Category Archives: crafting

No Apologies

It sure has been a while since I last posted

I’ve been reading this general sentiment a lot lately (I think Got Medieval put it most succinctly by opening with “Let’s skip the whole “excuses for not posting more often” section…”) and get the feeling that with all this other Social Media Stuff* floating about the ether and general daily life, a lot of non-pro bloggers are finding it difficult to blog regularly. In the face of diligent, post-every-day-on-schedule blogs, any post I make seems like it must absolutely be prefaced with an apology.

Even I am getting tired of these apologies and meta-blogging. I can only image what few readers I have left must be getting sick of it.

So, let’s just stop that, shall we? No more apologies for sporadic blogging. I’m busy. You’re busy. Lives take work. Creativity takes effort. Sometimes things get done, other times they get balled up in a heap and forgotten about until you remember company’s coming over in 10 minutes and people actually can sit on that chair in the corner…

From now on, I’ll try just writing about what’s been going on, whether in my head or with my creative output. You can kindly read, choose to comment, or whatever you like. We’ll see where this takes us.

* * * * *

I have been doing absolutely no knitting whatsoever for the last 3 months. This lack has been killing me so much I’ve turned to crochet for near-instant gratification of yarn-play resulting in an FO. I’ve crocheted three sunhats, all but one of which have gone to that hidden part of the park where kids bury their sunhats because no kid ever wants to wear a sunhat, especially if it is a sunhat crocheted specially for you by your crazy mom. I miss knitting. Someday, perhaps, I’ll be able to finish a sock, or scarf…

My non-knitting does not mean I have not been buried in wool however. On these, some of the hottest days of the year, I have been almost literally swathed in wool, as I sew tunics, coats, and kirtles like the madwoman I must be. On the other hand, a friend and I discovered a magical, insane fabric warehouse that sold beautiful woolens for the ridiculous price of $4.99/yd, so hopefully we will finish all this crazy sewing in time and not just be wrapping ourselves toga-like** in all this wool. No matter what, when we’re camping this year, we will not be cold.

*Social Media Stuff can include blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc. etc.
**Historical fact of the day: Roman senator’s togas were made of wool.



Filed under crafting, meta-blogging, rambling, SCA, sewing

Spindlicity Returns

For anyone who’s into spinning with a drop-spindle, check this out!

Spindlicity Banner

Spindlicity is an online magazine just for spindle-spinning, which was on hiatus for a while… But it’s back! Yay!

There are lots of useful and interesting articles in the archive issues, and the new revamped format seems like they’re up for some great things. Let’s show them support and hope they stick around this time!


Filed under crafting, drop-spindle, spinning, yarn

Good Mail; Busy Week

What a week!
Fortunately it was perked up by the arrival of not one…
fiber package

…not two…
knitivity package

…but three packages of ‘good mail’! (and all within 2 days!)

The first little surprise had a lovely set of stitch markers (package & makers both photographed terribly, so no pic yet) sent to me by Vicki. I entered some suggestions in her “What can I make with…” contest, and if you’ve got odd balls or small skeins lying about and are looking for stash-busting ideas, you should definitely check out her amazingly long list of free patterns for small yardages.

Next up was a fantastically fibre-laden package from Allena (of Spindle and Wheel) — seriously, that photo above does not give a good indication of the scale of it!

Here’s a peek inside:
fiber package goods
From left to right, there’s a large grocery bag of lovely red/bugrundy (hand-dyed, I’m sure) roving, another large bag full of small twists of brightly coloured roving, one full bag of soft, crimpy unwashed fleece (my guess is Shetland), three handmade cotton washcloths, and that little orange case contains two needle-felting needles! I am so thrilled by her generosity!

(I think that needle-felting is going to quickly get a place on the list of crafts I do obsessively — I’ve only made two little cat toys so far, but wow is it ever fun to stab at fibre with sharp things!)

And last, but certainly not least, there was a gorgeous skein of sock yarn from the Knitterman Ray (of
knitivity sock yarn close-up

Ray’s a one-man hand-dyeing wonder, and this skein was given in trade for one of my spindles. Who says “barter and trade” economy doesn’t work anymore?

knitivity yarn  - from swap
As you can see, this skein is a one-of-a-kind, but if you’re wanting some of your own it’s close to his “Cygnus” colourway.

