Tag Archives: Controlled Chaos

Starting to roll…

After taking a much-needed week off from the world, we’re back in the saddle and moving forward with 2015 goals, one of which is to get all of my knitting patterns revised, updated and back online for sale. To that end, two free patterns magically (re) appeared on the Starting Over Designs website on a brand new Free Patterns page with links to download them from Ravelry (no, you don’t have to be a member of Ravelry to get the downloads, but, really, if you’re a knitter you should belong to Ravelry. Srsly.)

The first is a simple neckwarmer pattern –

First WimpleAny yarn, any gauge, make it loose like the model above…er…the neckwarmer is loose, not the model…uh…or make it fit snugly. Either version (and there’s also instructions for a ribbed version – pics if you knit it up and I’ll post with full credit here, please?) has a flared lower end that fits over the shoulders and stays in place under your coat.

Also up is a cuff-down short-row heel sock pattern  –

SR Heels 1Knit in worsted weight yarn, these socks are a great introduction to the short-row heel and won’t take forever to finish. I always shudder when a prospective sock knitting student expresses their desire to knit socks with “sock yarn,” especially if they’ve never knit with DPNs because it takes freakin’ forever to knit a pair of socks on US#0 needles and if you’re learning the techniques for the first time as well, you’re setting yourself up for an exercise in frustration.

While I’m expounding on socks, let me just say that I knit my socks very tightly and I do it for a reason: back in the early days of my sock knitting career I was learning what gauge was all about (self-taught, not a knitting teacher as far as the eye could see) and what worked for my particular feet and like most newbies I used the gauge and needle size printed on the yarn ball band as a guide.

My socks were successful for three wearings and then the bottom of the heel just gave out. Just. Gave. Out. Gone. All that knitting wasted.

A bit of time under my Thinking Cap and I came to the conclusion that, for me, socks need to be knit quite firmly or they will wear out on the bottom of the heel and at the point of my big toe. The simplest way to get the gauge that works for me is to knit worsted weight  yarn on a US#3 needle. The resulting fabric is firm and wears very well. My skin can’t be seen through the fabric when the socks are on my feet and I think this is the most important requirement when knitting socks you want to last awhile.

Now, I’ve been told that my sock knitting gauge is “constipated,” and it’s fine for you to believe that and to scoff, but in the end, I’ve had some of my wool socks for the better part of ten years now and they’re still going strong. Can you say the same?

Where was I? Oh, yes! When I teach a sock knitting class I encourage my students to knit the first pair for themselves using worsted weight yarn and a US#3 needle. The “course” is three classes spaced a week apart and the final class is spent with finishing and discussing changes to be made to future socks to make them even more custom fitted. I have been known to write up a personalized pattern for those who have hard-to-fit feet because I believe the whole point of knitting socks is to have warm feet, but more importantly, the socks should fit their intended feet perfectly.

There are few things in life more enjoyable than custom wool socks on a cold Winter day.

Updates

Summer is all over but the shouting and we’ve been busy, busy, busy here at SODesigns!

Just got an update from our favorite designer, Natalia Fedner – the dress with the angora yarn has recently been tried on by not one, not two, but three entertainment industry heavy hitters! Here’s another look if you missed it the first time –

Famous DressNatalia told me who the famous woman are, but I can’t share that info with you…yet! Trust me when I say I’m over the moon about it and wish Natalia years and years of fashion success.

Meanwhile, back at the Studio – we’ve moved! The space above the yarn shop proved to be too small for three people to work in and so we put Jean on the hunt for a larger space that’s closer to her house. Less than 24 hours later we were looking at the perfect space and moving in as quick as we could. Jean makes shit happen!

Now the Sweatshop Girls are hot and heavy into production for the upcoming Craft Faire Season – we’re booked for six weekends in a row November thru early December. Schedule to follow. These particular shows are geared towards people looking for Holiday gifts so we’re churning out goods as fast as we can – no fleece or stuff to spin for these shows except packaged as gifts for knitters and spinners.

An interesting conversation the other day:

Jean: I think we need more fiber to spin if we’re going to make enough stuff for all the shows…

Awana: Yes! We don’t have much wool laying around do we?

Me: ::blink blink::

J: Where do you two usually get your wool? We have to watch the costs and it has to be locally sourced.

A: I dunno – Sofia, where do you get your Romney wool?

