January 2010

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felted wool rabbit with polymer clay vegetables

I guess I have bunnies on the brain lately. These needle felted rabbits range from 1.5 to 2 inches long. They are accompanied by an assortment of veggies we made from polymer clay. I was inspired by a picture of felted cats that Naomi posted a few months ago. My kids have been having quite a fun time with the bunnies, playing veggie market. If only that would somehow translate into them eating more real vegetables . . .

needle felted wool bunnies with sculpey veggies

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yarn ball in netting keeper

I bought a $1 bath pouf a while ago and keep finding interesting uses for it. When I took it apart it turned out to be something like 10 feet of tubular netting. It’s not very strong but it’s stretchy and very smooth. I cut off about 10 inches, knotted one end and stuck a 4oz centerpull ball of yarn in it. The netting will shrink around the ball as I use the yarn. I like being able to see the yarn but not having to deal with a ziploc bag.


This is the second in a series intended to show the steps from fiber to finished item. See the first here.

The fiber: a 4oz braid of handpainted merino in colorway Rocky Mountain High from Spunky Eclectic. As purchased and unrolled from the braid.

handpainted fiber hanging on upright spinning wheel hand painted wool top

singles: I pulled 1oz. off the top and then split it into four lengthwise. I arranged the pieces so that I would spin two singles with roughly the same color repeats. I then plied them together.

two bobbins of handspun singles ready to be plied into yarn two ply yarn on the bobbin of a spinning wheel

plies: After plying, I transferred the yarn from the bobbin to the yarn swift. You can see the color shifts very well. Then the skein is washed and hung to dry to set the ply. If the twist is done evenly then the plied yarn should hang fairly straight. On the left is the yarn above and on the right is the same fiber spun at a thinner weight.

handspun yarn on a yarn swift handspun yarn hanging to dry to set the twist

finished yarn: ready to knit or crochet

handspun yarn from handpainted wool fiber

project: I chose to knit a hat for the girl with this yarn. I looked for a simple pattern that would have texture but still show off the color gradations in the yarn. I couldn’t find what I wanted so I ended up making up my own pattern. I had intended to finish with a crochet border that would make the hat about an inch longer but forgot to take into account that the textured stitch I used ate up yardage faster than a simpler stockinette would so I ran out of yarn. It fits okay . . . I’m still thinking about what to do.

handknit hat made from handspun yarn

stitch: The stitch I used must have a name but I couldn’t find anything like it so if you know what it is called please tell me! It’s so simple and fast and a little girly without being too delicate. (The following instructions will only work in the round. A bit of adjustment would be needed to work it flat as the stitch pattern causes the starting point to shift.)
Row 1: Knit
Row 2: *K2togTB, YO* repeat
Repeat rows 1 and 2. Way simple.
See even more ramblings on this hat in my Ravelry projects.

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I haven’t posted any of my children’s funny words and phrases in a while so here are a few that I keep forgetting to share.

zazoo: looks like a whistle but makes buzzing noises, courtesy of the girl

egg noggin: you know, eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, yummy stuff. It’s good for your brain according to the boy.

dracamole: an imaginary creature that likes Mexican food (think avocados), as used by the girl

pig, pig, turkey: an answer to what kind of meat are you? or a game similar to that old waterfowl favorite. This was a coordinated sibling effort at Thanksgiving dinner, far funnier than the original.

And one of my favorites from the girl:
clap shoes: as worn by Gene Kelly or Shirley Temple. They sure do make a racket on our wood floors!

tap shoes with covered button elastic closure

The idea for the covered button closures on the tap shoes came from a post on the forum at Sew, Mama, Sew! from this blog: http://etownhooks.blogspot.com/2009/10/craftiness.html

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A few quick pictures. I’m not sure what these will become. I haven’t quite figured out yet how much yarn I need to make stuff, sometimes I just spin it and then decide afterwards what to make.

This is oatmeal BFL that I handspindled, plied and then dyed with grape and cherry Kool-aid for a nice heathery effect. About 100 yards from 2oz making it about worsted weight I think. I’m not very good about figuring that part out. My WPI and swatches don’t always agree with the yards per fiber oz charts.

cherry plum heathered BFL blue-faced leicester hand spindled and hand dyed yarn

The naturally brown worsted below is also two-ply and came in at around 200 yards from 4.1 oz so about the same thickness although I spun it on the wheel and went for a little more rugged look to it since that seemed to agree with the fiber. I received the fiber through SpinCycle on Ravelry.

handspun natural brown two ply worsted wool yarn

More details on both in my Rav stash.

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Would you guess this is the drainage ditch that runs through the wooded lot behind our house? Looks pretty in the snow doesn’t it?

