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07/29/2009 July 29, 2009

Posted by jeninmaine in dyeing, kidlet, photography, spinning.
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More photos today. Forward momentum, slow but steady.

i make things merino seacell

i make things merino seacell

i make things merino seacell

i make things merino seacell

i make things merino seacell

i make things merino seacell

i make things BFL

i make things BFL

I am really loving this yarn, it was an experiment. It involves mixing up a crapton of dye and was very fiddly but I think the results are worth it.

i make things worsted

i make things worsted

Kidlet was particularly handsome today so I made him submit to an impromptu shoot before I took him to camp.

I love this outfit – Jenn got him that shirt and I think it’s hysterical.


Cheesy fake smile.



I’ve never really converted my pictures to black and white before – it’s much, MUCH more forgiving. Why haven’t I done this sooner?!

“Look up. No, higher. Don’t tilt your chin up, just look up with your eyes.”



To try to get him to smile I asked him what would make him happy and he said, “Strawberries!” so I said to him, “Think about strawberries!”



He is truly his mother’s son.



God, I love that kid. More than life itself.


Joy’s visit! July 7, 2009

Posted by jeninmaine in dyeing, food, spinning.
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It’s hard to believe that tomorrow is Joy’s last full day here in Maine. Wahhh! We’ve had a great time even though we’ve only had about a day and a half of not-rain in the entire time she’s been here. Talk about a bummer. I really wanted to make it back to the beach again and do some quality sitting around on the deck around the chimnea but sadly it just isn’t to be. Next time.

Yesterday we did a whole lot of dyeing – we took advantage of the nice weather Monday afforded and the empty counter tops in my kitchen thanks to the ant invasion. Poor Joy – she’s had to deal with ants and all of my kitchen appliances sitting out on the floor in the extension while we battle them. I tried the greenish way of getting rid of them by putting Borax out for them to presumably eat and carry back to the nest, eradicating the whole mess of them, but after a week there were even more ants partying down on the counters than there were before so Michael bought some sort of highly toxic ant bait that resulted in scores of dead ants piled around them the next morning. Hmph, fine.

Joy just pointed out that in their zeal to escape the toxic poison, the ants actually crawled up into the Borax traps and expired there. What an insult.

Anyway. Dyeing. We scored a couple of bags of yarnz from the LYS, I guess I can say she’s my supplier now as she gives me a sweet discount if I buy in bulk. We also cracked open the 22# bump of Falkland I’ve had stashed for a couple of months awaiting Joy’s arrival. I’ve weighed out at least thirty 4-ounce bundles and the damned thing is still bigger than Margaret.

We set up a couple of kettles on the stove, a few crock pots and I have a lidded enamel turkey roasting pan that fits two skeins of yarn or four ounces of roving. We started a bit late around 3pm as I was anal retentive about setting everything up and in the next 3-4 hours dyed around 25 skeins of yarn and at least 10 bundles of roving. Honestly I’ve lost count. They were hanging outside on the clothes dryer, warming happily in the late day sunlight so we left them overnight figuring they could finish fluffing in the morning. Sadly we woke to find it pouring outside so we’re considering adding the descriptor “rinsed in pure Maine rainwater” when we list them to sell. My house is currently filled with hung up bits of wool dripping water all over the place. It’s sort of homey in a “crazy yarn lady” way.

For further confirmation that someday we will indeed take over the world, Joy and I discovered that we have very distinct and different methods of dyeing that yield unique results. It’s kind of cool – the stuff I prefer to do isn’t what she prefers to do and vice versa. It sure made it easier as we weren’t fighting over resources. She also brought her Cushing’s dyes with which I had very much fun. If we could accomplish what we did in just a few concentrated hours, I can’t even imagine what we could get done in a permanent dye studio 2-3 times a week for, say, five hours at a time. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for that invisible trans-US bridge from Montana to Maine.

