Thursday, March 26, 2009

My Very First Lace Blocking Ever!

It's hard to believe that in all my 20 plus years of crocheting and 6 years of knitting, I have never once blocked any of my projects. Yes, I know, it's a bit of a secret shame really, but up until now I've never really needed to.

I made a sample of yarn for my sister's wedding shawl and I needed to know how it would knit up. So I took it and just knit a very simple lace pattern scarf. Of course, then I had to figure out how to open it all up. A little research and a little cash later resulted in a package arriving from Knitpicks yesterday. It contained foam interconnecting blocking boards, lace blocking pins in a nifty little case and corrosive resistant lace blocking wires. It's an investment I have been pondering for quite some time now, so it wasn't exactly an impulse buy, but it was close.

It took about half an hour to soak the scarf in lukewarm water to make the fibers slide past each other when blocked. Then the "real work" started. It took another 15 minutes to slip the blocking wires in all the outside stitches of the scarf. Here's where it got really cool though. I laid out as many foam board pieces as I needed and put them together just like big puzzle bits. It took 2 minutes to completely pin and stretch and re-pin the wires to the board. Voila! Done! Perfectly stretched lace. How awesome is that!?

I do have to note that not until I was finished did I realize that the textured side of the blocking boards is supposed to be in contact with the yarn. I really don't think it was meant to keep them from sliding around on the table. I also realize that one end of the scarf is much skinnier than the other end, and I think it has a lot to do with binding off too tightly. Well, there's always next time, right? Chalk it all up to experience.

I wish I would have taken pictures of all the steps from start to finish, but as you can see, it's pretty easy work. These items will more than pay for themselves in saved time and effort. My sanity will be a rest too, which is priceless.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Returning the Favor - I'm Featured on a Blog Too!

Great news today! For the very first time ever my Etsy shop has been featured on a blog. It just so happens to be the blog of the Create Crochet Team, which I am a member. They are really wonderful group of people. If you are trying to decide on what group to join, and you are a fiber artist who crochets or makes crochet supplies, I would whole-heartedly recommend the CreateCrochet group.

Peanut and Tommy, who was featured here a few weeks ago, is the one who wrote my feature and she did a wonderful job. So drop by and check it out.

As a parting gift, here's my favorite picture of Willie when he still loved me. In fact, I think it was the day before we had him neutered. Maybe that has something to do with it.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Showing Off - Just a little bit

Remember a long time ago when I first started this blog and said that I had made a neck warmer with some of my hand spun yarn? No, well...I did and yesterday I finally took a picture of it to put on here. It's a whole lot prettier in person, but this will have to suffice. So, what do you think?

This weekend has been all about revamping my Etsy shop and getting some more yarns listed. Check out all the yummy new stuff...PLEASE!

Sorry this has been such a short post, but I'm on a roll and need to keep going. Have a lovely weekend everyone!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Peanut and Tommy - Cute and Cuddly Crafts

Have I ever got a treat for you wonderful crafters this week! We get to meet the energetic and vivacious crocheter Debi, who is one of the creative geniuses behind Peanut and Tommy on Etsy. Let's start with a little insight into her shop.

Peanut and Tommy is made up of things Debi makes and things her mom knits. “My mom lives alone in a retirement community two hours away from me and doesn’t drive anymore. She’s pretty much home-bound and loves to knit toys.” she says. “I originally opened the shop to give her a job—a reason to get up in the morning. She loves the idea of sending out her toys to live with children all over the world. She has sent a knitted snake to Australia, an elephant to Germany, a set of turtles to Florida, a bear to California, and that’s just to mention a few. It gives her great joy and keeps her busy.”

It's great to see that Debi comes from a crafty family. “My mom knit all my sweaters when I was a child. My parents were always pretty thrifty—many of our Christmas or birthday gifts were handmade. If I wanted to buy fabric to sew an outfit, mom was always willing to pay for that. I sewed most of my clothes for many years. Although Mom tried to teach me to knit, I didn’t learn knitting or crochet until I went away to college.

Years of thrifty craftiness has molded Debi's persona. “I love to make things for other people. To me, a handmade gift is a gift from the heart. I have two girls (teenagers now, one is in college). I make the kind of goodies that they would have loved as children. I love to make cuddly cute things like my cupcake bags and the caterpillar in my shop. My mom made the three dinosaurs and all the teddy bears. She loves the cuddly cute things too! I guess we’re related!” she laughs.

