I'm Laura. I am female, 31, a gamer, a bookworm, a knitter, a spinner, a tatter, pierced, tattooed, musical, vehemently geeky and occasionally ineptly artistic.


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Chai Tea

Posted at 03 Feb 2011 06:45:35 PM

You know you're a terrible blogger when you can't think what you last posted.

So! We've been more or less snowed in this week (my car more, D's less) and my back is getting sore from sitting nearly 10 - 12 hours per day in my computer chair. This is one of the hazards of working from home, and then diving straight into WoW once the laptop hibernates. Note to self: purchase vehicle with 4WD before next winter.

The last two weeks have been unbelievably hectic at work, and consequently I chose to do two long and fairly work-intensive projects at home, just to keep things lively. Project #1 was the Great Coaster Project.

I was captivated by the Fabric Coasters group on Flickr, and wanted to make my own. What a great way to use up the fabric stash! The lady at the local quilting shop was a great help in choosing interfacing, too. We chose something which was thick enough to absorb moisture from cups but thin enough that it would lie flat.

I paired them with pretty dark cerulean mugs and a few different types of tea, as presents at the family Christmas party last weekend. I'm pleased that everyone seemed to think they were a neat idea.

Bonus: I have leftover Pomegranate, Chai and Wild Sweet Orange teas! Now, to make some coasters for ourselves...

Also for last weekend I decided to tackle Candied Oranges. I've never made them before, but the picture in this recipe was irresistible and I knew I had to give them a try for the next party.

It's a two week process wherein you soak the thin-sliced oranges in supersaturated sugar syrup, then set them to dry, coat them in sugar and 60% dark chocolate, and inflict them upon the unsuspecting public.

The unsuspecting public didn't seem to mind; I came home with an empty bowl and many compliments.

Next year, I think I'll give blood oranges and grapefruit a try - the former will be pretty, and the latter could be an intriguing sweet and sour combination. Some liked the chocolate, and some would have preferred it without... I'll do both next time.

I have a couple of shawls and a pair of gloves OTN. Every time I go outside in my new winter coat I am reminded that I really ought to get cracking on those gloves; unfortunately they are a construction which has you doing the fingers early on in the process, so I am procrastinating.

I can show you the shawls, though.

This one is lovely to knit, and awful to look at. It's Alpaca with a Twist Fino in the "Blue Jeans" colorway, and it is one of those colorways which looks lovely in the skein and like llama barf when knitted up. I swear there's a pattern in here somewhere!

This is being knit in a very interesting yarn which I acquired from the lovely QuantumTea a few weeks ago at Knit Morning. It's 70% Milk protein, 30% Silk, feels like a dream, knits up nicely but sort of oddly, and I have no idea of how it will block.

(Did somebody say "block your swatch"? Swatch? What swatch?)

It is totally unlike wool when being knit. It doesn't "scrunch in" at all - it's much more like silk in that it mostly just stays where you put it. It definitely has some stretch, so we'll see what it grows up to be!

The pattern is from Heirloom Knitting - right now it's all Cats' Paws. I'm planning on doing a full-on Shetland shawl, with this being the center and later I will bind it off, pick up the sts, do a border which is still in the Excel charting stage, and then knit on an edging.

And now, I need to get out of this desk chair for awhile.

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A Christmas Picture Post

Posted at 12 Aug 2012 08:18:25 AM

Happy 2011 everyone! There are no resolutions happening here in Casa Confusion, but we did have a nice holiday and some good accomplishments. So much time has passed that I don't feel like I have a good theme for this post - too much ground to cover - so bear with me if this seems more like a photo dump.

First up is the Christmas gift that D requested - straight out of Despicable Me:

Here's the top of his little head:

Pattern: Despicable Minion by Wolfdreamer
Yarn: RHSS
Hook: Um... the blue one (world's worst crocheter, right here). Probably G or H?
Modifications: None, really. I think I made him taller than the default pattern called for, and the mouth is different. The pattern includes a lot of ways to modify the little guys!