I am tippy tapping away on Joy’s swanky laptop (of which I am covetous) while she sits beside me on the couch knitting a really giant bag. No, it’s really giant. Like I could fit both of my kids in it giant, with room for the cat. She’s going to felt it when she’s done knitting (it has to get to three FEET long, like whoa) and I feel bad for her washing machine. Maybe I’ll recommend she go to the laundromat.

Another yay fiber thing was finding some amazing waste roving at the fiber gallery – they had a huge trash bag full for 0.75 an ounce, I’m not sure what it is but it’s snow white and so soft. It’s from the Jagger mill so it’s not perfect like combed top, but I combined some of it with some colorful silk/cashmere mill waste and it spun up in a super soft, nubbly and wonderful yarn. So wonderful in fact that we went back today so I could buy three more pounds of the stuff. It was even cheaper with the volume discount.

I used the studio’s drum carder to card up a bunch of it – I had sat and hand carded probably about twenty batts last week and was tired of it. I really need a drum carder someday, talk about useful. Anyway I got a huge bag of the stuff for a song and I love it. I’ll have to see if it felts, I’m pretty sure it will.

After visiting the fiber gallery we headed back to Kennebunkport as we were on a mission to find Cushing’s. I had to call for directions as the rain started coming down so hard I couldn’t see the lines on the road. We did make it there and now I know exactly where it is so I can finagle a visit there when we bring the kids (“Oh look honey! Cushing’s just so happens to be right there! I’ll just be a minute.”).

We rang the doorbell and I wasn’t sure what to expect – it was housed in a gorgeous old farmhouse and barn in a very swanky part of town. The woman who answered the door, Jillian, was probably one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. She was so happy to help us find dye and talk about dye and show us the sample book and talk about dye some more, not to mention she called us “girls” which instantly make me like her because I’m shallow.

We bought dye, of course, and since we came to the studio she put my name in their files so I will now and forever receive the volume discount even if I’m just ordering one packet of dye. That totally rocks! While we were chatting Jillian said, “Hey! Let me get you some dye technique handouts!” and came back with a sheaf of paper covering eighteen different methods. We both stood there with our eyes wide and thanked her. I practically clicked my heels together. I also wanted to try rug hooking so I bought a very small kit and asked if I could have a different background color and she said, “Sure!” and swapped out the wool strips and cut me a new backing on the spot. Talk about customer service! This place could be very dangerous – less than an hour away and super nice. Definitely worth the trip, Joy and I couldn’t stop talking about it as we drove away.

By this point we were ready to gnaw off our own arms out of hunger so we drove up Route 1 and discovered there are a hell damn shit lot of antique stores on Route 1. And tires. And dentists. And storage facilities. DO THESE PEOPLE NOT EAT?! We nearly stopped at a “saloon” (no shit, it was really called a saloon) until we saw a creepy middle aged gentleman leaning out of the open porch in the pouring rain staring at us. Joy held her arms out in front of her with her hands splayed open and said, “No!” Then we saw the attached seedy motel and the signs “no burnouts – no loud acceleration” and decided that perhaps this wasn’t the kind of place for us.

We ended up in a shitty little joint in Biddeford that proudly advertised “PIZZA – SANDWICHES – FRIED FOODS” on the sign outside and discovered that chicken takes a long time to cook. Either that or the dude behind the counter just didn’t want to make chicken right now. I mean, come on, it’s a fucking fryolator for cripes’ sake. We ate something edible and drank something potable and used a bathroom that was nasty (no, not together) and then hit the road.

On the way back we stopped in Portland to pick up our mugs from the paint-your-own-ceramics place, which was cool, then came home. I got one of those befrigged culinary chain letter “Amish Friendship Bread” starters from Jenn and had finally gotten around to baking the bread this morning so we had some of that, which was good (the kids friggin loved it) and I sneaked a bag of starter into Joy’s stuff to take home, heh heh. She said later, “You know, I’ll take one of those starters if you want me to,” and I replied, “Yeah…I already put it in your stuff.” Hopefully it won’t explode all over her suitcase on the plane.