“I love making the cupcake bags that turn into a doll cradle. I crochet the bags, sew a cotton lining for them, and then knit the little dolls to go inside. I really enjoy finding beautiful yarn and fabric that coordinate. They take a while to make, which is why I only have one or two in my shop at a time!”

She also takes great joy in helping out in the community. “I started a knitting guild at my daughter’s school where we knit for charity. We’ve made a ton of chemo caps, made up personal care bags (each with a hand knit washcloth) for the women’s shelter, knit a million teddy bears, made blankets for Project Linus, you name it. We’re really quite active!”

Debi is also in to crafting with recycled materials. She makes a cute little Eco-friendly crocheted frog out of cotton yarn that is made from leftovers from t-shirt manufacturing. In addition to that, “I am knitting a market bag with “Plarn” which is yarn that I’ve made out of used plastic bags. The plarn is tiring to knit with, but the bag is really quite beautiful. However, I made it so BIG, that it’s taking me forever to finish it!” So maybe someday we'll see one of those in her shop too!

She has a second shop on Etsy, Peanut and Tommy Too that she has just started up for vintage finds. Recently she has been helping out on the CreateCrochet Etsy Team Blog with the shop of the week and introductions of new members and does a very nice job even if I do say so myself. If you are interested in following her day to day exploits you can find her on Twitter as PeanutandTommy.

As everyone has a dream to work towards, I asked Debi where she would like to be if she could be anywhere. Her reply, “Greece, living in a little house in a small town overlooking the blue sea. Poli Kala! (My husband is Greek).” It sounds wonderful! May all your dreams come true Debi.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

More Wheel Trauma

You guys are going to think I'm out to get my spinning wheel, but really I'm not. Today I spent most of my at home time cleaning. We were supposed to have company over for dinner, but they ended up being sick. Anyway, as it so happens, vacuuming the carpet is on the list of things to do.

There I am, moving rugs and furniture, vacuuming up rabbit fluff and crumbs. I'm on a roll and quickly getting it done. I've already dusted, mopped, plumped the pillows on the couch and even re-potted the houseplants. This was the very last thing that needed done, even the very last room, the very last square foot of carpeting. Somehow, and don't ask me exactly how this happened, but I didn't see the clear drive band for my spinning wheel laying on the carpeting. I pop it off the bobbin but still leave it attached to the wheel so that it doesn't stretch out when I'm not using it. Somehow it had fallen down and I sucked it up in the roller brush of the vacuum cleaner. Before I could turn it off, both the band for my wheel and the drive band for the vacuum brush snapped. Great jumping Jehoshaphat, I am talented.

As you can well imagine, right after dinner I was on the Babe site to order another (2 at hubby insistence) drive bands for the wheel. We have a spare band for the vacuum, bummer I can't give THAT up for a week too. Well, you win some and lose some. Hopefully it doesn't try to retaliate as well for my unwitting abuse.

Maybe I should give up "power" tools altogether and go with the more primitive drop spindle and broom. (Although I have managed to snap a broom handle this winter as well, but that was cleaning snow off the car.) Good thing my new Turkish spindle came in the mail today from Linda at Sunset Fibers. Maybe the title to this blog should be Destructo-Sarah instead of Bunnies.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Spinning Wheel Trauma

Since September I have been busy peddling away on my little Babe Double Treadle spinning wheel. Many happy hours have been spent abusing the poor thing with my too fast treadling and stinky sweaty feet. it had it's revenge.

So there I was, belting out another ply of wonderful soft Merino and all of a sudden, plink! It was like it happened in slow motion. I felt something wasn't quite right and looked down in time to see both rodmen separate from the bracket that held them on to the middle of the wheel. What!? At first I thought the bolt had just come undone as sometimes it does and I just have to tighten it up again and be on my way. Unfortunately what had happened was the bolt sheared off and part of it is now stuck in the bracket hole with no way to get hold of it and back it out. It's not like it will just push out because the bolt has threads on it and if I force it out I'll strip out the opening. Grr. I am majorly frustrated.

I did get hold of Nels, who is the inventor of the Babe Wheels and was told what to go get from the hardware store and how to fix it. They have great customer service there and I heartily recommend them to anyone who wants a quality wheel on a shoestring budget. I just have to figure out how to deal with getting that little bit of bolt out first. Does anyone have any suggestions about how it could be done?

I'd put a picture on, but I have handily misplaced the ginormous pack of batteries I got specifically for use in my camera. Twice. Just not a smooth day for me all around. Tomorrow I promise I'll be the happy blogger you have all come to know and love.

Sweet Dreams all you wonderful crafters.