Nerd Wars – IT’S ON!

Have you heard of Nerd Wars? It’s a friendly fiber-centric competition held in a group (of the same name) over on Ravelry. Whether your craft is knitting, crochet or spinning; whether you’re a gamer, Dr. Who fan, or math geek, there’s a place for all nerds in Nerd Wars.

This is my first time competing and it was difficult deciding which teams to list as my first, second, and third choices. Members from previous tournaments get preference over newbies and some of the teams fill quickly. I got into Team Bazinga (my 3rd choice) this time. Fans of Big Bang Theory will be familiar with Dr. Sheldon Cooper’s favorite way to let his friends and colleagues know they’ve been pranked.  My team mates have been great! Fitting a project to a challenge and finding a team tie-in has been a blast.

Serendipitously, the day before the October challenges were to be announced, my oldest son decided he needed a hat. The pattern he chose happened to contain a stranded colorwork chart. Perfect! Rajesh Koothrapali is always wearing stranded colorwork knitwear on the show.

This project also fit in to the Power of Two, or Three, or Four challenge which requires participants to use either a variety of yarns in one project or the same yarn in different colors in the same project. Yes, that is a basket of laundry in the background.

One week into the first round of tournament 6, I was finished. It seemed too easy. Having revealed that my nickname (often used sarcastically) is Princess, I decided I must have a tiara. Crocheted in campfire colors, this project fit the Let’s Dress Up! challenge and our Team Unity project (campfire themed) and I ended up with a snazzy headband to keep my hair out of my face. Beautiful and practical, Amy Farrah Fowler would approve.

I went into Nerd Wars hoping to use up some of my sock yarn stash. But my handspun and spinning fiber stashes could use some paring down as well. I can’t wait to see what our challenges are next round!

Cultivating a Sense of Accomplishment

I finished something! This is a big deal. I’ve been doing a lot of work knitting, many swatches. And I came nowhere near finishing my Ravellenic Games project. But I finished this!

My Neiman (from Knitty Fall 2007) called for a wool/cotton blend for the main color and silk for the contrasting color. Well, I had some cotton/milk and shiny cotton/bamboo in my stash. I love all of Weaverknits designs but had never had a chance to work one up.

I was able to get gauge on the needles the pattern called for. This was a good thing. Working with a mostly cotton yarn on small needles made for achy hands. I can’t imagine having to go down a needle size for the body! The long stretches of stockinette were also a bit tiresome, but the increasing and decreasing helped keep me from being totally bored.

I ended up following the pattern for the 36″ size for the body and the 44″ size for the arms (mine are big) So I had to fudge the decreases a bit when I got to the yoke. The neckband was a bit of a challenge with this yarn and my shape. My shoulders are rather narrow and slope quite a bit. In general, I have a difficult time keeping straps of any kind up on my shoulders. Following the pattern and needles suggestion resulted in a *really* wide neck opening. Too wide, in my opinion.

I ripped it out and reknit it several times. I think a total of 5? What worked was ripping out the entire stranded yoke, doing an additional row of decreases before the stranded section and following the directions for the 34″ size. Then I knit the garter stitch neckband on size #0 needles. I couldn’t get the jogless stripes to work out so I just left the jog. Now I know which side is the back! I love it. It’s too warm for me to be a summer sweater. My timing was perfect

And while I’m talking about accomplishments, let’s talk about Play at Life Fiber Arts a bit.
I’ve been quiet at the blog. Well, everywhere really. Other than shop updates and previously scheduled vending events, life has interfered with some of the business. We (meaning my family) all have been dealing with some things that have been making it difficult for us to (at the risk of sounding super twee) be all we can be. I’m being vague because it’s nothing serious or life threatening, but it has caused me to look hard at where the business is going and what I can do to make it work and thrive.

I have decided a couple of things.

1. Play at Life Fiber Arts will remain small. FOR NOW. I can manage local vending events and shop updates. I can keep my at-home dye studio and workspace. This means I won’t be able to do BIG shows like NYSW, MDSW, or Stitches. But it should be easier for me to focus on the things I CAN do.

2. I am in the process of dividing the Maki, variegated, and self-striping colorways into seasons. This will allow me to focus on a smaller pool of colorways, thereby making it easier to have a variety of yarn weights and bases available. That means something available for you non-sock knitters who would like thicker yarns! I am still working out how I want to deal with the semisolids. Ideally, I’d like to have some fall/winter colors and some spring/summer colors. Maybe even some colorways that have been specifically designed to coordinate with Maki and variegated colorways. Things might be a bit bumpy as I transition into this dyeing schedule.

3. Pattern writing is not my thing. I do want to get Ruivo ( a sock pattern I’ve been working on off and on) to a publishable point, but I have no idea when it will be ready to go. I have several ideas for designs, but since I’m a one woman yarn factory, it’s really not my top priority. I was able to get the pattern published for the Garter Path Shawl, but Ruivo is a bit more complicated an I refuse to put a pattern out that is going to confuse or frustrate knitters. I love you all too much! Well, that came out a bit twee too. I guess I’m in a very saccharine-sweet mood today.

