Monday, January 31, 2011

Knitting and the Scientific Method: Part II

Yarn Science Lab Report

Purpose: To re-dye ugly yarn a pleasing, not-so-ugly color using Kool-Aid drink mix.  Also, to dye homespun yarn purple!

Hypothesis:  Much more red Kool-aid will be needed to over-dye the old, poorly dyed orange Kool-Aid dyeing experiment.  Homespun might be slightly harder to dye because it is denser, making it harder for the dye to soak all the way in.

Materials: Yarn, Kool-aid, warm water, soap, bowl, microwave, the ability to try-try-again


1.  Follow the basic steps found in the first Knitting and the Scientific Method.
2.  This time use RIDICULOUS amounts of Kool-Aid.
So much dye....

3.  Be amazed when the ridiculous amounts of Kool-Aid still fail to completely dye the yarn solid red.
4.  Add EVEN MORE red Kool-Aid.
5.  Realize that this yarn is never going to be solid red, and decide that you think the mottled, strange red is quaint and exactly what you were going for to begin with.
Rinsing the red Kool-Aid.  It looks super gross in this pic.
 6.  Repeat the steps for the homespun using purple Kool-Aid.
These colors aren't quite how they look in real like.  The red isn't quite so orange...
Observations:  I do not know what is up with KnitPicks natural merino yarn, but gosh is it stubborn!  I am really embarrassed to say how many of those little cherry-flavored Kool-Aid packets I used (the lady at Target looked at me like I was crazy when I made her count all the packets...I just told her that only Kool-Aid can truly quench my thirst...), but probably more than three times the recommended amount for this much yarn.  Weird....Also, it is now a huge tangled mess that I am going to have to wind by hand.  Oh, and it keeps turning my hands pink when I touch it.  I am going to have to wash it once more before I knit with it, or I am going to be perpetually pink.
Tangled, tangled mess.

The purple homespun I think I love.  It looks a little gray in certain light, but I kinda like it.  It took a lot more cooking in the microwave to get it to soak up all the dye, but I got really nice, even coverage of all parts of the yarn. 
Pretty purple.

Conclusion:  Hypothesis was partly confirmed and partly rejected.  I did need A LOT more red dye to fix the ugly orange yarn, but apparently EVEN MORE might have been in order.  Or maybe I am missing something about red dye (or the particular yarn I am using) and it is just impossible to make it even?  Hmmmm...unlike Part I of this experiment, I did manage to completely dye my right hand red.  Some of it came off rubbing them with baking soda (that worked nicely on the counters as well) but I might need to paint my nails to hide the rest.

This homespun is blowing my mind.  It was slightly harder because of the added cooking involved, but actually, it resulted in a much nicer color.

And now I can honestly say that I have done spinning, dying and, soon, knitting, of fiber from scratch.  Slowly making my way to the point of doing the whole process (since I obviously did not shear a sheep for this round, nor do I have enough yarn to knit a sweater at the moment).

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Weekend Update: Spa Feast, WV

This weekend I took an impromptu vacation to Berkeley Springs, West Virginia for Spa Feast 2011.  Berkeley Spring is this quaint little town, home to a hot springs apparently frequented by George Washington and his buds.  According to the Berekeley Springs Website:
In 1776, George Washington's family and friends drew up a plot of 134 lots, named the streets, and incorporated The Town of Bath, invoking the muses of the renowned English spa. Yet the magic of the springs prevailed, and the town and surrounding area are known by their name -- Berkeley Springs.

