Monday, August 2, 2010

How did 65 painstakingly decorated cookies become 51?

Need I say more?

Now it's back to the kitchen to bake replacements before the party. Sigh.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Annual Weekend in New York

Crafty Daughter and I just got back from our annual girls-only trip to New York. Sure, we did some typical touristy things, like visiting the Metropolitan Museum and the American Museum of Natural History. But mostly, to us, New York represents a giant craft supplies/handmade crafts shop.

First stop was Kinokuniya, a fantastic Japanese bookstore next to Bryant Park. Crafty Daughter and I both bought books there -- hers a patchwork book, and mine two crochet books. The crochet patterns are charted out, so there's no need to understand Japanese in order to follow them.

The book on top contains instructions for some really unusual crochet jewelry, that I can't wait to try out.

I also picked up some miscellaneous items from the stationery department.

After Kinikuniya, we headed to another bookshop -- Books of Wonder -- one of my daughter's favorite places in New York. And then the focus shifted to yarn.

We made it to three yarn shops on Friday, including two I'd never been to before. First stop was the Lion Brand Studio, which carries all of the Lion Brand yarns, with computers for printing out patterns and a sampling wall from which you can cut yarn for swatching to try it out. Their new LB collection includes this wool-covered stainless steel yarn (really thread), which is similar to a Habu product, except that LB's has a bit of sparkle to it.

Next, we headed to the relocated and much larger Purl shop in SoHo. Their new space is such a treat -- still a little tight because it's rather narrow, but much more spacious than the old locations (which had separate shops for yarn and for fabrics). I was somehow able to resist the lure of yarn, but my daughter picked up this pretty fabric bundle.

Final yarn shop for the day was Knitty City, on the Upper West Side. This was was a bit chaotic and crowded, but they did have some gorgeous Madelinetosh yarns, which was why I was there in the first place. I bought a couple of skeins recently at Webs, and was immediately hooked on their lovely colors. These three new skeins are destined to become small shawls. (Sadly, this photo isn't capturing the richness of the colors.)

Phew ... that was just Friday! On Saturday, our main activity was a visit to the Brooklyn Flea Market.

This is a wonderful collection of typical flea market booths, handcrafts (mostly jewelry and screen-printed t-shirts), and fantastic foods. It was hard to choose, but for lunch, I had a fresh, warm lobster roll and a waffle cookie with meringue and caramel filling. I got this wonderful ceramic tumbler from alyssaettinger design to hold my double pointed needles. Don't you just love it? She uses old sweaters to make her ceramic molds.

Last year, I was a little surprised to see a booth selling nothing but pickles, but I thought well, in New York, there's room for every little niche product, right?

But this year, there were two pickle booths! Are New Yorkers inordinately fond of pickles?

On Sunday, we spent the day in museums -- first the Silk Road exhibit at AMNH, and then "American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity" at the Met. (Crafty Daughter is very interested in fashion design, and the Met has had a number of fashion exhibits in the past few years that we've enjoyed.) After that, our aching feet could barely hold us up any more, so we headed to Penn Station for the trip home. Now that I'm rested up, I'm ready for another trip!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A trio of triangular shawls

Never one to be deterred by the fact that I already had several projects in progress, I recently came acrodd the Daybreak shawl pattern, and decided that if I could find some Malabrigo Sock yarn at the Maryland Sheep and Wool festival, I would make one. Then, of course, I made it a priority to track down some Malabrigo. I instantly fell in love with the Indiecita colorway, but struggled with what to use for the contrasting stripes. The yarn I picked initially just didn't work -- there wasn't enough contrast to make distinct stripes -- so I went off in search of an alternative. I found the perfect color, Violeta Africana, at Fibre Space. And here's my (first) Daybreak shawl.

My next project was a design that I'd seen worn by the designer at Md S&W, the Nancy & Judy shawl. For that one, I selected a deep blue yarn by Tess. This was not the smoothest project ever. First, the yarn rubbed off blue dye onto my hands the whole time I was working, although the vinegar rinse I gave it at the end seems to have solved the problem. Then, I struggled to execute the left twist stitch that has to be done hundreds (thousands?) of times in this pattern. But in the end, I got this gorgeous blue shawl.

