WIP-Cracking Wednesday: Un-Felting

Last time I updated you on Ducky I was starting to cover a small styrofoam ball for the upper body.

Ducky - upper body started on styrofoam ball

So, I set to work attaching that ball to the lower body. After about an hour and a half of work it looked like this (pardon the mess, I was crafting away from home).

Ducky - upper body fail

Ducky – upper body fail

The upper body shape itself looked great…but something was off about it. Here’s my reference photo again. See if you can spot the problem.

image from TV Tropes

image from TV Tropes

Do you see it? The legs look too small for the body. Or conversely, the body is too big for the legs. It looked fairly proportional before I added the upper body, so I decided the addition of the ball as the upper body was the problem.

How do I fix it though? You can’t actually un-felt something. Felting is kind of a permanent process. It locks the wool fibers together in a death grip and takes a lot of force to pry them apart. I had two options: I could try to cut the top off with scissors and be left with clean-edged areas of wool that are REALLY hard to felt into (believe me, I’ve tried it – it looks like crap), or I could try to pull off all the black wool that I used to secure the ball in place and risk distorting the top half of the lower body in the process.

I decided to try the ripping-it-apart-with-my-bare-hands route. It took some serious pulling, but I did finally get the upper body off with minimal damage to the lower body. I learned something it the process though – that styrofoam ball that I used to build the upper body didn’t hold up well to all that stabbing. The ball pretty much disintegrated inside the wool! I couldn’t really tell until I had to manhandle it though, so I guess it could still work as a core to build on as long as I don’t squeeze it too hard. I wonder if the larger egg-shaped ball that I used for the lower body is suffering the same fate? I’m not going to squeeze it to find out…

After having to rip off all my work it took a loooong time before I figured out what I should do next. I would just pull Ducky’s lower body out and stare at it every now and then, hoping an idea would come to me. Finally one did – why don’t I just try shaping the top half of the lower body so it looked like the upper body and then stick a neck on top of that?

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That looks better! I was even able to re-use some of the pre-felted clumps that I had pulled off the failed upper body to shape the neck. You can see some black fuzz along the top of the body leftover from the tear-down, but that will all be covered when I color it in. You can also see where I started adding in some of the back ridges on the base of the tail. I continued that across the rest of the tail.

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Now that I’m more comfortable with the overall body shape, I think I have a plan for how the rest of this project will go:

  1. Finish shaping the back ridges.
  2. Apply the final colors to the body.
  3. Shape the lower jaw and attach it to the neck.
  4. Color the inside of the mouth on the lower jaw.
  5. Shape the rest of the head, coloring the top part of the inside of the mouth, and attach to the lower jaw.
  6. Finish shaping the head and add in detail work
  7. Attach the arms.

That’s still a lot more work ahead, but it’s smaller pieces so hopefully it will go quicker? Or I’m having delusions of efficiency again… I’m still a bit nervous about how it will turn out because at this point it will NOT stand up. Not even a little bit. I’ll figure out how to deal with that once it’s done.

In between my staring contests with Ducky, I started on another project. Someone requested a monster. My sister creates illustrated characters all the time, so I asked her to design a monster for me. This is what she sent me:

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Cute, huh? I decided to experiment with a fluffier style of needle felting for this one. I’m not going to make the monster super dense – he’s going to stay a bit squishy and fuzzy looking.

First I shaped the body and started on one of the legs.

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Ula kindly lent me a paw for scale.

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Then I finished up the legs.

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It’s a bit small as you can see from the cat-assisted photo (though to be fair, Ula is a Ragdoll, which is a large breed of cats – think Maine Coon size), so I might want to make a buddy for this little guy. We’ll see how it goes.

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WIP-Cracking Wednesday: Felt ALL THE THINGS!

I’m now juggling three needle felting projects!

Ducky shaping leg attachment

 

Ducky now has her legs attached! More shaping is needed for it to look right, but she’s starting to come together!

Pokeball 1

 

I have finished the first Pokeball for my sister’s friend and it didn’t explode in the dryer!

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I’ve started on a Ultraball for the next one. These are super quick to make too, which is nice!

I also started some prep-work for a Kodama from Princess Mononoke. One of the features of these creatures is their rattling heads, so I thought I would try to reproduce that aspect. My sister had the idea of using a nutshell to get that distinctive wooden sound of the rattling. She cut a hazelnut in half and we spent a while trying to figure out what we could put inside to shell to reproduce the right sound. We settled on a lead fishing weight and a bead.

Kudama prepping nut 1

 

I glued the shell shut with some Krazy glue, but there was a bit of a gap on one side where the shell chipped when it was being cut open.