Me: Well…I generally just open this here bin and fish out what I want. If it’s not there I look in this bin. And this box, which is full of alpaca fleece. Or this bin, full of angora fiber. Or this bag here – more Romney. This bag is Scottish Blackface wool. Over here we have some commercial stuff, firestar, silk, even a bit of Quiviut…

Them: ::blink blink::

Me: I think we have plenty of fiber for what we’re doing 🙂

Pictures to follow – the new Studio has WiFi, so expect updates to appear in a more timely manner…

Midsummer Spin In & Fiber Faire

The Sweatshop Girls* will be at the Spin In at the Wren Community Hall on Saturday from o’dark-thirty until 4:00 with stuff to sell –

Wren FlyerThe Sweatshop has been humming with activity these past two weeks and more and we have some fabulous New Stuff for your fiber needs:

  • Cotton storage bags for your washed wool – these are fantastic for storage: pack your washed sheep’s wool tight (don’t worry, it won’t felt) pull the drawstring and store in a copier paper box. You’ll be amazed how much you can fit into one box. A handy clear window on the bag provides an easy way to add a label. I’ve stored washed wool this way for years and it was in perfect condition for further processing after a little bit of fluffing. No worries about moths or condensation, either, provided you keep the boxes dry and inspect periodically.
  • Nylon storage bags for those fibers that stick to cloth bags – alpaca, angora, silk, etc. The seams are on the outside so there’s nothing for your fiber to snag on – just upend and dump, no wasted time (or fiber) left in the bag and you don’t have to use plastic and worry about condensation problems.
  • Our handspun yarns will be in the handspun yarn tent – come see what we’ve been talking about!
  • We’ll have a lovely selection of raw alpaca fiber for sale in pretty much every color alpacas come in, from white to almost-black (I kept the one True Black for myself and I’m not even sorry 🙂 ) and every shade in between.
  • Knitting patterns, blank greeting cards, stitch markers and stuff I can’t remember right now…

The SOD team has expanded to include Awana, who is learning all about fabric, sewing and cutting and using her powerful sense of color, texture and matching** to drum card some yummy batts for your next spinning or felting project:

AwanaAnd Jeanie who brings a breath of fresh creativity, mad organizational skillz*** and artist’s sensibilities, rounding out the perfect Design Trio we are becoming:

JeanieYou can find us under the black pop-up somewhere on the grounds outside – look for the red handspun shawl hanging from the awning. We’ll probably be the women laughing the loudest…

* The Studio is quite hot in the evenings right now. Even with fans, we’re all sweating, hence the new moniker. Of course, we’re also not getting paid, so in that sense the name also fits 🙂

** Awana has strong ideas about what “goes together,” something I’ve been told I lack. Letting her have at it and match fabrics and colors has really amped up our product quality.

*** Jeanie used to be an event planner and has an inherent need for a Schedule, a Plan, a Method of Attack – something sorely lacking here at SOD. Stay tuned for pictures of the new white board 🙂

Busy Summer!

It’s been a Crazy Summer so far. Obviously blogging has fallen by the wayside.

Events not blogged about (yet):

  • Columbia Gorge Fiber Fest
  • Rug Hooking class
  • Revy’s rubber fetish
  • Dentist visits
  • Alpaca shearing
  • Long Draw Spinning class
  • Black Sheep Gathering
  • Sabu’s new haircut
  • Trailer repairs/remodels
  • Alpaca fleece tumbler
  • Mom’s yard sale
  • Visits to various Cool Places
  • Sabu and Sleep-away camp
  • Various and sundry new projects being planned or underway

Whew! I have a lot of ground to catch up on!

We’ll be back later today to start crossing things off the above list. Hopefully we’ll be able to keep up better in future. Lots of irons in the fire!

The House of Mom – Part One

Still recovering from a very busy weekend. Awana needed a ride to the airport and I volunteered to drive into The Big City and drop her off. I took the Friday off work and made a long weekend of it, packing dog, cat and necessities into Awana’s van in case I needed to haul something back from The House of Mom (I’ve posted a bit about THoM on another blog.) Sadly, her flight left too early for us to make a day of it like we did last time.

Some of you may scoff at the idea of taking a cat on a road trip, but Revy did just fine. I was going to leave him behind, but Mom said, “Oh, just put him in his carrier, pack his litter box and bring him along.” Now, Mom has been reading my blogs – she knows Shredmaster is capable of some vile deeds and she has a large collection of glass, so I was sure this would be a disaster but she insisted  she would “have a little talk with him,” they would reach an understanding and all would be well. Having lived with Revy’s stubborn streak for awhile now I was not as confident, but it did provide an opportunity to visit Harley and let him see how big his tiny kitten had grown.

The visit with Harley turned into a major event when he invited his BFF, wife and small son over to see how kitty had grown. Revy seemed to remember the apartment and spent most of his time exploring, not really letting anyone pick him up and pet him. We had a nice visit and got back on the road.

Arriving at THoM, I unloaded the car and went to work, letting Mom and Revy sort out what would be allowed (perching in the windowsills and eating his food on the bathroom counter) and what would not (jumping onto the kitchen counters, dining table or knocking things off the buffet.) I had come to Hood River to help sort out Mom’s Round To-it room and get her organized so she could work in there.