It was really nice to have these goodies waiting for me, as I’ve really been keeping on my toes lately. Beyond the usual office business and household chores, I taught two classes at the Purl this past week!

On Wednesday I taught my first knitting class, an introduction to stranded knitting. I’d made up little swatch-charts (that could be easily seamed an tuned into little coin purses), let my students mix-and match their front design and background pattern (like you’d have in a mitten), and then showed them the one-yarn-in-each-hand trick (basically teaching Continental style to English knitters and vice versa). I think that it went over well — there were several moments of happy-dancing in their seats, and a couple of “I thought this was going to be awful, but it’s really easy!” comments. I hope they all go forth and knit with many colours for here on!

On Sunday I taught my beginner drop-spindle spinning class again. It seems like this is becoming a once-a-month regular class! I’m really please with that: it’s so much fun to watch people turn fluff into real live yarn for the first time, and the students are always so different! This time around one of them had been given several bags of fiber already, so we even had some “show-and-tell” time, and she even had collected some qiviut (musk-ox down), fresh from the rocks, in Greenland (what a lucky new spinner!). I’m really please to be able to hook in more people to hand-spinning, and think that I should probably start working on a “Beyond the Basics” spindle class for the future…

So, while I have accomplished practically no spinning or knitting of my own recently, there has certainly been a lot of two-way enabling going on!


Filed under crafting, drop-spindle, fibre, good mail, spinning, teaching, yarn

Crafts and Cocoa

EDIT: This post has been stolen by some sort of horrible blog-bot and appears in full at “” THIS IS NOT ME, and I am really upset that my words and photos have been stolen whole-hog. Anyone know how to make this stop?

Dru’s off on a Boy’s Day Out (read: all-day video game-a-thon), so I’ve had a nice quiet afternoon to myself. I spend a few hours on Queen St. West in fabric, bead, and button shops, which are all glorious and overwhelming in their own way, and did a very good job of a) getting what I needed and b) not going to any yarn stores (ok, so I went into Americo, but only becuase I knew I wouldn’t buy anything there!). My haul for the day was: 1) beads, for spindle-whorls, 2) spindle whorl shafts, 3) adhesive, and 4) lining fabric. (I am so restrained!)

glass beads
Glass beads for whorls.

plastic beads

Plastic, but very pretty, beads for whorls.

This is the fabric I bought:
lining fabric
Burgundy-purple kasha lining (a satin-fronted, flannel-backed lining, perfect for winter coats).

It is going to go into this coat:
winter coat

I bought this coat in early September last year because I loved it (and still do). It is wool (a passerby once has even guessed part cashmere); it has amazing Victorian-esq details and very clever feminine seaming; it is warm and lovely. Unfortunately, on top of being shamefully in need of a good de-linting* and missing a button**, it is also quite dreadfully ripped inside:

coat - inside

I don’t even have pockets anymore. This needs to be fixed! And, since I have the technology (sewing machine on loan), ability ( I’ve even made a complete winter coat once before, with much advice from Kelly), and bloody-mindedness (what, like I’d actually pay someone else to sew it?!?), I will be doing the work myself. This involves pre-washing the fabric, cutting the entirity of the old lining out from the coat, using it to get my pattern, cutting out the pieces, sewing them together (properly, without taking my usual no-pins, kamikaze, git’er done approach), and hand-stitching the hem. Which I don’t feel like doing today, and you can’t make me! :P

I have spend several hours making spindles, though, so barring the adhesive issues (anyone know of a mega-adhesive that works like a gel or putty?) I feel like I’ve acomplished some good today. Now I’m going to curl up on the couch with my knitting, drink some hot chocolate, and relax!

And speaking of hot cocoa… there’s going to be a new swap starting up for Jan/Feb, the Mmmm…Hot Cocoa chocolate and yarn swap! Channon tipped me off to this, and it sounds like it’ll be awesome. There’s a contest on to spead the word, so when sign-ups open on Dec. 15, tell them you heard about it here!

