Archives for category: stashing/destashing

I spent a couple of weeks in February in California, visiting friends and family. In addition to this, I got a chance to meet up with a lot of knitting friends and do a bit of yarn shopping! Possibly even too much yarn shopping, if you can believe it–I got back to Madison with no particular desire to attend this year’s Knit-In (guests of honor: the Mason-Dixon Knitting ladies).

I stopped in at A Verb for Keeping Warm‘s physical space in Berkeley for a couple of hours one afternoon. It is really small, but a beautiful space, jam-packed with gorgeous, natural-dyed fiber. The bin of silk roving! The new camel-silk yarn! Amazing stuff. I had a great time chatting with proprietors Adrienne and Kristine and meeting shop Dachshund Cleo and her best friend, who had come to visit the shop–I forgot his name, but he is another Dachshund, and there is nothing quite like multiple tiny dogs running around a tiny space to lift one’s spirits.

My friend Molly has recently gotten into crochet, much to my delight, and we took a trip to Article Pract in Oakland. It’s a lovely LYS with a great selection (mmm, Fibre Company) and sales room–my only complaint is that it’s too dark to see the yarns very well.

I met up with Prachi from Adventures of a Desi Knitter and Kristen from Knitting Kninja at Stash Yarns in Berkeley. I had met Prachi before, when she came to Madison for a conference last year, but it was my first time meeting Kristen in person. It was great seeing Prachi again and meeting Kristen for the first time and chatting with them both–first over a gleaming pile of MadTosh sock yarn (a new shipment had just come in and GOOD LORD is this stuff gorgeous, the pictures online are good but don’t do it justice!) and then over warm drinks at the Starbucks next door. It was a cold and rainy day–nothing better than warm drinks and yarn-ogling in good company.

Oh, and there was a little thing called Stitches West. I accidentally (really accidentally!) timed my visit so I’d be there during Stitches. My mom and stepdad live about 15 minutes from the venue, so I girded my loins and headed out there Friday morning. I have a good amount of practice going to wool festivals by now, but it was really utterly overwhelming. From the Midwestern festivals I’ve been to, I’m used to a more low-key mixture of yarn and livestock, but this was gigantic, completely indoors, and with no alpacas to mix it up. The experience had more in common with E3 than with Wisconsin Sheep and Wool. I waited in line for about 15 minutes to even buy my ticket and get into the expo, and then I kept walking and walking and it kept going and going. I felt incapable of buying anything for the first two hours I was there–finally developed a game plan and went back for a few things.

I got in trouble because I completely missed the sign at the front about not taking photos. Oops. This is the only photo I have that was taken with permission, and I deleted the rest:
california 025
…ah, Malabrigo. Being a Malabrigo Junkie, I walked away with a free sample of navy blue Dos, and also purchased some Twist that will be making an appearance here soon–by the end of the month, with any luck.

The Dos:

I had lunch that day with Hilary from The Yarniad . Hilary works nearby, so she couldn’t come yarn shopping with me, but was able to take off her lunch hour to meet up. I spotted multiple Citrons up as samples on the show floor and was excited to tell her where to look out for them!

And last but not least, I met up with my favorite podcasters, Nicole and Jenny from Stash and Burn, and Jenny’s sister Alma. We didn’t get to talk for too long in the madness of the show floor, but it was nice to at least meet them in person, and check out their Stitches haul. Nicole and John welcomed a new member to their family shortly thereafter and Nicole said the long walk at Stitches was probably what got things started…

Highlights of Stitches West:

So, at Stitches, aside from the Malabrigo I mentioned before, I also bought this baby alpaca/silk/cashmere blend yarn, 400 yards fingering weight for $28, from Pigeonroof Studios. The color is Greenstone and it is luscious.

And that was the fibery portion of my trip to California.
california 014

Now I’m back to the Planet of the Apes Madison, where Spring is finally springing–I took this photo a few days ago, but the ice has since melted too much to go out on the lakes anymore:
latlong 101

Oh, and I’ve just put up a pattern on Ravelry that I’m really excited about–you can just about spot the hat and cowl I’m wearing in the photo above–but will save the post about it for later–but right now I have to get off the computer and start baking some pies. I’m having a Pi Day party (it’s 3/14 today!) Blueberry, Key lime, and savory corn pies. Yum.

I wish I could say that my near-total blog silence this summer has been due to being too busy building houses for the homeless, or traveling to distant lands, or inventing a perpetual motion machine, but I don’t really have anything too exciting to attribute it to. Just long, lazy summer days and sunny evenings… and there’s a certain measure of ill-defined guilt built up in there as well. I’m not sure what the cause of it is, psychologically, but sometimes I feel like I have all the free time in the world, and other times I feel like I have no time at all and all the minor complications of life–bills, housecleaning, laundry–are bearing down on me like the boulder from Indiana Jones. The actual, objective amount of work or complications that may be involved is irrelevant.

