Tuesday, May 30, 2006


My package arrived from my Knitters Tea Swap pal today. My pal
Lisa put together the most wonderful gift for me! Goodies included loose tea from her favorite tea shop, cinnamon cookies, and sour ball candy (which have already been consumed - ask my hubby where most of them went). Last but not least was gorgeous yarn in beautiful shades of green. I can't wait to settle in with a good book and a cup of my super special tea. Thanks so much to my tea swap pal for such a terrific package!

In other news, as promised....pics below are of skeins f
rom my first dye session ever...my camera phone doesn't reproduce colors well, so immerse yourself in their colorway names instead: "Merlot Sky" and "Misty Dune". I enjoyed dyeing so much I've already stocked up on more yarn to give it another go. I'm hoping with a bit of practice I'll be able to tangibly reproduce what I can only visualize at this point....

Monday, May 29, 2006

Dye O Rama Update

I finally had time this weekend for my first attempt at hand dyeing a skein passable enough to send to my Dye O Rama Pal. Three hours later, I learned two lessons:
  1. Nothing ever turns out quite like you imagined it would in your head. With any luck, at least 50% of the time it will be better.
  2. Absolutely every surface you look at while dyeing will become covered in dye, whether you remember touching it, or not.

Tonight, my kitchen has been cleaned, my stained fingers have been scrubbed, and my first two hanks are drying. Pictures to follow soon. Hope everyone had a nice holiday weekend!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Knitting Zoo

A Secret Pal exchange is much like a zoo. We're all confined by the same rules, arbitrarily matched with a caregiver and hoping for food. Yet, when you look beyond the bars, each of our personalities gleam with an individual glow that is solely our own. Now that Secret Pal 7 is over, I've had some time to reflect on what a diverse group we knitters are.

Part of my duties as hostess involved reading 80+ blogs on a regular basis. There were knitters, crocheters, general crafters and those who I never could quite figure out what they did. There were stories of marriages, divorces, babies, and the occasional nervous breakdown. Pictures depicted knitted sweaters, scarves, socks, and lots and lots and LOTS of Booga bags. Folks defined themselves as students, housewives (and husbands!), writers, artists, and business women. Some participants blogged with enthusiasm, while others tried their best to catalog their days into occasional words. Gifts aside, most everyone simply hoped their spoiler would reach out to them every so often with a kind word.

I learned a lot as a hostess. Organization, attention to detail, and more than a little patience come to mind. Mostly though, I learned about people. How to manage conflicting expectations, differing tastes, and methods of communication. How to reassure folks who are waiting, how to encourage folks who are trying, and how to gently admonish folks who have faltered. All in all, it was quite a gig. Best of luck to the zookeepers of SP8!!

Friday, May 05, 2006

SP8 Questionnaire

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?

I prefer knitting with soft, natural fibers (merino, alpaca or silk). I am also crazy about handspun yarns that are textural – the nubbier, slubbier the better. I am always on the lookout for new handspun/painted/dyed yarns from smaller distributors/farms. I usually steer clear of acrylics and novelty yarns (although they do have their occasional uses).

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?

I have a beautiful needle case, but I still store my needles in a big ziplock bag - I like the see-through-ness of the bag – if I can’t see it, I forget I have it. I'd love to get my hands on an Ashland Sky Knit Stick Sack.

3. How long have you been knitting? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?

Advanced beginner to intermediate – I know how to knit scarves, socks, and hats. I can felt a bag, knit cables and have tried my hand at lace. I'm working on my first adult sized sweater. Truthfully, I think I could knit 20 years and still consider myself a beginning knitter - to truly know the craft takes a lifetime.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?

Amazon list under "tocspaw" - http://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/ref=cm_gft_sub_wl/104-1778803-5483155?%5Fencoding=UTF8"

5. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products etc.)

I like lavender, citrus, and things that smell like rain.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?