The waters flow at a constant 74°F from the base of Warm Springs Ridge. You may still drink freely and fill your jugs at Lord Fairfax's public tap, and wade in the ancient stone pools in the nation's smallest state park. The town has endured cycles of notoriety, fashion, war and modern progress, but remains the Country's First Spa, a quiet, friendly haven surrounded by West Virginia's splendid outdoors.
Spa Feast consisted of a bunch of practitioners, spas and restaurants providing discount services.  Highlights:
  • I went to a talk on how astrology can inform my health.  I learned that as a Taurus, I am an earth sign.  Apparently that means that I feel healthiest when I am physically strong and when playing in the earth. I should not deny myself food or other sesual pleasures.  My biggest health problem is throat issues (and probably an incredible skepticism of astrology and its crunchy, crunchy counterparts, homeopathy, polarity therapy and tuning folk therapy).
  • I got a massage and "took the waters" in the same waters that George Washington bathed in.  Actually, hopefully not the SAME water that he used...that would be unhygienic and bizarre.
  • Watched Sweeney Todd.  Last week someone started singing a creepy song to me about how "I will steal you, JoAnna" and said that he bets I get that all the time....I was like "um, noooooo, you creepy creepster."  But it turns out the song is from Sweeny Todd, a Johny Depp/Tim Burton film that work friend Miranda insisted I watch this weekend.  Now that I've seen it, I think I might be even more creeped out by random strangers singing that song to me, but at least the character JoAnna (actually spelled Johanna but pronounced like my name) is one of the few people NOT to die.  Oh my goodness...
  • I did a TINY bit of knitting.  The Cruiser by Callyn Meyer.
Had to rip out the top of the first one and re-do it because it wasn't long enough.  Now working on the second.
Love the basic cable pattern.  And the yummy  Cascade EcoDuo yarn with 70% alpaca and 30% Merino....sooooo soft.
The blue thread is where the thumb is going to go.  I pull out that thread to reveal live stitches and then use them to knit the thumb.  The pink thread at the top is where I am supposed to graft the stitches together....I have NO clue how to do that.  I will have to learn pretty quickly now, won't I?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Knowing Knitter Answers Your Crafty Questions

I got this comment from a reader and thought I would pull it into a post for those of you following along on Google Reader:

Dear Knowing Knitter (who is about to get her MPH),

What is the etiquette of working with yarn while sneezing due to a head cold, particularly if your project is for someone else? Should it be avoided?

<3 Curious Congested Coldy Crocheter
Dear C.C.C.C.,

If you are going to give your item a nice bath when you are done with it anyway (I usually do, because I carry projects around in my purse with me where they tend to get a little dusty.  Also, a little bath/blocking always makes wool items look a little more even and pretty), then go ahead and keep crocheting and wash your sneezes out at the end.  Yarn crafts have the tendency to make you feel better and build immunity (that's totally made up, but I can't imagine that it isn't true....)

The real question is, why would you want to crochet when knitting is a far superior craft?!?!  ;-)


The Knowing Knitter


Also, I friggin' love the idea of answering questions for my readers (all five of you).  Beware that I am a snarky lady.  And I totally intend to make up my own questions if you don't ask any.  You've been warned.  Send questions to  Ha!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Vagina Monologues in DC

This weekend was the first read through for The 2011 Vagina Monologues in DC!!! A group of 20+ FABULOUS women got together to go over the script of Eve Ensler's award-winning play.

We will perform “The Vagina Monologues” on February 25 and 26 and sponsor a number of awareness and fundraising events leading up to those dates. Tickets can be bought online in the coming weeks; stay tuned!

We will also be hosting a VAGINA CRAFT-MAKING PARTY!!! in early February!!!!  I could not be more excited about this and hope a whole bunch of you will be joining us for it.

Our DC community performance of “The Vagina Monologues” is part of V-Day, a global movement to stop violence against women and girls.  The show is important to me, not only because it raises awareness about the importance of ending violence against women, but because all proceeds will be divided between two worthy causes: our local beneficiary, the DC Rape Crisis Center, and this year's V-Day spotlight campaign, the women of Haiti.

The DC Rape Crisis Center (DCRCC) is dedicated to creating a world free of sexual violence through community outreach, education, and legal and public policy initiatives. DCRCC helps survivors and their families heal from the aftermath of sexual violence through crisis intervention, counseling and advocacy. Ninety percent of the money raised from our show will go specifically towards helping DCRCC raise awareness about its hotline and counseling services to better reach survivors in the DC community. For more information about the DC Rape Crisis Center, their programs and services, and opportunities to support the center, please visit their website.

Our efforts also benefit this year’s national V-Day spotlight campaign, a global movement to call attention to the high levels of violence against women and girls in Haiti, and will focus on the increased rates of sexual violence since the devastating earthquake that took place in January 2010. All funds raised through the Spotlight Campaign will be used to support a revolutionary national campaign in Haiti lead by a coalition of women activists – including longtime V-Day activist Elvire Eugene – that will address sexual violence through art, advocacy, safe shelter and legal services.. Ten percent of V-Day DC’s proceeds will go to this campaign.

