July 30, 2013

Food or Fiber?

I am a grown up adult mother and I'm in charge of the budget in my house.  In the real world, I am responsible, reliable and predictable.  I go to work five days a week, I teach knitting on Saturdays and I go grocery shopping on weekends.  That makes me an adult.

When I am not adult-like is when it comes to yarn and fiber.  I have to face the dilemma of buying fiber or meat for a week or buying yarn or coming up short with the mortgage payment, and with a 20 year old (practically) grown son living in my house, meatless meals are unacceptable as is being turned out on the street because the house is in foreclosure. (Which it's not, thank goodness!).

That said, let me tell you the rules I must live by in order to keep my son (and my cat) happy.

  1. Never shop online after midnight.  The purchase you make at 11:45 p.m. is acceptable.  The after midnight purchase smacks of desperation.  If I tracked my purchases (which I don't do), I'd find that my before midnight purchases are moderately priced, while the purchases after midnight are all over $100.00.

  2. Don't sneak yarn into the house.  If I'm sneaking it into the house because it was way expensive and I'm too guilty to knit it in my house, so it has to be a 'subway knit'.  Not everything I want to make can be made while traveling on the train.  Lose the guilt - knit with abandon.

  3. Fill your online shopping basket as much as you like.  I visit a lot of places and fill my basket everywhere I go with stuff I might want (as soon as I can check the stores to see what it's all about).  Filling my basket makes me happy - until I check my wallet.  Oy!  Now I have to wait until payday.  Fortunately for me, the vendors are smart and while I sleep, they reclaim the contents of my basket.  Thank you!

  4. Limit my 'pet' yarn purchases.  I have knitting yarns and pet yarns.  My knitting yarns get knit up eventually, my pet yarns are for petting, talking to, visiting and generally making my yarn bins happy.  I bought it because it was pretty, on sale, or because someone had it in their hands and I got jealous.  I keep it for posterity, and maybe because I'm a little bit competitive.

  5. Be wary of impulse buys.  "Oh pretty!" is not a good reason for buying yarn.  It has to say 'socks' or 'scarf' or something meaningful.  Most of my impulse buys look at me saying, "Not enough yardage here so keep it moving sister!"  Dang!

  6. Candy Crush Saga is a total time suck and you can't knit while you play.  Now I have to choose between the two, right?  No!  I can knit when the lights are on, I can play the game in the dark.  Problem solved.  If you're not playing, don't start!
And there you have it.  I just wanted to share with you some of the wisdom I've gained over the years so that I'd be talking with you instead of shopping online after midnight.

July 26, 2013

Knitting - A Little

Today was a day of running errands.  I left the house at 7:30 in the morning and returned home at 2:30 in the afternoon.  I had the day off from work, but I spent almost a work day in the city, where I work, running errands.

The good news is I got a lot done.  I dropped the car off for it's annual inspection and then headed off to the catch the bus to the train.  My ride to the city took me all of about an hour, and the whole time, all I could think of was how much the repairs my 1997 car would need to pass inspection and how much it was going to cost me.  By the time I got off the train, I got a call from the garage that my car was ready and that it passed inspection! Whoa buddy!  Really?  Yay!

I took a side trip downtown to Seaport Yarns with a friend and it was uneventful for me.  I bought nothing.  Yep, I had gone shopping for some new work clothes and there went the yarn budget.  By the way, Seaport Yarns has moved the store.  They're in the same building, but on the 4th floor.

The shop is smaller, but it looks like everything is there.  However, the shop owner's husband was manning the store today and he said they didn't have room for all the yarn they had, so they threw the yarn that wouldn't fit in the GARBAGE!  At that moment, I wondered if it was a crime or a sin to throw good yarn in the trash!!  I so wanted to ask him which garbage can they threw it in because at that moment I was prepared to go dumpster diving!

I did get to see the new World Trade Center buildings, though:

The picture doesn't do them justice.  They shone in the sunshine and looked like two aluminum wrapped buildings, so bright and shiny and new.

I've made progress on my socks and I'm almost done with sock #1:

That is my sock at the train station.  Isn't it amazing how my sock matches the window!

My sock also made an appearance at the farmer's market:

I was going to buy some greens, but they'd been sitting outside all day and the sun was shining on them so they weren't looking as fresh as they had when I was on my way downtown.

It was a long day and when I got home I realized that I'm not feeling so hot.  The sneezing, the headache, the sweating ... I think I caught a cold.  What is worse than a Summer cold?  Nothing!  OK, maybe a toothache.  Still, I feel lousy.