I’m a candy junkie (faves are Sweettarts, Nerds, Smarties, Skittles, Starbursts). I love chocolate, too (although shipping chocolate to the Arizona desert intact might be a challenge). Please don’t send chocolate or coffee with flavored with nuts, though, due to severe allergies.

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?

I enjoy pretty much anything crafty (fiber arts, paper arts, etc.). I also work with various metals (silver, copper) forming jewelry/vessels, as well as with glass (stained glass, lampworking). I don't spin yet but I received a drop spindle as a gift so it's on my list of things to learn. I'm also taking a weaving class right now.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)

I am a music nut, have a bazillion CDs and am always looking to listen to something new. My tastes are a bit eclectic - alternative music, some pop, some new age instrumental, some opera. Pretty much anything but hip hop, rap, or country. My computer can play MP3s (I also have an I-pod).

9. What's your favorite color? Or--do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer? Any colors you just can't stand?

I love most earth tones and deep jewel tones – particularly brick reds, golds, deep greens, teals and purples. My least favorite shades include bright primary colors and pastels (baby blue, pale pink, mint green, etc.).

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?

I'm married to my high school sweetheart; currently we are in the process of adopting a daughter from China. I have a polydactyl Maine Coon kitty who's two years old in every sense of the word.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?

I live in the desert, so sadly, I don’t have much of a need for warm clothing. Inexplicably, that doesn’t stop me from knitting it. Now if it would just get cold enough to show it off…

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?

Lately, I’ve been knitting a little bit of everything - lace, socks, felting. I usually have one or two involved projects going on, and at least one I can knit in front of the TV.

13. What are you knitting right now?

A baby blanket for a friend (which I'm frantically trying to finish before her daughter makes her debut!)

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?

Love it!! There is nothing better than receiving a gift that someone put their heart and time into, imperfections and all.

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?

It depends on the project – I've got needles of all types that I use for different things.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?

I own a yarn winder, but not a swift.

17. How did you learn to knit?

I took a class at my LYS.

18. How old is your oldest UFO?

I finally finished my oldest UFO and shipped it off to the Red Scarf Project. My next oldest UFO is a crocheted blanket that I started before I learned to knit. I'm hoping to finish it up one of these days as soon as I can remember how to work the pattern.

19. What is your favorite holiday?


20. Is there anything that you collect?

Hand-blown glass Christmas ornaments
Unusual baskets
Things that sparkle, dangle, or look especially cool in miniature

21. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?

Books: My knitting library is pretty bare - the field of books I don’t have is wide open. See my Amazon list for wish ideas.

Yarns: I would like to try yarns from Mystical Creations and Brooks Farm, as well as Collinette Giotto, Koigu, Morehouse Merino, Alchemy Haiku, Diakeito Diamusee and Artyarns Ultramerino.

Silvia Harding - Diamond Fantasy Shawl
Silvia Harding - Shetland Garden Faroese Shawl
Fiddlesticks - Lotus Blossom Shawl
ChicKnits - Ribby Cardi
La Lana Patterns - The Wings of the Swan Ruana (as seen in INKnitters Fall ‘04)
Veronik Avery's Shawl Collar Cardigan pattern (Spring 2004 Interweave Knits)
Jaeger's Lily sweater pattern (JB40)

Needles: I’d love to try Lantern Moon ebony needles, but I’m too cheap to buy them for myself. DPNs in sizes larger than 4.

Miscellaneous: Susan Bates Wafer Thin stitch markers, Brittany cable needle

I have a subscription to Interweave Knits.

22. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?

Does how to knit faster so I could finish a WIP some time this year count? If not, I'd like to try Entrelac, and improve my finishing techniques.

23. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?

I do enjoy knitting (and wearing!) socks. I don’t know my exact foot measurements, but I wear a size 6 shoe (foot is approximately 9” long), and I like the cuff to be about 6” high.

24. When is your birthday? (mm/dd)

August 16.