While I was still working on Nancy & Judy, I listened one day to a Stash & Burn podcast (episode 84) devoted largely to a discussion of knitting shawls with sock yarn. That led me to look up Ishbel, which became my next project. I pulled out some Socks that Rock Lightweight in the Lovers Leap colorway that I had already decided should become a shawl or scarf rather than socks. As I was working, I kept thinking that the color was too vivid, but once I put it around my neck, I fell immediately in love with it.

So now I'm hooked on fingering weight shawls -- at Webs recently, I picked up four more skeins of sock yarn just for that purpose, 2 Malabrigo and 2 Madelinetosh. The Malabrigos include a dark blue that will stripe beautifully with the yarn I decided not to use in my first Daybreak, and a spectacular turquoise called Persia. The tosh sock was my first of that brand -- and they are perhaps the most gorgeous green and brown yarns ever. I haven't decided yet whether to stripe them together, or make two separate shawls. Either way, the finished product will undoubtedly be lovely.

I'm going to New York next weekend via train, so now I just need to decide which new shawl to work on en route.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Confessions of a Fiberholic -- Maryland Sheep & Wool, part 2

So I decided to return for a second day -- and what a contrast from Saturday! On Sunday, the booths that had been too mobbed to even get into Saturday were open for leisurely browsing. Of course, that means that I bought more, but not so very much really.

The spectacular blue Tess Merino Petite is for a Nancy and Judy Shawl - after seeing the designing wearing hers on Saturday, I knew I had to make one. And the Tess yarns come in such nice big hanks that I'll be able to knit the entire shawl with no extra ends to weave in.

As for the Socks that Rock, well ... I know I didn't need any more sock yarn, but there was no line to get into the booth, and no wait to pay, and that color was so pretty, that I just lost my head.

Of course, it wasn't all about buying more. One of the main reasons I went back was to watch the Sheep to Shawl competition. Having seen this competition twice now, it still amazes me that it's even possible to go from unshorn sheep to finished shawl in only 3 hours, but these amazing teams pulled it off. I've got lots of photos, but here are just a few.

A nice fluffy Corriedale ready for shearing,

a half shorn sheep,

and the spinners from Mount Vernon.

And now ... only five and a half months until Rhinebeck!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

It's Too Darn Hot!

The Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival is this weekend, and it's just too darn hot! Forecast was for 88 degrees today, and it felt like it got there by 11 am. Scarcely an ounce of wool to be seen actually being worn in this weather. But the heat didn't seem to keep anyone away.

And it certainly didn't diminish the desire to buy wool! So much gorgeous fiber in one place, so hard to resist taking home far too much of it. But I'm in the midst of reorganizing my craft room, so I recently had to come face to face with the size of my stash...and there was just no way I could possibly bring home more than a token amount of fiber. I was actually quite restrained -- aside from a lazy kate, this is all I bought.

A glass shawl pin from Moving Mud, some malabrigo sock yarn for a Daybreak shawl, some BFL spinning fiber from Three Waters Farm, a little batt of cashmere/silk/baby camel from Faerie Mountain Fibers (who could have resisted?), and some gift cards that say “I made this. I expect to see you wearing it.”

I also came home with a new project for my queue -- the Nancy & Judy shawl, which I saw being modelled by the designer. Can't wait to start one, but I really ought to finish at least one of the three other projects I've already got going.

I finally got myself a pocket-sized digital camera, so this year I took photos at the festival for the first time. Naturally, cute, cuddly lambs had to be captured.

And some Blue-Faced Leicesters, since I'm so fond of their wool for spinning.

And what's up with this one ... is she getting a pedicure?!?

Two years ago, I bought my first Loop batt at Md S&W at the Cloverhill booth, and now Steph has a booth of her own. I wanted to bring home bagfuls of her fiber, but had to resist. Maybe next year, though ...