Kudama prepping nut 2

 

I was a little afraid that wool would end up creeping in through the crack during the felting process and dampening the sound, so I used some hot glue to bridge the gap.

Kudama prepping nut 3

 

Now it’s ready to encase in felt! Sadly I don’t think I’ll be able to put the nut in the head because that would make it really top-heavy. It’ll have to go in the body instead.

 

WIP-Cracking…Thursday

Sorry for the tardy post, it’s been a week full of technology drama, and we all know how that can devour time. I don’t have any new knitting to show you because I haven’t done any. Instead I’ve been needle felting as much as humanly possible. I’ve been working on Ducky from the Land Before Time for a while now and she’s turned out to be more complicated than I had anticipated. I’ve learned quite a bit from this project!

1) I found that the foam mat was slowly coming apart and getting bits of foam in my needle felting that I would have to pick out. To keep that from happening I cut a piece of scrap fabric and lay it over top of the mat so all the bits of foam stay under the fabric and out of my needle felting.

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2) I want Ducky to stand up, but being a bipedal character means that could be tricky. I decided to try to weight her feet down in hopes that will help keep her upright once she’s done. I took some lead fishing weights and folded them into the wool. I carefully felted the wool around the weight making sure not to stab too forcefully or quickly with the needle so I didn’t break it.

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I put the weight on top of a bunch of wool...

I put the weight on top of a bunch of wool…

...then I stuck more wool on top of the weight...

…then I stuck more wool on top of the weight…

...and I folded it all together and did my best not to break the needle.

…and I folded it all together and did my best not to break the needle.

After getting the entire leg felted together they actually do stand up! Hopefully the body won’t throw it off-balance later.

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3) The whole thing doesn’t have to be made of wool. After finishing the legs I was getting worried about my dwindling supply of green wool. I got some styrofoam shapes to build some of the other body shapes on to conserve my wool supply. The body is being shaped around this styrofoam egg. It’s much smaller than the body should be, so I’ll still need to use a fair amount of wool to get the shape and scale right, but at least it’s a start.

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4) The more complex the project, the bigger it will be. I’m really glad I decided to start this with the smallest parts first and scale the rest up from there. If I had started by making a body about as big as I thought the whole thing would be, then I would have run into some major problems once I got around to doing the detail work. Ducky is turning out to be HUGE. Like, at least twice the size I was intending. That means it’s also taking a lot longer than I thought it would. I’m going to have to start taking breaks from Ducky to work on other needle felting requests because she’s driving me a bit crazy. She has been teaching me a ton about my needle felting process though, so I will definitely keep working on her, just not exclusively. At the moment I’m roughing out her tail and body shape.

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In addition to Ducky felting, I took a quick detour into another type of felting. My sister worked out a barter with an online friend – he will send her a microphone so her online friends can Skype with her easier and she will send him a set of dryer balls (that I will make). I had never heard of such a thing, but apparently he wanted some.

I followed the instructions on this site – How to Make Dryer Balls on the seasoned homemaker – which basically involves throwing some balls of yarn in the wash and hoping for the best. Normally I detest wet-felting for this very reason. The control freak in me wants assurances that everything will turn out alright. Thankfully, it did!

Dryer Balls

 

I got 7 dryer balls out of one skein! I’m not stopping there though. I want to decorate them! I’m going to needle felt a design on one of them and then throw it in the dryer with my next load of clothes to see if the needle felting comes apart at all. If it doesn’t explode or bleed or whatever then my sister’s friend will be getting a set of very exciting dryer balls. If the dryer test run is a disaster then he’ll be getting some boring utilitarian dryer balls. In any case, since there’s no shaping involved at all it should be a pretty quick felting job!

 

 

 

WIP-Cracking Wednesday: The Day I Ran Out of WIPs

Well, this is awkward. I don’t really have any WIPs to show you. At least nothing I haven’t shown you before. As of Monday I had two un-blogged WIPs, but I have since finished them. Or, nearly finished them anyway. One needs to be blocked, the other needs a few buttons sewn on. Truth is, I hadn’t planned on knitting at all this week. I had planned on delving into this fabulous pile of wool and needle felting ALL THE THINGS.

needle felting palette

I had a pet-sitting gig this week, so I figured I could crank out some needle felted goodies while I keep the pets company. They had other plans. Every time I sit down the adorable little furballs hop onto my lap and absolutely refuse to leave. I have yet to figure out how to needle felt while my lap is occupied. Thankfully they do have the good sense to sit far enough down on my lap to allow room for knitting, which is more than I can say for a particular adorable furball in my own household *cough* Stella *cough*.