Anyway, this weekend, I’m trying to chip away at the nagging items on my to-do list and reduce the size of the boulder. Today I spent a few hours sitting in a cafe and catching up on work, and after finishing, instead of heading straight out to enjoy the sunny day, decided to stop and write this quick blog post.

Yesterday was maybe even more productive: I cleaned the kitchen, re-seasoned all our cast iron pans, harvested the green beans from the garden, and did a lot of packing and throwing stuff away. We’re moving in two weeks to a place a few blocks away, and trying to get a head start on getting everything packed, furniture dismantled, and the apartment cleaned so it’s less of a mad dash on the day of the move. The packing process is stressful–as I was sitting there sorting stuff, there was a lot of yelling from the other room of “what the hell is this [insert random craft item]” and “do you really need to keep all these knitting magazines” (answer: yes). But I’ve put together several boxes of things to get rid of and that feels good.

Anyway, I thought I might post a few yarn-related pictures from a family trip I took about a month ago. I went to Taos and Santa Fe with my mom, stepdad, and sister, and while we were wandering in Taos, we accidentally stumbled across La Lana Wools! (well, semi-accidentally… I found a tourist brochure called something like “The Fiber Arts Trail in New Mexico” and contrived to stop by when I realized from the address that we were right around the corner.)

All of La Lana’s yarns are naturally plant-dyed, and many of them are handspun. I bought some pretty yarn from the sale bin–this is Phat Silk, a 50/50 wool-silk blend:

There were lots of other gorgeous, if horribly expensive, yarns to choose from:

The highlight, though, was getting to see and handle THE original Lady Eleanor entrelac stole from Scarf Style. Unfortunately, it was kind of dark in there, so I had to take this picture with flash, which kind of ruins the colors. It’s a huge stole, though, much bigger than I’d thought.

Both Taos and Santa Fe were really pretty. The clouds and mountains are gorgeous, and there are hollyhocks growing everywhere. I always associated hollyhocks with England and France, but I guess they’re pretty happy in hot climates, too. Like Georgia O’Keeffe, who, I found out at the O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, was from Sun Prairie, WI and went to high school in Madison, right up the street from where I live.

Santa Fe was also surprisingly small and walkable, a really gorgeous and friendly little city. I think it would be a really great place to live if you didn’t feel like the sun was punching you in the face every time you stepped outside. (I guess maybe it’s not as fiercely hot when it’s not the middle of summer.)

Kalani posted this on Facebook and it cracked me up. (And while we’re on the subject: tapestryshopp’d)

Also, since I mentioned them here recently, emailed me a coupon code to share with anyone who’s interested: blogfeather will give you $5 off a single purchase from, through May 14th, no minimum purchase required. Go forth and sew! Perhaps, staying with today’s theme, you would be interested in sewing some authentic cotehardies or houpelandes.

(Me, I think I’m going to go for this circle skirt soon… I have an embroidered linen tablecloth I got at a thrift store that will make an excellent skirt once I actually iron it.)

Here is the knitting project I’m working on right now.

A Jackalope from Amigurumi Knits! He has no face, ears, or front legs, so he kind of looks like a roasted turkey right now (big brown torso with drumstick-like hind legs sticking out), but I have faith that he will be much more stagbunny-like soon.
Here are some completed ones I found on Ravelry that I love. I hope mine turns out just as cute. I wish I could use safety eyes, but this is destined for a friend’s baby.

I think it is customary, after a long craft blog silence, to say something like “Life’s been crazy! I’ve been so busy!” or “Look at all the amazing things I’ve been making in the meantime!” but I really don’t have much of an excuse or anything super exciting to show off.

I have been sewing a bunch and have at least 3 new dresses to show off at some point, but only have photos of one of them and they all came out too ugly for me to show off here, so I will just tell you that two are from Weekend Sewing and one is a Vogue pattern. (And the photo below is not actually any of them–it’s a vintage shirt pattern that turned out HORRIBLE, giving the effect of a pregnant linebacker, so lucky the gingham was a dollar a yard and I could just scrap the project.)