Saturday, February 27, 2010

I'm on Jeopardy next week!

I know I've been absent for months, and ought to be starting out with a post about knitting, or spinning, or sewing. And there will be one of those very soon. But in the meantime, just wanted to let whoever's out there know that I'm going to be appearing on Jeopardy next week! Wednesday, March 3. Will have a longer post with more details about the experience after air date, but in the meantime...tune in to see if Alex asks me about the crafty part of being ACraftyLawyer!

Oh, and if you want to watch, you can find your local air time and station on the Jeopardy web site.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Rhinebeck, and my post-Rhinebeck vacation

I've been having so much fun going places and making things that I haven't had a chance to update the blog. It's time to catch up.

So…two weekends ago I got to go to the NY Sheep and Wool Festival. I have family in Massachusetts, just two hours away from the festival, so I got to have a great visit, and bring some of them to Rhinebeck with me. My focus this year was on spinning and dyeing.My plan was to buy some natural dyes, and some wool and yarn to use them on. But not yarn … I tried really hard to resist the gorgeous yarns, and amazingly enough, I pulled it off. (The bags bulging with wool top and roving did help me restrain myself. In fact, I only bought one thing that wasn’t on my shopping list, this beautiful cherry case to hold a sock-in-progress:

Since I didn’t know that such a thing existed before I saw it at Rhinebeck, I couldn’t very well have put it on my list, could I? One thing that was definitely on my list was the new Cat Bordhi sock book – I haven’t tried her latest method out yet, because I’m already in the middle of a pair of Cookie A socks, but I’ll definitely use Cat’s book for my next pair.

With help from the Ravelry discussion boards, I found a couple of vendors selling natural dye materials, and chose some kits of Earthues dyes from Long Ridge Farm. I got two kits – one containing osage orange, quebracho, and logwood, and the other an “overdyeing kit” containing indigo, cochineal, and pomegranate. Once the dyes were in my bag, I started focusing on fibers to use them on – eventually buying two skeins of fingering weight alpaca, 2 pounds of rambouilllet top, and about a pound and a half of wool roving of different breeds.

And these bags of “wool” – they’re actually maple cotton candy, and it was delicious! I did do a double-take when I first saw someone eating some of this, because it really did look like a bag of wool.
As much fun as I had at Rhinebeck, the real fun was when I got home … because I’d arranged to take the week off to play with all my new fiber goodies. For the next several days, I was free to knit, spin, and dye all day long. And I really lucked out – the weather was warm and sunny most of the time, so I was able to sit out on my back deck with my spinning wheel while I was tending the dye pots. First thing when I got back home, I went out to buy a hotplate so that I could work outdoors (by the end of the week, I’d picked up a second one so that I could have two dye pots going at once.)

Day one was devoted to mordanting the fibers I was planning to dye later in the week – heating them in an alum solution that helps hold the dye. It wasn’t until day two that I actually got to break open the dye kits. The first colors I tried were quebracho red

and logwood gray.
The quebracho made a really gorgeous warm red, definitely a color I want to repeat. As for the logwood, I ended up putting a bit more dye than I’d really intended, but it made a great dark purple. I’ve saved the dyebath to reuse, and am curious what the weaker solution that’s left will make. The next day, I used the osage orange and cochineal dyes.

I used the cochineal first on one of the skeins of alpaca from Rhinebeck, and then I reused the exhaust bath on some roving.

The yarn dyed with osage orange is half a skein of Cascade EcoWool, and undyed Peruvian wool that comes in fat 8 ounce skeins, perfect for dyeing yourself.

I think we’re up to Friday now – I dyed another skein with osage orange, so that I could overdye it with indigo later, and also dyed some roving with pomegranate.

Saturday it rained, so I spent the whole day on spinning. By the end of the week, I’d spun these three skeins (and boy did my back ache!):

Sunday was devoted to indigo dyeing, and I’ve got lots of photos, so stay tuned for my next post to see all the beautiful blues.