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Fiber. It stares at me. January 26, 2009

Posted by jeninmaine in dyeing, Etsy.
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I bought a bunch of plastic bins (oh Rubbermaid how I love thee) because the great purge needs to happen. Maybe not purge so much as “Oh my GOD I need to go through all the crap I’ve been stacking up in this room and organize it before I go crazy.” It’s gotten really bad here in my craft room, or studio if you want to sound all pretentious about it. Fact of the matter is I can’t find a damned thing in here. I keep my back to it all day while I work so I’m able to block it out, but lately I’ve been able to feel it all staring at me. I’m hoping that I just need to take everything out and organize it, get rid of boxes and useless papers and things like that and miraculously there will be enough room for it all. Here’s hoping.

So I told myself I needed bins to start this task. I’m going to try and do it in logical steps, such as

Step 1: Take out all the yarn.
Step 2: Take out all the roving.
Step 3: Take out all the fabric.

Because logically the bulk of my craft supplies in here is yarn, roving, and fabric, so if I remove that what’s left is the chaff that can be mostly gotten rid of. Right? Oh, I hope so. I know I have other things in here that will need to be dealt with – books and leaflets and patterns I printed off the internet, one box of beading stuff, another of clay stuff, but that should all be manageable when separated out. But here I am, 11:20pm on a Sunday night and I still haven’t started. I’m afraid to start and then not be able to finish and have it all spread out over the parts of the house that ARE cleaned up and organized.

I need those folks from Clean Sweep or the staff that prepares the White House on Inauguration Day to come by, just for an afternoon.

Right, so anyway, that boring crap aside here’s some more boring crap.

With the new year I decided I need to start paying attention to my Etsy shop again. I’ve changed names for the third time but I think this one will stick, it’s the same name on my Ravelry account, my LiveJournal, my WordPress blog, so at least I’m being consistent now. My yarn just arrived home from its rollicking trip out West so I’ve been listing a few skeins at a time just to keep on top of things. Slow and steady wins the race as they say. I did decide, however, to keep my favorite and not sell it after all:

i make things hand-dyed yarn

i make things hand-dyed yarn

I’m not sure what I’ll do with it, yet, but I sure do love it.

The only photos I had of all that yarn were ones I took hurriedly on a rainy day in November so they kind of suck. I am far too obsessed with everything being perfect so I told myself, “Screw it, just use the damned pictures you have already” because if I wait to take NEW pictures and then edit THEM I’ll never post a damned thing. It’s hard for me to override this Virgo mentality. Nngh.

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Saturday late January 10, 2009

Posted by jeninmaine in Etsy, spinning.
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I don’t have a lot to say right now, it’s late and there’s more I need to do before bed. I did get some photos taken of the other yarn I finished up last week, I think they came out pretty good. I still need to measure them out, ugh boring.

Speaking of ugh boring I am really done with winding yarn to dye off of cones. Yes, you can get a much better deal buying by the cone but good lord, I can’t afford an electric skein winder and doing by hand with a niddy noddy makes me crazy. I talked to the owner of my LYS about buying commercial wool from her by the bag and she is able to offer me a nice discount. I figure I’ll do a few bags with her and see if the time savings makes up for the higher initial cost. Being able to just unkink a skein and toss it in a pot = priceless.

Shetland wool, 2 ply:
Shetland yarn

Shetland yarn

Merino wool, 3-ply:
Merino yarn

Merino yarn

NOM. January 7, 2009

Posted by jeninmaine in food, Ravelry.
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Back in September 2007 I started a wee little group over at Ravelry called the Completely Pointless and Arbitrary Group group – at the time it was a lark as there were already a gazillion very specific groups such as “Knitters With Jesus-Shaped Birthmarks” and “Tea Cozies for Antarctic Penguin Enthusiasts”. You get the picture. At the time I said to Joy, “I should start a completely pointless and arbitrary group about nothing that you and I can hang out in!” So I created the group, we chortled at it, then promptly forgot about it for a week or so. When I returned to check it I discovered about 60 had joined it and were hanging out chatting! Color me surprised.

Over a year later the group has over 2700 members and is my favorite place to hang out online. People come and people go, but the biggest draw to the group is that it’s pretty much self-regulated. Members respect one another, help keep those in line who stomp on toes, and keep things as pointless as possible (well, most of the time). I love that we endured the 2007 US elections with members from both the hard left and the hard right and no one talked about politics there. It was strictly verboten. For the majority everyone just plays nice and don’t antagonize one another (in the CPaAGg, anyway – what they do in other groups on Ravelry is their own business). I love the sort of “get away from it all” vibe the place has taken on.

Anyway. I’ve mentioned the CPaAGg before but never really bragged about it. But I have to because I love those people. Once in a while someone thanks me for starting the group but really I have all of them to thank, because without them my lark would just be a lonely group with two members talking about farts and poo. Now we have thousands of people talking about farts and poo! Ha!