I hate to make this a fundraising push, but.....we are looking for businesses/organizations to buy ads in the program, people to make donations, and people to come to the show.  Let me know if you would like to make a donation!!  All contributors who donate more than $50 by Friday, February 11th will have their names printed in the show program.

More info as it comes!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Knitting and the Scientific Method

Yarn Science Lab Report

Purpose: To dye yarn a pleasing, not-so-ugly color using Kool-Aid drink mix.

Hypothesis:  Kool-aid dyeing will end in sweet-smelling, brightly-colored yarn and probably permanently neon orange hands.

Materials: Yarn, Kool-aid, warm water, soap, bowl, microwave


1.  Consult the Internet for directions on how to dye yarn with Kool-Aid.

2.  Wash the yarn in warm water and a little soap.  Rinse it out and let is soak for a while.

3.  Cover hands in plastic bags because you don't have gloves.

4.  Add (sugar-free) Kool-Aid and water to a microwave safe bowl (about one packet per ounce of yarn)

5.  Put the wet yarn into the Kool-Aid mixture and add enough water to cover the yarn (apparently it is the ratio of dye to yarn that matters and not the amount of water)

6.  Heat the bowl of yarn and dye in the microwave for two minutes at a time until the water is clear/all the dye is sucked up in the yarn.

7.  Rinse the yarn out in warm water.

8.  Hang the yarn to dry.

Observations:  Obviously not enough dye here.  I should have doubled or tippled the amount I used.  Luckily, I was using non-handspun for this experiment, so I don't feel bad that is turned out weird.  I will be redyeing it, though.  But probably red, instead of orange, because, honestly, who likes the color orange?  (JK, folks, jeesh.  I realize that some people think orange is a perfectly legitimate color....I just don't understand why).

Also, this whole thing is soooooo easy.  Because Kool-Aid is so acidic already, you don't have to add anything to the dye to get it to stay in the yarn well.  This should be very color-fast if the final garment every gets washed (and hopefully won't dye anyone's whites a Kool-Aid color).

Finally, the colors are super bright.  I am not sure how easy is it to mix colors, but I might experiment with toning down the brightness just a lil' bit so that I don't look like an elementary school coloring project.

Conclusion: Hypothesis was partly confirmed and partly rejected.  The yarn is not THAT ugly and certainly is bright-colored.  In this case, the yarn smells like orange popsicles....mmmmm....I did not, however, end up permanently dying my hands orange.  I count this among the good.  Overall, good fun.  I am going to try redying this yarn and dying the homespun purple next.  Woot!  (yea, I just said woot in a lab report....I totally just failed you Mrs. C).

Monday, January 24, 2011

New FemEx DC Class: Orientation this Week!

For the last 16+ weeks, I have been meeting with a group of women for a discussion group/class called FemEx DC.  They are hosting a spring class starting soon.  There will be two informational meetings this week.  Please consider checking it out if you are a self-identified woman in the DC area.  Here's the info:

Lovely DC friends,

You are invited to join DC's fifth round of FemEx (the Female Experience)! 

FemEx is an adaptation of a women's empowerment class that is taught at UC Berkeley, Harvard, and Brown.  This 16-week course is designed for women by women to create a safe environment where women can discuss and learn from the diverse viewpoints of their peers.  Please see below for the complete course syllabus.

Two open house/info sessions will be held from 6:00pm to 8:00pm on Monday, January 24 and Wednesday, January 26 at the Watha T. Daniel-Shaw Library: 1630 7th St. NW.  This is next door to the Shaw/Howard Metro Station on the Yellow and Green Line when you take the exit towards Shaw. 
During these info sessions, interested potential participants are encouraged to come whenever they can, stay however long they want, and have the chance to speak with the organizers and ask any questions.  We will also go over the course syllabus.

Round 5 will start the week of February 21 and will end the week of June 13.  Each class will meet once a week (likely in the evening on a Sun-Thurs) for about 3 hours.  Please come with an idea of your availability on these days during this time.  The number of classes, class times, and class locations are pending participants' availability.  Any suggestions on a regular meeting location are also welcome. 

Please RSVP to so we know how many people to expect.  You must attend an info session in order to participate in the class. Those who cannot attend the info sessions, but are still interested in taking the class, can set up an outside time to meet with one of our facilitators. Feel free to email this invitation to friends, co-workers, or other amazing people you know.  The info session is open to all.

