I'm Laura. I am a gamer, a bookworm, a knitter, a spinner, a tatter, a seamstress, pierced, tattooed, musical, vehemently geeky and occasionally ineptly artistic. She/her.


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Pattern Release: Lebanon

Posted at 22 Mar 2015 01:17:05 PM

It's been a long journey to get here, but today I'm happy to announce that my newest pattern, Lebanon, is available from my Ravelry store!

A triangular shawl knit in a handspun fine laceweight singles yarn, with a consistent mesh lace stitch pattern and relatively large needles, this shawl is an introduction to knitting with a fine yarn. It features a knitted edging which allows you to make the most of a small amount of fiber, and begins at the longest edge, so the rows get shorter as you go!

I'm proud to have incorporated spinning techniques learned over the years at Stringtopia in Lebanon, Ohio into the yarn that made this shawl possible. I hope that you too will be inspired to learn new skills and join me on a journey to a beautiful shawl!


Pattern Link @ Ravelry:
I'll have hard copies listed in my Etsy shop shortly.
Thanks for bearing with me over this last year, and I hope that you like it!

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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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Unexpected Knitting

Posted at 12 Oct 2011 08:53:37 PM

It occurs to me that lately, my Ravelry feed is a more useful barometer of my continued productive existence than my own website. Maybe one of these days I'll try to code a WordPress-esque system for uploading photos and creating a WYSIWYG editor for myself; that might ease the process some.

So, have I been designing anything lately?

No, not so much. My job started out stressful and has become more so over the months and years, which sadly leaves me with little appetite for more work in Excel when I get home. I have sketches, but nothing to show you, dear readers.

An argument for design could be made for the rather large purple shawl which is now (finally) finished, but which I will claim no designer credit for as it was made up entirely of bits and pieces from Heirloom Knitting and an edging from Victorian Lace Today glued together by math.

Nevertheless, I'm happier with it now than I was when I finished it. It's big - easily 70" across - but wears rather well, I think. The yarn is a milk protein/silk blend, and I think it is possibly the most ridiculous yarn out of which to knit a traditional Shetland shawl - which is why I did it.

The bathroom at work is oh-so attractive...

Along the same theme of ridiculous lace knitting, I have acquired up some neon green Jade Sapphire wool laceweight, and I think it would make a fantastic Arsenic and Old Lace.

Along the way there's been a quickish Rock Island out of some of the grey cobweb yarn left over from my aborted attempt at The Queen Susan, the completion of the Twist Cardigan on which I'd been working for nearly two years and of which I have absolutely no good FO photos, a spate of tiny Puerperium Cardigans for the emergency baby gift pile, and I'm about halfway through the Dahlia Cardigan from this fall's Interweave Knits.

I've spun up my first Wensleydale top in a red to black gradient for a Windsbraut - Sommerwind and have almost enough handspun grey alpaca for the solid main color in a Stripe Study. I still have the Perchance to Spin polwarth occupying bobbins in the craft room, but have started spinning up some black polwarth with which to ply it. I should be working on that tonight, but don't really feel in the mood for lifting the couch to anchor a blanket under it -- if I don't, the spinning wheel scoots away from me as I spin!

Tomorrow my brother and I leave for a 10 hour road trip (20 hours, round trip) and I'm saving up the rest of Dahlia for car knitting. The second Guinevere glove is coming along for hotel knitting.

Despite swearing off starting anything new in the hopes that a ban on new projects will help this cardigan toward completion in a time span measured in weeks, not years, I'm going to cast on for a Debussey shawl in a merino/cashmere sock yarn from Anzula which Georgia at Hearthstone Knits just got in. I need something to knit for the next hour before bed, don't I?

The Yankees got knocked out of the ALDS playoffs last week, which was disappointing, but the Cards are still in it. I'd thought that tonight the rain in St Louis would delay the game but so far, so good - we're up 4 to 3 in the 4th. Go Cards!!