Next is the blanket which I made for my parents, and which I've been positively sitting on until I knew that it had made it to New York safely! It's alpaca/wool for warmth and comfort, and a very snuggly blanket if I say so myself.

Pattern: Serenity
Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca
Needles: US #7 (4.5mm)
Modifications: I doubled or perhaps tripled the size as written, which required me to hack & dice the charts up rather a lot. I threw out the original edging and replaced it with an extra cable twist and a knitted-on cable edging.

For Christmas I received a very lovely and stately little spinning wheel: the Kromski Prelude. I went up to Susan's and tried out several wheels, and this was the one I liked best in feel, looks and size.

My lovely little Kromski Prelude

I've been practicing with some undyed merino/silk to get the hang of it, and moved on to plying up some of what I had in the Plying Pile to get the hang of the counterclockwise thing.

A subset of the Plying Pile. Huacaya alpaca, 4 out of 6oz of the hot pink merino, and 4oz of purpleish white merino/bamboo

So, while on some extraordinarily lousy conference calls last week, I managed to spin up the last of the merino/silk, ply it, and move on to plying the spindle-spun huacaya alpaca from Strange Folk Fest. They were an interesting experience: I spun the merino/silk quite worsted and plied it tightly, but spun the alpaca woolen and plied it just past balanced.

And of course, I had help.

Endora Cat.

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It's not really cold and rainy anymore.

Posted at 03 Feb 2011 07:31:46 PM

While my peppermint tea is steeping on this cold, rainy day, I feel like I should write a blog post. All around me people are jumping into NaNoWriMo (or alternatively, NaBloPoMo) and here my blog sits: neglected.

Thank you all for the lovely comments on Snowflakes! I joke about how long it took, but really I do feel like I've accomplished something. However, the astute or stalkerish among you will probably have noticed that my comments to that project on Ravelry start with "This is my giant square shawl warm-up, so to speak.". Yes - with Snowflakes off the needles, I am in theory supposed to be resuming work on Queen Susan. And Evenstar. Hah! (I'll let you know how that goes. After Christmas, most likely.)

Just because Christmas is right around the corner, I've been knitting away picked up a new hobby. I'll pause while you marvel at my superb sense of timing.

Needle tatting. Easier than you think!

I really have been knitting: trouble is, it's a) secret and b) hard on my hands, so it's slow going. Here, I'll show you a sneak peek:

I just love this cable!

I finished a BSJ for the Thursday night KAL at Hearthstone Knits. The vast majority of the knitting was done while my brother and I were driving to and from Ohio a couple of weekends ago. The yarn is Regia Hand-dye Effect, and I love the colors but I'm not crazy about the texture. It's essentially a very loosely spun single plied with a black thread, and it's coarser than I expected. I'm not at all sure how it will hold up.

It goes more quickly than you think!

While DH and I were in St Thomas a couple of weekends ago for the wedding of some wonderful friends, I needed some plane knitting (not to be confused with plain knitting). I have a sock OTN, of course, but I'm having problems with it because I just don't seem to be able to internalize the pattern. Also, it's on wooden dpns and I really hate wooden dpns. (Admittedly, if the first problem were more soluble I would be more inclined to solve the second.)

So, I brought the next best thing: lace.

The swatch for Mystic Desire, originally a mystery KAL from Anna Dalvi. I forgot to bring the shawl upstairs for the photo-fest this morning.

I've been spinning more than knitting lately. My "to-ply" pile is growing larger... I tell myself that I'm just waiting until I get my spinning wheel at Christmas from Spunsilver Creations. The problem with that, obviously, is that I'm going to need to spin for awhile on it in order to get the feel of it, which means MORE singles...

That's 3oz of hot pink merino, 4oz of purple and whiter merino/bamboo, 1 Abbybatt in Girly Camo which is waiting for a plying friend, and half of the huayaca alpaca from Strange Folk Fest.

