Welcome

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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Hello, World


Posted at 07 Sep 2013 12:10:42 PM




Mark H--
08/26/2013 8lbs 9oz 21"




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February Song


Posted at 16 Feb 2013 02:57:54 PM

Hello, blog. We're back.

I'm grateful for the previously mentioned bit of time off from this blog and other crafty pursuits. It truly was necessary due to personal issues in September and October, and shortly thereafter we discovered that a new family member will be arriving in mid-2013. I didn't quite realize what exhaustion felt like before enduring the last few months -- and other moms tell me that what I think I know about exhaustion now is laughable compared to what life is like with a newborn. I, er ... think I'm excited? Heh.

Regardless, as long as energy allows, I'll be getting back in the craft saddle shortly. A new section of spindles should be available soon in my Etsy shop soon, and lo - Stringtopia 2013 approaches! I'm not missing that come hell, high water or sleep deprivation.

And speaking of Stringtopia, Abby has been kind enough to link to this site in this year's Stringtopia post. Given that, let's talk about knitting.

I've started a long-anticipated project: Windsbraut - Sommerwind. Over two years ago -- seriously -- I spun the yarn for this project. It was before I had ever taken a Longwools class with Beth Smith, before a Stringtopia, before any real videos from Interweave or any sort of formal training. I think I may have read some forum posts on Wensleydale.

My Ravelry notes on the original 2011 stash entry aren't encouraging, but as I wound the yarn this morning I can't find fault with it. Maybe it's due to the passage of time, and that two years later I'm less intimately connected with the yarn than I was immediately after I'd spun it. My honest opinion is that I could have plied it harder but it's Good Yarn. It handled being wound and rewound like a champ. As I've started knitting with it on US5's my only impression is that I really ought to go up a needle size. Wensleydale is, after all, hairy and as one would do with Mohair, one should do with Wensleydale.


Click to embiggen


The goal is to finish it for Stringtopia this year.

For completed FOs, there isn't been much of interest. I started a Tweezle for a friend's baby, but discovered (again!) that I am completely incapable of weaving in ends competently with acrylic yarn. The problem is compounded when the pattern in question involves stripes -- even more ends. Ultimately I started at the finished pieces for a couple of weeks and then decided the stress wasn't worth it; I threw them in the bin and went shopping from her registry.

Remind me of this episode next time I contemplate knitting for a non-knitter, please. Acrylic is a lovely thing these days and I have nothing against it - but top-down unstriped raglans only.

I did finish this tatted doily, but appear to have sent it off to live with its new owner before taking a proper photo of it:


Whoops. It's finished, really!


It took A Long Time, but I was pleased with the final doily. All shuttle tatted using my favorite shuttle: a Victorian gersilver one piece shuttle which has a spot on it for the owner's name to be engraved, but was left blank. It may have been surplus stock which was never sold, or perhaps the engraving was an extra cost which the original owner couldn't afford. I like it that way because I don't feel as though I'm using someone else's toys without permission.

I knitted a sweater for Rhinebeck - by which I mean I finished it in mid-October, flew to New York, and wore it while driving past Rhinebeck en route to the King Arthur Flour Baking Center in Vermont. The pattern is Paper Dolls by Kate Davies, and it is above reproach.



My mom and I spent the weekend nearby and took several classes, learned quite a lot, explored the surrounding area, ate in hole-in-the-wall restaurants, and as expected had a fabulous time. Dan has commented on the improvement in my sandwich white bread, and I hope to try for bread bowls soon.


It fits!


Stay tuned - shawl progress coming soon! Keep me honest, readers.




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Fall 2012


Posted at 16 Oct 2012 01:13:32 PM

Life has risen up to bite us lately here in Casa Cybermenology, and there hasn't been much knitting, spinning or crafting. Even the tatting project which I showed you last is only a few inches larger. Any brainpower which still remains with me at the end of the work day is being put toward recovering and maintaining our emotional health. And laundry. Laundry never ends.

I keep up with all of your blogs, of course, and please be assured that even if my output is low, I am still inspired by all of your lovely projects!

In August I did a Habitat for Humanity with my team through my job. It was a really great experience, and I'm looking forward to doing another one next year. And hey, I know how to hang drywall now! It was approximately 105* F that day, and rather than working everyone until we dropped, the supervisor told us after lunch that we were done for the day. We went and had a couple of beers in a (cold! air-conditioned!) bar on Main Street in St Charles -- and that left me conveniently down the street from Knit and Caboodle.

They had a packet of dyed magenta mohair locks from Pagewood Farm. Sometime back I bought an ounce or so of dyed purple mohair locks from Mandy of The Cloistered Lamb. It seemed like a sign!

I combed the two together and pulled the result into top and spun it tight and worsted. I plied it with bleached tussah and the result, I think, is pretty. The magenta gives the purple some depth without being variegated. I could have plied it harder, but if that's my only complaint..


370 yards, mohair/silk laceweight.


During the last weekend of September I threw off my apathy long enough to pick up a squooshy braid of Frabjous Fibers - Merino Sparkle top (also procured, if memory serves, from that same trip to Knit & Caboodle). Merino isn't my favorite fiber to spin, but when combined with silk and some firestar it can make my heart sing :) This was a little bit compacted (very unusual for Frabjous, believe me) but that added to my overall goal. I couldn't spin it thin, and didn't want to be spinning it for long, so I stripped it lengthwise and spun 250 yards of a worsted to bulky 2ply.


Squishableness. It's good for the soul.


