Mr. Flibbles and the Bad Luck, Really Kind of Terrible Day


I am not one to read too much into omens, as much as I have a habit of tracking the feathers I find and am most likely more superstitious than I like to let on.

After about a year and two other attempts and patterns, I have finally started another sweater using some of the handspun I was working on last year. I’m hoping it’ll get me to get Freya out of storage, work down fiber, and I really honestly need my hands busy right now. I decided the problem has been that I’ve been forcing a yarn that really doesn’t want to be a cable into a cable, and decided I like the yarn in a rib much more. Ribbing is really forgiving so it’s actually a helpful move-I actually am aiming for bulky and heavy, for Buffalo winters, and the shaping with be that much easier.

So I happily packed my bag for work, got a few rows in before shift started and then the worst happened.

The damnable needle broke in my bag. And proverbial hell broke loose.

I remember hearing somewhere in my 20 years of fiber wanderings-though Internetlandia is failing me to back it up-that breaking a needle is a hugely negative omen. And within half an hour I was in fights, embarrassing scheduling mishaps and somehow have forgotten how to spell.

I have been knitting for 20 years and this is the first needle I’ve had go on me in the middle of a project. The sheer amount of tension and conflict in the rest of the day makes me want to hunker down in a woolly shelter. I’m not necessarily saying I’m sure it was the needle…but the needle didn’t help.



It hit me earlier this week that if I waited too long to cast on a sweater, it could be years before I actually finish the thing.

I have one on needles that I started for Mid but I keep putting off working on it. I have a sort of quasi-realistic fear for doing so; I’m afraid I didn’t buy enough yarn and I haven’t had a chance to go get more. The dye lot will be different but I’m not above the alternating rows trick. Maybe I’ll do that this weekend.

Freya has seen some use recently, and I’m starting to put myself center in my life again, as opposed to everyone else and everyone else’s schedules. I don’t want to sound whiney but I’ve spent over a year trying to placate other people and it means that a lot of the stuff that I want to do has been pushed to the side. Anyway, point being, I’m working on spinning the yarn I’m calling Skadi for a sweater.


Mid was out of town earlier this week and the urge to cast on a sweater was pretty overwhelming. I knew I wanted it oversized (at least, I would be okay with it being big) and sort of boxy, like a man’s sweater. And I wanted it to have cables.

I found the Balder pattern which I feel like is a good fit against what I had in my head. I’m knitting the men’s small (which I hope will fit, I’m hoping my math didn’t come out wonky).

My only main issue isn’t with the pattern. I’m alternating commercial and handspun, and the commercial I’m knitting with is definitely not a heavy worsted/knit on size 7 like the ball band suggests. Whenever I switch over to the commercial there’s a definite gauge difference and a loose row. The upside being is that it has happened so frequently it’s now a design element.


Skadi-California Red

california red

Wiki doesn’t have a photo of the California Reds, but here’s the link.

I’ve actually had this batch finished for months, just hanging out on the skeining ball. But the ceiling flooded in our bathroom again, so instead of doing OT I’m at home cleaning and decided to get Freya out again-which means there’s no time like the present to get working on Skadi.

Skadi [ Second Batch, California Red]

ply: n-ply

wpi: 11.5

yardage: 150 across 3 skeins

dye: n/a, natural

purchase: Etsy-Apple Rose Fibers

Project totals: 393 yards, 10.75 wpi

I am completely unfamiliar with California Red. My feelings are this: it was a dream to spin up. I don’t know how I feel about the fiber once it’s spun. The squishiness of it makes me want to spin it again, but it is flecked with darker hairs that make it look sort of grungy to me. I think it would be a beautiful base yarn for blues or greens though.

I’m looking forward to knitting this batch.

Next batch is mixed left over fiber batts and roving.



Remember this attractive fellow?

photo by David Merrett

photo by David Merrett

One of this brethren spun up something like this:



Skadi [First Batch, Jacob]

ply: n-ply

wpi: 10

yardage: 243 across 5 skeins

dye: n/a, natural

purchase: Rhinebeck, in person

The fiber was split into two bags. The first bag was less compacted, but the second ironically spun up more evenly.

Jacob is both a primitive and relatively rare breed. I did enjoy this spin, and would spin Jacob again. It’s not a top fiber, it’s not a favorite, but it was pleasant enough.

The fiber looked and felt clean-until I did the clean up. My wheel looks like it snowed and the wash water when I set the twist was fairly dark. The roving wasn’t fully stripped and that may play a part in it.

*I did beat up on the yarn a little in finish to get it to full a little. I washed it without soap to keep that lanolin in it and washed it as hot as the water would come out of the tap. I whacked it against the side of the tub to set the twist.

**I have a lot of varying different shades of natural, so I’m skeining Skadi a lot smaller than normal to make alternating skeins a little quicker/easier.

Bloggers-I have started a new group board on Pinterest. Open to all DIY, craft, food, or other creative blogs, I would love to have you join. Joining instructions are posted on the board-join here.