Femsexy love,
the Femex Facilitators

Female Experience Syllabus 

Section A: Introduction

We will review the course procedures and requirements, create a safe space, draw up a class contract, as well as create a forum for discussion regarding what students hope to obtain by taking this course.

Section B: Anatomy, Sex, and Gender

Topics covered: sexual anatomy, intersex, transgender, transexuality, and discussions on gender v. anatomical sex.

Section C: Communication

We will discuss the importance of honesty and communication in relationships and group dynamics. Topics will include communication inhibitors, methods of effective communication, and asserting/respecting boundaries.

Section D: Power & Privilege

We will look at the power and privilege inherent in identity, as well as the role "-Isms" play in shaping societal viewpoints.

Section E: Women's Health and Menstruation

We will discuss the structures of western medicine and non-western approaches to women's health, as well as the following: breast self-exam, pelvic exam, yeast infections, urinary tract infections (UTI), toxic shock syndrome (TSS), menopause, mental health, the possible carcinogenic and negative affects of commonly used female products (tampons, douches, etc.), and the concept of women's genitals as "dirty." Discussion of cultural stigmatization of women's menstrual cycles. Women's health resources shared.

Section F: Contraception and Sexually Transmitted Infections

Topics covered include the pill, barrier methods, and safer sax methods, as well as STI's.

Section G: Body Image & Portrayals of Women

We will look at how women view themselves and each other; what shapes our self-image and how this affects our lives. We will discuss cultural variables for body image, as well as eating disorders and body dysmorphia. We will also begin to explore how women's sexuality is portrayed in different forms of popular media (magazines, television, films, music etc.) and how such portrayals influence the ways women and the public at large view women's sexuality, including influences such as age, race, class, etc.

Section H: Reproductive Choices and Motherhood

We will take an in-depth look at the variety of women's reproductive choices. We will discuss cultural, ethnic, societal, religious, and political factors that affect women's choices. Topics covered will include pregnancy, abortion, miscarriage, birth, and motherhood. We will also discuss effects pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood have on sexuality.

Section I: Sexual Practices and Orientation

We will look at how society views sexuality, and factors that shape our sexuality including heterosexism, religion, culture, and ethnicity. Topics discussed: a variety of sexual practices, the spectrum of sexual orientation, and the expression of one's own sexual desires.

Section J: Masturbation, Pleasure, and Orgasm

We will look at different models of the sexual response cycle as well as discuss the physiological and psychological factors of orgasms, including childhood sexuality, cultural variables, and medical factors involved in the inhibition to orgasm. We will also discuss self-love, erogenous zones, female ejaculation, and negative and positive views of masturbation.

Section K: Pornography, Erotica, and Sex Work

We will discuss pornography and erotica in a variety of mediums, as well as various forms of sex work, and their effects on the women's sexuality and different views of sex work. We will also discuss the taboos that surround pornography and sex work.

Section L: Relationships

We will discuss the importance of honesty and communication in sexual relationships. Topics will include monogamy/polyamory, useful communication techniques.

Section M: Violence Against Women

We will take an in-depth look at violence against women. We will read, analyze, discuss and share resources.

Section N: Women's Empowerment & Final Projects

Topics discussed include boundary building, woman-to-woman support, community building amongst women, and women's individual empowerment. The last week will also be devoted to presenting final projects/papers and closure.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Weekend Update: I Might Be An Idiot

First of all, congrats to B, Jessica, and Nathan for being the first commenters on the last week's post.  I will be sending you all something lovely.  Nathan's was some seriously questionable poetry, but double gifts to both B and Jessica for AMAZING poems.   I'm thinking something Vagina Monologues related, perhaps?

This past week was mildly traumatic.  I had been talking to a friend earlier in the week and said that  I would be sending my sister my old cell phone because hers was  broken.  I said, "I am not as hard on my phone as she is."  BIG mistake.  I almost immediately went home and dropped my phone in the toilet (I am still not sure how this happened....who is ridiculous enough to drop a phone in the toilet?  This girl....). Yup, the gods are hilarious folks that like to mess with people that make cocky statements.

Last Friday I did this:
Chopped my hair off.  Comments have ranged from "you look like an ass-kicking lawyer" to "you looked young before, but now you look five."  Whatever, I don't have to brush my hair anymore.