Whew. Well, that’s a lot of what we’ve been up to. I’m going to relinquish Joy’s laptop back to her and I’ll probably update again once I’m back to work on Thursday (wah) since I’ll have to turn my computer on again eventually.

Fiber News April 16, 2009

Posted by jeninmaine in Crafty, dyeing, Etsy, spinning.
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I traded a Ravelry friend, Jesh, who has a super cool Etsy shop for one of her drop spindles. I traded her moneys and some merino/seacell fiber I dyed to her specs:

For Jesh

For Jesh

The spindle she made for me is so pretty and she included a little sample of baby camel fiber. Wow, that stuff is so very soft and spins like a dream! I don’t really use a drop spindle all that often but I love her stuff. I figure it’ll be a good thing to have for times I can’t use my wheel.

Here it is:

In other news I’ve been working on some new fiber, this is superwash Blue Faced Leicester from Frog Hair Fibers:


This is next in line once I’m done with that, also from the same seller, superwash merino:


And just because shots of Lego Darth Vader and fiber arts amuses me, I give you Darth Crafty:

Darth Crafty

Adventures in time management March 4, 2009

Posted by jeninmaine in Crafty, dyeing, Etsy.
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I don’t have a whole lot to report this week. Kids have been good, work has been all right – after doing that massive push all day Monday through 3am Tuesday and getting through everydamnthing I had due, things have been a breeze. I’ve felt a lot more relaxed and am actually enjoying troubleshooting and quoting new work. I’m still feeling pretty tired but it was worth it.

On the heels of that I started thinking about crafty stuff more, namely that I want to be making more in my “spare” time (and I use the word loosely since I don’t feel like I have much to spare, if any at all). I don’t have time to sit down and spin right now, hopefully that will change, but I have been moving along on that sweater for Mim which is a nice feeling. There are going to be SO MANY ends to run in, yuck. I also thought about dyeing as I have a ton of yarn and roving sitting around waiting to be dyed.

Late Sunday night (isn’t it always late Sunday night when I feel most inspired) I took out my dye stuff and just started doing it. Then Monday I kept the ball rolling, I found a few methods that I can work on in 5-10 minute bursts, which made me able to integrate them into my regular workday. Every time I’d go to the kitchen to warm up my cup of coffee or get something to eat I’d do a little dye work. I did this “occasional” dye work Monday and Tuesday, and today I did a little first thing in the morning, then washed and hung what I’d already dyed and tonight I just now threw some stuff in that I’ll take out in an hour and leave to cool overnight.

I think I’ve hit a bit of a stride with this, and I’m hoping that 5 out of 7 days I can be doing some sort of processing whether it be winding skeins, rinsing dyed fiber, dyeing stuff, etc. It’s true what they say about “slow and steady wins the race” – I’ve managed to get a lot more done in bits and pieces than if I’ve tried to set time aside to do a whole lot at once. I can’t think too much about larger-brainpower projects like spinning and plying at the moment, I just don’t have it in me.

Anyway this is what my dining room looked like this afternoon and it makes me happy. Tuesday was definitely a fuchsia red purple kind of day and today was a forest kind of day.

Dyeing, ongoing

Dyeing, ongoing

Not too shabby – it’s not earth-shattering, but I think it’s pretty good considering I’m working a full-time job and taking care of kids when I’m not working. I got a lot of laundry done today, too, which made me happy.

Okay, one artsy fartsy shot for you. I really liked the colors in this one:

Dyeing, ongoing

My next goal: in bed by 11pm. It’s 9:25 now, I’ll turn off the roving at 10:30, brush my teeth and go to bed. In the meantime I think I’ll knit and watch a little teevee.

Tons of crafty and kid photos. November 19, 2008

Posted by jeninmaine in bebeh, dyeing, Etsy, kidlet, Ravelry, spinning.
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I finally have a good bunch of photos of what I’ve managed to work on lately.

First, let’s start with a cheesecake shot of the yarn I had laid out on the table.