It went much easier than I expected. When I arrived there were many, many boxes in the family room – she had emptied out the room for the most part so we could re-arrange the furniture. Turns out many of the boxes were filled with glass objects (more about that in another post) and they fit nicely onto a new shelf assembly I put together. Much of the rest was organizing and putting like with like. I was expecting a huge purge would be necessary and that I might be driving home with a van full of Cool Stuff – I’d seen how much was crammed into that room and didn’t see how it could all go back in – but that was not the case.

Dog, cat and I will be traveling back this weekend for Round Two and a quick stop at the Columbia Gorge Fiber Festival – I’ll be sure to take some pictures this time!

I did come back with some Cool Stuff, including a small knitting machine –

Fashion KnitterI had an ISM years ago that I traded for a rectangular shawl loom and I’ve been sorry about that exchange on and off for years. Of course I’m only borrowing this one for now (hi, Mom!)

Anyway. I’ve been interested in knitting up sock blanks and dyeing them for a few weeks now, but hand knitting them would be a waste of valuable time and buying them doesn’t seem all that economical considering I want to sell the blanks. Take a look at these –

Aren’t they wild? Each one is machine knit with a double strand of sock weight yarn. When you’re ready to knit, you start to unravel and knit two socks at the same time, toe up or cuff down and they will be virtually identical. You can use various techniques to create your own self-striping sock yarn, but I love this idea of having the blank look like art before you even start knitting. There’s even a group on Ravelry that discusses techniques.

I know! I don’t really need another obsession, but there you have it. Sock blanks and dyeing have been around for a few years, I’ve come late to the game, but I’m determined to try it out even if it’s only a passing interest.

Okay, I’m off to give the dentist all my money to get a tooth fixed and must cut this post short. More updates to follow…

Preview

Just a few hints about upcoming projects:

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Yarn Bowl idea…

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Smock?

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Soft flannel pillowcases in the making…

Meanwhile, preparations for the Newport Spin-In are proceeding a bit slower than I’d like, but what can ya do? Three hundred ideas, only 24 hours in the day…

Update and a little self-promotion

See the white embellishment? That’s my handspun angora yarn adorning the body of a model for Natalia Fedner Design in Hollywood! I know, right? She found my bunny blog and sent me an e-mail asking if I ever did custom spinning orders. She was looking to use some angora yarn for embellishment on some Couture Dresses and this is the end result. We’re in the Big Time now, baby!

The Great Soap Marathon 2013 is all over but the cursing when the bars don’t release from the molds shouting. Eight different batches. One gallon of Pomace (extra virgin olive oil is actually not as good for making soap – pomace is what you want) 1.5 pounds of coconut oil, assorted fragrances, well over a pound of lye combined using Science and Towanda smells like a bordello. What with the underlying odor du dog and cat hair floating on the breeze from the open vents, it’s a little slice of heaven right here in the Willamette Valley.

It was only slightly more complicated that I imagined it would be. I’ll be posting about the idiocy of making soap in a travel trailer over at Travels with Towanda tomorrow.

The next Big Project will (hopefully) be the move into Studio T – Annex One followed by a bunch of sewing for the Lincoln City Cultural Center’s (almost) Eleventh Hour Craft Faire on Black Friday and Mauve Saturday (I totally stole Mauve Saturday from a blog that I can’t remember now…) Stay tuned for more info and Sneak Peek photos as things get done.

Running concurrently with The Move will be NaNoWriMo. Go ahead and tell me I’m crazy. It’s nothing I haven’t heard before. I feel energized when I have deadlines and Big Projects on the horizon so don’t expect any, “OMG! I haven’t showered in a week and my stomach aches from all the coffee I’ve been drinking and my characters aren’t playing nice with each other, what am I gonna do?” posts. I got this. I am Superwoman.

If any whiny posts do appear here, rest assured it won’t be until after I’ve deleted the preceding paragraph 🙂

Anyone else up for NaNo? I’m Sofia Leo over on the forums. Let’s be writing buddies!

Busy, busy, busy!

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Endorsement Kitty is ready for his close-up!

Although nothing much is happening here on the blog (what second OFFF post?!?) preparations are moving forward for a Craft Event next month. Details later.

At the request of the Knotty Knitters, I have finally re-knit and worked up the pattern for my very favorite cabled neck warmer. The pattern is available for free download on Ravelry. It’s still in rough, abbreviated form, but will soon be updated with charts and more comprehensive instructions. It was screaming to be released into the wild and I could do nothing but comply. There will be a matching hat and gauntlets in the near future, so stay tuned.

Tonight after the weekly get together at Knitty Gritty, Mr. Nosey, Crazy Helper Dog and I will be getting ready for the Great Soap Making Marathon of 2013. This entails fishing all of the equipment and ingredients out from under the kitchen sink, finding a place to stash them out of the way for a day or two while some sort of kitten-proof set-up is devised to house the curing bars.