So, I guess the needle felting will have to wait until the weekend. In the meantime, I have one more day of pet-sitting and I’m out of knitting, so I’ll need to cast on something new when I get home tonight. I’ve been hearing rave reviews about the new indigodragonfly base, Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Sock. I happen to have a skein.

colorway: A Year Later, It Was Whatville's Turn

colorway: A Year Later, It Was Whatville’s Turn

The Giftapalooza knit-a-long is still going, so I’ll be casting on the fingerless mitts from the collection: Kalix. I wonder how far I’ll get tomorrow during my lap duties…

 

WIP-Cracking Wednesdays: The Overdue Booties

Baby Booties

 

In the spring of 2007 I received a rather odd card in the mail. It was an invitation to  baby shower from my cousin. I found it odd for several reasons:

  1. My cousin was a lesbian, so how exactly was she impregnated? Was she adopting? WHAT’S GOING ON?!
  2. I did not know my cousin was in a relationship much less interested in having babies.
  3. The wording of the invitation seemed to imply that there were multiple babies involved, but I wasn’t sure.
  4. Why had I heard nothing about any of this until this cryptic card showed up?

I called my mother and found out that despite talking to her on the phone almost daily while I was attending college, she had utterly failed to keep me in the loop regarding family events (there were other things like weddings and deaths that she failed to mention too). Apparently my cousin had been in a very serious relationship for years and they had decided to start a family. Her girlfriend was artificially impregnated and viola! Triplets were due in October! One girl and two boys.

I was still a fairly new knitter, but knew the general protocol when babies were on the way was to knit something for them. Since I was a bit behind in finding out the news and three things would be required rather than the usual one, I decided to go for the quickest baby project possible – baby booties.

I will pause now while you consider the previous sentence, look at the WIP photo above, and laugh hysterically at me.

Done? Caught your breath? Good. I will continue.

Normally baby booties ARE very quick, but of course I couldn’t do something simple. That might imply I don’t care enough. For the girl I picked out a pattern for some felted Mary Jane’s from my only knitting book at the time, Donna Kooler’s Encyclopedia of Knitting. I had never felted anything before, and I figured this would be the perfect time to learn! For the boys I had some trouble finding a pattern I liked. I thought the Mary Jane’s would look a little odd on boys, but pretty much every other pattern I could find looked similarly feminine. I fretted quite a bit over the lack of “manly” bootie patterns because I was under the impression that new parents were very committed to heternormativity and enforcing gender stereotypes in babies. The fact that the parents were lesbians was apparently lost on me. Whatever, I fretted.

Unable to find anything suitable, I decided to make something up and just have all three pairs be felted. I had some garage sale yarn that looked felt-able so I worked up the patterns in those. I ran into a slight snag when I didn’t have quite enough red to finish the girl’s booties, so I improvised and added a white edge (which the red bled into when felted). I mirrored that improvisation in the boys’ made-up booties. The Mary Jane’s had an obvious method of closure – the strap and button – but for the boys I decided I could just add some large holes along the top edge and thread some ribbon through it to tie the booties on.

The knitting was finished very quickly and easily. Then came the felting. The only instructions I had for felting at the time involved throwing things in the washing machine and hoping for the best. I thought that was the only way to felt. The fact that felting pre-dated washing machines by approximately A LOT didn’t register in my brain. (Wow I sound really stupid in retrospect…heternormative lesbian babies, “quick” projects involving new techniques, civilization began with the washing machine…what was wrong with me?!)

The problem with this method was twofold:

  1. I was in college. The only washing machines I had access to were coin operated, and in the days when cash was going out of style and one had to make a trip to the bank to acquire a roll of coins just so you could wash your clothes, coins were more precious than diamonds.
  2. I am a control freak. Throwing something into a machine and hoping it turns out alright is really not my style.

I think I spent a total of $5 attempting to felt these by machine before I gave up. They just weren’t getting small enough! At least, I didn’t think they were small enough. As I confessed in a recent post, babies really aren’t my thing. I tend to avoid them as much as possible. I don’t exactly have a firm concept of how big or small babies are in my brain. I was trying to make them small enough to fit a premie because multiples are frequently early. Of course my cousin’s girlfriend ended up carrying them to term like a freaking champ, so that point ended up being moot.

Still, that’s approximately where I left them. The Mary Jane’s are pretty much done, assuming they are the right size. They just need a little re-shaping after spending years scrunched up in a bag and a button and loop attached to each bootie, then those suckers are DONE.