I got a really exciting copy of Hansi Singh’s Amigurumi Knits–you may remember Michael Phelps from a while back, who was a Loch Ness Monster knit from a Hansigurumi pattern (included in this book, so now I own two copies of the pattern);

I’m excited about it–so many things are in my queue from this book; I want to make some crazy-ass toys for my best friend, who’s expecting a baby in June. The jackalope, octopus, hermit crab, and squid/kraken are all pretty high on the list, but I also really loved the Nessie and kind of want to make one for myself (I still have a lot of green and white yarn left). I think the book looks pretty good overall, definitely a good buy if you plan to knit up more than two of her patterns, but a few patterns in there felt like filler–the earthworm and cucumber spring to mind. I guess they’re meant to cater to beginners, so you can build your skills on a simple toy before embarking on a full-on cephalopod or preying mantis. I do still want the Horned Owl pattern, which has gotten good reviews on Ravelry but is not in the book.

I went to a Fiber Jubilee (what a hokey name, right?) in Richmond, WI, about an hour away from Madison– I went with Mary, Liz, and Liz, from my Wednesday night knitting group:

It was pretty great. We saw goats being sheared, I bought a sweater’s worth of locally grown white merino yarn (and she threw in a skein of natural gray laceweight as a bonus) for $16, and we sat on a picnic bench in the sun and ate Sloppy Joes made by the ladies of a local church.


The stall where I bought the merino:

Various scenes from around the farm:

I met Minou from Ambrosia and Bliss–she spotted me as I was going upstairs and we got to meet in person, so that was cool! We had corresponded on Ravelry/via blogland for a while but never actually met up.

I bought some natural-colored Corriedale there that I’ve already spun and plied into about 310 yards of worsted-weight two-ply. I only have pictures of the singles right now, but the other ply is a sort of creamy oatmeal color and it’s a really nice, squishy, bouncy marled yarn:

And I will be volunteering this Saturday from 10-12 at the Great Midwest Alpaca Festival, demoing spinning for a couple of hours, and I can’t even tell you how excited I am about going to a gigantic convention center full of alpacas. And I get to keep whatever I spin while I’m there (incentive to spin faster!)

Knitting-wise, I’m currently working on some Herringbone Mitts (warning, PDF link) for a swap. It took me weeks to get the pattern of the every-other rows so that I could do it without referring to the chart (k2 MC, k1 CC, k1 MC, k2 CC, k1 MC, k1 CC, repeat) and once I finally got it I felt really dumb and annoyed for not being able to figure out and memorize it sooner. But I am nearly at the top decreases now, and the end is in sight! I seriously don’t know how I can finish a sweater in a few days but take a month to knit a pair of mittens.

And I’m working on a shrug for my friend Casey’s wedding next month (whoa, time flies!) I hope it works out–the fabric is so delicious: one strand of Malabrigo in Stone Blue held with one strand of Kidsilk Haze in Hurricane… fluffy, smoky, tone-on-tone blue.

Anyway, that’s what’s been going on in craft land here. It’s finally starting to feel like spring around here! It makes me want to sew cotton dresses more than knit woolen mittens/mohair shrugs, but knitting is so much more fun and portable.

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, The Yarn Harlot, was in Madison on Saturday at the Madison Knit-In! She was great, as was the event overall–I just wish I had gotten there earlier so I could have spent some more time browsing in the marketplace. When I walked in, I immediately gravitated towards the Plucky Knitter’s piles of glowing cashmere and merino and was unable to tear myself away, so I spent about 90% of my time rubbing skeins of cashmere against my cheek and about 10% dashing through the rest of the marketplace looking at stuff.

And guess what, I won a door prize! The Yarn Stash Workbook. I walked in and as I was looking at my map, Gina, whom I’d met at the Harmony Bar knitting group, walked up to me and said “Guess what, you won a door prize!”

I made a beeline for the back of the marketplace and picked up my prize.

Wandered over to the Plucky Knitter where I met Miss Plucky Sarah herself and had a chance to ogle the Yarn Harlot’s fantastic handspun February Lady Sweater close up as she was talking to someone nearby.

Wrecked the budget I’d set for myself within the first 10 minutes of being there by picking up some semi-solid aran weight cashmere and being unable to put it back down.

Ran over to the Briar Rose Fibers booth–Mary couldn’t come, but she asked me to keep an eye out for some Briar Rose fiber, so I picked up some gorgeous huge bundles of BFL (spring green and icy blue).

Stopped to pet the angora in the Kimmet Croft stand, then grabbed a color card from Blackwater Abbey, whose yarns are sort of crunchy and rough but the colors are fantastic (and I love this free cardigan pattern, Faery Ring).

A couple of fellow knitters stopped me to ask about the Noro The Water is Wide scarf I was wearing. “Oh, and did you know you won a door prize?” they said. I had never met them before, but I guess they remembered my name and recognized it on the name tag.

