Monday, March 26, 2007

A pig, Heifer, prizes and a new pattern

First, the pig. Introducing Chichi, the felted pig...

Chichi and mini Chichi

Mom to the little needle felted piggie I made to celebrate Chinese New Year earlier this year. Many thanks to La (email me, I have a free pattern for you) who suggested that I name the little piggie Chicharon (Chicharon is Spanish for fried pork rind). With that inspiration, I settled on the nickname "Chichi". So many fun names were submitted but this one was just perfect.

Chichi is my first (drumroll please) published IndigoMuse original pattern. I'm so proud of how she turned out. Not only is Chichi a whimsical pattern but she also offers a sampling of intermediate techniques making it a delightfully fun skillbuilder pattern.

However, other than periodic donations, I've never felt like I made much of an impact with my knitting which is in sharp contrast to the non-profit work I'm engaged in as part of my job. That all changes with Chichi and is where the "Heifer" comes in. 50% of the net profits from Chichi will support the global efforts of Heifer International. Specifically, Chichi will provide the gift of (hopefully) several pigs in the coming months for deserving families. Heifer is an organization near and dear to my heart because recipients become donors through their "teach a man to fish" philosophy. I'm sure that many of you are familiar with Heifer but if you aren't, please take a minute to visit their site and read about the incredible work that they are engaged in.

Did someone say PRIZES?!? Why yes I did. So far, I have this loverly skein of handspun merino/silk. Its 50 yards of worsted weight fushia yarn. Zira is bathing in the remaining 3 oz which is just enough for another 100 yards or so that I'll also spin up to be given away. Its a beautiful fiber just perfect for a lux version of Chichi, wrist warmers, a baby hat - imagine the possibilities. You are automatically entered into the drawing for these yarns (and more) when you purchase the Chichi pattern between now and April 30th - just in time for you to make something PINK for Project Spectrum! The drawing will be held on May 1st. Purchase the pattern, send me an email with "Chichi drawing" in the subject and you're on your way to winning these goodies.





And so by clicking below, you can purchase the pattern. Chichi is a Pdf. download that is emailed to you once you have completed your purchase (You will need Adobe Acrobat 5.0 or later to open the file). Thanks for your support of this worthwhile project. Enjoy!


Chichi

Chichi
© Tanya Brooks 2007
* For non-commercial use only. Wholesale/retail inquiries,
email indigomuse(at)verizon(dot)net


Yarn:
Manos de Uruguay, Malabrigo, Rio de la plata or other kettle dyed chunky yarn


Needles:
1 set US 10.5 (6.5 mm) double-point needles


Gauge (unfelted):
3.5 sts/20 rows = 4" stockinette stitch


Finished Measurements:
Body - 9.5" circumference
Ears - 1.5"
Legs - 2"
Nose - 1"
Tail - 5"


$3.95




Chichi - Upclose and personal Chichi - side view




Effective March 2008, a flat rate of $1 per pattern sold will be donated to Heifer projects. Donations will be made quarterly. Thank you for your continued support!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Cheeky Monkey

You know I can't resist a fiber named "Cheeky Monkey" especially since I like all things monkey and have my own Cheeky Little Monkeys. Plus I figure that it will distract you from other things that I was supposed to have ready by today.

Cheeky Little Monkeys
See the Cheeky Little Monkeys?

Amy over at Spunky Eclectic had this fiberlicious goodness in her shop and it had to be mine. Yup, I didn't stop at ordering the Finnsheep fleece. There have been other LOFAD purchases over the last couple of weeks (she says smiling sheepishly).


Cheeky Monkey roving

Sumptuous merino/silk dyed in brown, pink and peach. It reminds me of those Brach's candies whose name escapes me now.

A little less than 2 oz of that fiber became these singles ...

'Merino/Silk


that became this sock weight yarn ...

Cheeky Monkey sock yarn with Cheeky Little Monkeys

"Cheeky Monkey" sock yarn

that will become socks. Yes, socks from she-who-doesn't-love-socks. But it screams to be socks and I have to listen to the fiber or they've all threatened to pack up and run away and we can't have that.