As always, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me via the contact page here, Ravelry PM, or Etsy convo.

Don’t forget to play today!

May Wrap Up – Festivals!

I love small, local fiber festivals. Especially the RI Wool and Fiber Festival at the Coggeshall Farm Museum. The grounds are beautiful, there’s a kids’ craft tent (that my oldest loves), and The Knitaholics always have a sit and knit spot. Plus the spinning guild does a sheep to shawl demo and the Plouffe’s food truck is there with yummy barbeque and baked potatoes that are bigger than your head.

I usually share vending space with my friend Lisa of Autumn Olive and Katy Wescott. This was the first year vending in my own 10’x10′ space! I overestimated how much product I would need to fill the space.

But that meant I had plenty for the next weekend! Though it was a rather hot day, RIWFF was fun and relaxing as usual.

On to the MA Sheep and Woolcraft Fair in Cummington, MA. I was pretty nervous about a two day festival with my kids in tow. Which resulted in me messing up a bunch of little things. I had so much product and display stuff that we needed a larger vehicle to get there. The rental fee for an SUV or van would have been prohibitive. So we rented the largest car we could get and divided the kids and product between the rental and our Saturn. This set up was on the verge of being to small. With some rather puzzle-like packing, we were able fit everything we remembered to bring.

I say remembered because I didn’t make a packing list. And despite leaving them next to all the other things we needed to bring, we forgot to bring the legs for the grid wall pieces. And my sign. Thankfully, I had picked up some clothesline and a bunch of zip ties. I love zip ties! We strapped the grid wall together in a zig zag. My husband tied some loops into the clothes line and we used the zip ties, S-hooks, and ribbon I brought to hang the fiber. I really liked this on-the-fly set up.

The first day was very hot. We drank a lot of water and my kids were very happy that the play area was shaded well. Apparently, this was the first year for the play area. It happened to be just behind our spot which saved my youngest from extreme boredom. He was in and out of there all day!

He was less enthusiastic about it the next day. By the end of day two, the allure of out trip had worn off and the boys were back to bickering and poking at each other constantly. We were all beat and happy to sleep in our own beds that night. And ecstatic that the next day was a work and school-free day. We needed the day of rest!

And it’s taken me this long to wind down enough to make a blog post 😀 I assume, next year will be easier for us. I hope so, since I already booked a spot in Cummington!

May Wrap Up – The Clubs

May was very, very busy for me. VERY. Not only did I have my first outdoor, two day vending gig, I had to travel to attend it. And I brought my family with me. It was an adventure! Plus I had two club shipments to complete.

First up: the clubs.

The Not so Guilty club focused on my favorite musical guilty pleasure, Katy Perry.

Revelous Sockie Maki Set – Boom, Boom, Boom

I love this colorway! I chose the Revelous (sw merino/bamboo rayon/nylon) and its fiber counterpart for the sock and fiber club shipments. This blend is great for summer socks. Luxury Shawl club members received Telyn Maki put up in an exclusive 115g/4oz size.

Once again, members received some great stitch markers from Lucid Sunshine

In the Tripping Yarn Balls Zodiac Club, it was Taurus’s month. Taurus. A bull. It took me a while to find inspiration. I finally settled on a calf-inspired, self-striping colorway. I’m happy to say it was well received by members.

On Wednesday, you’ll find out what happens when I don’t make a packing list.

Long on Color Club – Not So Guilty #1 – Ascension to Skyland Mountain

The newest Long on Color club (Not So Guilty) has been a great way to explore different themes while offering a variety of colorways. And I get to use some of my favorite things for inspiration!

First up is The X-Files. My husband (then boyfriend) got me hooked on the show. I made the mistake of blowing through several episodes (on VHS, by the way 🙂 when I was home alone one night. And our surround sound speakers have the uncanny ability to pick up passing CB radio broadcasts. I may have jumped out of my seat a couple times that night.

I came up with this colorway while watching the “Duane Barry” and “Ascension” episodes from season 2 . I love when quirky, vulnerable characters refer to themselves in the third person (nope, can’t explain it) and Duane does so throughout both episodes. I decided, aloud, “Duane Barry needs to be a colorway.” So to Google Image Search I went.

I came upon this still which became this color palette.

And then became Ascension to Skyland Mountain.

As a special surprise, members received matching stitch markers crafted by Mary-Lyn of Lucid Sunshine.

We’re both very happy with the pairing! And I am absolutely positive that this colorway will end up in Play at Life Fiber Arts’ regular colorway list.

The Great Rhody Yarn Crawl

It’s here! The 2nd Annual Great Rhody Yarn Crawl takes place this weekend. Friday, April 13 – Sunday, April 15 visit any or all of the 13 locally owned RI yarn stores for a chance to win their Crawl prize basket. Crawlers can earn an extra entry by bringing a nonperishable food donation for the RI Community Food Bank drive. Last year, we were able to donate 1000+ pounds of food!