I did have enormous fun at this month's Spinning Meet-up! A couple of people kindly brought their drum carders, and allowed us to make all kinds of batts from the huge pile of donated fibers. (I got rid of a few bags of random merino and sari silk that way.)
I wasn't really in the market for an art batt, but I did have some problematic suri alpaca - the same that I tried to spin for Tour de Fleece and failed because it categorically refused to draft. It wasn't felted, exactly, but was so compacted that it was unpleasant if not close to impossible to spin.

However... A drum carder and a bit of similarly long-stapled tussah later, and I cannot WAIT to get back to it!

It feels as good as it looks!

Hopefully I will be able to borrow the carder again next month to do the 2nd half of the alpaca. (Anyone know of a drum carder for sale? ;-) )

We're gearing up for the new World of Warcraft expansion on Dec. 7th. I'm really loving the redesign of Stormwind (well, the melting parapets are disconcerting, but visually the city is unbelievable). The reorganization of the zones, etc, is going to take some getting used to but overall it's not the massive change that I'd feared. I'm leveling my hunter to get a feel for the new order of things.

Cheers for now!

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FO: Snowflakes in Cedarwoods

Posted at 12 Oct 2010 07:00:23 PM

It's hard to know how to start blog posts like these.


We'll go with "Done", then, and see where it gets us.

Pattern: Snowflakes in Cedarwoods by Anne Hanson
Yarn: Baruffa Cashwool, 3000 yards
Needles: Circular US #3 for the body, Circular US #2 + US #2 DPN for the edging

( Click for the rest )

I've some more photos from the same shoot, different project - but those will have to wait another couple of weeks to see the light of day. Stay tuned!

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My world is unending.

Posted at 22 Sep 2010 09:31:37 AM

Snowflakes, last week:

Snowflakes, 30 minutes ago:

It will never end.

...The only problem is: my yarn might.

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I'm not dead yet

Posted at 22 Aug 2010 11:56:03 AM

I'm not dead, I promise. I may have dropped off of Facebook and my AIM presence is sporadic, but I'm still here - knitting, spinning and occasionally getting out of the house.

More of the latter than the former, it seems. We sweated last weekend while watching the Cards soundly beat the Cubs, and yesterday I went along with D while his bike group went on a half-day ride around St Louis and some of the state parks to the south. (Note to weather: stop being hot. Please?)

Next weekend we'll be in Iowa, and the weekend after that in New York. I think it slows down after that.. but don't quote me.

Despite my newly-renewed resolution to experience more than what I can see from my computer chair, I've actually gotten quite a bit done. It didn't feel like much at the time, but when gathered up like this I look rather productive:

( Click for the rest )

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Tour de Fleece, day 11, and FO: The Math Hat

Posted at 13 Jul 2010 08:17:09 PM

Bob Sheppard, the only Voice of Yankees baseball I can remember, passed away on July 11th.

George Steinbrenner passed away today of a heart attack.

Needless to say, this is not a good week for Yankees baseball. They both contributed so much to the team and to the sport, and will sorely be missed. RIP, boys.

In happier news, I've hit the halfway mark on my Tour de Fleece spinning. I may have said earlier that it was 2oz of alpaca/merino; wrong. It's 4oz in total. The 2oz I've spun are already more than I've done in a month before (wheel spinners out there, stop laughing; I like my spindles!) and I'm happy with the singles thus far. They'll be chain plied (another new skill) as I couldn't be arsed to divide the pencil roving into 3 even piles beforehand.

Lest my stash get too small (I thought I said stop laughing!) I used a Groupie credit at The Loopy Ewe to buy a lovely 4.9 oz braid of Polwarth roving in Subdued Rainbow. I'm hoping to spin it up in laceweight looooooong color repeats, either divided for 2ply or chain plied.