And speaking of contestsdon’t forget to enter mine! I’m leaving it open until Friday, and I’m loving discovering your favourite blog posts! Don’t be shy, leave me a comment!!

*I am such a geek that even typing “de-lint” I think of one of my favorite authors!

**I tried to find buttons, but I guess after being nearly lost in the labyrinthine fabric stores and barely avoiding the catfights at the bead stores (wow are those bead ladies pushy!), I just didn’t have the stamena to endure the wall-to-wall boxes of buttons. I can always go back later!


Filed under contest, crafting, DIY, drop-spindle, out & about, sewing

DIY Drop-Spindle: fun with beads

A few days back I finally got around to making up some more drop-spindles. For all that I’m still in mourning for having no wheel, I am trying to move on! I really do enjoy spinning with spindle, as well as wheel (although there is a rhythm that one can fall into more serenely with a wheel, I believe), and no matter what I need to have something to spin on! And since I seem to keep giving away my spindles, it’s high time I made some more!

First off there’s this lightweight spindle, which I’ve come to think on affectionately as “Chinoiserie“. The jade ornament was found in a little shop in Chinatown, the bamboo/lacquer chopsticks likewise (in a 10-pack!). I think the grand total for materials cost was about $3.25.

red jade spindle

red jade close-up

There’s a bit of trickiness involved in making the two stay together: I used an x-acto knife to carve down the tip of the chopstick so that it would fit into the central hole in the jade, and then crazy-glued them for safe measures (I am contemplating getting better adhesive — epoxy? — for this sort of thing). The hook is an opened-up eye screw, carefully screwed into the bit of the spindle shaft that was whittled (so both end up going through the ornament’s central hole).

In actuality, this is Chinoiserie “mark 2”, the first having been given to Jodi (I think it might be blurrily featured in this photo) who, sometime known for wearing her hair up with chopsticks, was fairly pleased with this spindle’s construction. Stephanie was also fairly intrigued by my first Chinoiserie, mostly that I had gotten the two parts together; she even made me show it to (a very indulgent) Joe! On the first one, the jade had a design that, to me, looks like little sheep faces :)

Next up are two glass bead spindles:

2 glass bead spindles

I found the glass beads at Arton Beads, for about $2 each. While they are pretty, sparkley, and have a good whorl shape (round and disk-like), their central holes are rather large. My 1/4″ dowelling was too narrow, so I had to find something else for the spindle shaft.

The solution? Cheap paintbrush handles! With some applied force (aided by pliers) I was able to pull the brush-part off of otherwise nice, pre-varnished, tapered and turned wooden handles, just right for spindle shafts! You just need to sand down the part where the brush had been (in exactly the way I did not for the green spindle because I was too lazy), or make-pointy with a pencil-sharpener (as I actually did for the blue spindle). I am very pleased with these as spindle-shafts, and at about $1.25 per paintbrush I think they’re a great deal. Their slight bulge gives enough diameter that the glass whorl-beads don’t slip off; for each of these I’ve just jammed the bead on tightly from ‘above’, no adhesive. Which way is ‘above’ depends on if you’re wanting a high-whorl or low-whorl spindle!

blue low-whorl spindle
Low-whorl spindle; I chose to not add any hooks or notches.

green high-whorl spindle
High-whorl spindle; again, I used a simple eye-screw for the hook.

I don’t have an electric scale yet, so I can’t give accurate weights for any of these spindles, but I’d guess around 1-1.5oz each with Chinoiserie being lighter than the other two. Of the three, I am surprisingly fond of the blue low-whorl one, which spins fast and true. I am most definitely going to be scouring bead stores for future spindle-whorls!

As ever, if you make any spindles or whatnots inspired by my DIY efforts, drop me a line or link — I’d love to see what you’re making!


Filed under crafting, DIY, drop-spindle, spinning

My neighbourhood, a fibre artist’s Mecca

There are some things that you pass by, day by day, and never really take note of until one day they just jump out at you. Yesterday, for me, it was G & S Dye and Accessories. An entire store, just for dyes — not paints (though there are plenty of art-supply stores right nearby, too) — and fabric/fiber dyeing tools!