I also finished spinning the blue stuff from Lorna's Lace (purchased at Stitch DC). 
Look how cool this is.  Right after I spin it, it is "energized" and all crinkled up.
I let it set in water for a while and then dry.  Then it is all relaxed and the twist is set.  SUCH a big difference.  LOVE IT!
Started my Valentine's Day knitting.  Making these hearts from Mochimochi land.  Planning my Annual Valentine's Day Red Dinner (specifically, the 24th Annual Red Dinner...Smith/Brown family tradition) which may also include a Yonic Craft-making Party in preparation for the Vagina Monologues in DC.  Oooooo.....

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Knit Knight in Woolly Armor

I FINALLY made it over to DC's Looped Yarn Works for knit night (which I keep trying to write as knit if a knight in woolly armor is going to swoop in to slay the snarling alpaca dragon with a giant knitting needle sabor....)

The crowd consisted of:

  • A social group that meets either at knit night or for coffee every week.  Unclear what their common bond is other than niceness and knitting.
  • Two men, both EXTREMELY talented at their craft.  It seems annoying to ask "how does it feel to be a man who knits?" when it would be weird for someone to ask me "how does it feel to be a woman who knits?"  So I didn't ask.  Maybe next time.
  • Two young women brand-spanking-new to knitting who would pipe up with a "what the heck is that?!?!" every time someone said words like "felting," "long-tail cast-on," or "blocking lace."  One of the women informed us that she had learned to knit when she got snowed in with her family over Christmas.  She locked herself in the home office to get away from her family and learned to knit over YouTube from a woman who talks to her dog the whole time she is explaining stitch techniques.  I, for one, found this an ingenious and perfectly normal family-coping mechanism.
  • A whole bunch of other people wearing ridiculously elaborate hand-knits.  Now I am sad that I haven't kept more of my own knitting over the last year (although I do love sharing it with appreciative recipients), because all I have to show off at knit night is my hat and whatever is on my needles at the moment.

Let me tell you, folks.  While you all make me feel loved and appreciated by allowing me to ramble on about knitting and such even when you don't really understand why anyone should love wool the way I do, there is something special about hanging out with a whole group of people who understand what the pain of accidentally sitting on a metal double-point needle or the thrill of watching blobbly lace transform into something beautiful and intricate when it is blocked is like.  And more importantly, it was a social situation where EVERYONE was knitting and NO ONE rolled their eyes at me when I brought up the subject of yarn....AGAIN...

Thank you, Looped.  I will be back!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Not Knitting

You are all so polite.  So polite, in fact, that even though there hasn't been an ounce of knitting on this blog all week (longer than that?!?!) no one has complained.  Actually, you have all been uber quiet lately.  Let's play a little game.  First three people to post a comment here who have never posted before (I know you're lurking out there....) will get a very special something for International Random Gift Giving Day, which I will celebrate....oh, I dunno....sometime later this month.  Double gifting if your comments are in poetry form.  Deal?

I will admit that I have not been knitting much the past two weeks.  Chalking this up to a suspected case of carpal tunnel I am trying to avoid and also to the fact that there is wool EVERYWHERE in my room, attaching itself to all my dark-colored yarns that I want to knit with (I swear I am going to make those black legwarmers for you someday Julie!).  Why is there wool EVERYWHERE, you ask?  Mainly because I don't have a vacuum cleaner.

But also because I made this:
80 yards super bulky weight from KnitPicks Bare Merino roving.  I'm have some dying plans for this one....purple, maybe?
And this:

fatter-than-fingering weight hand-dyed Superwash Merino from Lorna's Laces (I do not believe for  a second that this is actually superwash...for you non-wool-fetishists, superwash means that you could stick it in the washing machine and it wouldn't felt....I don't believe.)
And some of this:
the first ply of a two-ply something that I have planned...wool of some kind that I was given that is not as soft as Merino.  Boring, boring color.  All rolled up on a toilet paper roll for safe keeping until I do the second ply.