It was 1 PM by then, so I rushed off to see the Harlot, completely missed out on the lunch that was included in my ticket (I did get a muffin and a Coke) and spent a happy couple of hours listening to the reasons knitters are awesome, and laughing my ass off over her story of getting locked out of a hotel room in Calgary while wearing only a pair of powder blue panties with the word “Cowgirl” written on them in lasso rope.

Here is Stephanie,

and here is a view of all the knitters behind me:

I actually didn’t have any mindless knitting on the needles, so instead I spent the time spinning on my new(ish) toy, a 1.2 oz. Jenkins Turkish spindle made of spalted tamarind wood (the fluff is some awesome Type B pygora from eXtreme Spinning):

Saw Jaala of Knitcircus on the way out (keep an eye out for their interview with the Harlot in their next issue!) “Hey, did you know you won a door prize?” she said.

I went and patiently waited in line to see the Harlot, got my copy of Knitting Rules! signed, and got a picture with Stephanie as well. See? I’m holding the sock! Yay!

Rahul had come to pick me up and he asked her if she would also sign his copy of The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature, but she said she would only do it if she could sign it “Steven Pinker.” (Sadly, she didn’t follow through. Too bad. It would be even more valuable than a rare photo of Sean Connery signed by Roger Moore.)

It was a really lovely way to spend a Saturday, and that’s lucky, because the rest of the day went rapidly downhill from there–we were headed to his parents’ house in southern Missouri for his spring break, but took a wrong turn along the way and only realized it when were were nearing O’Hare, with the end result being a 3-hour detour, a bunch of toll roads we had to pay for twice, a lot of grouchiness and yelling, and what should have been a 7.5 hour trip turning into an 11-hour ordeal that landed us in Missouri at about 3 AM.

Anyway, at least we’re here and relaxing with his parents now, and it’s about 10-20 degrees warmer here than it was in Madison–crocuses are out, lawns are green, star magnolia and forsythia bushes are flowering, and we don’t have to wear massive down jackets at all times. And hopefully the trip back will go more smoothly. (We are putting some serious thought into buying a GPS before we go back). We’re spending next weekend in Chicago with some friends, should be fun!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Erin Go Bragh, etc.

I will leave you with some Dutch commercials for a candy called Super Dickmann’s! These are really hilarious if you have the sense of humor of a 12-year-old, which apparently I do.

1, 2, 3.

I finished my Vest-uary vest yesterday, so this weekend I’m going to take some pictures and do a nice FO post. In the meantime, here are some exciting material goods I’ve been drooling over.

  • Knit Picks has just started selling a $20 ball winder! Wow. I think the best deal on new ball winders used to be a free shipping coupon at when they were on sale for around $25–that’s how I got mine, and it seemed like a pretty good deal at the time. They’re selling all kinds of other house-brand accessories, now, too, but the ball winder was the thing that stood out the most. I don’t see a swift (yet), but you can make one pretty easily from Tinker Toys or coat hangers. Personally, if I had to choose, I guess I’d rather have my swift than my ball winder, but in reality the pair has been pretty indispensable. I no longer fear the hank.
  • I bought the Knit Picks Options needle set a while back and love love love it (the flexible cables! the shiny nickel coating!) but I have been holding off on getting rid of my other needles because of the Options set’s one fatal flaw (IMHO): its lack of 16-inch cables in the KP set. Then I discovered KnitPro, the European version of KP needles, and their superior product line. You can buy their stuff via European sites like Get Knitted or P2tog UK. I guess the needles are all made by the same manufacturer, as they’re totally interchangeable, but I’m not sure which came first; did Knit Picks invent the interchangeable sets and allow KnitPro to sell the same products in Europe? Or did Knit Picks find the KnitPro products for sale and take on the exclusive licensing rights in the US? Or are they both owned by some sort of shadowy multinational umbrella corporation that specializes in interchangeable knitting needles? I may never know. But in any case, I am now ready to let go of my Denise and Boye sets (leave me a comment if you’re interested in buying them.) Here are some accessories you can get from KnitPro retailers that you can’t get from KnitPicks:
    • the elusive hat-length cable I’ve been longing for! Yes, I could knit my hats Magic Loop with the 40-inch cables, but I really don’t like to. The regular needle tips are too long to create a 16-inch cable–you need to buy a set of shorter needle tips for a real 16-inch cable–but if you buy the short cable and use it on the regular needle tips, it comes out to about 19 inches, which is still a very good length for knitting adult-sized hats.
    • A wider range of interchangeable needle tip sizes: specifically, 3.00 mm (US 2), 3.25 mm (US 3), 7.00 mm (US 10.75, which I’ve never heard of elsewhere) and 15.00 mm (US 19). So you can make the set go down as small as the Boye needles. I didn’t get any of these since I don’t knit often in those sizes, and I already have fixed US 2 and US 3 circs I can use if I need them.
    • Cable connectors, which I guess would be useful if you were knitting a gigantic afghan or something–otherwise, the 60-inch cable seems fine for most large projects.
    • There’s more about all this stuff in the Ravelry forums here. I hope the Knit Picks folks aren’t upset by all these people running out and buying the spare parts internationally; with the addition of a few KnitPro components, the Knit Picks Options needles become the #1 set on the market, in my opinion. (There’s been positive buzz about Addi Clicks
      and KA Switch needles lately, too, but they’re substantially more expensive.)
  • I have been saving up my Amazon credit card rewards gift certificates for a while, so I used them all up and placed a big order:
    • The Yarn Harlot‘s Knitting Rules!, a deceptively slim little volume that I keep getting from the library for its good basic advice about hats and socks and scarves–I decided it would be good to have it on hand permanently for reference
    • In Sheep’s Clothing: A Handspinner’s Guide to Wool: a guide to the properties of various wool breeds, from a spinner’s perspective. Not sure how much I’ll end up using this one overall, but I’d like to read up on the properties of some wools I’ve been holding off on spinning, like CVM and Icelandic, and the Madison public library didn’t have this book.
    • Weekend Sewing: More Than 40 Projects and Ideas for Inspired Stitching: OK, the library does have this one, but it’s on hold for the next 6 months or so and it would be nice to be able to cut out the patterns if I decide to. This has gotten really good reviews on Amazon and the previews on Heather Ross’s blog make it look really nice–based on the line drawings, I would totally make every single bag and article of clothing in this book.
    • Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer: A Golden Treasury of Classic Treats, Jane Brocket’s latest, and also not in my local public library system. Reading kids’ books and daydreaming about the luscious foods depicted therein has always been a favorite pastime–and for some reason, especially so when it comes to tiny foods eaten by mice: the descriptions of feasts in Redwall or paintings of tiny tea parties in the Brambly Hedge books always seemed immensely appealing.
    • And last but not least, a Singer spool knitting machine/i-cord mill–you know, the little gadgets where you turn a crank and i-cord comes out like magic. Maybe like magic performed by a not very skilled magician who does his tricks really slowly and gets his sleeves caught on his props… but Techknitter recommends it as the best way to make lots of i-cord, and she seems to know just about everything about knitting.