ETA: I lied. I have too much yarn for Debussey and the cast on is not what my overly tired brain wants to grapple with. A browse of my hard drive turns up Pirat, which looks like just the ticket.

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Tour de Fleece 2011 Wrapup

Posted at 25 Sep 2011 02:39:10 PM

While my original game plan was to spin a two-ply laceweight from half a merino/??? fleece which I have in the closet, I soon realized that just sorting the fleece and dividing it in half would take the best part of a month's free time.

So, midway through, I switched plans.

I've had this muga silk sitting on my desk downstairs on a little tiny Golding for probably a year now. It's been worked on bit by bit, but I wasn't making any real headway and was getting decidedly tired of having it stare at me. (Fiber guilt trips are the worst!)

So, with about two weeks to go, two long weekend overnights to work and two weekdays off to compensate, I pulled out all the stops!

Not counting the initial spindleful, the first 2oz was spun last week. The second I wasn't sure I could manage between going out on Thursday night and my wrists already not being in the best shape, but between staying home on Friday and working Saturday night, I was done by just about midnight.

Plying started around 3:30am and was finished by noon. Voilà:

(click to embiggen, as the Yarn Harlot would say.)

1016 yards of laceweight silk, 2ply. It's not my target - 1000 yards/4oz - but it's the closest that I've come so far, and my very first 100% silk yarn. It's also the most consistent yarn, start to finish, that I've spun. I'm quite proud of it, actually.

Now, upstairs to watch the new Top Gear: America with Dan, and then to pass out before work rolls 'round tomorrow. And just because I love you, blog readers, here's a picture of my cat pretending to be a perfectly normal queen-sized bed sheet:

Whatever do you mean, "pretending"?

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Tour de Fleece 2011

Posted at 24 Jul 2011 08:28:44 PM

Now that it's, er, almost done, I've finally gotten some photos together of the very limited progress that I've managed to make during this year's tour!

In the very first days I plied up 380 yards of Mountain Colors BFL. This was officially my fastest fiber-to-yarn achievement. I started on a Wednesday night and finished plying on Sunday. Yay! (Granted, some of the ridiculous rate was because I had to work that Wednesday night so there was some extra "awake" time...)

There are looooooong color repeats; I did my level best to keep the colors in sync, but had to do some monkeying about in places while plying. I think that I'll use the final product in a Stripe Study shawl along with some grey handspun alpaca.

My original goal was to spin up the half fleece which my friend Scylla from Knit Night gave me. It's a merino/something cross (parentage is a wee bit unknown) but it's very fine and spins easily from the lock. Luckily for me the fleece was washed already, because if there's anything that I don't have time for these days, it's scouring fleece.

It migrates from a very light silvery gray to light brown into a very dark chocolate brown. My hope is that I can separate out all of the locks and organize them in order, then divide it in half by weight so that I can have a reasonably color-matched two ply. Unfortunately this necessitates taking over the floor of the craft room while the project is in progress... hee.

I did manage to spin up two little sample skeins and since I'm surprised at the results - both had about the same amount of plying twist but the one with pink ties had less spinning twist has a much better feel and drape. That's what I will be aiming for in the final yarn.

While the floor is occupied, I've tackled 4oz of Muga silk top which I've had staring at me for awhile now. I started it on a Trindle, which met a sad end when a bowling bag accidentally landed on top of it. Then I transferred it to my little Golding, which was great except that it mostly sat on my desk and I didn't work on it. Wednesday night I gave up and started running it through the wheel. It has more of a halo than I prefer, but that may just be a characteristic of silk top that I need to learn to live with?

I have 2oz done, and the second half started. (Again, this ridiculous production rate is courtesy of having to work all night last night.) The terrible collages are courtesy of some free online thing, as I don't have Picasa on my MacBook - sorry.

I've got some Abbybatts lying around as well as some 1oz tussah silk colorway testers that would be relatively easy to motor through in the name of stashdown... I'm thinking about working with those in the final days of the tour.