Hope that distracted you enough. If all goes well, I'll have permission to move forward with my project later today. If not, zee Muse has many, many rabbits left in her hat...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

I suffer from LOFAD*

Yes, I suffer from a disorder that thousands of fiber enthusiasts around the world have been recently diagnosed with - Lack of Fiber Anxiety Disorder* aka LOFAD. You know who you are. The worst afflicted are the ones who think that sock yarn doesn't count. It grips you when you least expect it, causing one to hemorrhage cash for no rational reason and hide fiber in boxes, under beds and in the dark corners of closets. To date, there is no cure.

Severe LOFAD sufferers usually have plenty of fiber in their lives. I give you exhibit A.

Flashin' my stash

This is most of the yarn and spinning fiber in my knitting room. Note the over abundance of fibers especially the spinning fiber on the bottom shelves.

More flashin' my stash

Check out the baskets that contain several pounds of washed fleece waiting to be carded. You can't even see that 5 lb bag of llama that is lost somewhere in the garage.

Baskets of washed fleece

And yet for some reason, I had a panic attack over some Finnsheep. A week or so ago, I thought that I'd washed the last of the fleece that I bought a couple of years ago. So I ordered some commercial Finn top thinking that it would be wonderful to just spin it without having to wash it, pick it, card it, yadda yadda yadda. I've waxed poetic about the wonders of Finn before and couldn't wait to just spin this ethereal stuff. But when the commercial Finn arrived, I realized quickly that all Finn is NOT created the same. Yes, its very nice stuff but its. not. the. same.

Panic set in. I started gasping for air. What would I do if I didn't have some flurfy Finn to spin this year? I immediately started combing the internets to see if I could locate a fleece. Ack! Most of the fleece for 2007 has already been claimed. It seems that everyone loves Finn as much as I do. It didn't matter that I don't NEED more fiber. I couldn't even get past the panic. A couple of hours later, I finally found some online and faster than Brangelina can adopt another child, I bought a Finn lamb fleece and its due to arrive any day. Crisis narrowly averted. All is right with the world again.

And then I found the rest of the Finn fleece that I thought was all gone.

Raw Finnsheep Fleece

And there's quite a bit left. Double crap in a can! This just illustrates how severe LOFAD can get the best of you. Now I have even more fleece coming and there aren't enough hours in the day to wash and spin all of this stuff. I know I need help and trust me, I'm trying to stop but its so hard. I've knit most everything I've shown you so far this year from the stash so I AM working through it.

In the meantime, my answer for LOFAD is to give some of my over abundance away. I gave a bunch away to Thing 1's class this week. They worked hard for it. I did a spinning demo for his class and then gave them CD spindles that King Thing and I made. And all nine of his 14 year old classmates learned how spin. ALL. OF. THEM. It brought tears to my eyes. How can you not give kids your fiber when they do something magical like that?

Here's what I've spun up so far this year and some of these kiddies (and many others who haven't even been spun yet) will find new homes with some of YOU!!!

Bowl of my handspun yarn

More detailed swag info will be revealed later this week (even if it kills me. I hate paperwork and that's what I'm working on right now related to this project).

And some of the fiber is intended for charitable endeavors. I can at least use my knitting and spinning powers to heal and not to harm, right?

*** ETA: BTW, I've suddenly lost the ability to reply directly to your comments. They come to me by email but your return email addy is "hidden". So please know that I read your comments and truly enjoy them but simply can't jot a quick note back to you. Hopefully Blogger will fix this bug sooner than later.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Fiberlicious Foto Friday

(Warning: Photos of fiber p0rn ahead)
Okay, sing-a-long with me to the tune of "Fergalicious". It's Fiberlicious. Don't know the song? Um, guess I've been watching too much MTV Jams.

Thanks for all of the kind words about piggie and the Zune cozy. I couldn't help but laugh out loud regarding potential names for piggie. And I thought that I had a twisted sense of humor. I'll announce his new name next week in addition to fun surprise.