I kid you not. I mean, I thought I was lucky enough, living within 20 min. of Lettuce Knit, Romni Wools, Arton beads, and the rest of the crafty Queen West offerings, but I never even guessed that there would be a dye store within a 5 min. walk! I was heading to the pub after work, saw some pretty batik in a window, and then it hit me like a tonne of bricks: a dye store. I did a quick circuit of the inside to goggle at all the dyepots and bolts of silk and other esoteric dyers’ things, and then went on my way, but now that I know it’s there, I know I’ll be back. What shall I try first? Roving? Yarn? A silk scarf?

With discoveries like this, I have got to get out more.


Filed under crafting, out & about

FO and PSA

FO: Monkey Socks!!



Pattern: Monkey Socks
Yarn: handspun merino, hand-dyed with Kool-Aid
Needles: 2.25mm DIY birch dpns (see PSA below)
Project Timeline: June 17-22, 2007
Modifications: picot cuff; only 5 reps. of pattern for leg; “Eye of Partridge” heel.

Dudes, are these things ever addictive! The lace pattern is so easy to memorize, they just seem to knit themselves. What a satisfying knit!

I’ve already started a pair for Dru (a belated birthday present):
Monkey sock for Dru

PSA: DIY Birch dpns.

Ok, you see those dpns there on that sock? Perfectly normal looking needles, right? 100% birch. Nice and smooth, great for socks.

Well, my friends, if you have $3.20 in your pocket and a Lee Valley store near by, needles just like these can be yours. One pack actually contains 100 birch mini-dowels, 6″ long and 2.25mm (1/16″) in diameter. Yeah, sure, you have to file them to points by yourself, and a bit of sanding makes them guaranteed sliver-free, but still, you do the math: 100 needles for about $3.20. A bit better than what Brittany or Clover charges, eh? (They come in 50-packs of 1/8″ diameter, too!)

Want a close-up?
DIY dpns DIY dpns


Filed under crafting, FOs, how-to, knitting

DIY Drop Spindle: Take 2

Last week I gave away my two bottom-whorl spindles (the Celtic one and a plain one), along with some fibre, to two lovely young ladies new to the SCA to get them addicted too encourage the craft. This is all well and fine with me (I can’t wait to see how they do!), but it does leave me with nothing by my now-definitely-too-heavy furniture-caster spindle and my ugly-but-zippy top-whorl clay spindle. Of course for me, this means time to make more spindle whorls!

The art-clay is fine, but I’ve now observed that it takes a good few days to fully cure, and let’s just say I’m not renowned for patience… I thought this time around I’d try polymer clay: I bought me some Fimo from the local art store ($2.50 ea.), which can be “fired” in your own oven. I also hoped that the polymer clay could make some “prettier” spindles :)

I found this great little tutorial on making Lentil Swirled Beads (such a cool site! check out her other stuff, too!), and tried to follow her directions. I didn’t get nearly as spiral-ly beads as I’d hopes, but I was using inferior tools (a CD case and dinnerplate). I made one large bead with about 1/3 pkg red & 1/3 pkg black, and a smaller one using maybe 1/4 red & black with a blob of white .

large polymer clay spindle-whorl
This spindle is bigger than it looks; maybe a little too heavy, even, but I’m learning good things about spindle weight through these experiments.

small polymer clay spindle whorl
This spindle is smaller than it looks, with a bamboo skewer shaft (not dowel). It’s my favorite of this bunch.

Then I smooshed some stuff together that hadn’t been working out well at all into a funny little high-whorl.

polymer clay high-whorl top
(top view)
polymer clay high-whorl underside

On the whole, these spindles are still not quite as pretty as I’d hoped, but I have some faith that with practice I could have success with polymer clay (how about a Faux Ivory spindle?). For now, it remains inexpensive, accessable (more so than wood and woodworking tools!), and quick (even though I didn’t get around to firing them until the next night); I’d definitely recommend other home-spindle-makers to “give it a whirl”!


Filed under crafting, drop-spindle, how-to, spinning