Cheesecake shot

Ahh, yarn. It looks kind of neat like that, and even neater knowing I made all of it.

Here’s all the yarn packed up and ready to be shipped out. The white box is half a dozen whoopie pies from Labadie’s – because I’m sorry but a whoopie pie just isn’t authentic unless it’s from Labadie’s. I find it funny that on their website they sell them for $24.95 a dozen (plus shipping) but if you buy them from the retail bakery they’re $0.50 apiece for six or $5.00 a dozen. Nom.

Packed up

Here’s the box! All told it was about nine pounds, so if you take out six whoopie pies that’s still a lot of yarn.

Boxed up

Joy received the box just fine today, whew! Here’s some excerpts that made me laugh. D is her coworker:


Joy: D is rolling around on the floor in my office.

Joy: WHOOPIE PIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Joy: Woot!

O.k. I’ll stop yelling now.

Joy: D is freaking out.

Joy: O.k. so D is kind of totally fucking freaking out. (this one made me guffaw for reals)

Joy: Hehe, so the mail guy is standing there and he puts the box down and I grab it and make a run for it and he hollers “Wait! Wait wait wait! I have to scan that!”

I lurve her. :D :D :D

Moving on – some of you may remember the big fluffy pink and orange batt I cranked on Joy’s drum carder.

Fiber from my MT trip

Last night I wanted to do some spinning and that batt was speaking to me. It said, “Spin me slubby!” Now I’ve never spun a slubby yarn on purpose, I tend to be somewhat anal retentive and as a result can’t relax and spin anything that isn’t as close to perfectly uniform as I can get it. Which frankly pisses me off about myself. So I tried really hard and managed to spin the slubbiest single I’ve ever spun. I think it came out really pretty – I’m not sure if I should ply it or just leave it the way it is.


I think I like it – it was definitely a LOT faster just going to town on it and I enjoyed the process. I’ll have to do this more often and get better at it.

I also buckled down and finished the teensy bit of that purple merino I’ve had sitting around forever, it was literally about half an ounce left sitting in the basket.

On the bobbin

I plan to ply this with another single of the same thing. I’m not sure if I’ll spin another 4 ounce bump or just ply this one on itself, in any case I’ve set it aside to work on later so I don’t get burned out.

I ALSO also practiced Navajo plying. I had a couple hundred yards of single on a bobbin with no home so I cleared that off and tried to get the hang of a new skill. It wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t post detailed closeups, so here you go:

Navajo ply practice

Navajo ply practice

Okay, that last one looked good but here’s the reality – I had a few trainwrecks. You can see I even got my own HAIR in it. Nice.

Navajo ply practice

Overall though I think I’m starting to get it. I need to slow down as the resulting yarn is extremely kinky. Maybe I’ll ply something else around it and make aht yahn.

Last but not least, what is to come! I got some amazing, AMAZING rovings from The Loopy Ewe that were made by Creatively Dyed – what a fantastic customer service experience and what incredible rovings!

Ugh, they’re so pretty I can hardly stand it. 70% superwash merino, 30% seacell fiber. These are 8 ounce rovings, too, which means they’re HUGE.

Be Mine:

Creatively Dyed roving

So In Love:

Creatively Dyed roving

I have a second bundle of So In Love since I adored this colorway so much – last night I slivered it up to get it ready to spin. I discovered that it twists and kinks very easily due to being so soft and floaty, it was tough to split it the entire length but I managed all right. I can’t wait to see how it spins up!

Creatively Dyed roving

So, that’s it. I hope that was enough photos for you fiber enthusiasts. I do have one last photo – I had placed my wheel in front of the window to take photos, then moved it over when I was done. I looked down and thought it looked kind of artsy and the light was better so I took a few shots of it next to my table. The plaids of my cheapo Goodwill tablecloth and my tattered fug chairs clash a bit but overall I like it.

On the bobbin

Erm, ignore that Cheerio.

Last but certainly not least, I was browsing some of my other Flickr photos and came across two of my kids that I thought bore comparison. My finest works in progress: