Saturday, December 31, 2011

Holiday Pups of 2011

I took advantage of the last day of sunny weather that was known to me (it was freakishly sunny for a week in December!) and with Brandon's help tortured* the dogs with holiday photos. Leeloo we were able to get photos from each of the three hats we have for the dogs. Norbert we were able to get a couple that weren't showing the whites of his eyes in terror (he was shaking the whole time, you would have thought we were going to skin him or something.)  Leeloo has since gotten a hold of one hat and chewed off the holly and berries off of one of the Santa hats.

There's holly and berries under the flop over.

She thought this would make a wonderful toy to rip to bits. I think its the jingle bell.

It wasn't until almost done that I realized in trying to get the pics and hat on that I realized that the headband had pulled her beard and mustache back oddly.

Norbert desperately trying not to see the evil camera eye.

Looking off into the distance and trying to look dignified.
Christmas tree before all the gifts were loaded underneath. We went to a lovely artificial tree several years ago due to my allergies.
Leeloo has some sweaters in her future, so further dog torture* pictures will show-up.

* Disclaimer - no actual torture of animals happened, or will happen.

Socks of 2011

I took on the challenge to knit a pair of socks each month for last year. For most months it was an easy challenge, others not so much. ;-) Trying to get shawls also knit and other projects sometimes impacted a sock project getting done as planned. So I had a few months where it was two pairs, or more for a month. I kind of imposed the thought that ankle socks weren't a full pair, so made a couple pairs to equal one. So if you're counting up all the socks and come up with more than twelve, you know why. Same with the pedicure socks. The ladies really liked those once they were told that they were socks not hand warmers. lol

I made these for my dad for Christmas. I must say that pattern writers that use a C2F and C2B are just plain crazy to expect a knitter to use a cable needle or hold a stitch (and not drop the little beast!) when there's a lovely left twist or right twist out there that works just as nicely and much more sanely!
Java Socks
Its a nice easy to do pattern with an interesting twist in doing the gusset in pattern and decreasing across the instep. The pattern is also done through the toe decreases.

In case you forgot all the socks, here they are in a handy dandy collage. ;-)

I have 2012 all planned out in socks. I have two pairs of lace weight knee high stockings planned (yes, get the padded room ready, I'll be checking in I'm sure!), one pair in silk and the other in wool-silk. I'm giving myself permission ahead of the game to alternate other small projects, such as hats, bags and fingerless gloves/wrist warmers.  There is that other insanity of sweaters mentioned previously.  I have the patterned printed, just need to put the skeins into balls and I'm ready to go. Not sure if I'll cast on at midnight or if I'll wait for morning.

Are you doing any year long projects like sock clubs? Shawl of the month? Spinning of the month? 

Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas Goodies Finished

Let's see I made some more soap bags to send soaps off in to family:
I was talking with mom on the phone with the one on the right and forgot to do an eyelet round. Still works, so off it went!

Leafy Wash Cloth pattern both versions worked - stockinette and garter.
I was just going to let them kind of be trivets, but Lorajean put fabric on some she did and since the sewing machine was out....these went to Brandon's Aunt Debbie. She seemed to like them. ;-)

Back of Cole's Toddler Surprise Jacket.
Cole's Toddler Surprise Jacket

I'll find out New Year's day hopefully how it fits Cole. The hats for the cousin-in-law's girls were a bit big, so they have plenty of growing room. The shrugs all fit. The ones for the nieces looked like they would be too small but they stretched to fit. 

I had one project that I was knitting up to my deadline, but that's next post. ;-)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Dragon's Mist Yule Feast 2011

This was the Barony's first Yule Feast, so we took our normal Revels night (Fridays) and made it our feast night since the location was already secured and paid for. ;-) It was a potluck similar to the Three Mountains Yule Feast, except no assigned category based on last names. I made brussel sprouts for the 3M feast from this recipe.  Made a Knight very happy (I had caught him sneaking sprouts out of the container) by sending him home with the leftovers. Very big happy grin on his face. For this feast I went with my medieval standby - Roasted Root Vegetable Medley. I didn't pick up turnips and don't generally have celery, but doubt anyone noticed. I had gold beets and red beets along with garlic and onions and some heritage carrots. Sliced up, drizzled with olive oil and threw on sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary from the garden. I had two trays of it and popped into a serving container and then drizzled white balsamic vinegar over all. I came back with about half of them, so people were eating them. ;-)

Brandon is a guard, so we had to arrive a half an hour early so that he could help with the setup. I brought our stuff inside and then manned the food repository area for awhile. Much easier than putting little tags under chairs that I was almost roped into doing. ;-) It was also interesting to watch everything be organized and not have to worry about it.