The soap will then be made (after some recipe research – we never make the same batches from year to year) and set aside to cure for 4-6 weeks until it’s ready for use. The whole place will smell like a French bordello, but there’s nothing to be done about that. No pain, no gain.

It’s slightly more complicated than staging a war on three continents because Revy is Very Determined to have his way and his way is Into Everything. No matter what. Nothing will stop him. Laundry day is a nightmare and he has taken to hiding my (dirty) wool socks.

My new studio space is rumored to be available on November 1, so expect a Moving Day post and some pictures of the space once it’s all set up. Oh, who am I kidding? I’ll post pics as soon as I can get in there to see the space in person. I am over the moon about finally having a place to let my creativity run rampant with no one to put a damper on it. Who knows what might happen?

All this as the leaves turn and fall and the weather gets cooler. The last week has been chilly but sunny every day after morning fog and I am loving it! The soft light is perfect for photos, but I have been inside the office during the short daylight hours, so you will have to wait for another day.

And with that, I must be off. Happy Knitting!

 

Studio T’s New Resident

Meet Revy the RV cat:

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First glimpse of the little ping pong ball

Not a bit shy, the little girl (we had been told) came right up to be petted and played with. She appeared in the wee hours of the morning at my son’s apartment door, demanding to be let in and fed. Being his Mother’s son, he went out and bought supplies, fell in love and started calling her Revy after a character in an anime show he watches.

His apartment complex does not allow pets, so it was Mom to the rescue. The house has been very quiet the past two years, no feline paws kneading me in the middle of the night, no purring pillow warmer to lull me to sleep, no demands for food at unreasonable hours. Life had become, in a word, dull, but I was unwilling to go in search of a new kitty, waiting instead for the Universe to drop a worthy companion into my lap.

Awana, Sabu and I drove North to The Big City to pick up the new bundle of joy early Saturday morning. A was worried that Sabu would be too rowdy and rough for a kitten, but five minutes with Revy convinced me that she would be able to hold her own against Crazy Helper Dog.

The trip home was uneventful, Revy flopping around inside the carrier like a fish, playing with her tail, totally unconcerned about being confined for the better part of two hours.

Upon arriving home, Revy was let loose while Sabu was tied outside under her bushes until everyone could be fed and worn down with a bit of play. Revy proved to be the most self-assured, easy-going, confident kitten that I have ever met. There was no slinking around on her belly, cautiously sniffing every corner, jumping at the slightest sound moving-in routine that I have usually observed in a cat being moved to a new house that reeks of dog. It was a bit startling to say the least. She was immediately at home.

Even the first introduction to The Dog went well –

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“Neener-neener, I’m on the couch and you’re not allowed!”

It appeared that Revy had never seen a dog before, but her disdain was obvious. Sabu wanted to get up close and personal, but we were afraid of what she might do, so she was kept at arms length. Sabu knows the difference between Her Kitty and Other Cats and has never been violent towards Her Kitties, but ya never know, and caution seemed to be a good idea.

We needn’t have worried. Within minutes Revy was off the couch and playing with Sabu’s ball (SABU’S ball, much to Sabu’s amazement and consternation) and romping up within inches of the big dog. Okie-dokie then.

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“All balls are belong to ME!”

Sabu was released and they spent the remaining time before bedtime getting to know each other. Awana slept with kitty in the back room while I kept Sabu in the front with me, just in case there was an Incident that we were too slow to respond to. Revy showed absolutely no fear, or even trepidation, about her new, very large playmate, not even when Sabu snapped her teeth closed an inch from Revy’s face. Have no fear – it was Sabu’s way of continuing their game and she was smiling the whole time. Revy was unimpressed, but I was freaked out a bit until I saw it happen several more times. Sabu could easily bite little Revy in half, but she’s being very gentle.

Color me surprised when Awana said the next morning, “I’m not positive, but I don’t think this is a Girl Kitty. You should take a look…” Yep. Seems little Revy grew a pair overnight! Ahem.

Sunday was a whole new ball game, with Revy racing up to Sabu, throwing herhimself down and pawing at Sabu’s face (claws politely in, thankyouverymuch) and running away, Sabu in hot pursuit. This game is played strictly by Revy’s rules and it appears Sabu is willing to be trained. I confess that I’m just a little worried about what those two will get up to in future.

Thank goodness Revy slept Sunday night –

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He kept Awana up all night on Saturday exploring the room from floor to ceiling before crashing at dawn, curled up in Awana’s blankets

Revy is alone for the day in Towanda and god alone knows what he’s getting up to while we’re gone. Hopefully he hasn’t learned to start the stove today and burned the trailer down. Updates soon…