Monday, May 19, 2014

Yarn Review: Sheared Bliss Fibers Superwash Merino Sock Yarn

It's superwash.  It's merino.  And it is hand dyed in Colorado, using natural plant dyes.

This particular ball was dyed with indigo and onion skins, in a two step process.  This yarn totally geeks me out - local, hand dyed, AND plant dyed?  Sign me up!  It is super soft, but still holds up to all my ridiculous frogging, which is always a good sign.  It's nice and round, with a tight twist, which is great for stitch definition.  Look at those cables pop!

The one downside I found is that it turned my hands blue, and made my tension hand itch.  That being said, I've used lots of other colorways of this stuff, and this is the first that has bled or made me itch, so I really think that both are just the indigo.  That being said, the finished socks didn't bleed in the blocking bath, and when I wear them they don't turn my feet blue, so the bleeding is not horrible, and again... if it bothers you pick an indigo free color.  On a related note, I may be allergic to indigo, and that pisses me off.

These socks (Aspen) are currently available for preorder in my Ravelry store!  They are also included in my new ebook, Home State Botany: Colorado.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

I am filled with good news.

As you may know, in December I had to suddenly move to Virginia.  This was terrible because Colorado and Virginia are far apart, we only had three weeks notice, and we don't know anybody in Western Virginia.  But it is wonderful because of this:

That would be my 100 year old farm house, with my pasture and my barn behind it.  You can't see the coop, but it's there, as well as more pasture in the front.  And we have a creek.  So totally worth it, because I love living here!

That does mean, however, that I have something of a backlog, especially in blogging.  First news: I started a new ebook!  This time I'm doing knitted socks.  It's a little bittersweet to now be publishing Home State Botany: Colorado, a collection of patterns in Colorado dyed yarn, inspired by Colorado dyed plants.  The first patter, Aspen, is in testing right now and is available for preorder.  As you know when I have a new pattern I like to do a review of the yarn I used, so those will be coming up soon, too.  First I need to go feed my ducks.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

How I pack to move.

Step one goes without saying: Find out I have less than a month to move.  Panic.

Step two: round up every WIP I've worked on in the last three months or so, and put them in a basket.  Do not attempt to move basket, or it will over flow all over the floor.  It will over flow about three times anyway.

Step three: round up all work yarn.  Worry that it isn't enough yarn.

Step four: decide that my WIP basket will clearly not be enough to keep me in projects until I get my stash back.   Since socks are a perfect on the go project, select about six balls of my favorite sock yarn.  Then decide that that's not enough and grab a couple balls of laceweight, just to be safe.  Put in a basket.  The stack leans against the pile in the  WIP basket, so it doesn't spill all over the floor.  Feel confident that this is definitely not too much yarn.

Step five: tape shut stash bins.  Panic.  Buy yarn.

Step six: realize that in Virginia they have clothes moths.  Panic again, because while the stash bins are reasonably beetle-proof, moths fly.  Apply more tape to stash bins.

Step seven: Pack all the clothes, toiletries, etc. we'll need while in transit.  This takes like three hours.  Obsess about yarn selections again.

Step eight: decide to participate in a CAL.  Realize the yarn I want for it is in a taped bin.  Attempt to open bin.  Realize that even if it is not moth proof, it is human proof.  Weep.

Step nine: get ready to load the car.  Realize that the whole towering piles in baskets thing is not going to work.  Throw everything into a giant rubbermaid bin.  Yarn bin ends up having to go in my dad's truck to get to my family's house, since the children have to fit in the car.

Step ten: arrive at family's house for Christmas.  Realize that I didn't pack my ballwinder and swift, yet have a giant number of skeins that need winding if I'm going to use them.  Panic some more.  Realize I'm at my mom's house.  Borrow her ballwinder and swift.

Step eleven: realize that I'm going to have to get all this stuff into my van.  Plus Christmas stuff.  Put all yarn in gallon size zip top bags.  Christmas yarn takes up two bags (my family clearly knows me).  Cram bags of yarn into small nooks and crannies around the suitcases.  Drive to Virginia.

Step twelve: moving truck arrives in Virginia.  Decide I need my stash and bring it to our temporary housing.  Requires two trips.

Time without stash: six weeks.

Unused yarn that I packed in the car: one less than half finished sweater, two balls lace weight, seven balls sock yarn, the Christmas yarn, two gallon bags of spinning fiber, and a (now broken) spindle.

Conclusion: I am either insane or think I knit/crochet a lot faster than I actually do.  Possibly both.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate Sweater

Chocolate Sweater!  This is the last pattern in my ebook, except for a super special surprise just for ebook customers.  Chocolate is about my favorite thing ever, because to me, chocolate means comfort. This sweater is worked in a super stretchy ribbed pattern with fancy cabling at the hem and cuffs. Tunic length with kimono sleeves, the arm shaping is generous to accommodate sleeves underneath. Sweater is worked in one piece sideways from the center back. Sleeves are worked join as you go sideways from the center underarm. Cabled collar is added join as you go, as well, for a bare minimum of seaming.

 This one is going to be a little bit different from usual, because my tech editor Carmel is awesome.  Pattern is available at the discounted price of $3.99 for the first week (until 12/7). At that time, the price will revert to $4.99.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Review: ThermoMorph

So something magical happened.  A company contacted me about reviewing their product.  Usually it's the other way around.  So here it is: ThermoMorph!

