Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Big Day Looms Ahead

I'm going to be a bit quiet with blog posts this week, as my big moving day is coming up on Friday. At long last, my husband and I are moving into our new house!

Before you begin to congratulate me on the conclusion of the house remodeling project, let me set you straight on that. It is in no way done. It is in no way anywhere near done! It will be at least another year before it's anywhere near what one might call done. It is, however, now livable.

In case anyone has been thinking about what fun it would be to buy a fixer-upper house, let me give you a dose of reality. Here's what we've done so far:

  • Major electrical work. Thankfully, my husband's brother is a licensed electrician, so we got that done for about 1/4 what it might have cost us!
  • Had the entire house repiped for water. Galvanized pipes close to 40 years old mean very bad water pressure. Not something I can live with given the nature of my business.
  • Had the house plumbed for gas and got a new gas water heater. The remainder of the gas piping is capped off for now, as we will slowly convert to gas as we proceed with the remodel.
  • Removed "popcorn" ceilings for the living room, two downstairs bedrooms, and hallway.
  • Retextured the ceilings and all of the walls in those rooms.
  • Painted those rooms, including all of the trim. We'll eventually need to replace the windowframes and sills and such, but for now at the least the old marred wood is painted and looks reasonably fresh.
  • Cleaned and painted the brick fireplace. There's a woodburning stove there now and the whole thing is butt-ugly and out of place, but we won't be making any changes to it soon, so again, at least a coat of paint freshened it up so it's not such an eyesore. (It was previously a lovely shade of baby-diarrhea yellow stained with ground-in gray and black ash.)
  • Cleaned the hardwood floors throughout the previously mentioned rooms. Thankfully, the hardwoods are one thing that was in fair shape and didn't need refurbishing. A good cleaning should do it for now. (Apparently, the children of the household were fond of melting crayons on the floor and sticking the occasional wad of gum under a piece of furniture.)
  • Painted all of the downstairs interior doors. They also will eventually be replaced, but at least now look clean and fresh. We also bought and installed all new interior door knobs in a brushed pewter type of finish. I love the door knobs. Isn't that silly?
  • Moved the laundry area from off the hallway downstairs out into the garage, along with the plumbing that goes with it.
  • Knocked out the wall that used to separate the laundry from the downstairs bath and expanded the bathroom.
  • Tore everything out of the downstairs bathroom and replaced all but the tub. Actually, we haven't replaced the vanity yet either. We put that back in temporarily. We already bought a nice new sink, but my husband will be building the new vanity and that won't happen quite yet.
  • Tiled the shower area and the floor in the bathroom. (And I must mention here that I - yes I - laid the tile. Yep. That's right. I'm ridiculously proud of myself, even though we kept it super straightforward and plain, and it's not a perfect job by any stretch of the imagination.)
  • Ripped out the carpeting throughout the upstairs and replaced it with a really ugly but functional workshop floor.
  • Ripped out the sink in the upstairs bathroom and replaced it with a worksink.

I'm sure there's plenty more small things that I can't think of, but that's what we've done so far. Our plan is to bit by bit finish up with the rooms that are started (we need base and crown molding still, new doors, etc.) and then focus on kitchen and dining area. Everything in that part of the house will go and my husband will build us a new kitchen. I see a kitchen floor tile job in my future!

When the downstairs of the house is in good order, it will be time for my husband to build me a separate building for my workshop. We already had the electricity and water brought out to the site and capped off for the future. (We've also been to the City Planning Department to be sure our plans will be alright.)

Once the workshop is in place and I can move my operation out there, then it will be time to gut and remodel the entire upstairs.

Oh yes, and we need a new roof. And we need new siding. And we need landscaping work. My husband also has plans to eventually build a detached garage and then entirely convert what is now the garage into expanded living space.

Have I convinced you yet that a remodel is not all that much fun?!

Actually, it is fun and exciting, as long as progress continues forward. I've actually been through this before. (Yes, I'm insane!) I bought a house in California in 1998 that was absolutely trashed and in need of new everything. Back then, I was not with my current husband, Bruce. My boyfriend at the time was not nearly such a go-getter as Bruce. After living in that house for 5 years, the remodel was still not nearly done. I sold it half-finished. Oh, how much better this remodel is going!

It may sound as though there's no way I could have time to dye and knit with all of this going on, but it really is my husband doing most everything. I've done quite a bit of cleaning and painting and also did the tile job, but the rest has been all my husband's doing. I've even found a bit of knitting time in the evenings and have been keeping to my resolve to finish the zipper-front sweater before the end of the year and to make good progress on the ripple-stitch afghan. Progress on those items is pretty good right now and I'll have some new photos to share soon.