Since we were running on a tight time frame (we needed to be out by 10pm and starting at 7pm), food was obtained by the court members so they could be able to help out with court stuff while the rest of us were eating. The Baron and Baroness had planned ahead and come up with a dinner bingo game to play, so there would be a couple extra prizes.

Brandon had been requested from the Baroness to create an orb, because no one told her she couldn't have one. (It was mentioned that Duchess Miranda might develop orb envy so I've suggested to Brandon that he might want to be prepared for a future request for another orb.) He made one out of some black walnut that he turned on the lathe. He didn't get a picture of it before giving it to the Baroness, but here are a couple of pics with it in its first use - those populace that would like to swear their fealty to the Barony:

Baroness Svava and Baron Ref with Lady Iuliana, Lady Osaa, Lord Jose in the foreground. Lord Nicolai acting as guard and Lord Ignatious in the background
You can see the gleam of the orb here.
Because we were scurrying around setting up or cleaning up or eating, not a lot of picture taking was happening. I wore the same dress as the previous week, still need to put my slits in, that's a goal for the next event - Carnivale in March. I might even try to get my Eleanor de Toledo stockings done for this event. I want to use my saffron silk lace Blue Moon Fiber Arts yarn to make them - they'll be fun stockings!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Here there be dragons

Kind of in a Dragon them in preparation for Dragon's Mist Yule Feast. I needed to get together some household gifts for Lady Millicent, Amelia, and Larissa.  Currently we have agreed on a household name of the Dancing Dragonflies, but Ignatious is waffling on that for some reason. Until there's a change, I found a dishcloth pattern of a dragonfly and little soap sacks with little dragonflies on them:
Close-up of the dragon fly dishcloth - moss stitch version
Dragonfly Soap Socks without their soaps
 I also found a dragon dishcloth pattern for a Chinese Fire Dragon:
The dishcloth. I gifted it to Baron Ref along with a trio of soaps. I found out later from the Baroness that he really loves soaps, so a greatly appreciated gift.
This is the same pattern as above, just done in bulky yarn and two colors. Since I was doing colorwork, I opted just to keep as knit instead of purl bumps to show the dragon. I sewed it to some yellow fabric and Brandon made a pretty banner stand to enter it in the Dragon's in Any Media contest. It didn't win, but I know the Baroness really liked it.
I have another soap sack I've knitted up, but I plan to make a couple more of them, so you'll see those in a different post in the future.

We did a gift exchange and I received a charming little blue dragon that roars:

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Three Mountains Yule Feast 2011

Last Saturday we took Dawn-Marie and Larissa over to the Barony of Three Mountains Yule Feast in Milwaukie. It was an all day affair and I went prepared with my spinning wheel and plenty to spin. Brandon set me up near the stage after learning that the first corner he was going to put me in was going to be where the kids korner was planned. It would have been a bit noisy to be there too since it was near the main entrance. I drew in other people and shortly had a circle going of people chatting while working on various projects. Lady Havoisse (think that's how she spells it) was working on some little squares of fine linen she had embroidered a "G" onto. She was hemming them with silk thread finer than your standard sewing thread. Impressive work. These are "largesse" for the current Crown Princess Gwyneth of Tir Righ. She's going to be Queen for the next six months and wants to be able to offer those people who are being awarded at Court something other than a paper tissue.

I was able to get Brandon to take a couple photos of me spinning - gasp! Often at different events I'm running them so don't have time to sit and do the activity, so I have few photos of me actually spinning. ;-)
Lady Brigitte spinning on Miss Molly (you can see Baroness Svava's coronet in the foreground)

I can't remember what Lisa was talking to Baroness Svava about, but it was interesting...