This morning I woke up late to an empty house. The weather outside was classic autumn weather, cool, gray, drizzly. As I made my coffee, even with the windows closed, I could hear the lion at the zoo roaring from about half a mile away. Auuu–auuu–auuur. It was a strange, sad, peculiar sound, coming over the blazing yellow treetops, over the hills and houses and neatly raked leaves. Inside, the infestation of ladybugs continued, and the lion’s roaring was punctuated with the tinny tapping of ladybugs buzzing against the lightbulbs and windows.

It’s been a beautiful weekend so far. On Friday night, we headed out to the High Noon Saloon, where the Halloween concert was one of the best I’ve been to in the past few years, and the costumes made it even more fun.

Here are two of the winners of the costume contest. I love that Beaker outfit.

I started out in the beard hat, but eventually got too hot and put on the kitty hat instead. Rahul wore a ski mask topped with a trucker hat. Here we are with a couple of friends–they are dressed as a witch and what I thought must be some European soccer player but is in fact “a bunch of things I found at Walgreens.”

The lineup (local bands pretending to be other bands):

We arrived around 8:45, during the Low Czars’ set as The Kinks. They did a fantastic job–very tight, lots of energy, and they dressed up nicely. I was impressed with the fake gap the lead singer put between his front teeth to impersonate Ray Davies.

Next up were the appropriately nerdy band The Shabelles as Weezer clones “The Buddy Hollys.” They played lots of my favorites from the blue album, and their pigtailed female lead singer took the place of Rivers Cuomo.

Apparently Nothing played Nirvana. They were a kick! The lead singer had this ridiculous fake-looking shiny blond wig on to play Kurt Cobain, and the classic grunge outfit as well. They played 99% of Nevermind (skipping “Polly”) and their set featured some guest appearances from Courtney Love and a crowdsurfing Zombie Kurt Cobain.

Tangy played as “Manchester United,” covering songs from the Manchester 80s and 90s music scenes: The Stone Roses (I was thrilled by this, they’re one of my favorite bands) and Oasis. They claimed they’d play The Smiths, too, but I don’t remember hearing any Smiths songs. I was a bit distracted, though, because their guitarist thought it would be a great idea to toss soccer balls into the audience, so I ended up mainly paying attention to the rambunctious soccer game in front of the stage so I wouldn’t end up with a ball to the face, or with someone’s drink spilled all over me.