The boys’ booties though…the yellow ones still seem to big. The blue ones obviously require more felting – one hasn’t been felted at all. I think I did attempt to hand-felt the one blue bootie in a sink but I hated it so much I stopped half-way through. Even if I finish the felting, I question the structural integrity of those made-up booties…are they even baby-foot-shaped? Will they stay on with just a ribbon laced through the top? Is the felt too rough for baby skin? I just don’t know, and I really don’t want to spend enough time with a baby to find out.

That leads me to the next big question that I have been avoiding for the past 5 years…WHY SHOULD I CARE? The triplets have started Kindergarten now – somehow I don’t think the booties are going to fit. I have just kept these in my “to do” pile for all these years because I refused to surrender. I can’t actually frog these, they’re already felted. You can’t un-felt something. Maybe I could cut them up and make something decorative out of them? I do have another cousin expecting a baby now, so maybe the Mary Jane’s still have a future life as baby footwear. The others though…I think I may practice my hand-felting techniques a bit more on them and try to convince myself I don’t hate it. I really like how felted projects turn out, I just wish it wasn’t so labor-intensive. Then I’ll have to decide whether I should cut them up or just trash them…

I hate admitting defeat, but these booties just aren’t ever going to happen.

 

Urban Craft Uprising! (Part 2)

And the Urban Craft Uprising vendor love-fest continues…

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More narwhals were sighted at the Bread and Badger booth! I have bought several of their etched pint glasses as presents in the past – including one with a honey badger for my mom – and every time I see them again they’ve come up with something even more awesome!

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Fable and Fury is another UCU regular that I was thrilled to see again. I’m always fascinated to see what gothy-geek silhouettes they’ve come up with.

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The biohazard symbol necklace is one that I don’t remember seeing before, otherwise I’m sure I would own one already!IMG_9447

I bought the red thistle necklace one year as a birthday present for my mom, and it’s still one of her go-to pieces!

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The highlight of Fable and Fury for me though is always their portrait necklaces. They have so many icons – David Bowie, Nick Cave, Tom Waits, Jimi Hendrix, Frankenstein’s Monster…

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But my absolute favorite, and the very first thing I ever bought from them, is the H.P. Lovecraft silhouette – complete with tentacles. It’s my stealth-geek necklace! So few people I run into know who Lovecraft is, let alone what he looks like, so if I’m wearing this necklace and someone squees in delight I KNOW I’m about to meet someone cool!

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Okay, I have a confession to make. I have a bit of a fetus phobia. Even babies who have escaped the womb tend to creep me out. I’m a monster, I know. I tried to pass by Kniffin Pottery with my eyes closed, but I just couldn’t look away. The pottery is disturbing, yet fascinating. Maybe having my fruit hanging out in a bowl propped up by baby arms could be some sort of exposure therapy for me…

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After the shock of the fetus pottery, the Bella Sisters were a comforting retreat into loveliness. They are also UCU regulars, and every time I see them there’s another gorgeous coat (or two, or five) that makes me cry on the inside because I know I can’t afford to take it home with me. Except that one time I DID take a coat home with me! And I loved it and squeezed it and called it George.

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More yarn was to be had at Yarnarchy! There were a variety of beautiful skeins on the walls, some hand-spun, some hand-dyed, and the owner was there busily spinning more! She also had some hats and fingerless mitts for sale made from her wonderful yarns!

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I was weirdly drawn to the light lavender pair of mitts…it’s not usually my color, but the yarn just called to me.

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Ugly Baby is the best booth to hang out in for a laugh. Their shower art is just the right mix of weird, absurd, and sometimes vulgar to keep me entertained for quite a while! Even the concept is a bit absurd…art for your shower? But why? BECAUSE IT’S AWESOME, THAT’S WHY.

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What better way to start your day than staring at brightly colored toys embedded in glittery rubber? Look, there’s even a unicorn!

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The toys are great, but the messages spelled out in letter beads are what makes these genius.

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Every time I see this booth I have a new favorite piece – this time it’s Hell Bunny.

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I was thrilled to run into Heidi Kunkel, one of the authors of Needles and Artifice! That’s another book on my wish list from Cooperative Press. It’s a collection of steam-punk inspired patterns from The Ladies of Mischief.

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Heidi designed the Incandescent Cowl, Mountain Lily Scarf, and Warm & Tingley Headscarf and Mitts, and had a wall full of them for sale!

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She’s multi-talented too – aside from being a knitwear designer she’s also an accomplished potter.

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She had all kinds of beautiful pieces for sale – from yarn bowls to mugs, and everything in between!