That said, I'm still going to knitting class tomorrow because me and the ladies there, well, we are family and family shares.  Honestly, if any one of them becomes ill, I'll feel really, really bad about it but that's not enough to make me not go to class.  I missed last week, I can't miss this week.

So I'm going to take a dose of meds so I will be cured by morning.  That is possible, right?

July 23, 2013

Tour - The Final Hours

The Tour de France has ended and I have mixed feelings about that.  I looked forward to spinning fiber while watching the race and cheering on whoever was winning at the moment.  This year the Tour was marked by scandal instead of accidents - thank goodness!

Mark Cavendish knocked Tom Veelers off his bike.  Mark said he was paying more attention to the finish line than to what was in his way and Tom went flying.  Ouch!  The crowd wasn't interested in his excuse and someone threw urine on him (off camera, of course).  Yuck!

Frank Schleck was disqualified because he failed the drug test before the race even started because he was found to have a diuretic in his system.  How much of that stuff do you need in your system to fail a drug test?!

Chris Froome was penalized 20 seconds for taking food from the team car in the last kilometers of the race.  Really?  C'mon!  The man was hypoglycemic which is what I'd be if I had to race once city block!

Enough about the tour.  If you didn't watch it this year, maybe you'll be interested enough to watch next year - with me - because you know I'll be watching!

So the very last of the tour is some Perendale I spun and plied tonight.  It's more yellow than gold with flecks of green and blue and reminds me of the Shetland I spun:

I wasn't really happy with it while I was spinning it, and even less happy when plying it.  I picked out plenty of veggie matter while making the singles, and more while plying it.  No matter, because all plied up it is a whole different thing.  I love it!

And while the tour was going on, and in between bouts of knitting and Candy Crush Saga, I started a pair of plain vanilla socks with some Vesper yarn in the meadow colorway:

I was not happy with the colorway, so I ditched the sock and decided to make a pair of Wrapped in Hugs socks on straight needles with Plucky Knitter's one skein wonder in an unknown colorway (it looks like tan):

Meh ... I'm not impressed and the plain vanilla socks look better to me, so I'm going back to those.  If my niece doesn't like one maybe she'll love the other.  If she doesn't like either, then my son will wear them so it's not wasted knitting.  Knitting socks is never a waste of time to me.

Lastly, I was cleaning out the fiber cabinet for no good reason whatsoever and I found a box which contained the items below.  I don't remember buying it, so it must have been gifted to me.  It's Rhinofluff BFL in the choco-cherry colorway, three rosewood cable needles and a sheep tape measure:

I am the luckiest girl in the world to have such good friends who donate to my fiber addiction.  Sojourn Knitter, I'm looking at you!  Did you slip this into my bag without me seeing?  If so, thank you!  You know how much I love BFL!  And now that the tour is over, I can spin this anytime.

That's it for me.   My next goal is to knit something with my handspun.  The adventure continues.

July 16, 2013

Tour - Day 17

The Jacob fiber is plied and ready for a bath.  I haven't done a three ply yarn in forever, but I think I did  a pretty good job.  I'm pretty sure the yardage is low, but the experience was worth the effort.

Looking back, I should have spun all 8 ounces because after my experience spinning it I don't know if I'll ever spin the remaining 4.2 ounces still in the fiber cabinet.  I'm going to reserve judgement because you can never say never - especially if times get tough.

The fiber I chose to spin today is Perendale which is another fiber I never heard of, but  I'm sure there are lots of fibers out there that I've never heard of.  The only resource I have for seeing and potentially buying fiber is at fiber festivals, and events like Stitches East.  Because this year I made a conscious decision to spin fibers I've never spun, I took a chance on Perendale fiber.  From what I read, it's a cross between Romney and Cheviot and I've heard of, but never spun either of those.  I believe I have both in my fiber cabinet.

This fiber was purchased from Crown Mountain Farms and they did a pretty good job with fiber prep.  There was very little vegetable matter in it and, to boot, it's in the form of pencil roving which makes it particularly easy to spin - virtually no prep.

It's looking pretty good so far.  I should have separated it and tried to spin two bobbins for maximum yardage, but my son seems to have a penchant for yellow hats, so he may get his wish with this fiber once it becomes yarn.

Once again I was asked to flash my stash - both yarn and fiber.  I just can't do it.  Recently, I decided to get the yarn out of my bedroom, and three garbage bags later there's still yarn in my room.  Flashing stash would take too long.

Let me take a minute here to explain a little something about the fiber cabinet.  If you've ever read The Chronicles of Narnia, then you have an idea about what that cabinet is like.  From the outside, it's just a cabinet with a glass door with big balls of white fluff in big plastic bags.  It's not until you open the cabinet and all my fiber falls out that you realize there's a mountain of fiber in there.  Get the picture?