Last up were The Gomers as Spinal Tap. They set it up so their drummer “died” between the songs! I was kind of hoping they would lower themselves onto the stage in big pods, but I guess logistics didn’t allow for this. It was after 2 AM by this time, and I’d started the complaining-nonstop-about-my-feet portion of the evening, so we left partway through their set. Here are the Gomers. (Most of my other concert pictures didn’t come out very well.)

The next day, I was up bright and early (well, at 9 AM; that’s early considering I went to bed at 3) for OMG A FIBER FEST!!!11!!!!1

The Wisconsin Spin-In was nearly 2 hours away. Mary’s Hindi teacher kindly offered to drive, since he wanted to check out the charkha selection–we’d been teaching his daughter to spindle and wheel spin; being Indian, he had spun on a charkha in school, and was thinking of getting her one so she could try it as well. I guess the charkha thing didn’t work out (apparently even the best, top of the line charkhas in India top out around $75, while the cheapest one at the show was the Babe’s Fiber Garden Liten Spindle and cost around $120). They did get some other fun stuff, though, like some sparkly pink roving and lavender soap.

In a curious juxtaposition for a charkha-shopping trip, there was a gun show located next door. I was curious about it, but ultimately didn’t end up going.

Here’s the Spin-In marketplace:

My excellent companions:

Some stressed-out alpacas, who spent the whole show making urgent humming noises, biting each other, and putting their ears back:

And last but not least, an overview of my amazing haul. I thought I’d have kind of a remorseful shopping hangover this morning from buying too much, but when I woke up, I still felt really excited about each and every one of these purchases, and looking forward to using all of them. Click through to the Flickr page to see annotations of the photo listing what the various goodies are.

Particularly exciting finds (well, all of it is exciting, but a couple of things to call your attention to): the Spinner’s Control Card, which I balked a bit at first at paying money for (it’s just a little piece of acrylic, and I found out it’s $1 cheaper from the same vendor online!) but I love it already. It would be easy to make as a DIY project, if you’re willing to put some work into it. Basically, it’s a clear piece of plastic with lines on it corresponding to a wpi measurement. You can just lay your yarn over the card every so often as you’re spinning and compare it to the thickness of the lines to make sure your grist is consistent. It’s faster and easier than doing the WPI “the proper way,” so it’s really good for just checking quickly on your yarn every now and then.

And the Bosworth Mini spindle in the middle of the picture. It’s a lovely piece of work, rim-weighted, with the grain of the dark wood showing through clear and beautiful. It’s made from Morado, and weighs 22 grams/0.77 oz. I love spinning on the wheel, so I wouldn’t have bought this, except that I heard through the grapevine that Jonathan and Sheila Bosworth will be retiring soon, and their spindles (widely considered to be top of the line, the creme de la creme of spindles) will soon be very scarce in supply and high in demand. I told myself that if I ever did become a spindle spinner at some point in the future, I’d really kick myself for having the chance to buy a Bosworth spindle and not doing it–and with the quality and reputation of the product, I shouldn’t have any problems unloading it for retail or near-retail value in the future if I changed my mind.

As it turns out, this spindle may have converted me to spindling (at least for fine yarns). I’m having a great time spinning the lustrous raspberry-colored Corriedale-silk from Handspun by Stefania. Spinning on this spindle is a wonderful, a real pleasure–it spins fast and stabilizes quickly, and it cheers me up just to look at the beautiful wood as I wind on the singles. I wonder if I should have bought more of them. Maybe three of them. (What do you think, Mary?)

Sooo… fiber fest over, I headed home and Rahul and I went out to the Halloween Freakfest party on State Street (infamous for the rioting, mayhem, and tear gas in previous years) but decided to skip the $10 admission fee and just people-watch from the perimeter for a while.

On the way home, just two blocks from our house, we saw a couple of young guys going from car to car, accompanied by the sound of broken glass. “Are those guys breaking into those cars?” I asked and Rahul biked up to see. I looped around and came back–they were still heading up the street and I could see that they were carrying drumsticks and apparently banging on the passenger side of the cars. “Hey! What the hell are you doing?” I yelled.

“Don’t worry about it,” yelled back one of the guys, and fixed me with an intense stare. I got kind of scared and biked away to find Rahul, who had vanished in the meantime. I found him around the corner, calling the police. Unfortunately, by the time he got off the line and we went back around the corner, the two vandals had run away. We went to take a closer look and it seemed like they hadn’t actually broken windows, but had broken or broken off a number of side view mirrors and dented car doors with their stupid drumsticks. I just hope one day those two morons find themselves having to file an insurance claim for property damage. Scratch that, I hope they find themselves having to pay out of pocket for bodywork as many times as the number of cars they thoughtlessly damaged last night for fun. If only I’d had my camera with me!