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Stringtopia Wrap-Up

Posted at 07 May 2011 06:04:32 PM

Right off the bat, I should tell you that Melissa is doing a much better job than I will. She had her camera out all weekend - me, not so much!

When Dan and I walked into the Golden Lamb, we were greeted by the sight of at least a dozen people sitting in the lobby, all spinning away on drop spindles. My first thought was "We're in the right place!" Shelly ran right up and found out who I was and gave me my goodie bag, which was chock full of amazing things from Ugly Schmugly, Working Girl Handmade (can't find a link) and Goodies Unlimited.

Despite that, I still felt kind of out of place, so I sort of stood in a corner and pulled out the first spindle and fiber that came to my hand- a Trindle with some of the 'petrified' locks that Scylla gave me the other weekend when we were excavating her fiber stash. LianaLi solved my problem by immediately coming over and asking excitedly about the Trindle and making me feel right at home!

This was actually from our last day, when Jacey Boggs came in and taught us how to make boobcle bouclé - which turned into a really surprising explanation of twist and plying structures that really went beyond just making yarn with loops in it. We had done a mini lesson in corespun during the kickoff bash on Friday night that was amazing in its own right, too!

I took the two-day class with Abby Franquemont, in which we each studied the kind of yarn that we wanted to make. For some, it was specifically for a project; for others it was a particular type of weaving yarn, and I wanted to focus on lofty woolen yarns. It was one of those classes where everyone learns cumulatively, and picks up much more about spinning as a whole than I think we would have if we were attending a very focused topic class. (I just hope I remember most of it!)

I skipped the Saturday evening spin-in, although quite probably I oughtn't have. Apparently there was much spinning, more door-prize-giving and rather a lot of goofing off, although I'll leave those pictures in the FOAY threads where they belong ;-) Dan and I skipped out after class to go locate a Friendly's, which for you midwesterners is a rather normal family-style restaurant which happens to have a ridiculous ice cream selection and some inexplicably craveable buffalo chicken strips. Whenever we get within 25 miles of one my only request is WE MUST GO. NOW.

And that night the Vancouver playoff game was on (although inexplicably the hotel got eleventy million hunting and fishing channels, but not Versus). We ended up watching it via live updates on nhl.com.

Somebody - I can't remember your name, but you were an absolute sweetheart - left a fantastic prize on my chair even though I wasn't at the party. I didn't even open it until halfway through Sunday because I wasn't really sure that it was meant for me. A new Trindle with 3 - THREE - sets of arms! My favorite is definitely the hammered silver beads. They're just beautiful in motion!

I, er... may have bought some things. Morgaine brought what must have been the entire stock of Carolina Homespun and set up shop in the room across from the classrooms, and oh boy - was that ever an eye-opening shopping experience.

And she let us run a tab. Talk about enabling...

I made lofty yarn! And got to play with real roving, not just mislabeled top, which was another eye-opening experience. Note to self: stop buying top, especially commercially-processed stuff with all of the crimp steamed out of it.

The (rather terrible) bouclé . But hey, I'm still learning! We used mohair for the loopy single, and I definitely underspun it. On the other hand, the merino single that we used for a core was overspun, I think, and I'll need to practice in order to really get the balance right.

The first night we made custom Stringtopian Edition batts on Abby's and Nada's carders. They were supposed to be used for corespinning practice (and it was!) but I had most of it left over which I saved and spun up once I got home. One of those things where if I didn't spin it up soon, emotional attachment would set in and it would sit in my stash forever.

131 yards. I'm not at my goal of true laceweight yarn yet, much though I'm trying, but I can already tell that my singles are more even and not underspun. Yay!

I'm tossing around ideas for a pattern for it... I swatched last night for a wide, shallow shawlette in which I can use a separate color for the edging.

The door prices were unbelievable. This is 4oz of Jacob roving in the colorway "Swamp Thing" from Gnomespun Yarn. I may have started sampling it rather immediately.