Baroness Svava feigning shock at what's under Amelia's (Andrea) skirts. Her striped satin bloomers.

Baroness Svava is a riot. ;-)

My dress is inspired by a Hans Holbein dress and is still a work in progress. Still need to add the splits in the bodice. Andrea's dress gets a different look by changing her belt and her sleeves and even the chemise.

Downstairs where the feasting was going to occur later. Everyone brings their fancy feast gear.

Ignatious (Brandon) receiving a Golden Torc for his acts of service to the Barony from Baron Aelfric and Baroness Jill

The Golden Torc - Pretty!

Socializing while waiting for the final food preparations

Can you find me?
Tis the feasting season. Yesterday was the Barony of Dragon's Mist Yule Feast. Our first as a Barony.

Saturday, December 3, 2011


Last year we ran out of the home made cold processed soaps that I had made a couple years previously. Cold processed are soaps that are made with lye and not the melt and pour stuff that you can get in the craft stores. I had bought the oils from Liberty Naturals along with various essential oil scents. I'm out of Sweet Almond Oil, I think it might have turned a bit rancid. We picked up some shortening and lard at the grocery store and I was set to get started.

My original thought was I would do a little soap making class with some SCA friends. I got one person interested in doing it, our new Baron, Ref.  With his new responsibilities trying to get a Saturday that worked for him was not happening, so I went ahead and jumped into getting batches going.

Castile soap is made with olive oil and is considered a luxury soap. Well yes, olive oil can be pretty spendy, unless you're buying it by the gallon from the Cash n Carry store. I had two tins of it in my pantry just for soap making. Two big batches were made along with variations on them with milk and shortening added.

Then the following weekend there were the soaps with more scents - lemon and lavender and again milk. Making up a batch of massage bars. Bars that melt with body heat and have honey in them. Andrea helped me with these, so she'll get some for her business use. I used one on a massage and the person seemed to really enjoy.

You can see the honey kind of sank to the bottom but smooths into the skin nicely. With the dryer winter weather don't forget to use a daily moisturizer, your skin will thank you for it!

I added calendula flowers to one set of the bars and then with some of the last batches the oatmeal soap had a bottle of beer as well as milk added in - all great moisturizers. It looks really organic too. I've been enjoying the smell of the hops of the drying soaps.  I mentioned the lack of Sweet Almond oil earlier but I also wanted to do a Cinnamon soap and it called for it. I researched it out and found that Canola oil is a good substitution and made up a batch. It also smells really yummy.

The Castile soap takes four weeks for it to cure (use up the lye in the mix), since it was done early enough, it will totally be ready for Christmas giving. Even the last batches are done early enough that there won't be issues with people using it upon receiving at Christmas. I have some soap sacks I need to knit up along with some face/dish cloths to go along with them.

There is an event on Saturday, a Yule Feast, we'll be attending that I'll make a soap sack and give a bar also. I'll need to include a note about waiting to use.

Here's what the soaps look like:

I have some plastic and tin molds. The very dark brown is the cinnamon and the lighter brown the oatmeal. ;-) I also used some silicone molds that I recently received. The massage bars were in a chocolate mold I purchased.

There is a plan to do kind of an informal soap making class locally at the grange on a Saturday. I have a bunch of people interested. If you're local and interested, do please let me know so I can include you in the group. I'm not sure how much I'll charge yet for the class. Everyone will get to leave with some soap at the end of the class.

First thing will be finding some lye.  I've heard that the Red Devil has been pulled from grocery stores because its use in making methamphetamine. I used up the last this weekend, so next grocery shopping trip will keep an eye out for it. Hope its not a problem!  I'll show driver's license or whatever to get some.

Friday, December 2, 2011

November Spinning

I was still using the Ashford Traditional, Miss Molly, to spin with. I really do enjoy spinning with her!  November planned spinning though was some 50/50 merino/silk that I had received from Morgaine with the purchase of my Lendrum, Miss Mabel.