But right now, I must return to packing!

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Parade of Projects

To start off this new week, I have a wonderful array of projects to share with you! Each of these items was knit by Catherine, who lives in Turkey where she and her husband own a shop carrying a variety of treasures including her handknits. Catherine also has a shop on Etsy: Bazaar Bayar. In addition to some of her knit items, you'll find jewelry, embroidered pillows, and other lovely handcrafted items there. She'll be adding lots of new items throughout this week, so pop on over and have a look around!

First up are these fingerless mitts that Catherine knit in FF Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn in the Inner Sanctum colorway, along with the Butterscotch colorway.

Catherine also knit this fabulous shawl using the Butterscotch and Inner Sanctum colorways.

For this shawl, Catherine combined three different colors of FF Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn:

Isn't it just lovely?! Check out a close up of the detail:

But that's not all! Catherine has been a busy gal! She also has this sweater jacket, knit with FF Mohair/Wool in the Blissful colorway.

This one's not in her shop though. It will be keeping Catherine warm this winter. Here's a photo from the back. I love the detail of the collar!

A huge Thank You to Catherine for sharing her beautiful work and helping us to start our Monday morning off the right foot with some lovely photos to peruse!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Process, Product, and Resolve
(please pardon the crazy paragraph spacing in this post ... blogger is misbehaving!)

From time to time I hear conversations or read discussions in online forums about whether someone is a "process" or "product" knitter. As far as I'm concerned, these conversations are mostly just an excuse for us to chit chat about knitting and yarn. Any reason for a nice, long discussion about knitting is a good enough reason, isn't it?

In truth, I think the answer is always pretty much the same. That is, neither one nor the other, but a bit of both. Oh, once in a while we all knit something either purely because the pattern seems so interesting or purely because we or someone we know simply MUST have that boring-to-knit-but-beautiful-to-wear-XYZ. For the most part though, I think we all search for projects that satisfy both the desire to enjoy the knitting process and the desire to enjoy the finished product. This is where the struggle comes in for me.

My tastes are simple. Take me into a store with knitwear and show me an amazing sweater with an intricate pattern of interlocking cables and an assymetrical shawl collar and I'll finger it and study the stitches and ooh and ahh, but in the end I'll choose the plain ribbed turtleneck sitting quietly in the background on a nearby shelf. It's a rare occasion when I find a pattern that satisfies me from both a process and product perspective. I think that's why I find myself drawn lately to small projects.

With a small project, if my motivation to knit a particular pattern is mostly based on the end-product, but the pattern itself is not terribly compelling, that's alright. Even mindnumbingly dull and irritatingly slow 2X2 rib is alright for a short stretch. Small projects also allow one to take on something very detailed and requiring close attention to every stitch without having to commit six month's of one's life to painstakingly slow progress. Small projects are just that . . . small.

With all of that said, you know I'm leading somewhere, don't you? Well, I'm leading down the path to Excuseville. Yet again I am making excuses for not making enough progress on the two larger projects that I've been working on for what now seems an eternity. I keep allowing myself to get sidetracked.

What recently caught my fancy and derailed my plans to make good progress on my larger projects (the zipper-front sweater and the ripple stitch afghan) was this:

I came across this little gem while sorting through various knitting bins in preparation for the move I'll be making to my new house (one of these days soon, really). I knit this mitt several months ago in another moment of distraction from my larger projects. If I recall correctly, I had plans at the time to knit three pair of fingerless mitts for my three nieces. I got as far as this one.

When I saw it, I immediately recalled this project and the fact that I had liked it so much that I had written up the pattern for it as I knit. I was able to dig out that pattern from the depths of my hard drive so that I could knit the other mitt. It was also a great opportunity to test-knit the pattern myself, since it's been several months since I created the first one and so I was viewing the pattern with a fresh set of eyes. I finished the second mitt over the course of the next day or so (while my sweater and afghan languished in their respective bins, sighing with resignation from time to time).

I must say that I really like these mitts. I used my FF Sportweight Superwash Merino Wool Yarn in the Butterscotch colorway. I chose that yarn because I wanted a sturdy, warm and fitted end-product. Most of the mitts I've knit in the past were in sock yarn, so this slightly heavier yarn was a nice change and also a very quick knit. The design carries a single line of the ribbing pattern from the cuff up along the back of the hand on either side of the main cabled pattern. This creates a bit of extra stretch in the hand and makes for a really nice, snug fit that will work for almost any adult female hand (although perhaps not "ManHands" from Seinfeld).