The next fiber up is, I believe, Teeswater.  The tour may end before I get it done, but I'm going to keep hope alive.

Happy spinning to you.

July 14, 2013


I know what you must be thinking.  The Bronx Knitter quit after day 8 of the Tour because she just couldn't hack the heat or humidity.  If that's what you were thinking, you would be incorrect.  For the past two weeks I have been on vacation, more like a stay-cation since I didn't go anywhere.  I've been toughing out the humidity, and the rain and the heat.  Spinning is happening, and so is knitting.

Day 9:

I finished plying 4 ounces of Shetland and I love everything about it!  The feel, the color and the way it even retained its integrity after it was plied - and it's rare for me to say that.  Have a look for yourself:

Isn't she lovely?  I don't know the yardage yet, but she's been plied, washed and dried and she still looks like a million bucks.  Yardage pending.

Day 10:

James (from the Wolfe Farms Podcast) has been working on the Hitchhiker by Martina Behm for some weeks now, and I've been watching with bated breath to see how it comes out and debating about if I wanted to make one myself.  As time ticked on, I could see that it was now or never for me to make my decision.  So I did it.

The clouds came out just as I snapped the picture, so here's a different view:

The yarn is from Mystical Creation Yarns (no longer in business).  It's lace weight, I think it's merino yarn and I know I purchased it prior to 2008, or earlier than that.   It's been hanging around and I finally used the last of it.  You may recall seeing that I made the Daybreak Golds out of this yarn, but it was gifted years ago.  Now I can say that I'm practically out of the yarn and another 'leftover' is out of the stash!  Yay!

Day 11, 12 and 13:

I managed to spin up three spools of Jacob fiber.  At first it felt similar to Shetland, then while drafting it, it kind of felt like alpaca, then I just wanted it over!  The white was in good shape, the gray was filled with vm, and the black I spun in the dark because I didn't know what the heck was going on!

I'm glad it's almost over because it's got to be more pleasurable being yarn than it was being fiber.  This is fiber from Jenny Jump Farms in New Jersey that I purchased last year at The New York Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, NY.

Day 14 & 15:

I was a slacker.  My shoulder and hands were hurting and I had spin splints from pedaling.  Besides, after the Jacob and time spent picking things out of the fiber that would scratch the skin off my hands, I needed a break and time to consider my next spinning choice.

The hunt and find ended abruptly when I realised that in order for me to make an informed choice, I would have to empty the fiber cabinet.  No way!  The only choices I had were the fibers I could see.  So the winner is Perendale which I never heard of, but it sure is pretty.  Have a peek:

Wow!  It's all ready to go.  Purchased from Crown Mountain Farms, 4 ounces.  Turns out Crown Mountain is closing it's internet doors and the dyer/owner, Klaus, is going back to Germany.  I, of course, wish him and his family well, but I sure hate losing an online resource.

Lastly, being home these past two weeks has been an eye opener for me.  You know how you can never really know your neighbors no matter how often you see them or how they seem?  I believe that's true everywhere, but here's an example of what I experienced this week - in my last few days home.

My neighbor's daughter came to me and said the mail carrier left a note on her door that she has a package which they left with the neighbor two doors down.  The neighbor two doors down is an elderly gentleman who lives alone - well, mostly he lives alone.  His house is stray cat central, and he often leaves his doors open so the cats can come and go as they please.  Anyway, I digress.

The daughter asks me to go with her to the old man's house to get her package and me, intrepid soul that I am, agreed to walk with her.

Me: Hello, anyone home?

Old Man: Hi.  I'm here.

Daughter: There was a note on my door that a package was left here for me.

Old Man: Yes a package was left.  Let me get it.  He goes inside and come back with an open package.
Sorry I opened it.

Daughter: Did you take anything out?

Old Man: I took it all out.

Daughter: Did you put it all back?

Old Man: Probably.  I think so.

We all stand around looking at each other for a second or two, then me an daughter walked away shaking our heads.

Here's what was in the package:

All we can do is pray on this block that someone else besides the old man is home when we are not so that our packages will remain in tact when we get them.

July 06, 2013

Tour - Day 8

Finally I feel like I have something to show besides pictures of (spinning) work in progress!  I finished spinning up the Masham and what a lovely it is!

Unfortunately it's still damp after a whole night and day of hanging out to dry, so back on the rack it goes.  Still, this two ply yarn is an evenly spun light fingering weight.  Yay!  Of course, with the humidity what it is here in New York City, it may never dry.