In case you're just tuning in, one of my goals for 07 was to dye with the intention of spinning vs. playing with colors with nothing in particular in mind. First, gotta make sure you have the right tools.

Free weekend with nothing on my agenda?

Check!

Dyepot? (make sure that it is EXCLUSIVELY used for dyeing fiber. Don't want to poison the kiddies)

Check!



Presoaked fiber?
*** I soak mine in a warm bath with a touch of Dawn and vinegar for around an hour.

Check!



Dye tools?

*** Color wheel (lost my favorite one for a few weeks and had to use one printed from the internets), gloves, foam brushes, The Dyers Companion, fibers to test colors, various cups and measuring tools, Prochem acid dyes (these were already mixed so I didn't need a mask), vinegar, distilled water and LOTS of newspaper and plastic to protect my very WHITE kitchen island.

Check!



Alright peeps. Let the dyeing begin. I did a dye study of some of the few Noro yarns in my stash. Unlike most knitters, I can't stand the itchiness of Noro but I LOVE the colors. The fibers are obviously spun into the color bands that you find in the skein vs. dyeing them once spun so I thought that I might strive to dye some different color gradations and then spin them into Noro like yarn. I wanted bright saturated color so I mixed fairly strong batches of dye.

As far as the fiber, I used the domestic wool (breed unknown but probably Shetland or Jacob) that I bought in Asheville at Earth Guild. Each mini batt that I dyed is approximately 1 ounce of fiber. I also dyed 2 ounces of merino/silk that I bought at Rocktown Yarns (a new knitting shop find for me in Harrisonburg, VA back in January). I began by practicing with a 20 yd sample skein of the domestic wool that I spun and plied on the Asheville trip. I aimed for grades of color from pink to dark blue and pour small amounts of dye on each section of the wool and ended up with a rainbow. It was all wrapped in plastic wrap and steamed for 30 - 60 minutes (I honestly lost track).

Rainbow dyed handspun yarn Rainbow dyed handspun

I love how this fiber takes the dye. Not only does it have a slight sheen to it but it dyes very evenly. I only wish I knew what it was.

Once I figured out how much dye to use to get the deep color saturation that I wanted, I started dyeing the wool batts. First out of the dyepot was this batch.

Dyed wool roving

I was shooting for Hokie colors (VA Tech Orange and Maroon) for the top batt and am fairly pleased though the colors aren't quite as true in person. The bottom was supposed to be teal and green and I ended up more with turquoise and green. Can't complain because the colors are incredible and exceeded my expectations. The dyes were poured onto these batts and they were steamed for over an hour (seemed to take longer for the dyes to set). There were some other batts that I forgot to take pictures of but they ended up looking like this once spun.

Rainbow dyed wool roving

Fiber on the left is the rainbow yarn above. The yarn on the bottom is dk weight singles that I knit into a Trinity log cabin triangle just to see what would happen if you used a variagated yarn.

Next up, some very dark chocolate brown roving that I called "Woodland". I was very curious as to what colors a dark roving would produce with heavy concentrations of color. I used dark orange, royal blue and black on this batt (which weighed 2 oz) and ended up with this very interesting color combo shown as braided roving, spun singles and plied yarn.

Domestic roving in shades of brown 'Domestic 'Rich

Doesn't look much like orange, blue and black does it? I spun this up and plied it so that Catie could see how it looked at our March spin/knit in. Very interesting how that yarn dyed up. The jury's out on this one.

Next out of the dye pot was a small ball of forest green roving that I called "Morning Dew". I rolled the roving into a tight, layered ball, soaked it in dye, double wrapped it and steamed it for at least an hour and a half. The resulting varigated color was incredible. Alas, I forgot to take a picture of it before I carded it with the angelina. Doh!

Dyed wool roving with angelina 'Wool

After it was plied, all I could do is gaze at it in the sunlight. It truly reminds me of morning dew glistening on grass as the sunrises in the morning. I may need to add angelina to all yarn from here to eternity. I love sparkles in such a bad way.