Since the heavy lifting was finished months ago, it took little time to finalize the pattern so that I could make it available in my shop. It is there now for anyone interested.

Now that I've taken this little knitting sidetrip to finish these mitts, I am determined to get tough with myself. NO MORE NEW PROJECTS! I will not cave. I am firmly resolved and committed to making substantial progress on the zipper-front sweater and ripple stitch afghan in the remaining six weeks or so of this year.

On the zipper-front sweater, I am happy to report that I finally finished the second sleeve. Here's the photo I already showed you of the first sleeve. You'll have to trust me that it now has a twin. I can't be bothered taking another photo of the same thing.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: these sleeves were a royal pain in the rear. They are broad at the base, so there's none of that quick-start you usually have with a sleeve where you whip out the first 8 inches or so in a flash. These babies are very wide and with a 2X1 rib, they are slow going from the start. Add to that the six-inches of extra length that will form the broad cuff upward and you've got a sleeve that is way larger than any sleeve has a right to be. But the sleeves are part of what drew me to this pattern in the first place (there's that struggle and tension between process and product again!). Here's the photo of the pattern again so you can see the sleeves on the finished piece:

Now that I've finished the sleeves, you would think it's time to start blocking pieces and constructing, before putting on the collar and then moving on to the zipper. But no! Remember this:

That's the body of the sweater with an odd line that moves horizontally across the back and one side. That's my goof up that I didn't notice until I photographed the piece. It's actually barely perceptible close-up, but as you move at a distance it suddenly jumps out and becomes visible. That means I have quite a bit of frogging to do and - worse yet - reverse engineering.

Why reverse-engineering, you ask? Ahhh . . . you must have missed the post so long ago when I lamented the mistakes in the pattern. The two sides of the sweater were unbalanced in stitch number and the decreases for each of the two armholes were different. I recalculated and rewrote the pattern to correct this, but of course, those notes are long gone. And so now I have the happy task of trying to figure out what I did on the one side that is correct and then recreate it on the other side that needs to be frogged to fix that horizontal line.

As to the ripple stitch afghan, the fact is that I simply got bored to tears with this project and have been entirely ignoring it for the most part. Right now, it looks about the same as the last time you saw it several months ago, except about a foot or so longer. And it also looks a little angry at me, but perhaps that's my imagination.

I can hear the yarn and the sticks crying out to me to cast on something new. Something lace, perhaps in my new Superfine Alpaca Laceweight? Or maybe something in cashmere? I actually have a nice batch of sportweight cashmere with my own name on it, but I'll hold off on telling you about that until some time in the future. For now, if I allow myself to think about that luscious cashmere I will certainly lose my resolve.

Stay firm, Deb. Hold on. Knit through the pain. Frog the back of that sweater. Re-knit the SOB. Tackle that ripple stitch afghan as it were a little-bitty bookmark. Just Do It! Because then - oh then, oh happy day in the future - your sticks will be clear, you will be a free woman with a world of knitting possibilities before you!

Everyone have a wonderful day . . . and make some progress on those languishing UFOs!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Great Way to Start the Day

I have two great finished projects to share with you today to get your day started off right!

First up are a pair of "Smokin' Socks" knit by Lynne using FF Superwash Merino Wool Yarn in the Brick House colorway. The Smokin' Sock pattern is by Anne Hanson of KnitSpot and is available in her online shop as well as my Etsy store.

Here's a closeup view of Lynne's lovely stitchwork:

Great socks and great job by Lynne!

Next up is another project from a KnitSpot pattern. This time it's the Japanese Feather Scarf. Lisa knit this using FF Laceweight Merino in the Hendrix colorway.

So very beautiful! Get a load of this closeup:

If you'd like to see more Lisa's gorgeous work, take a trip over to her blog and have a browse around.

Thank you to both Lynne and Lisa for sharing their work!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Introducing a New Yarn!

I am pleased to introduce a new yarn in the Fearless Fibers line! The new yarn is a 100% alpaca laceweight. It’s a superfine yarn that runs at 610 yards per 2-ounce skein and will create a very delicate, gossamer lace piece, with a light halo effect. The yarn is wonderfully soft and feels fabulous next to the skin.

Initial quantities of this new yarn are extremely limited, so if you’re interested be sure to visit Fearless Fibers shop soon! If you miss out, never fear. If the yarn is a hit, there will be more quantity and colorways in the future.

Let me give you a small taste, with a photo of one of the five colorways:

This one is called Reverie and oh my ... I love it!