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This is another great gift idea for the knitters in your life: go to Heidi’s Pottery and order a yarn bowl!

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There were also bowls made from wood at Salad Days. At first I was drawn in by the beautiful maple grains…

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but as I got closer, there was a surprise element that made these bowls even more special.

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Some of them have designs carved into them and then inlayed with crushed turquoise!

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The turquoise even fills in any knot-holes in the wood, making those potential imperfections into a wonderful design element.

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I ran my hand over the inlays and they are completely flush with the carvings and holes, so the bowls are totally smooth inside and out.

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This bowl was my favorite with its dramatic slashes of turquoise traveling up the sides and over the lip.

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To order, email them at oregonwoodenbowls@aol.com or call (503)359-1000.

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Moulton Garden Bon Bons are seeds disguised as delicious truffles! It reawakened my intermittent desire to grow an herb garden and always have fresh herbs and vegetables at my disposal. Then I remembered that I have killed not one, not two, but three air plants – quite possibly the most idiot-proof greenery on the planet – and perhaps I should leave those poor unsuspecting seeds to someone who isn’t wanted for first-degree plant murder in two states.

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Sage and Sea Farms was back for a second round at UCU offering delicious sipping vinegars. I had never heard of sipping vinegars before seeing this booth at the summer show. It’s a delicious concoction of fruit, a bit of cane sugar, and vinegar that you mix with water (or sparkling water if you like it bubbly). It sounds weird to drink something vinegar-based, and it sort of is, but it’s really tasty! It’s got just enough sugar in it to bring out the fruit flavors, but it’s nowhere near as sweet as the usual sparkling drinks you can get at the store. I can see this as a fabulous alternative for those times when you’re craving something flavorful to drink but don’t want to reach for something packed full of sugar.

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I especially enjoyed the Apple Pear Ginger flavor, which had just enough ginger to give it a bite, but not so much that it overwhelmed the other fruit flavors.

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Last but not least was Smitten Artisan Truffles. This booth was really hard to photograph because the whole time it was PACKED. These are hands-down the sexiest truffles I’ve ever had! The Vanilla Carmel + Tahitian Vanilla Bean Sea Salt are my favorite with the gooey caramel, the vanilla bean-infused chocolate center, and the perfectly layered grains of salt encased in a milk chocolate shell (there I go with the salted caramel obsession again). They have other great flavors as well, like a bourbon caramel which tasted a lot like the vanilla caramels had a run-in with a pirate and had beautiful truffle babies. There was also a Passion Fruit Habanero flavor which was the most intriguing taste profile I have ever encountered! As if the truffles weren’t perfect enough, the samples were even served by handsome young men.

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I straight up ordered my boyfriend to buy me a box for my birthday and he complied. They were gone by the end of the night – my birthday isn’t until next Sunday…oops. I could say so much more about these truffles, but it’s starting to get a little upsetting to describe them when I’m all out. I really hope they’re back for the next show, and I hope I have some cash then, because I will be buying ALL THE TRUFFLES.

Urban Craft Uprising!

Yesterday I made my bi-annual trip to Urban Craft Uprising! Usually I end up coming home with bags full of goodies, but since I’m dead-broke this year I was content to just marvel at all of the glorious hand-made things. This time I came armed with my camera, and I have LOTS to show you. So much that I can’t possibly fit it all in one post. Let me introduce you to some of my favorite vendors from the Winter show.

Craftwich Creations 1

Our first stop was Craftwich Creations with beautiful hand-carved crochet hooks making me wonder if those pointy sticks are all they’re cracked up to be.

Craftwich Creations 2

I bought a gorgeous shawl pin here at the last show, and it’s now my favorite! (Some people may call them hair sticks, but those people clearly don’t have enough shawls).

KuKuRuZa Gourmet Popcorn

KuKuRuZa Gourmet Popcorn simultaneously exploited my addiction to popcorn AND salted caramel by offering tastings of their Hawaiian Salted Caramel Popcorn. Holy crap, it was delicious! The popcorn was thoroughly coated with the caramel so it had a satisfying crunch, and the balance between sweet and salty was absolutely perfect! They also had a Tuxedo flavor – caramel corn covered in white and dark chocolate – which in this household is known as “crack.” I avoided tasting that one out of consideration for the vendor. I’m really not kidding about being dead-broke and I cannot guarantee the safety of anyone standing between me and a bag of crack.

Polymath 5

The first geekery of the day was provided by Polymath Design Lab and their wonderful collection of scientific adornments. What self-respecting lab rat wouldn’t want a test tube necklace?