I tell myself that I'm not a fan of multicoloured yarns, but find my stash lacking in interesting things from which to knit hats or cowls. I think that I'm inconsistent. :-)

D and I took a trip to Taos, NM for the Taos Sheep and Wool Festival. I took a class with Galina Khmeleva on Russian supported spindle spinning. I am still pretty bad at it! Amazed at how much of a new skill it was... once you think that you're pretty good at something, it's interesting to be thrown into the deep end again to learn something entirely new. It was nice to be around fiber people again.

You can't fault the scenery of Colorado and New Mexico. Everywhere you looked was breathaking -- literally, we were at 8,000 feet!



We flew into Denver but stayed in Red River. It was a beautiful area, and was less than an hour to Taos. We only had a few days there and I would love to have more time. Next year, I hope.


It was Octoberfest that weekend. Bonus!



Baldy Mountain and Touch-Me-Not


A few months back I picked up a Fleegle Beader and have not yet put it to use. A big grand Shipwreck-sized project is beyond me right now. Nevertheless, I will persist.

Mandy had made me a lavender batt some time ago in exchange for a couple of spindles. I don't seem to have taken any pictures of it - and it was so pretty, with a matching ribbon! - but this weekend I decided that since it was small and colourful, it wouldn't demand much of me and I could probably spin it in a day or two.

I was right. It became 350 yards of slightly textured laceweight yarn, and in order to get some usable yardage (and also because spinning up something to ply with it required more forethought than I'd had), I left it as singles. They're overspun for "ideal" singles, but I'm not bothered. I think that it will make a lovely small shawl.


Welcome to my bathroom counter.


I have my eye on Graciella (Ravelry link). To get the best out of my yardage and to use my shiny new Fleege Beader, I will use beads, instead of nupps.

This Thursday I will be taking a trip to New York, and from thence with my Mom to Vermont to the King Arthur Baking mothership. We will be taking classes on bread baking on Saturday and Sunday. I'm very out of practice with bread, but expect that I will get some good experience from the classes. And can you imagine a whole weekend in a place that smells like rising bread? YUM.

My snowflake sweater is coming along. Only a few inches of sleeve are left, and I'm hoping to have it finished by the time I leave for New York. I am on vacation from work this week so in theory, that's totally doable. In reality I am distracted by things like playoff baseball and finishing yarn.


Paper Snowflakes and Ouiser the Dog


This may be one of the last pictures with our dog, Ouiser. He is fine (I hope) but we have had to give him to a new home in order to get things more simple around here. He is still on a "three day trial" to make sure that he gets along with their existing dog. However, this was day two and I haven't had any warning phone calls, so probably this is how things will stay. I am very sad, but hope that he will be well loved in his new home.




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She turned me into a newt!


Posted at 08 Feb 2012 05:45:50 PM

I think I'll blame newts for my absence. Or gnomes. Gnomes are good.

Really, it's a combination of work and inability to even look at the computer when I get home for anything more than half an hour or so of catching up on blogs. I always swore that I would never get tired of being on the computer - that working was just the warmup: the real fun started afterwards, and 4-6 hours of computer games was a perfectly normal day.

Let's just say, we've scaled back a bit.

In the last few months, I've finished two cardigans, a lace shawl, a handful of random amigurimi most of which were Christmas presents, and currently have a shawl, a pullover and a neverending pair of mittens on the needles.

Tonight, I finished skeining up a very longrunning project: 4.6oz of rainbow-dyed Polwarth from Perchance to Spin, and ~6oz of black Polwarth from The Painted Tiger. Brooke at the Painted Tiger was particularly nice to me, since it's apparently really, really hard to dye fiber solid black.

I think that it came out rather well, actually.






The grand total is in the neighborhood of 1494 yards. I'm hoping to make MMario's Queen Anne's Lace - I think the simple pattern will emphasize the looooong color repeats.

I've finished some tatting, too. There are a couple of patterns which I need to add to the sidebar, but I'm having some difficulties with my SSH access. They'll be up as soon as I can.






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Proof that the universe has a sense of humor:


Posted at 14 Mar 2011 06:25:52 AM

I'm getting ready to leave for work, and what do I see outside?

SNOW.




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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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Now this is a lovely lunch (with apologies for glare)


Posted at 21 Dec 2010 12:28:28 PM



Lunch was an extra Philly roll from Drunken Fish; the pattern is free from TotusMel; the book is Lion in the Valley by Elizabeth Peters. All were very enjoyable!


Footnote to last night's entry: the movie was passed over in favor of the Blues/Canucks game. We lost, but no matter. LET'S GO BLUES!




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Exceptional


Posted at 20 Dec 2010 07:53:12 PM

Last night (or, perhaps, very early this morning) I finished weaving in the ends of the last of this years' Christmas presents.

As yesterday I had promised myself sushi if I finished the edging, tonight I took myself off to the Drunken Fish and am now very full of edamame, makimono, tea and really exceptional amounts of pickled ginger. Thank goodness for waitresses who leave one alone with her dinner and her ebook reader for long stretches at a time!

Taking myself out to dinner is really one of my favorite things to do.

It was a banner day on other fronts, as well - I picked up my new spinning wheel on the way home from work! It is a Kromski Prelude, and I expect that putting it together will be an ordeal - Susan said "only an hour!" but she does it several times a year. I expect it will take me rather longer.

The, ahem, present has been soaking in the washing machine for a couple of hours now, so I am off to drain it and see what magic blocking will work. Perhaps I will also put in my favorite Pride and Prejudice movie* and do some tatting, and really round out a perfect day.

* The icon is wrong; I just don't have a Greer Garson one. Must rectify that...




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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!