I also picked up the yarn for the start of the knit and knag World Heritage KAL this fall, not because I have any hopes of starting on time, but because Jen the dyer has a 15% off sale running right now and I've been curious about the yarn since seeing it pop up in the Blocking thread on Rav. The yarn, lest I forget to tell you, is Nightfall from FibroFibers.

My knitting doesn't have much to show for itself lately, since my attentions are entirely focused on a secret project or two, neither of which will see the glowing light of your monitors until the end of the year. Rest assured, it's not just stash acquisition going on around here.

Oh! I nearly forgot.

Here: have a hat. I finished it last night (and hopefully it fits the recipient. It's certainly huge on me, which is a good sign). The goal was to have the grey stripes decrease at the same rate that the blue ones increased, while still ending up with a hat of a specified height.

This involved Math. Evil, evil math. I think this is Hat Mark 3. Hat Mark 3.5 if you count my first disastrous 150 stitch cast on...but I don't.

Pattern: my own, but the specifics are on Rav
Yarn: Berroco Lustra
Needles: US 4 for the ribbing, US 5 for the body.

I still have comment logging turned on, and I sincerely apologize if my website eats your comment or decides that you are spam. I'm trying to reproduce the problem so that I actually have some legit non-spam logs to look at, and hopefully fix this once and for all!

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Posted at 26 Jun 2010 10:46:29 AM

Is anyone else confused by Worldwide Knit in Public Day?

It's a concept which sounds so straight forward and yet is so mind boggling. For one thing, almost all of the cherished traditions of knitting and other fiberworking - just within my limited experience there's Fair Isle, Shetland/Orenburg/Estonian lace, Latvian mittens, Gansey sweaters, Peruvian spindling - come from countries where knitting was a household activity if not actively taught in school and performed daily for income. I cannot possibly believe that worldwide, it's necessary to demonstrate that knitting is a normal hobby.

They know already.

So, if we rename it to "American Knit in Public Day" ... It still doesn't make a whole lot of sense. We don't have a "Hunt in Public Day" or a "Make Miniature Railroad Cars in Public Day" (to my knowledge at least). What, exactly, are we trying to prove by taking this particular hobby to the streets?

If you want to dispell the myth that only grandmothers knit, try taking your crafting with you all the time. You'll reach a lot more people that way, and do it more subtly and effectively than a whole bunch of people having a knit-in on a subway or public landmark. That just comes off like LARPers do: "Oh hey, a whole bunch of people being weird in a group" rather than what I think is the intended effect: "Hey, someone doing something which is clearly a normal activity for them."

But hey, what do I know about making statements? I knit and spin every day in the lunchroom at my office, in line at the grocery store and in the waiting room at the optometrist's. Making a deliberate trip somewhere else to sit with strangers and do exactly what I would have been doing where I was doesn't make much sense.

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Maryland Sheep and Wool wrap-up

Posted at 05 May 2010 05:59:53 PM

I know that I won't be able to squeeze in all of the pictures that I want, but nobody can say that I won't try!

Last weekend, I drove out to Maryland to spend some time with my aunt, uncle and cousins, and oh yea -- to see some sheep!

To save everyone's page loading times, pictures are under the cut:

( Click for the rest )

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I made yarn!

Posted at 28 Apr 2010 04:44:07 PM

My very first handspun, thanks to Ali!

It's 34 yards of 2ply which average around worsted weight (maybe a bit heavier after having been washed). Spindle spun, plied on her Majacraft Rose. I don't know anything whatsoever about wheels, but hers was wonderful fun!

*cough* I want a spinning wheel now. This one.. *cough*

I'm hoping to get a lot of experience (and loot) this weekend at Maryland Sheep and Wool. It's rather a trek for me, so I'm leaving tomorrow afternoon directly from work, staying briefly in a hotel overnight, and doing the rest of the drive on Friday. I've been counting down the days, and let me tell you: I am stoked!!

I am remembering to bring my camera. We'll see whether I remember to use it.