Even though the group had only been around for a few months when Margaret was born they organized a really awesome virtual baby shower for me, made and collected gifts, then had a Maine-based Raveler who I had already met in person deliver them to my house. It was incredibly touching and every time I use the blanket they made me (just about daily) or put Margaret into one of the outfits they sent I feel all warm and fuzzy inside. One of the best gifts by far, however, was this:

Hello Kitty Waffle Maker

Oh how I love this thing. I’ve made waffles in it a few times but never had the presence of mind to take pictures, but this morning it was a snow day and Michael was taking the day off to hang with the kids so we didn’t have to brave the roads taking them to the YMCA. He decided to make waffles and so Hello Kitty was pressed into service, having recently been unearthed from the eleventy billion things stuffed in our kitchen cabinets when he cleaned them out.

WAFFLES!

Hello Kitty Waffles!

These were teh nom. We ran out of the Bob’s Red Mill multi-grain mix we usually use so I pulled out the trusty Better Homes & Gardens Cook Book my Dad got me when I was in college. I discovered the secret to really awesome waffles – separate the eggs, put the yolks into the batter first, then beat the whites until stiff and fold in just before baking. That and a lot of vanilla extract (which incidentally wasn’t in the recipe – insanity!). I love vanilla. The recipe doesn’t even have any sugar in it, the vanilla extract is flavorful enough that they taste awesome without any butter or syrup or anything. Kidlet ate four of them before they even had a chance to hit his plate. Best of all it took about five minutes to whip up the batter so it’s very very quick. This is something I’ll make up in packets of just the dry ingredients to keep on hand for future snow days and weekend breffusts.

The Hello Kitty waffle maker was awesome in that it made four small waffles instead of one big huge one – these ended up being perfect for the kids, we were able to just hand one to Margaret and she could nom away on it as it was easy for her to hold in her chubby baby hands. We can also send these to daycare with her as they won’t take up a huge amount of space in her lunch box.

I hesitated to post the recipe until I looked online and saw the same one in about ten different places. I don’t think you can copyright waffles, can you? Anyway here you go:

Fluffy Vanilla-ey Don’t-Need-Nothin-On-Em NomNom Waffles!

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-3/4 cups milk
2 eggs, separated
1/2 cup oil (I might reduce this to 1/4 cup the next time I make them)
A healthy sploosh of vanilla extract (real vanilla extract, not that fake crap!)

1. Mix dry ingredients, if you’re anal retentive like that. I didn’t. Shh, don’t tell Martha!
2. Lightly beat egg yolks and milk together until combined. Again, I didn’t bother doing this either but you can if you want.
3. Add egg yolks and milk to dry ingredients, mix until combined. A few lumps are okay.
4. Oh right, don’t forget the vanilla! Sploosh! I never measure vanilla extract.
5. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. I queued this up in my KitchenAid mixer and got it whipping while I mixed my batter.
6. Carefully use a rubber spatula to fold the egg whites into your batter until just combined – you might still have a few lumps of egg white but that’s okay.
7. Cook in waffle maker. DO NOT FORGET to oil the waffle maker very well before making waffles! I made this mistake once. What a mess.
8. Wait. Remove from waffle maker. NOM!

Wash and thwack, hang to dry. January 5, 2009

Posted by jeninmaine in spinning.
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I actually got quite a bit done over the weekend, considering I was feeling sickish and had two kids running around (which Michael wrangled much of the time, I so do not deserve that man). Here are some fiber photos of about half of what I worked on.

It’s bath time!
Yarn bath!

Yarn bath!

This, my friends, is why one must wash yarn, especially if using wool dyed by someone else:
This is why you wash yarn.

Fortunately a couple of rinses fixed that skein, thankfully.

I looked at my other skein (some Shetland from the UK) and ta-daa, a perfect dye job:
This is why you wash yarn.

After thwacking and drying, they looked a bit more presentable and less like soup.

Shetland:
Shetland wool yarn

Shetland wool yarn

Merino:
Merino wool yarn

Merino wool yarn

This is more Shetland from the same UK source.
I Navajo plied this skein and ended up with a very sturdy, dense yarn. Not sure if this technique suits it.

Shetland wool yarn

Shetland wool yarn

That is all the news that’s fit to print for now.

New Year, New Yarn January 2, 2009

Posted by jeninmaine in Etsy, spinning.
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I spun some yarn. Wanna see?

Merino wool yarn
Random merino roving I got from someone on Ravelry

Shetland wool yarn
Shetland wool top I bought from someone in the UK. Shiny!

Shetland wool yarn
I tried to spin this thick and thin, or at the very least not super duper thin, and this is the result. I love the colors.

Shetland wool yarn
The resulting two-ply on the bobbin. Tomorrow I’ll soak and whack it.

Isn’t that a cute little bowl? I got it for like four bucks at Kohl’s. It rocks.