Next out of the pot, my favorite and what I called "Blue Ridge Dusk". Its the 2 oz. of merino/silk dyed with violet, forest green and turquoise. I'm such a sucker for purple and green together. I'm going to have to play with these colors more in the future. This merino/silk spins like a dream, like cotton candy, like heaven. I can't wait to dye more.

Dyed merino/silk roving

Believe it or not, there's more but I'll wait until I've spun some of it up before I flash you with it. I've ordered some additional dye colors from KnitPicks and as soon as they arrive, there will be much more dyeing in my future. If the dog and the kids aren't careful, I'll dye them too if they sit still too long.

I'm cooking up some good stuff for ya'll in the near future. Stay tuned...

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Finished objects so far this year

Wowzers! My last post put you right to sleep. Not a peep outta anyone. I guess no comments are better than some of the fur that's flying on some other blogs these days. I read this post a week or so ago and it truly spoke volumes to me about how I can lead a happier blog life. That's all I'm saying lest I too get flamed.

Anyhoo, for what its worth, here are a few of my 2007 goal related FO's that have popped off my needles in recent weeks.

Sheepy Zune Cozy

Specs...
Pattern: My own based on the measurements for my Zune (Microsoft version of iPod)
Yarn: Tweedy wool reclaimed from thrift store sweater and my own handspun Finnsheep
Needles: Size 3 Inox circulars

Stranded Zune Cozy plans

Stranded Zune Cozy - Front

Stranded Zune Cozy - Back

Notes:

This was great practice toward my goal of mastering stranded knitting this year. I also recycled some yarn, incorporated handspun yarn into the project and practiced pattern writing using a chart. Plus, I got to knit sheep with sheep. How kewl is that? If anyone is interested, I'm happy to post the pattern. Just drop me a line.

Chinese New Year Piggie/Boar

Specs...

Pattern: my own based on a Chinese New Year photo of ceramic boars
Fiber: Dave Simpson "Dharma" - silk/merino blend in pinks, peach and orange and a smidge of black merino for the eyes and detailing
Needles: Clover needle felting tool with fine (size 34 I think) felting needles
Finished size: 1 1/2" h x 1 1/2" w

Chinese New Year Piggie

Chinese New Year Piggie

Notes: I love how piggie turned out. And he's so tiny. Can't think of a good name for him though. This is the first time that I've needle felted with my Clover tool though I bought it over 6 months ago. It is a dream to use and makes quick work of needle felting projects. I still like using a single needle for the detail work, though.

The body is a a needle felted ball made with several layers of fiber. I then made two triangles for the ears and attached them to the head. Next, I affixed a small ball for the nose and felted it into place. Four pyramid shapes for the legs were felted and attached. The tail was a twisted piece of fiber that was knotted and attached. The nose, eyes and toes were added last. Took about an hour or so to leisurely finish while watching Pirates of the Carribean - Dead Man's Chest (I sure hope the final installment ties up all of the weird loose ends from this one) in January.

This project doesn't fall under any of my goals for 07. It was just simple fun!

Noni Patterns "Ruffs and Cuffs"

Specs...

Pattern: Noni Patterns (Formerly Noni Bags) Ruffs and Cuffs
Yarn: Cascade Pastaza
Needles: Size 10 Clover bamboo

Ruffs and Cuffs - Noni Patterns

Ruffs and Cuffs - Inside

Ruffs and Cuffs - Unassembled Flower

Ruffs and Cuffs - Unfelted Flowers

Notes: The construction on this pattern is freaking sweet. Each flower is knit as a chain (see the photo above) and then stitched together. Then all of the flowers are lightly felted, assembled and a velvet backing is stitched on the inside of the collar. Add a magnetic snap and you're already to hit the town in your new accessory. I've worn this one quite a bit to keep my neck warm and gotten lots of great compliments. A truly fun pattern to knit and would make great gifts for the holidays next year (Its not to early to start planning now).

Got some fiber to flash you with in the next post. Hope to see some of you at RVS&K in Salem tonight!