Play at Life Fiber Arts will be out and about all weekend for the Crawl. First stop: a trunk show at Fresh Purls. Come by from 10am into the afternoon to squish some of my new bases and check out the Fresh Purls and Great Rhody Yarn Crawl exclusive colorways.

Saturday evening, I’ll be hanging out and knitting at the GRYC knitting meetup taking place at The Healing Cooperative in Middletown, RI. There will be nibbles, door prizes, and hopefully a chance to knit. I’ve been so busy preparing, I haven’t had time to pick up the needles in days. More information is available at the Facebook event page.

And finally, Sunday I’ll be at Slater Mill in Pawtucket from 12pm-5pm for the Indie Fiber Arts Marketplace being held for the Crawl Culmination Ceremony. Come check in your Passport, meet area knitwear designers and browse the Marketplace. Each stamp on your Passport earns you one ticket into the drawing for one of the big Crawl prize baskets. And Providence Coffee Roasters will have their mobile coffee shop on the premises too! If you haven’t worn yourself out with all that yarn shopping, you can take Alasdair Post-Quinn’s Double Knitting workshop being held at the Mill Sunday morning. More details here at the GRYC blog.

I’ll be posting pictures from the Crawl on Twitter and Flickr all weekend. Stay tuned!

 

Testing…1, 2, 3

Customers and friends have been asking about heavier weight yarns. So, I spent part of my work week testing some bulky yarn samples and trying out a new colorway.

Up first is an exaggerated bulky thick and thin. It very soft and squishy and perfect for cowls. PERFECT.

Then we have this heavy worsted merino single. Again, very soft, but with a much less exaggerated texture.

And last is a merino/silk single, also in a heavy worsted weight. This one is drool-worthy.

 

Here they are side-by-side. I knit them all with the same stitch count and on the same needle. There are pros and cons for each yarn. And I have more samples on the way to test! I have no idea how I will choose which one to stock. The yarn-lover in me wants to buy all the yarns!

WIP Wednesday – New Base, New Project

I’ve been concentrating on expanding the shop’s yarn offerings and have been testing some new DK weight yarns and soft spring colorways. I settled on this 3ply 100% conventional BFL. Like Pounce Fingering, it is softly spun with a little more twist, making it a lofty, plump yarn great for lightweight garments. And because it isn’t superwash, it’s a great candidate for stranded colorwork or felting. Though, I think it’s too lovely for felting!

I’ve been able to put Pounce DK up in generous 350yd/125g skeins! That’s plenty for a cozy shawl, set of mittens, or small shrug. I’m doing a test knit of Liesl, a top-down, yoke cardigan designed by Ysolda Teague. I’ve had to adjust for the different gauge, but even knit for a 38″ chest, I’m well past the armhole with plenty of yarn left. I predict that I’ll be able to get a good 7″ down the torso and still have enough yardage to make the sleeves a bit longer than their current capped state (ugh…cap sleeves do my upper arms no favors.)

Now I just need to decide when to debut it! My next trunk show? The Great Rhody Yarn Crawl coming up in April? Hmmm…

Speaking of which, I’ve added some new gigs to my vending schedule!

April 1 – Sisters of the Wool trunk show

April 14 – Fresh Purls trunk show (during the Great Rhody Yarn Crawl)

May 26-27 – Massachusetts Sheep and Woolcraft Fair (a first for me!)

Sept 7-9 – Fiber College of Maine

Looks like I’ll be very busy this spring!

FO Friday – Tripping Yarn Balls Stripe Study Shawl

It’s Finished Object Friday, again!

I recently finished my Stripe Study Shawl (designed by Veera Välimäki) using Shameless Twist Obedience sock yarn. Her Capricorn and Libra colorways are from the Tripping Yarn Balls collaborative indie dyer yarn club. Our theme is, obviously, the zodiac and we’re having a blast working together. And Jodi is a genius for designing two colorways meant for each other.

I added some beads to the edge to highlight the opalescent qualities of Libra. I only used one tube of beads, so they add a little bit of shine without a lot of weight. I love this shawl!

 

Thanks to everyone who entered the Log Cabin Socks giveaway! The winner of the random drawing was Jane of comment #86. Congratulations, Jane!

Giveaway – Log Cabin Socks Kit

In celebration of the recently released pattern, Log Cabin Socks (designed by Mara Marzocchi with Boundless Sock) I’m giving away this great sock kit! The kit includes a full color print out of the pattern and one skein of Boundless Sock in the new colorway, Surplus.

To enter, leave a comment on this post with your favorite snuggle object. A log cabin quilt? Perhaps an e-reader and bottle of port for you fancy types? Sweet dreams of a Cumberbatch/Freeman sandwich?

Share the giveaway on your favorite social networking sites for extra entries. Please make a new comment for each site (one entry per site, please!) A random drawing will take place Thursday, February 23rd at 12pm EST. I will contact the winner directly, but will also do an announcement here on Friday.

Comments are now closed for entry! Thanks for playing.