“What do we want?”


“When do we want them?”


This was the rousing call to undead political action that echoed through the streets of Madison, Wisconsin last Saturday at the 2008 Zombie Lurch. Like dead rights activist Reg Shoe, whose livejournal can be read here, these fine members of the postmortem population were lurching for zombie rights (and delectable brains.)

We stopped by to see them and saw an impressive zombie “Thriller” synchronized dance routine:

The zombies included hikers who had met with some kind of unfortunate ancient evil on their backpacking trip, a scientist who had been bitten by a rabid possum, and a zombie holding a “Zombies for McCain” sign–unfortunately, I didn’t get close-ups of most of them.

Check out the zombie biker at the left of this photo:

A neuroscientist was monitoring the situation while protesting zombie brain waste:

Local news story here, youtube photo montage with excellent soundtrack choice here. (You can see the top of my head (in turquoise bike helmet) in the foreground at 1:36. I’m faaaamous!)

The zombies started at the Capitol building and lurched down the main drag, State Street, until they reached the university. Every so often, the calls of “BRAAAAAINS” would be interrupted by a moan of “BUUUUSSSS,” and the seemingly chaotic mob of zombies would flow smoothly over to one side of the street to let the bus go by.

A woman standing outside Ben and Jerry’s said to me in a puzzled, wondering tone, “What would ever possess a group of people to get together and do something like this?”

Whatever the reasons–delicious brains, camaraderie, Halloween, a sense of humor, raising awareness of Election Day next Tuesday–it was fun! Our friends Steve and Jeanne were visiting us over the weekend, and even their dog Nola got into the undead act:

Back in the land of the living, here’s what’s on my needles (STILL Flicca: I’m perhaps 1/3 of the way through the sleeves now, and then I’ll have to set them in and knit the collar and front bands. This cardigan is taking forever):

And here’s what’s on my wheel:
3.5 beautiful ounces of hand-painted merino in “Tapestry” from my new favorite Etsy seller, Bee Mice Elf. I’m currently trying to produce soft, thick, knittable, self-striping singles, but I have a tendency to spin too fine:

She also sent along this little sample with my order:

It’s the same stuff I spun up for my Quantette, and I also spun up some of her merino in the “Early Drop” colorway last month–spun over the fold for extra bounce, and twisted into a two-ply:

She doesn’t have too much listed in her shop at the moment, but you can special order a 4 oz. braid of any of her fall/winter color collections anytime, and they’re all totally gorgeous. I think the Quiet collection is my favorite, particularly Pensive Plum.

The Urban and Coastal collections aren’t up on her photostream yet, but you can see them in her sold items by clicking through those links.

1 skein of Sundara Sock Yarn in Roasted Persimmon over Green Papaya, Seasons Sock Club, Autumn, October 2008 shipment: $25.

Average monthly per capita income in Cambodia: $24.16

Ashford Traditional single-drive, lacquered, single-treadle spinning wheel: $535

The gross national income per capita in Benin, 2006: $540

The theme of this year’s Blog Action Day is Poverty. All over the blogosphere, people are writing about poverty and how it relates to their little corner of the world.

I don’t hold a lot of illusions about people stopping their yarn stashing, eating out at restaurants, buying new clothes, going to the movies, or what have you, and donating all that money to charity instead while living a virtuous, ascetic life in the cheapest place they can afford. It’s just not the way things work in this day and age and place, for the vast majority of people. I’m certainly not saintly enough to live that simply. And despite their ideals, people have a strong tendency to want to spend their hard-earned money on fun stuff rather than donating it to someone they don’t know and will never meet.