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There were cufflinks for the male geeks.

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There was even a Cthulhu.

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A variety of geeky Christmas ornaments were available as well. My favorite was the chromosome.

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Circle Couture 2

UCU always has at least one booth featuring breath-taking fashions, and this time Circle Couture was the one.

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LOOK AT THE PRETTY.

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Afternoon to Remember 1

Back in tasty-land, I came across Afternoon to Remember Fine Teas and Gifts. You know it’s a good sign when the tasting tray is nearly empty. The Creme Brule Tea Cookies (middle tray) were so heavenly! The cookies themselves weren’t for sale, they were there to entice people to buy their cookbooks. The Creme Brule cookie recipe is in Drop by for Tea, by Amy Lawrence.

Afternoon to Remember 2

For the French enthusiasts among us, I apologize for the appearance of the words “creme brule” in the blog. I can’t for the life of me figure out how to add the appropriate accent marks in WordPress, and without those the extra “e” looks really weird. It’s not just you, it’s bothering me too.

Cellar Door 2

My first narwhal sighting of the day was at Cellar Door Mercantile, where they had shirts and cards featuring my favorite animal!

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They had really cool non-narwhal illustrations too!

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Almeda Pottery 4

Almeda Pottery was absolutely mind-blowing.

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These are the teeniest tiniest vases I have ever seen!

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I mean seriously, look at how small and skinny those are! And the glazing jobs on them are gorgeous!

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HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN?! (Pro tip: there are process videos in the link provided above…I still don’t believe it though).

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In case your brain still can’t process the scale of these things, here’s an adult human hand for reference. Rumor has it you can buy some of this miniature pottery at the Seattle Art Museum gift shop.

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This was one of my favorite booths from the last show and I’m so glad Careful It Bites was back for another round.

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I would have killed for one of these as a kid. Hell, I’d STILL kill for one. Who wouldn’t want a severed Sasquatch head?

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This booth is all about the details…bloody fur still sticking to the shears, fresh from the Sasquatch beheading.

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Other monster parts can be found poking out from under the tables. Best. Booth. Ever.

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For your cooking pleasure, Beautiful Briny Sea was back again with more delicious salts! I LOVE these salts and have been spreading them throughout as many kitchens as possible. At home we have three flavors so far: Chorizo, Truffle, and Magic Unicorn.

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While all are delicious, Magic Unicorn is probably my favorite. It seriously goes with EVERYTHING.

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Yarny contact was finally made with Victory Garden Yarn! I had a fabulous time talking with Anna about her crocheted creations. Here she is modeling her super-cozy Wisteria Wrap, which she had available in a variety of bold colors.

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Her booth was piled high with giant color-blocked and striped cowls.

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This sky-blue and orange one really caught my eye, and it was SO SOFT. I was shocked to find out it was an acrylic/wool blend! I know intellectually that there are good acrylics out there that don’t feel like plastic, but it’s rare for me to actually find one! This whole booth made me want to find some super-bulky yarn to cast-on with…

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For more yarny goodness I went to the UCU regulars, Spincycle Yarns.

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I’ve had my eye on their Natural Novelty Yarn for a while now because I am just itching to knit Purlieu. I was waiting for the right color to come along though, and of course the second my wallet is empty, there it is. They came out with a new color called “Fever Dreams” that is the most beautiful purple with tufts of blue and cloud gray in it. Someday, Fever Dreams…someday.

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Finally, I ran into Moxie/Hi-Fiber Needle Felting Kits, which is where I got my needle felting kit that I used to make my test pony in The Art of Stabbing Oneself.

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As usual, there were lots of super cute needle-felted things on display.

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There were even some with lights!

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I spent some time watching Moxie work (without stabbing herself at all, I noticed). She gave me some tips on how to build up a design – in this case a simple ball. She didn’t poke the ball nearly as vigorously as I did, which probably added to the lack of blood-letting. I will try to be less violent next time and see how that goes.

I’ll have many more vendors to show you tomorrow! There are just too many craft artists I’m excited about to fit into this one post!

If you want to help support a developing craft artist, there are still 5 days left to contribute to my Knotty Narwhal Indiegogo campaign! There are many cool perks you can claim in exchange for your donation, including my own needle-felted art! (I promise not to bleed on them).

Vocabulary for Muggles: WIP

Pronounced “whip”, WIP is an acronym for work in progress. It’s another one of those words that is used in many different contexts and isn’t specific to knitting, but may still confuse the muggles given how much we tend to talk about them.