All spun on my spindle, which is now starting to fall apart (I am not entirely clear on the qualities of a good spindle yet, but I am pretty sure they include having a hook that stays screwed in).  I am not entirely sucking at this spinning thing anymore, even though I am still not super consistent with my width and might over spin it just a little bit (read: way too much).  Need to go back to the Art League to play with the wheel some more, though...perhaps after acquiring some additional roving.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Nostepinde and The Dreaded Yale 250

I stand corrected.  I stated the other day that "niddy noddy" is the best name for a fiber tool ever.  Then lady friend at Porpoise Knits weighed in to tell me that the best word is, in fact, "nostepinde" (or, apparently, "nostepinne" both of which google tries to correct to "goosestepping")  Yea, I don't have one of those...but they're kinda hot...


Now that I have submitted all my grad school applications (and am no longer afraid of plagiarists stealing my know I was first...), I thought I would share with you part of one of my applications.

Yale Law School, in addition to the personal statement, diversity question, resume and other materials that most law school ask for, also requires a special essay that is lovingly known on the web as "the dreaded Yale 250."  The prompt is:
Write an essay of not more than 250 words about a subject of your choice.  The Admissions Committee looks to the 250-word essay to evaluate an applicant’s writing, reasoning, and editing skills.  The subject is not limited; the choice of topic itself may be informative to the readers.
Did you hear that?  The choice of topic itself may be informative to the readers....why does that sound so scary to me?  I originally joined my law-school-applying compatriots in hating this essay and wrote some horribly boring essay about something incoherent.  Then I deleted it and wrote this instead (possibly also horribly boring and incoherent...but it makes me giggle that someone on the Yale Admissions committee got to read about knitting):

I knit my first scarf in fifth grade. From there, I progressed to mittens and blankets. This summer I decided to embark on a more ambitious project: to knit a sweater from scratch. To accomplish this goal, I would need to learn how to shear a sheep, spin the fleece into yarn, dye the yarn into a palatable color, and knit a sweater that I actually could wear. 
I have had mixed success. My knitting has gotten progressively better as I have mastered working with multiple colors, casting on and off in different ways, and utilizing various needles. On the other hand, my dyeing skills are abysmal. My attempts at subtle, understated tones more closely resemble failed tie-dye projects from Girl Scout camp. My shearing skills remain untested. Although I recently visited a flock of ewes in my hometown of Waterloo, Iowa, I have yet to work up the nerve to wrestle one of the wriggling ladies into place while using sharp clippers to remove her fleece. 
Despite these initial obstacles, I am not worried about failing. I did not know about highway systems before working at the US Department of Transportation. I had never witnessed a birth before becoming a doula. Throughout my life, I have pursued interests that ignite my curiosity and often challenge my abilities. These experiences have given me the confidence to know I can gain the skills to succeed whether I am knitting a sweater from scratch, starting a new job or attending law school

Besides the requisite cheesy ending, I'm not entirely sure what information the admissions committee will get glean from this one....heh, knitting...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Weekend Update: Work that Spindle

I am not entirely sure what I did this weekend; it just ended very abruptly without me actually accomplishing anything.  I went to try outs for the DC Vagina Monologues on Sunday.  The rest of the weekend I spent spinning all kinds of crazy.  I am most in love with this:

Hand spun on my spindle.  I am going to pretend that I MEANT it to be "thick-and-thin" instead of me just not being able to spin it very evenly.
The wool was 100% Merino from Abstract Fiber of Portland, OR in colorway "Snapdragon" (the prettiest thing I've ever seen, I think)
4 ounces as fat as I spun it only came out to 80 yards, so there aren't a ton of amazing things I can knit with it. Maybe more of these??
But I have this belief that maybe I could use handspun yarn to make something else.  I am trying to figure out how to combine it with the silver/glass jewelry work that I usually do.
Bad pictures (my camera hates night-time) and not quite what I was thinking, but it's a start...

Sunday, January 9, 2011

I Did A Bad Thing

I started out the New Year on the wrong foot.  See, I promised myself I would be good.  I promised myself that I would always do the right thing and use up my (already prolific) yarn stash before getting anything new.  And for the most part, I followed that rule (well....almost) and.....just got some new knitting tools instead!  Oops...

So for you viewing pleasure, and explanation of all these weird freaky tools that (I think) round out what I need to spin and knit (at least until I have an extra $400 to spend on a spinning wheel...ha!).

A spindle (I had this already from my spinning class): This is what I spin the yarn with.  Mine is cheap and light and wood.  I keep wrapping the yarn around the bottom of the stick until I have spun as much as I want or it is full.  But then what?  I have two options.
Yarn I'm spinning.  More on this later.