Nice, soft snow and just a bit sticky. We got about 10 inches Sunday night into Monday so it’s not like we really needed more today but it was pretty and fun. Yesterday I took the kids to the big hill in the woods but today we stayed closer to home. First things, the girl and I attempted a snowman. Grapes for eyes, a carrot nose and a green pepper smile. I wonder if some squirrel or bird will be enjoying a little frozen fruit and veggies soon.

snowman with grape eyes, carrot nose and green pepper mouth

Back inside we were sad to discover that ballet class was cancelled so we consoled ourselves by putting on American Ballet Theatre’s Swan Lake and making origami animals, including a swan of course.

origami swan

Silliness broke out as I spun brown wool. The girl was giving me handfuls of wool as needed and then decided that I wasn’t moving fast enough for her. She started patting the handfuls of wool on top of her head! Now how do you like that ‘do?


When the boy got home we all decided to take a walk, waving to neighbors and kicking through several inches of new snow. Back at the house the boy went in to get the snow tube and I got the camera. The end of our driveway had a fairly good plow pile left from the last storm and Rich snowblowed even more on top last night making for a pretty good high spot to slide down from into the backyard.


And just a bit more silliness as we used up the last of the daylight.


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hand dyed, hand spun Romney wool potholder knit on bias and fulled

. . . that I did not take any pictures of it until I knit it up into this potholder. Did you know wool is naturally heat and flame resistant?

This yarn started out as a little more than an ounce of Romney wool that my mother had cleaned and carded. I decided to try dyeing it before spinning. Fail. I nearly felted the stuff. I spun it up thick which I am not good at so it was all over the place and overspun to boot. I threw it in the yarn bin and forgot about it until my mother asked. Sigh. I decided that I might as well try and knit it up since sometimes doing so improves its looks. I chose to knit on the bias and then crochet with natural Lopi around the edge to counteract the inevitable stockinette curl. I then washed it aggressively to full the wool a bit. Fulling is like felting but you start with wool that is knit or woven. Felting starts with the unspun fiber.

How about that? It looks pretty good now doesn’t it? It even softened up in the process. The girl claimed it as a picnic (blanket) for her dolls before it was done blocking. I had to sneak it back to take the pictures. This may be its only chance to do its intended job.

hand knit potholder  made from hand dyed, hand spun Romney wool and crocheted edge in natural Lopi

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and everything in its place. I don’t know who originally said that but I am certainly finding wisdom in it.

I’ve been working here and there on organizing parts of the house and trying to find a home for everything, whether that is in our house or in someone else’s. I’m hoping that we can keep what is really needful and dear to us and let go of everything else. So far this is working best in the kids’ room. But I did make a little addition to the kitchen today.

There is often a piece of fruit or two out on the counter in the way and I decided that this odd corner under an upper cabinet was a good place to hang this wire basket. It’s collapsible and has two handles on it that when held together cause the top of the basket to close almost completely around the contents. I’m sure it has some distinct purpose but I can’t even remember where I got it or why. The girl and I strung some wire through the rim, screwed a hook into the underside of the cabinet and hung our new fruit basket. It looks quite at home already.

collapsible mesh basket with fruit

Earlier in the week or was it last week? I did some serious work with the miter saw. The girl donned a favorite outfit to help me with the sanding and assembly of a ladder for the bunkbeds. See her hammer there?

sanding and assembling ladder

I just have to include this picture of her outfit, don’t you love her style? Vintage ’70s brown floral (originally made by my mother for me) with the leopard pants from her Halloween costume. She makes me smile. I would never have worn anything half so fun.

vintage '70s brown floral dress with new leopard pants

bunkbed ladder

I recently found out that this is actually the third generation to sleep in these bunkbeds. Everyone else has done just fine without a ladder but this allows me to use the space at the foot of the bed for the organizer that holds all the dress-up accessories. It’s not pretty but it’s functional and the kids like it. Maybe it will get painted as well if we get around to painting the walls.

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The boy built a cardboard house for his kitty. Added an attic for the girl’s kitty. And a porch with a telescope on the roof. For the baby kitty to watch the moon a.k.a. the kitchen light. There was much tape involved. (I helped with the heavy cutting and brought out the duct tape to spare the rest of the roll of scotch tape.)


I am privileged to be a spectator and sometimes participant in the amazing stories that they weave together. Their imaginations are quirky, funny and heartwarming. They can be sincerely sweet to each other in a goofy, storybook way that almost seems too cute to be real. Just as real as the 45 minutes of wrestling and screaming at each other they put me through later that afternoon. On occasion I regret that they share a room and there is no way to send them both to their room separately!







I’d like to start an ongoing series where I show you a fiber or a yarn and track along in pictures as it gets spun/dyed/knit/crocheted etc. into a finished item. So we’ll start with something cute!