Knitters, crocheters, spinners, weavers, let me suggest 3 simple actions that will change little about the way you live your happy, well-fed, yarn-filled life from day to day, but will make a difference (be it ever so slight) in fighting global poverty–and without making you feel guilty about spending your money as you please:
1) Download the AidMaker browser plugin and shop online as usual. When you shop from online stores like the Apple Store (or Ultimate Colon Cleanse, apparently!) while using this browser plugin, receives a commission, which (aside from operating costs) they then donate to the charity of your choice, at no extra cost to you. Let’s say you go to Amazon and buy Knitted Lace of Estonia or some Cascade 220 yarn–or even an Ashford Kiwi spinning wheel–they’ll donate 3% of your purchase price to the charity of your choice, without you spending an extra dime.
2) When you feel like you need a shopping fix, or decide you could use some retail therapy, consider going to a charity site instead and spending your money on a charitable donation. If you’re a stasher, you can just pretend you bought some yarn and it went straight into the stash, hidden under the bed or in a drawer out of sight somewhere. But instead, you can spend the money on a sheep, llama, or goat from Heifer International, a camel from Mercy Corps, or a loan to a textiles entrepreneur via (at the moment, one of the open loans seeking lenders is for a group of Peruvian weavers trying to start a textiles factory)
3) Or if you feel like you need something tangible as a result of your shopping spree, consider spending money on products that help the economies of developing countries. You could buy some yarns via The Hunger Site–that angora-cotton blend looks especially tempting, doesn’t it? In your LYS, a few yarn brands you can look at include the Snow Leopard Trust, Manos del Uruguay, Malabrigo, Shokay, Lantern Moon, and Mirasol. If you’re feeling indulgent, splurge on some qiviut from the Oomingmak cooperative. If you’re feeling even more indulgent than that, how about some vicuna at $300 per 28.5 grams? According to Peace of Yarn, after maintaining state control and protection of the wild vicuna herds since 1825, the Peruvian government “handed ownership of the animals back to the common villagers of the country, creating a viable and stable source of income for struggling villagers” by sponsoring traditional shearing days called chacus in which the vicunas are trapped using traditional methods, sheared, and released.

So in honor of today, I’m going to go install that plugin, lend some money via Kiva, and ogle qiviut on Ravelry for a while.

P.S. I just bought the Ashford Traditional used on Craigslist and it was actually closer to the GNI per capita of Afghanistan. I’m pretty excited about it–I’ll have enough bobbins to actually do a two-ply without having to wind off into centerpull balls! Lots of ratios! A nice big drive wheel! I can adjust twist and pull separately using the Scotch tension!–though I’m surprisingly feeling sort of anxious and attached about selling my old wheel. It’s prettier, and easier to treadle.

My parents (Dad and stepmom) came to visit me in Madison! Now they’re in Chicago (or possibly on their way back to CA by now). I miss them! It was kind of a whirlwind, last-minute, chaotic kind of trip, but we managed to fit in a good trip to the St. Vincent de Paul Dig ‘n’ Save, where you buy clothes for $1.00 a pound and junk for 35 cents a pound. Rahul and I had a great trip there before where I came away with a ton of good stuff–among other things, a really cute boiled wool rust-and-green colorwork jacket, a Brooks Brothers seersucker skirt, an adorable Vera Bradley zippered pouch with tiny owls on it.

This time around I found a trove of cute patterns from the 70s and 80s, including this one, Simplicity 4867–how awesome is the top right view? It reminds me very much of wikstenmade’s beautiful Tova top (right down to the similarity of the model’s hairstyle to Jenny’s!) Also Butterick 4631, a collection of yoked peasant tops with pockets. This one, Simplicity 5497, is very, very dated, but the asymmetrical ruffled button front seems like it might have potential. I couldn’t find the last one online (McCall’s 4866), but it includes a very cute dress and blouse with mandarin collar and round pintucked, button-up yoke.

I also got a brown leather Fossil/Relic purse in pretty good condition, and a blouse that turned out to be a little too small. The purse + shirt + 4 patterns cost me $1.35!

Anyway, although my parents have left, I have plenty of stuff coming up this next week to distract me. Mary and I are going to teach her Hindi teacher’s kid to spin Saturday morning (she’s 8 years old and wants to learn to spin cotton on a charkha! and weave! just like Grandma!) and then Rahul and I are seeing the Magnetic Fields on Saturday night. My uncle will be in town next week, as will an old friend from Berkeley, though both are here for conferences and I don’t know how much time they’ll have to spend on social events. Monday night is also the next meeting of the Madison Knitters’ Guild and Vivian Høxbro is coming to speak; I think I might go and see her.

Other crap: I’ve finished the back and one front of Flicca. Still no pictures, though.

This fake A-Ha video made my day: Band montage!

In response to my blog post mentioning that I’d heard Jelly Yarns make good drive bands for spinning wheels, I got a free sample to try out. Isn’t that nice of them? I’m looking forward to giving it a spin.

And my parents said they kept wondering when I was going to post something about the election. Well, there are other venues that do the ranting better (how could I even scratch the surface of this whole Sarah Palin debacle?) so for the most part I leave the political talk out of here, but I did want to share this story that I saw for the first time recently: McCain calls his captors “gooks” and refuses to apologize. (On the topic of Vietnam PTSD, did you know he also addressed a crowd recently as “my fellow prisoners” rather than “my fellow citizens,” and didn’t seem to notice the slip-up?)

Guy Aoki, the president of the Media Action Network for Asian-Americans, sums it up pretty well, I think: “If Sen. McCain had been captured by Nigerians, could he call those people ‘niggers’ and think he wasn’t going to offend everyone who is black?”