Up there on the impossible-to-refuse list is BFL/Silk. I bought some because BFL/Silk is rather like emergency pants - in every hypothetical I can come up with, I'm glad I have it.

Ohhh, dear. Dearie dearie dear. This is camel/silk in a truly impossible-to-photograph color of blueish greenish black called Moonless Night, by Spirit Trail Fiberworks. I bought the first braid because really, in what universe was I going to leave that on the shelf? And then I bought the second one because it looked lonely without its friend. (And Lianali is a very, very good enabler. I think it evened out in the end, though ;-) )

And look, Abby! I sampled!

Llamaleader gave us all 1/2oz of llama roving in our goodie bags! I haven't sampled this yet... I think I might be scared.

Our goodie bags also included a really adorable "cupcake", made by piling a silk cap into a cupcake paper and topping it with a bright red silk cocoon "cherry". Love that idea! I introduced Endora to the silkworm.

At lunch, Eve amazed me by spinning straight from the cap, without separating the layers or anything. She was just pulling yarn out of the bundle and winding it onto her spindle - so cool!

I learned a lot about silk - namely, even when it looks like it's overspun, and all of your wool-spinning instincts are screaming at you to wind on, keep going. I have a very informative bobbin that I'm actually keeping on a shelf until I get more time to practice and let the lessons sink in... The first couple of sections on it are what I would have considered "evenly spun", and then you can see the very identifiable point where I asked Abby for help because it was still not very shiny and had a lot of flyaways. Her answer was "more twist. Really. Keep going!" and the next couple of sections are much more shiny and silk-like.. the difference between the two is astonishing. I still have some plain tussah to play with, but after a quarter hour trying to manage that insane amount of twist my fingers were starting to feel a bit fuzzy and I had to stop spinning for awhile.

It was odd coming back home to a world where not everybody pulls out spindles and fiber at every opportunity and where conversation topics never include the phrase "Oooh, what are you spinning?" A weird sort of reverse culture shock.

We got home around midnight on Sunday night/Monday morning and I worked from home on Monday. My hands and wrists are still not up to par, but it's not like I've really given them a break either :)

I'm trying to get caught up on the knitting; I have one shawl design that's being test-knit now, another one which is giving me fits, and the mini one for the abbybatt that's still in the swatching stage. I don't even know how I got myself into this - I love knitting, but never really intended to 'design' anything... oh well!

In the mean time I finally got my stitch counts in Jared Flood's Rock Island shawl to work out - victory! - and I've been knitting away on that. Enjoying having something that's actually Working As Intended... now I see what Anne Hanson means about how nice it is to knit somebody else's pattern.

Time to go upload the stash acquisitions to Ravelry!

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Something else...

Posted at 20 Mar 2011 07:00:48 PM

Yesterday I transferred the muga silk that I've been working on from a Trindle to my itty bitty Golding. The Trindle, sorry to say, came out second best in an encounter with D's bowling bag.

I think I'm getting better at silk. More consistent, certainly, and between the last time I picked this up (months ago) to this weekend I've noticed a definite improvement in my control. It feels good to be moving in the right direction!

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I finished something!

Posted at 18 Mar 2011 04:11:17 PM

I finished something!

Well, half of something. Technically I still need to knit something from it ;-)

(Click to embiggen.)

70% Merino/30% Tencel from Dyeabolical.
846 yards, 2 ply
~14wpi after washing

It's not perfectly consistent, as fine as I'd hoped nor is it as tightly spun and plied as I'd like. I'm still learning a lot about how much twist makes it past the orifice on my wheel. (Stay tuned for the spam comments after -that- sentence!) I like to think that I learned a lot in the course of spinning this, and the Polwarth that I'm working on now is looking much more consistent.

I'm rather paranoid that although I've signed up for Stringtopia, I'm not "good enough" to be going. I know that I'm better on spindles than on the wheel, but we'll be using both and I don't want to fall on my face in front of so many people who are fantastically amazing at this craft. The only real solution is practice, practice, practice ... I doubt there will be much knitting progress next month!

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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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