The thing about knitting is, for many of us the most exciting part about it is the WIP stage. That’s where all the knitting happens! Before it’s a WIP it’s just an idea – perhaps a pretty new shawl pattern we want to make, or a new sock technique we want to try – but as soon as yarn is looped around the needles, it’s a WIP. We work on it for hours and hours and hours until we have a lovely new FO (that’s a finished object – we pronounce each letter separately, “F” then “O”) to show everyone. Though we all enjoy the WIP stage – after all why else would we be knitting? – for some it’s a race to the FO status. These are called product knitters. They live to have the finished product in their hands (or on their feet, or around their shoulders, etc.). Others are process knitters – the whole point for them is to knit and they’re less worried about getting that FO. I am mainly a product knitter. I love the process too, of course, but what’s the point of putting in all that work if I don’t have anything to show for it?

There are variations on what exactly is considered “in progress” and how “finished” something needs to be before it’s deemed a FO. There is no consensus in the knitting community on the exact steps that transition a project from an idea to WIP to FO, and there is no need for one. It’s a very personal decision each knitter makes. The only time there needs to be any sort of group agreement on terms are in the cases of KALs (knit-a-longs) in which there needs to be a defined “start” and “finish” in order to qualify, though many are pretty laid back about how you determine “finished.”

For example, anything that is still on the needles, or has any more stitches to be made, is almost universally considered a WIP.

There may not be needles present, but this glove is still missing a pinky and a thumb, so it’s a WIP. Not to mention there should be a second glove to go with it.
Pattern: Gallifrey (modified to add fingers)
Yarn: indigodragonfly Merino Sock – Blue Sun Corporation
Project page: Giving Gallifrey the Finger

That definition can get a bit fuzzy in the case of modular knits, which are comprised of multiple parts knitted separately and have the appearance of being multiple FOs, but which are intended to be assembled together to create one larger FO. A popular example of this would the hexipuffs that make up the Beekeeper’s Quilt. Each hexipuff looks and feels very much like a FO all its own, but eventually they are meant to be tied together into a quilt. Since this is such a massive undertaking – requiring hundreds of hexipuffs – it’s not uncommon for each hexipuff to be considered a FO just so you don’t have a WIP hanging over your head for years. I am a self-flagellating perfectionist though, so I consider the whole Beekeeper’s Quilt project to be a WIP.

Is it a small pile representing a never-ending WIP? Or is it a heaping pile of satisfying FOs?
Pattern: Beekeeper’s Quilt
Yarn: good luck sorting that out…
Project page: Beekeeper’s Quilt – all of the yarn info is in there somewhere if you’re brave enough to do the detective work.

For some the WIP status ends as soon as the yarn is off the needles, regardless of the ends that need weaving in or the blocking that needs to be done. For me, it’s not done until all ends are woven in, any buttons or embellishments have been added, and it’s been blocked, photographed, and all info is up-to-date on the Ravelry project page. Again, self-flagellating perfectionist. Your mileage may vary.

Some would happily proclaim this an FO. For me, it still needs to be blocked, modeled and cataloged, so it remains a WIP.
Pattern: Mitts of the Dystopian Future
Yarn: Baruffa Maratona
Project Page: Mitts of the Dystopian Future

You may have picked up on my not-so-subtle hints throughout the post that sometimes knitters can have a bit of a complex about their WIPs. If there are too many WIPs hanging around it can be a source of shame and embarrassment. There are some very disciplined souls who only work on one project at a time, never casting on anything new until the last project is finished (whatever their definition of “finished” is). I get the feeling they are the minority though. Most knitters lament the fact that no matter how shamefully tall their pile of WIPs gets they still can’t stop themselves from casting on that shiny new pattern they just found.

I don’t have as much of a problem with starting too many things at once, my problem is more that I tend to speed through the knitting part of the process – my favorite part – and then drag my feet for the finishing process. My pile of WIPs is usually comprised almost entirely of things waiting to be blocked.

I’m going to start trying to reduce the size of that pile. Next week I will be introducing WIP-Cracking Wednesdays in which I will bring out my five oldest WIPs and show you just how pathetically close some of them are to being finished. Perhaps the public shaming will help motivate me to actually finish them.

WIP-Cracking Wednesdays
gif from imagefave.com

Knit Fit: Day One

Last weekend I trekked to Ballard, WA to attend the very first Knit Fit! This is the third knitting convention I’ve been to, the others being the Sock Summit in Portland, OR and Knit City in Vancouver, BC. Knit Fit seemed smaller than Knit City, but it was very cozy feeling. The main hall was filled with knitters and spinners, milling about the registration tables, winding yarn from swifts, chatting with friends, and partaking in delicious sandwiches offered by Wild Wheat Bakery.

