot convey how much she has helped me.

When I got home last night I sent her an email thanking her for signing and personalizing the book and thanking her for all she had done for me.

Really if it was not for her I would not have the friendship I do with Caren or Meghan, I would not have a weekly knit night group to look forward to, and I most likely would not have my business. I would not have these friendships because I had not met very many people that love wool and fibers as much as I do. Jeanne Marie was one of the few who really got me before I got into knitting and when I checked my email this morning I think Stephanie hit the nail on the head when she wrote:

"You're a wool person, and there's no stopping that. If it hadn't have been me, it would have been someone else to help you to your destiny! "

And its true. You would have thought that all the wool around me would have tipped me off.