This stuff was free because it had been bouncing around in boxes to many shows and handled and some slight felting had occurred. Just to spin it I had to get ruthless and shred it into strips. Then do some opening up of those strips to help pre-draft. Even with all of that the silk was hard on my right thumb. It helps pull out the fiber to be spun in the style I use for spinning.

So I was steadily making progress with it during the month, went from here at the beginning of the month:
 To this at the end of the month:
I decided that I'd give it a whirl with navajo plying so I could keep the color stripes intact. The silk had allowed me to get it really thin, so a three ply would still be a lace weight when done. The last time I had done some navajo plying I was still doing the chaining and then treadling it on to the bobbin. I'd watched Bobbie show Beth on our Black Friday Spinning so went for it. It worked! Found where the underspun spots were but it helped for moving the yarn up on the bobbin. I also plied it on Miss Mabel so it was a joint wheel effort. ;-)

Ended up with 409.5 yards of three ply lace weight yarn that I'm calling Summer Twilight Skies Yarn:
Close-up with a dime to give you an idea of how thin it is
Another close-up so you can see the color variation. Blues are so hard to photograph!
The whole skein. Not sure yet what I'll make out of this, but I'm sure I'll find the perfect pattern for it in Ravelry!

This is some Abstract Fiber dyed roving called "Blackberry". Its a 60/20/20 blend of Merino/Yak/Silk that I received as a thank you from Wendy for helping out her Knights celebration. Found out a few days later that it was the Knight chip that Intel had released. ;-)
I did have another roving from my stash that I planned to spin in December, but its undyed Perendale that isn't terribly exciting. I'll admit that I'm going to be shallow and throw it back into the bin and start spinning this lovely stuff. 4 ounces of December Joy! Wouldn't you? ;-)

I have next year's spinning all planned out. If you're a Ravelry member you can check it out here.  Its at the top of the list and number for the month it will be spun (hopefully). I still have some stuff that's been in the stash for a while and it will get spun, just might take a little longer. ;-) There's at least another year's worth of fiber to be spun up and I'm sure it will continue to grow.

Looking back through the stash of stuff to be spun, there are a lot of undyed fibers in there. Think some natural dying and some acid dyes might have to be played with over the next year or two. With the acid dyes, I think something beyond Kool-Aid should be the way to go. I also need a drum carder. There's a lot of uncarded fiber in my stash that will have to be run through one before it gets spun up. The Gotland doesn't count because I plan just to flick the ends open and spin from the locks.

How is your spinning coming along? Neglected fiber? Stuff you bought but now don't love? What do you do with it? I have some in my Trade folder but no nibbles so far, so it went in the list for spinning next year.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Learn a new thing

One of the goals I had for the year was to learn how to double knit. With Thanksgiving and going down to family for dinner, I thought doing a hot pad as a hostess gift would be a great idea. I've used Knitting as a resource and they add a hot pad that I thought would be easy to learn with, a nice heart pattern.

The directions on how to cast on worked for me, kind of. Keeping the colors consistent in their pairings would have been nice to know also, I read that *after* I got done with this project from the Interweave Knits Fall 2011 magazine article on Extreme Double Knitting. So its firmly in my memory for my next double knitting project, another hot pad for gift giving.

What the directions leave out is to change the chart colors in your head on the even rows. Le sigh. Very frustrating first few rows, where the project almost got pitched across the room before I found someone's very helpful project notes. (I love finding someone else that writes project notes on Ravelry!)

I did use Lamb's Pride Bulky to do the hot pad in so it came out BIG. I left it up to Kristen to decide if she wanted to shrink/felt the hot pad. I did soak and block it before giving it to her.

You can see where I was still trying to keep in the flow of flipping the colors in my head on the bottom right of the red background heart.

Thankfully the IK article explained to me why the hot pad doesn't separate all the way, those color changes for the heart. I thought I was doing something wrong while I was knitting, but soldiered on because I needed to get it done! ;-)

Here's a Ravelry link to the other hot pad I'm going to help reinforce this new skill with - Coffee and Tea DK pot holders.

Have you taught yourself something new this year? Plan on doing something new next year?  Now I have to find something for next year. Any suggestions? (Please no entrelac.)