I arrived a bit early for my first class, so I had some time to poke around the marketplace. It was the perfect size for me, not so large as to be overwhelming, but big enough so I felt like I could spend hours in there without getting the least bit bored.

Foreground is The Fiber Gallery booth, in the background is Goody Golly Miss Olli! and the hanks of handspun hanging on racks are from Spincycle Yarns.

I found some Chibi darning needles to replace some of those that were lost in Vancouver (now I can weave in the ends on all of those nearly finished projects that have been piling up!). Mostly I just enjoyed fondling all the pretty yarn and fiber the vendors had to offer.

The Textiles a Mano booth was very nicely decorated!

Pepperberry Knits also looked rather fetching with their hanging hanks of novelty yarns.

I even found the perfect skein to fill a color gap in a gradient project I was working on.

That’s Hazel Knits Artisan Sock in Rogue (one of a kind color) bridging the gap between a medium toned teal and a very dark green in my Aranami Shawl.

I managed to wrest myself from the siren song of the marketplace just in time to make it to my first class, Self-Publishing Your Own Knitting Patterns taught by Lee Meredith.

Not just an excellent teacher, but a fabulous designer too. I mean, LOOK AT THAT SHAWL! Rav link here: Junction

I was blown away by this class! Lee managed to get through so much useful information in only 3 hours, I swear she must have bent the space-time continuum to make it work. The handout alone would have been worth the price of admission. It was a small class and we were able to ask Lee lots of questions about the many nuances involved in self publishing, from the more technical aspects of building a PDF file, to the types of experiences she had had using different platforms to sell and market her work. I came away from her class with pages and pages of notes. The process of self-publishing has been completely demystified for me now! I now have all of the information I felt like I was missing after reading The Knitgrrl Guide to Professional Knitwear Design. It’s still a great book to start with, but it really only gives a general overview of what it’s like to be a designer. If you’re considering publishing your own knitting designs and ever have the opportunity to take Lee’s class DO IT! It’s like an expansion pack for the book! You know, the kind that adds all sorts of cool elements to the game that the developers really should have included in the first place…

In Which Technology Hates Me

I know I promised to blog about Knit Fit today, and believe me, I really want to. Unfortunately technology has conspired against me. I took some awesome photos while I was there and I’m still struggling a bit trying to figure out how get them onto my sister’s computer and formatted and edited properly. It was so much easier on my computer…

In addition to that, our DVR box is on the fritz and will be replaced tomorrow morning, so I have to watch all of the shows we have recorded TONIGHT or they are gone forever.

In the meantime I will try to entertain you all with a new blogging trick my friend Jessica taught me. On the sidebar right underneath the calendar I now have a Blogroll! This is where you will find useful or interesting links (not all of them are blogs). It’s small so far but I will slowly add to it as other links come to mind.

Jessica just started her own blog called Jessica’s Yarn Tales, and her first post was today, so go check her out! She already has a blogroll set up ’cause she’s smart like that.

At Ars Poetica you can find handcrafted candles made from natural and sustainable materials and beautiful hand drawn cards. A college friend of mine started this business very recently, and in the Poet’s Corner she has blogged about the grueling process of setting up a small home business.

Another artist friend of mine is Peppermint Monster AKA Sarah. She is a wickedly fabulous artist/illustrator who just released a Sueussian, nudity-filled comic called Star Power. You can buy it in her Etsy shop (and I highly recommend you do).

If you want to know what is going on in the knitting world, just look to the Yarn Harlot. She has her finger on the pulse of knitting culture, and when she speaks, fiber fanatics listen.

Last but not least is the Craft Emergency Relief Fund which provides emergency assistance to professional craft artists. They also provide emergency preparedness information for artists. In the wake of Sandy I’m sure there are many people out there whose studios have been badly damaged putting their livelihoods at stake. They have set up a special emergency response page specifically dealing with Sandy aftermath here.

Plenty can go wrong even without the help of a hurricane, as Judith MacKenzie-McCuin can attest. Her spinning studio at The Rainforest Arts Center in Forks, WA  burned to the ground. Friends of Judith have set up a site, Rebuild Judith’s Studio, where you can donate money or materials to help this international artist and teacher return to her craft. I know the loss of my computer has pretty much leveled my ability to pursue my business, I can only imagine what it would be like to lose EVERYTHING.

Hopefully I can get the photo situation sorted out tonight so I can share my Knit Fit experiences with you tomorrow!