It is indeed gray/brown, depending on what light you're viewing it under, and it's about as soft as all get out.  Honestly I didn't expect anything less because the roving was lovely to begin with - even I couldn't mess that up.

The Shetland I spun up got plied today, and here it is:

This is 4 ounces of Shetland plied up and ready for a bath in the morning.  It'll be another fingering weight yarn from the looks of things, unless it plumps up after bath.  It's so pretty I don't care what it does, it's orange and it's cute enough to be made into something summer-y.

Lastly, I know the knitters out there have about had enough of the spinning talk, so I thought I'd try something different today.  It still has to do with spinning, but maybe a little 'live action' would make the spinning seem more interesting.

I know you don't see me, but I can't see you either so it's OK.

Happy spinning!

July 05, 2013

Tour - Day 7

My goal for the Tour was to spin fibers I'd never spun before.  I didn't set a goal for how many ounces or how many yards I planned to spin, nothing like that.  I figured 4 ounces of this or that would do it for me.  As it turns out, I purchased 6-8 ounces of everything I planned to spin.  Oh no!

I had 8 ounces of Masham which I spun up in 5 days.  For the tour, it's too much time spent on one fiber when I have plenty of other new-to-me fiber to spin and weeks left to go on the tour.  The Masham is washed and now drying nicely in the bathroom because it was at risk of being stolen by squirrels if left outside to dry.  Long story for another day.

With that fiber off the spools next up was 8 ounces of Shetland, but I made the executive decision to only spin 4 ounces saving time and increasing my chances of spinning more of the goal fibers.  I had no errands to run today (other than laundry, dishes and dinner) so I spun on and off all day:

They will get their rest today and be plied tomorrow freeing up the spools for the next project.  I scored some Jacob fiber at the New York Sheep & Wool Festival last year (or was it the year before?).  Of course, I purchased 8 ounces.  What was I thinking?  I'll only spin 4 ounces of this fiber as well.

This fiber comes from Jacob sheep raised at Jenny Jump Farm in New Jersey,  That's about as local as I can get for fiber.  I could probably go there to get more - if I knew where Belvidere, NJ was and if I had permission from the owners.  Just showing up out of curiosity and asking to see the sheep might make me one creepy individual - and I'm trying to avoid being creepy.

This Tour stuff is keeping me busy, but today I have a feeling of accomplishment.  One fiber is drying, one fiber is all spun up and the next fiber is ready to go.  And it's still early enough in the day for me to knit and play Candy Crush Saga (please don't judge me, it's a palate cleanser).

Now I'm off the enjoy the remainder of the sunshine and heat and humidity in the coolness of my living room.  I hope wherever you are, you're cool and enjoying these dog days of Summer.

Tour - Day 6

This morning I woke up to the race and started plying the Masham fiber that took 5 days to spin.  I figured an hour of plying and I could get right to work on the Shetland.  That was the plan.

Turns out that I spun the fiber thinner than I thought:

It's mostly a fingering weight, but I can count the spots where I got tired and those areas are more like lace weight.  I'm hoping it will all even out after the wash.

I truly love this fiber and I'm sure I have enough yardage to make anything I want ... anything.  The plying took hours, and I still love it.  Believe me, I've spun fibers for half an hour and hated it (Wensleydale).

When the plying was done, I prepared dinner and cleaned up for company.  I also spun some Shetland while watching the replay of the Tour at 8p.  Yes, I can do that because all of my family knows they can't stop me.

Here's how far I got, which is not far at all:

Isn't it lovely?!  I can't wait to get it done and I can leave it on the coffee table to stare at it.  I just love orange in the Summer and this fiber looks like rainbow cotton candy.  It's adorable!

I have to get up early enough to watch the first run of the Tour de France so that I won't miss anything!  Can you believe Mark Cavendish came in 4th today?!  I feel like I should make him a pair of 'good luck' socks because I don't think there's another sprint for a couple of days.

July 03, 2013

Tour - Day 4 & 5

When the Tour started, I knew I'd be coming from behind since I hadn't spun anything in months, but I'd like to say something here and now for the world to hear: I love spinning.  I love the look and the feel of the fiber, I love to feel it glide past my fingers and I love it when it's done being all spun up.  I even love the way it looks on the spool(s).

Case in point, I usually spin my hand dyed fiber which is prettier than a garden of flowers on a Spring day, but the 8 ounces of Masham fiber I spun is gray (mostly).  You would think it would be boring to spin up miles of the stuff, but no.  It spun up like a dream, slipped through my fingers like silk and ended up on two spools:

Tomorrow I will ply it and I'm already having dreams of what it will be when it's washed, whacked, thwacked and hung to dry.  If I'm lucky the sun will shine tomorrow and I can hang it on the fence in front of the house (away from the hoard of squirrels hanging out in my backyard).