The animal: German Angora named Gabe. (I won’t generally have pictures of the actual animal the fiber came from so this is a bonus!)

german angora rabbit

The fiber: Minimally hand carded from brushed out fur. staple length about 4″? super soft. I think these would be called rolags but I don’t really know what I’m doing so maybe not but I can spin it easier. Although it was pretty easy to spin uncarded.

hand carded angora rolags

The spinning: Hand spindled into a lace/light fingering weight single. Spun on a DIY afghan hook/wooden wheel spindle.

angora spun on DIY spindle

The swatch: Swatched on US size 0 needles and blocked on my swatching cork board. Spinning got a little too thin there in spots. Can’t say I actually thought I’d be using those size 0 needles. Next time remind me not to knit angora on metal needles, slippery!

swatch of handspindled angora

And in this case the approximately 2×2 inch swatch is the final product as that’s all there was!

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Meet Gabe, the bunny, who lives with my parents. He is an 8mo German Angora. He has lusciously soft white fur which spins up into incredibly soft fuzzy yarn.

German Angora rabbit playing with grass ball

Gabe meeting the boy.

Gabe meeting the girl.

Name the author and setting of the title quote and I’ll send you something bunny! (fiber sample if you’re a spinner, yarn sample if you’re a knitter/crocheter, something else bunny otherwise)

(In the case that more than one person knows the correct answer, I’ll randomly choose one recipient.
ETA: comments are now closed. 1/25/10)

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Last week a large box appeared on the doorstep. It was after Christmas and I wasn’t expecting any more packages. It was definitely addressed to me but the return address was unfamiliar. I opened it up to find this chocolate cherry colored fiber!

unspun wool and card showing castle style spinning wheel

I had forgotten that a generous stranger on Ravelry had arranged to send me 2 pounds(!) of spinning fiber that she had decided she wouldn’t be using herself. A second large bag underneath the first revealed a lighter brown fiber. This one spins up easily but looks like it would also be good for felting. Doesn’t it look like a good color for baby animals?

light brown spinning/felting fiber, unknown breed of wool

And here’s a little sample of the first one on the spindle. The color is hard to describe but it also reminded me of red velvet cake. The only caveat is that my kind donor did not know what type of wool either of these are so if any of you spinners out there want to hazard a guess, I’m all ears! I’ll probably bring some to SPA with me in February, surely someone there will be able to tell me what breeds these fibers came from.

reddish brown wool on a hand spindle

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Rather close to Christmas, the girl and her daddy went to see Santa and she asked very seriously for a toy soldier. We knew that what she wanted was a toy soldier as seen in the Nutcracker ballet which has been very popular in our house this fall. I had already looked everywhere for a set of Nutcracker dolls or ornaments and while there were many sets out there, nothing seemed quite right. Or affordable for that matter.

So I added another project to my list and worked surreptitiously in my notebook (lots of math) and on the miter saw in the basement. The dolls are made of wood and the style is influenced by old-fashioned clothes peg dolls but made mostly with dowels and wood pieces I already had on hand.

wooden toy soldier with working drawings

Later I completed a few more of the characters—Clara, Nutcracker Prince and the Mouse King—and she got them on New Year’s Day when we shared Christmas with my parents. The girl and her brother have been merrily humming Tchaikovsky and acting out bits of the Nutcracker ever since. What more could artistic/musical parents want?

Clara, Nutcracker Prince and Mouse King wooden ornaments

I may need to add wood-working as a category to my blog, I enjoyed this project very much (except for those pesky safety goggles). I could probably use some earplugs and a shop vac as well.


I’ve got so many things I want to post I’m afraid the order is going to get mixed up here but oh well. I had the idea to make the boy and his Granddad matching lounge pants/pajama bottoms last year but didn’t think of it until it was too late. This year I was prepared and found some perfect flannel at eQuilter, a scattering of comic book sound effects on a powder blue background.

Comic Kaboom flannel from Fabri-Quilt drawstring waist flannel lounge pants

I used a simple version of the boy’s regular pants pattern and a commercial pattern for the men’s size (as usual I was reminded why I don’t use commercial patterns, sizing was very strange, glad I went by instinct and not by recommended sizing). For the waist I made a casing of black hemp jersey cinched with a black twill tape and a bullet shaped cordlock. I really liked this waist finish and I think I’ll be using it again for pajama bottoms and maybe shorts. I used a little sew-in stabilizer to make a back patch pocket out of the same black hemp jersey. Granddad’s pocket was embellished with the selvedge clearly imprinted with the words, “not for use in children’s sleepwear”. My little joke for the kid in Granddad but I forgot to take a picture.

And in keeping with my usual unfortunate habit of waiting until the last minute, these were finished the night before we left to go see my husband’s parents. We decided that they needed to open these the night before Christmas. What a hilarious treat to see the looks on their faces!

matching flannel boy pajamas lounge pants