Friday, October 28, 2011

New yarns in my shop!

Sorry, not much doing here on the home front this week. Other than washing the windows, doing laundry, making home made spaghetti sauce--but that's not what y'all want to hear, I'm sure.

I've just listed 3 new handspun yarns in my shop. Cherry Divinity and Peppermint Twist are bulky yarns, and Stormy Waters works up at a worsted gauge. I think Cherry Divinity would make a wonderful holiday hat. And I have more of the spinning batts here so may be forced to spin up some for myself and knit up a quick hat!

Peppermint Twist, 3.2 oz, 160 yds, Bulky

Cherry Divinity, 1.7 oz, 100 yds of Bulky yarn

Stormy Waters, 1.9 oz, 110 yds of worsted weight yarn

 We're heading for a drive in the country tomorrow to pick up our meat for the freezer. Should be a spectacular drive on a fine autumn day. Have a lovely weekend, everyone!


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Ergonomic Earwarmer Two finally test-knitted and available!

For such a simple knitted piece, this was a difficult pattern to finish. Interruptions kept happening, but that's life. Anyway, the pattern includes two different versions of the earwarmer--one in Garter Stitch and another in Mock Rib. Available in my Etsy shop and my Ravelry store (Feistywoman Designs). Knit up a bunch using leftovers and scraps for great holiday gifts.

The original Ergonomic Earwarmer needed company! And so we have two more earwarmers included in this pattern that are variations on the original but allow a lot more room for individual creativity. And the garter stitch earwarmer is uber-easy!

I hate, hate, hate earwarmers that are one solid band of fabric--it either rides up the back of my head or rides down over my eyes. To solve the problem I've created an earwarmer that will cover your ears, ride a little high at the back so your jacket collar doesn't push it upwards, and a little low at the front so your hair doesn't stick up in spikes. I also incorporated a little hanging loop at the back so it can be aired out afterwards.

Requires about 60 yds or DK weight yarn and is very easy to knit once the pattern is established.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Natural dyeing and sauerkraut

No, I did not dye anything with sauerkraut although I understand someone somewhere managed to dye wool with RED cabbage. Once.

This was supposed to be a post about dyeing wool with black walnuts and goldenrod but someone-who-shall-remain-nameless has not sent me the photos she took, and so we shall do the best we can sans photos.  This will very shortly become a post about making sauerkraut.....

Back in early September my usual group of spinning plotters and troublemakers met at my house. I have 6 walnut trees that gave us and our squirrels a bumper crop this year, enough so that prior to the meeting I could drop a bunch in a bucket of water to soak for several weeks. I also noticed that the goldenrod was in bloom, so I cut a shopping bag full, took it home and simmered it for an hour to extract the color (cooking goldenrod needs to be done on a day when you can open the windows--it gives off a rather "earthy" smell). I also cooked the walnuts for an hour and strained both. Once the day arrived, we soaked our skeins and clean fiber meant for the goldenrod bath in an alum and cream of tartar mordant bath for an hour, while we chatted about the stuff that ladies left on their own with coffee and time on their hands will chat about. I distinctly remember that we mentioned interesting male and female body parts occasionally.

Once the fiber was mordanted, we dropped them in the 2 baths--walnuts do not need mordants because of the high tannen content. All the fibers came out lovely and we were quite happy with the results (which I can't show because someone-who-shall-remain-nameless hasn't forwarded photos yet). I carded up the superwash wool/nylon blend that I dyed into sock fiber, adding camel down, bamboo and sparkly angelina just because I think socks that you spin and knit should be decadent and shiny.

Although I attempted to grow my own cabbage this year, it just wasn't happening because the birds ate the first 2 sowings of seed. So we purchased 5 heads from our local farm. We used to shred the cabbage by hand but Husbeast wasn't in favor of repeating that performance. He used our food processor to shred and I have to say it was just as nice and A LOT faster. We managed to shred and pack 20 lb of cabbage in 90 minutes!

For every 5 lb of shredded cabbage, you sprinkle it with 3 tblsp of canning salt (table salt won't work as the  iodine will retard the fermentation process), mix well and allow to wilt for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, you cut and shred more cabbage--I had 3 very large bowls going simultaneously; 1 being filled, 1 wilting, and 1 being packed.

Using a large straight-sided crock, pack the wilted cabbage snugly in the crock in layers. Once everything is packed, top it with cheesecloth and over turn a dinner plate on top of that. Fill a clean milk jug with water and place it on top of the plate, pushing down slightly to bring the brine to the top so it can protect the fermenting cabbage from rotting. Cover the crock/plate/jug with a cloth and let sit for 5-6 weeks, checking weekly to skim off any scum and check the progress of the sauerkraut. Once it's softened and tastes right, you can pack it in jars and process in a water bath. I mix my sauerkraut with apples, onions, caraway seeds and butter and use that to stuff chicken or turkey--the gravy is to-dye-for good!

(And please don't blame me for the boring sauerkraut-making post, it's all the fault of someone-who-shall-remain-nameless.)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Shameless plug

Apologies for being away so long. I had a colonial festival that lasted through 2 weekends at which I was vending as part of a group--it was great fun, I made new friends and ran into some old friends. The best kind of 'work', if you ask me! Then I came home, unpacked my yarn, moved the last few items out of the studio, and welcomed the first of 3 contractors trooping through the house to begin work on my studio. I made them a pot of coffee--12 cups--and the two guys drank ALL of it in an hour! No wonder their work went so quickly.

At any rate, during the past few weeks I've managed to re-work my Ergonomic Earwarmer pattern. The newer version, Ergonomic Earwarmer Two, will include two different stitch patterns and a couple of ideas on how to use color in knitting them.

Do I have anyone interested in test knitting an earwarmer for me? Pattern uses US #6 needles and about 60-70 yards of yarn.

AND.....I have moved all my handspun yarn into my new Etsy shop, Feistywoman Handspun. So if you're looking for fiber, head to Feistywoman Designs. If you want patterns and handspun yarn to work those patterns, click into Feistywoman Handspun.

AND.....Last but not least, I find myself in two Etsy treasuries today.

That's quite enough for today, I think.