As you can see by the introduction of this new product, I'm continuing to drive myself hard to keep adding fresh new things for all of you in my shop. Believe it or not, despite all the time spent on my shop as well as the ongoing work on my new house (we're getting VERY close to moving in!), I'm still finding a few moments here and there to knit. In fact, I'd probably be a raving lunatic by now if I weren't knitting a bit here and there. Best thing ever to ward off stress! I'll provide an update here on my knitting endeavors within the next few days.

Everyone have a great day!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Socks of Wrath

For today's Monday project feature, I have a pair of socks knit by Chelsea using FF Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn in the Wrath colorway.

I have to say, I simply adore these socks! The pattern Chelsea used is Fawkes, a free pattern available from Socktopia. Take a look at this lovely detail:

Didn't Chelsea do a wonderful job? Be sure to check out Chelsea's blog for a look at her other work.

I know these great socks will get some of you itching to have a skein of the Wrath colorway, but this one is still not available in my shop. It's one of the Seven Deadly Sins Sock Club yarns and so right now there are only 50 people out there who have a skein. Don't worry though . . . sometime in '08, the colorways will be available in my shop.

While on the subject of Sock Yarn Clubs, I know many of you are anxiously awaiting the next sock club. I still don't have a firm date set, but will likely open sign ups either late in '07 or early in '08. I'll post here to let folks know when the memberships open and will also notify everyone on my mailing list. If you aren't on the list yet and would like to hear about the future sock club, sales, new products, and other news, just send me an e-mail and ask to be added to the list.

To whet your appetite a bit for the next club, I might as well let you know the theme. I think it will be no surprise to many of you. It will be The Seven Holy Virtues!

Everyone have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Don't Forget the Acorns

Since it's getting well into November now, I thought I would post a quick note about the upcoming Acorn Sock Kits for anyone who missed the post about this in September.

You may recall that Anne Hanson of KnitSpot is creating a sock pattern for the “Greed” colorway for the Fearless Fibers Seven Deadly Sins Sock Yarn Club. The pattern will be part of the final club shipment later this month.

The colorways from the Sock Club will not be generally available to non-members until some time in 2008. The one exception is the "Greed" colorway and Acorn socks. (Anne's "Acorn" sock theme is her take on greed -- picture greedy little squirrels with cheeks bulging with acorns). Kits with the Greed sock yarn and Acorn pattern will be available toward the end of this month. The kits will sell for $23 plus $4.60 for Priority Shipping in the U.S., $4 for First Class Shipping to Canada, and $7 for First Class Shipping to Europe.

I’m taking names for a pre-order list for the kits, so if you want to have a kit reserved for you and ready in late November, just send me an e-mail and ask to be added to the pre-order list. When the kits are ready, I will create “reserved” listings in my shop with the kits for folks on the pre-order list.

Note that you don’t have to be on the pre-order list to get a kit. There will be kits generally available as well, but the quantities will be small and will be replenished as they sell, so getting on the pre-order list is just a way to ensure you get a kit as soon as they become available and that you don’t have to scramble and try to snap one up before others do.

Everyone have a wonderful day!

Monday, November 05, 2007


For today's finished project feature, I have this wonderful shawl by Anne C.:

This is Anne's version of the "Twinings" Stole by Anne Hanson of KnitSpot. You can find the pattern for Twining's in Anne's shop and also just recently added to my Etsy shop (in the Patterns section).

Anne C. made this stole using FF Classic Merino Wool Sock Yarn in the Midnight Rendezvous colorway. I love to see this yarn used for shawls! It's quite a bit heavier and thicker than my Laceweight Merino of course, but it's still thin enough to create good lace definition. The result is a piece that knits ups quickly and has a bit of weight and warmth. It's a nice option whether you're seeking the added weight for a particular piece or whether you're a new knitter that wants to work with a slightly heavier yarn for your first lace pieces.

Here's a closeup of the lovely detail:

Didn't Anne do a wonderful job?! Lovely! A big Thank You to Anne for sharing her photos.

Everyone have a great start to your week!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Christmas is Coming!

In case you didn't know, Christmas is almost in sight just around the bend. I've created a new sock yarn set with Christmas sock-knitting in mind.

Each of the three mini-skeins is approximately 180 yards, so the set of three together is a total of 540 yards - plenty for just about any socks you might want to knit.

I'm listing the sets one or two at a time in my shop, so if you're interested and pop over to my shop and don't see the sets, just check back later and there will be more listed.

I can't believe we're back at this time of year again. Where does the time go?!