My only wish is that I had more spools for the WooLee Winder for my wheel.  I would be able to start on the Shetland tonight while watching the race.  If you're a spinner and ever have enough money for a luxury item, get yourself one.  It's a beautiful thing watching the winder do half the work.

I happen to have 8 ounces of hand dyed Shetland wool that I purchased years ago from Pumpkinmama at Etsy.  She's on hiatus now, but she used to have some really lovely fiber in wonderful colors.  Here's what I got:

Ask anybody that knows me about my affection for orange.  I never get it because I view it as strictly a Summer color, but I love it!  I love orange clothes, orange nail polish and orange shoes in Summer - and it is Summer now, isn't it?

How can you look at all of those colors and not be in love?

I've been on vacation since Tuesday, and I've had errands that took me out of the house for hours, but tomorrow is July 4, Independence Day here in the United States.  The only commitment I have is to cook dinner which goes in the oven fairly early so that we can spend the rest of the day eating it.

So I leave off here while I sort out the Shetland for spinning tomorrow.  The race is still on and I'm happy to be sitting in the air conditioned living room enjoying the cool.

Happy spinning!

P.S. To the person that asked me when the knitting group meets, it's every Saturday at 10:30a and the Soundview Public Library.  Feel free to join us, we'd love to meet you.

P.P.S. Knitting is happening and I will have something to show in a couple of days.

July 02, 2013

Tour - Day 3

Did I honestly believe that spinning darn near in the middle of the night would save me from having to deal with the humidity?  Honestly, we had a downpour this morning and the humidity, which is at 100% was still going strong at 10p.

This happens every year.  As soon as they start showing the commercials for Tour de France (the actual cycle racing), I know that the humidity is coming.  Not the perfect time to deal with wool in my lap, but I persevere.

Here's the results of day 3:

It looks much like yesterday's spinning, but trust me when I tell you, I spent two hours spinning and sweating tonight.  Surely I must have lost an ounce or two this evening.

I've got 8 ounces to spin, and I need to fill two bobbins.  This is what is left to go on bobbin #1:

Not much more to do.  The empty bobbin under that little bit of fluff is just waiting to go.

Tomorrow I start day 1 of a two week vacation from work.  Yay!  That means I can spin in the mornings when it's still (hopefully) cool in the house, watch the race and root for my favorite riders (Schleck, Voight, Cavendish to name a few).

I've got a job knitting that I have to get to (baby booties) for a baby shower, socks to make for my niece and if there's any time left I need to make some pot holders, believe it or not.

There's never enough time, is there?

July 01, 2013

Tour - Day 2, Among Other Things

As I was spinning yesterday, it dawned on me that trying to guess if I'd spun half of the 8 ounces is silly.  There's no way to tell without measuring, so today I plopped the fiber on the scale:

I measured out 4 ounces and I assume that what is left is also 4 ounces.  Now I know that I'm almost done spinning the first half of what will be a two ply yarn:

Today's attempt at daytime spinning was a fail because it was just too darn humid.  Not to mention I cooked dinner and the whole house felt like a sauna.  Yuck!  Tomorrow, after work, I hope to finish the first bobbin and start on the next.

Finished object alert!!  I finished a pair of socks today:

From the book Knit Your Socks on Straight by Alice Curtis, those are the Green Leaves of Summer.  They're a size 6 which fits no one in my family, but they do fit Mary Jo who is part of my knitting family.

The socks were knit on Addi Sock Rockets, US #0 using The Plucky Knitter's primo fingering in The Way We Were colorway.  The socks are lovely and dense and will last a very long time.  The seam is only on one side of the sock and I got through it easily enough.  I'm going to make another pair of socks from the book where the seam is much less obvious.

The Slainte socks will be made for my niece since I promised her months ago I'd make her a pair of socks - and then forgot all about it.  I'll have to make these in double time because it's been two weeks since she reminded me that I forgot.

The yarn is ArtYarns Ultramerino 4 in color #236 that I purchased at Vogue Knitting Live in NY way back in January.  On my monitor the color looks blue, but it's actually purple/gray.  Thank goodness I happened to have been on a solid color kick because I can't imagine the cables on the sock showing up with hand painted yarn.

I'm glad to have gotten another skein out of destash, and that two more will soon be out of here too.  My sock yarn stash is out of control!  Much like my 'regular' yarn and fiber are out of control.  Oy!

I need to up my knitting game or something ... and I will ... just as soon as the Tour de Fleece ends.