Please, stop by this week’s Inspired Weekends (Friday)  and  Fall into the Holidays (Tuesdays)

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carolyn’s homework

adorned from above

gingersnap crafts

artsy fartsy

joyful homemaking

the homesteading hippy

diana rambles     domestic superhero

our heritage of health

cooking with curls     cooking with ruthie

uss crafty


reknit one row laceBecause this is the year of no sun, I couldn’t grab a single decent shot of this project. I tried on three separate days. Just…nothing. If I hadn’t been lazy, I would have gotten out the Nikon and tried that, but honestly, my camera shots are just as bad as the phone shots and I don’t have to kick Mid off of his computer to upload anything.

Tearing out old projects for yarn used to be a much more common thing than it is now. It used to be so common, in fact, that I have patterns in my collection from the war rationing days that detail how to hide flawed yarn (the trick is patterned stitches).

I don’t necessarily have to ration yarn, especially in the era of Red Heart going on sale for $2 a ball, and frankly, I don’t mind working with Red Heart. I’ve never minded it. But if I have a garment that I haven’t worn for years, then there’s no reason I can’t take it apart and refashion it.

minecraft sheep one row lace

I had this red wool scarf since high school. All I remember about the wool is that it’s handspun, in the grease, and I purchased it at a craft barn in Rhode Island. I didn’t have any remote idea on yardage or weight but I guessed worsted by the hand and stitching.

When I went home from Rhinebeck, I took the scarf apart one night, let it break off where the scarf was felted and discarded those bits, and reballed the wool. If I had time I would have washed and dried the wool under tension, but I worked with it energized.

I have a collection of exceptionally simple scarf patterns for charity and/or travel knitting memorized, so I cast on a skinny version of the one row lace scarf (Ravelry link) and knit on the way home from Rhinebeck. I lost enough yardage from the tear out that I couldn’t knit to the same width and length, but taking in the width let me get enough length for a usable scarf.

Honestly, it could have handled a jump in needle size but the fabric isn’t too tight, it’s just not traditional lace-drapey. But I’ll probably wear this instead of the moss stitch it started out as, so it balances out in the end.

train one row lace


skadi jacob 2

Just for something different, I actually ran a poll online to name this yarn.

Skadi was the winner. Skadi is a Norse giantess and goddess associated with skiing, winter, mountains and hunting.

I have a tendency to let myself buy undyed fiber. It tends to be cheaper per ounce (quality and breed dependent) and I can then dye it, spin it, and knit with it-I get more ‘usage’ out of it than pre-dyed fiber. Though I can’t resist good sock fiber.

I don’t however own a good white, work appropriate sweater anymore and all of my sweater projects for the last few years have ended up hibernating somewhere.

skadi jacob 1

With any luck, Skadi will eventually end up a mixed breed, white, slightly textured and maybe cabled sweater. Probably a men’s pattern, so I don’t have to worry about fit over other clothes and wearing my sweater tighter than comfort at work.

This is the first ball of the Jacob fiber I bought at Rhinebeck. I still have half the Jacob left to spin so I don’t have yardage or WPI yet. This handsome fellow is a Jacob ram-

photo by David Merrett

photo by David Merrett

Bloggers-I have started a new group board on Pinterest. Open to all DIY, craft, food, or other creative blogs, I would love to have you join. Joining instructions are posted on the board-join here.

Please, stop by this week’s Inspired Weekends (Friday)  and  Fall into the Holidays (Tuesdays)

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be different act normal

lil suburban homestead

Spinning Small Batch Dyed Fibers


I’ve been meaning to get this post up for months now, since most of the fiber that I’ll be spinning for the holidays has been dyed in the manner.

And promptly buried in the spare room behind a DJ rig. This is the story of my life, people.

Anyway, I discovered the joys of small batch kettle dyeing this summer-I mean, really small batch-things that can fit in canning jars.

This produces a very volatile roving with the potential for a huge amount of variation between batches-which begs the question, what do you do with fibers that have such a huge variation in coloring?

There are two main methods to spinning fibers dyed like this:

1. Roll with it.

Just grab the fiber and spin, white space and all. You’ll end up with what’s sometimes called a potluck style yarn which is fully one of a kind. All yarn spun with these types of rovings are going to be one of a kind, but this will really not be replicated. Pretty much ever. You might end up with a lot of white space in your yarn-so I would recommend plying it back onto itself with either a center pull ball for a 2 ply or a chain ply for a three ply. It’ll barber pole, but you’ll avoid having huge splotches of white/undyed fiber.

2. Create a spinning plan

The fiber pictured above is all very small batch Koolaide dyed fibers. I alternate each fiber, I believe there’s seven or eight total, and is called Hawthorne. I have a system where I alternate in a big circle, switching out the wool about once every five minutes. It is then plied back onto itself for a 2 ply.

There are undoutably more options to spinning small batch fibers than this, but these are the two that I default to most often.