A toilet paper tube (not even joking):  If I am going to ply the yarn, I roll the two plys off onto separate toilet paper tubes.  When I go to ply them together, I take the two ends, hold them together and spin them into a two-ply yarn.  Once I have the yarn that I want, I go on to the next step which is a.....

A niddy noddy:  If I am ready to set the yarn (by soaking it in water to make sure the twist stays the way I want it to), I wind the yarn off onto a niddy noddy.  It wraps the yarn into yard-long loops that, when removed and twisted together, become a skein.  You store yarn in skein form (not in ball form) because it allows the yarn to stay loose and fluffy instead of stretched and compact as in ball form.  But to knit you need your yarn in ball form so that it doesn't tangle up.
niddy noddy is the best name for something EVER

A yarn swift:  To get your yarn into a ball, you stick it on the yarn swift.  It is a big umbrella thingie that clamps down on the table.  You put the yarn around it

and open it up until it is taught.  It spins around.

A ball winder:  You then set your ball winder up next to the yarn swift (or hold it in your hand if you want).  Hook the yarn to it and start cranking. 
This is the most satisfying thing.  You spin the handle and the ball of yarn grows.  It's like magic...
 You end up with a ball of yarn like this:

I want to find a video of someone REALLY having fun with this, but all I could come up with was this very silent lady.

I might have to film something for yo, 'cause this thing is just too much fun :-)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Knitting Inspiration

Things that inspire me this month:
This Lion Brand Map Quilt is knit entirely by hand using intarsia and uses 25 different colors of yarn.  What!?!?!
Make knit objects, not war?  From the Lets Colour Poject
May have posted this one before.  It is a clock.  Made of yarn.  From Gretel.  I want it....
These clothing labels from Name Maker have got me picturing some "Ambitious Knits by JoAnna" labels.

HA!  From

Janice Rocema is my current favorite artist.  She has a tutorial on how to make this kind of amazing creation in her etsy shop....

Monday, January 3, 2011

BISIO Update: December/January

Oh man!  I made it all the way through December without writing a "Because I Said It Outloud" Update.  I feel ashamed.  So here it is:

Doula: I am co-coordinating the volunteer doula program at the birth center now with two fantastic women.  I helped train eight new volunteers in December and we hope to get a bunch more in January.  Sooooo exciting!  I was in-charge of creating the January on-call calendar, though...what a stressful, complicated activity.   I also attended two births in November, one of which was qualifying towards my certification (only one more to go!!!).  The other randomly ended up being in support of the wife of a college friend of mine.  That was weird at first but extremely exciting.

Sheep to Sweater:  I went to spinning class.  Soooo much fun.  I need to practice, though, so I can keep up the skills/hopefully improve a little.  I learned that my Local Yarn Store (LYS) has roving (prepared fleece) so I at least have a local supplier for basic spinning supplies.  Made the (I think, pretty smart) decision to not necessarily clean my own fleece to be used in my sweater yarn.  Still deciding whether I should try to spin all the yarn for a sweater or if I am satisfied just knowing that I could.

I've also been doing some seriously awesome knitting (IMHO).  I made these Fair Isle Socks, this awesome hat, made some alpaca awesomeness for Devon (OMG Devon, I never took a picture of them!!!  Send pictures quick!!), working on my multi-colored mitts still (gosh, don't seem to have a pic of those either....).  Not that high-volume when I see it layed out like this, I guess.  But I feel good about it.

Grad school:  I've officially applied to all the programs that I am going to apply to.  That would be joint JD/MPH programs at Emory, Columbia, Minnesota, and Michigan and just law school at Yale, Stanford and Georgetown (gotta reach for the stars, right?).  I didn't bother turning in the UCLA application because it was too annoying (I'm ignoring the sneaking suspicion I may have destroyed a beautiful legal career in LA over paperwork issues).  Now I have 10-12 weeks of nightmares about my letters of rec not getting to schools in time before I hear back from schools.  Also, interviews at Georgetown Law (this week) and the Michigan School of Public Health (early February).  Not sure where I want to go, so it would be nice to know where I am accepted so I can go visit a few places.  With all the cold weather around here, I am beginning to think I should have chosen some warmer places...

That's what's up.  More pictures of things next time