It is apparently made out of polymorph granules and is available on Amazon, for $19.95 per 500g.  Basically, it is a bottle of little plastic beads that melt in hot water.  They are about this big:
You dump them in hot water (I poured water from the kettle in a bowl, and dumped the beads in), and they quickly go clear and start to stick together, like so:
It's also quite sticky when you first pull it out, which solves the first worry I had about it, that it would be hard to get out of the boiling hot water.  It says on the bottle that it takes two minutes, but it never took that long for me.  It cools down pretty quickly to just pleasantly warm, but is really hot when it first comes out.  It is then surprisingly pliable:
My camera isn't good enough to pick it up, but when it's nice and hot, you can actually get a fingerprint in this stuff, which is cool.  The bottle says you can color it, which turned out ok, but don't be a dummy like me and use liquid food coloring, because it makes a big mess and is almost impossible to get evenly distributed.  I think a powder would work better.  Here is my best effort, at any rate:
That's going to be the handle of a beading tool, eventually.  It adheres to the wire really nicely.  It also adheres nicely to my crochet hook, that I made a nice ergonomic handle for:
You can also see how very badly I stained my hands making that beader handle pink.  It was everywhere, I tell you!  We also tried to make some buttons:
But I got super frustrated trying to get them all the same size and gave up.  The stuff is definitely hard enough to drill though, and should take paint well.  I don't keep any paint other than water colors on hand though, so I haven't tried that yet.

The one downside of this stuff is part of the whole reusable thing... once it's in a lump, it takes forever to warm back up again enough to be pliable.  We did get some interesting flower shapes, working with pieces that were warm and bendy on the outside and hard in the middle.  But, if you have leftover pieces, and you want to use them again later, I highly suggest rolling them out into a thin piece, and maybe snipping it into little bits before putting it back in the jar.  Also, a thing to keep in mind is that it's kind of boingy.  It springs back when you press on it, know what I mean?  But it is really neat, over all, and I'm looking forward to playing with it some more.

Full disclosure: I did get some free ThermoMorph to play with.  I was not however compensated in any other way for this review.

Just a reminder that my moving sale is still going on.  Get 20% off all the patterns in my Ravelry Store!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Yarn Review: Mountain Colors Weaver's Wool

If I have been quiet, and continue to be, I apologize, but Casa Driggs in in the midst of major upheaval.  We are quite suddenly moving to Virginia!  It is a move for the best of reasons (hello, shiny new job for my husband!), but as moves are expensive at best, I am having a big sale to try and raise some extra money.  All patterns in my Ravelry store are 20% off until we land, or January 15, whichever is later!

But the thing I'm really falling behind on is reviewing yarn and giving you cool previews of the next pattern in my book.  It will be a Chocolate Sweater, worked in this lovely yarn:
Mountain Colors Weaver's Wool.  This stuff actually comes in two put ups, a one pound skein, and Weavers Wool Quarters, which as the name implies is a mere quarter pound (4 oz).  I got the big skein, if you will remember, which was really cool because I geeked out on the idea of making a sweater without ever having to join a new piece of yarn.  But it was really NOT COOL because, even with extreme modifications, my ball winder won't hold nearly that much yarn.  If you also remember the cocoon-shaped, paper towel tube centered monstrosity of a ball I got that first skein into, let me tell you, it is not fun to work with.  Seriously, yarn popping off all over the place!  So in all honesty, if you get the big put up, just cut the dang yarn.  If I was really careful I could get half of a skein onto my ball winder at a time, and that isn't bad at all.  Or just buy the smaller put up.  The cost seems to be about the same per yard.

Weaver's Wool is, as the name implies, 100% wool, at about a DK weight.  It is the same as Mountain Colors 4/8's Wool, but a lighter weight.  It is smooth, round, and easy to work with (no splitting here!).  Of course, as with most small company yarn, the real draw is the colors, which are all beautiful.  Most LYS around here carry at least some Mountain Colors yarn, and I've yet to see a colorway that I didn't like.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Yarn Review - Knit Picks Comfy Sport

Suddenly I realize I've been neglecting to blog, for which I kick myself, but only a little bit.  I have been very busy, with all kinds of things.  But at any rate, I owe you a review of this lovely stuff:
Which I have been using to make this lovely thing:
Which is in fact available for preorder right here.  But at back to the yarn: Knit Picks Comfy Sport.  I've talked about the mixed feelings much of the knitting world has for Knit Picks in another post, and won't get into it again.  This one is 75% Pima cotton, 25% acrylic, and actually also comes in fingering and worsted weights, which is super convenient.  Also, six bazillion solid colors, so there's at least one color for everyone.  Also?  Soft and fluffy like a cloud.  All this combines to make Comfy my first pick for a workhorse cotton yarn.

Downsides?  You do have to remember that it is cotton, and it behaves like cotton (although the acrylic content does mitigate it a bit).  If you expect it to behave like a wool yarn, you will be disappointed.  Also, when I frog it, it tends to send tiny cotton fibers into the air, which makes me sneeze.  The yarn is none worse for the wear though, so I'll take it.  Most fluffy soft cotton yarns pill like a monster, especially if you frog them, and this does not.

So really, I'll probably keep using this stuff as long as Knit Picks makes it.  It's nice, and the price is right.  Can't argue with that.