Friday, December 12, 2014


Yay!  My Amber sweater is finally finished!  My husband took a day off from work on my birthday this week so I could have a little time to myself while he took care of Sam, and it was just what I needed to complete my sweater.  I added sleeves as this is Minnesota and we need sleeves here no matter how cute the pattern is as a vest.  Overall, I am pleased with how it turned out and it's feels pretty comfy too.  The best part was that when I gave it a bath before blocking more indigo dye came out in the water.  So hopefully I won't have blue dye rubbing off on my arms and neck as I did on my hands while knitting.  It feels great to get another WIP off the needles.  Of course, you'd think this would translate into my wanting to finish another WIP, but you would be mistaken.  It makes me want to reward myself by casting on a new sweater! Oh, knitting logic is hard to follow isn't it?

Joining in with Andrea for Fibre Arts Friday and Linda for Creative Friday.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Fresh Off the Wheel - Sunshine on a Cloudly Day

I'm not really a big fan of yellow, but when I saw this plant dyed yellow batt called "Daffodil" in Judy's shop I felt compelled to purchase it.  Something about it really called out to me and I think it was that it reminds me so much of the warm bright sun of summer which I sorely miss at this time of year.  It also reminded me of this post I read a while ago on Tonya's blog about how there are so many plants which give us yellow dye and her thoughts that maybe wearing yellow sweaters would help us think of the warm months to come.  Well, I really liked that thought of wearing yellow to cheer oneself through the darker months here in the north, thus for a change this yarn is intended for me and not my shop.

Now, I only had a few ounces of the yellow wool so I needed to ply it with something else to make a good sized skein.  I've been wanting an angora hat for a while and found I still had some angora/wool roving that could flesh out the yellow nicely.  The angora is a soft dove gray which got me thinking about how the roving looked like a fluffy gray cloud waiting to be spun as it sat pooled at my feet.  Then I thought what a nice juxtaposition of clouds, which are the mainstay of winter, and sunshine, the mainstay of summer.  Needless to say I'm happy with my lumpy, fluffy, squishy "Sunshine on a Cloudy Day" skein of yarn.  Oh, in case you were wondering it came out to be 250 yards of DK/worsted weight.  I've already begun knitting this hat making just a few modifications, but more on that in another post. 

Joining in with Linda for Creative Friday and Andrea for Fibre Arts Friday.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Touch of Indigo

I'm chugging right along on my Amber sweater - it's body is all sewn up, ends woven in, and the cowl neck close to done.  Now, I have to say I am not a natural at knitting lace and even though this project is pretty simple it made my head hurt.  Seaming up of the lace fabric at the shoulders was fudged at best.  I'm happy the cowl, when completed, will cover most of that seam up.  It's not a knit while you watch a movie kind of project.  More of a "wake up super early before your child wakes up" kind of knit.  Well, at least for me.

In my last post I believe I told you I dyed the yarn for this sweater myself with natural indigo dye.  It was my first time using indigo and I accidentally made it too concentrated (which I discovered afterwards of course.)  All the yarn had to be washed many, many times with a cleanser that helps removes any excess dye for the water to run clear.  Most of the yarn from this dyeing batch I have been able to use without issue, but this particular yarn still has excess dye that rubs off on my hands.  This is called "crocking" and could happen indefinitely if I dyed it incorrectly, but I'm hoping this isn't the case since most of the yarn was fine.  So, Amber's success is a bit risky as I made no swatch, then made modifications to the pattern, I'm not too comfortable knitting lace and indigo dyed yarn that could continue crocking.  Wow, I'm living on the edge - a knitter's edge.  I do wonder why I've taken such a risk with my precious knitting time.  My only conclusion is I simply didn't want to give up on this yarn's ability to be something wonderful.  Routing for the underdog again. 

Joining in with Nicole for Keep Calm Craft On

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Fuzzy Weather Equals Fuzzy Sweater

Daylight savings time occurred this past weekend which for me means the dark days of Autumn have begun.  While I love the sunny colorful part of Fall, this time after all the leaves have fallen and the days turn gray and fuzzy is my least favorite time of year.  It's the waiting for Winter to come and blanket us with snow and cold that's hard for me.  Once Winter hits I'm fine again and just tuck in drinking tea, knitting, reading and sitting back to enjoy the inward season.  So, with what I call "fuzzy" weather (you know that dark, drizzly, hazy kind of day) comes knitting and what better to knit than a fuzzy sweater.  

That's right, I'm back to knitting Amber by Lisa Richardson in Cascade Ecological Bulky Wool (that I dyed naturally with indigo) and Aloft super kid mohair yarn from Knit Picks (which gives the sweater it's fuzzy look.)  I love how the very bright mohair yarn gives the more muted indigo a spark of color without being too overt (it is laceweight against bulky yarn after all.)  The body is done and I'm beginning to knit back and forth instead of in the round to split the front from the back (which also gives me two armholes.)  The pattern is not too hard, but I have been relying heavily on notes of other Raveler's to get the fit I want.  I'm gambling a bit too not having made a swatch (I know. You 'd think I'd learn by now after all these years of knitting to make a swatch, but they drive me crazy) on how much the lace will stretch out, but I'm optimistic as it's meant to be loose and has no shaping.  Hopefully I'll finish it in a few weeks if not sooner.

Since this post is linking with Yarn Along I need to share with you my current reading book.  It's Slowspoke - A Unicyclist's Guide to America by Mark Schimmoeller.  It was recommended by this blogger whom I read regularly.  Well, I'm only 70 pages in, and I'm hooked.  It's a memoir but somehow it feels larger than a story of just one man.  He goes back and forth in his narrative from his childhood and youth, to his long distance unicycle trip, to the present and while this could be confusing, instead it flows as naturally as your thoughts flow from one to another.  Really beautiful writing.  

Joining in with Ginny for Yarn Along and Tami for WIP Wednesday.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Fresh off the Wheel and Socks

My spinning wheel is getting some good use this month as once again I come to you with a finished skein of yarn.  I have been trying to do two posts a month (not a very lofty goal), but I'm still making it by the skin of my teeth this October.  Back to the yarn, it's two ply with one being 100% alpaca top (oh this is softness itself I tell you) from Alma Park and the second is a mix of domestic sheep's wool (from the US), merino and silk from Mamajudes.  The grey of the alpaca blends in so well with the soft indigo dyed blues.  The touches of lime green make a fun pop of color without being garish.  Like my last yarn this one also spun up to a DK weight of 303 yards!  I do love my jumbo flyer for my spinning wheel as it really lets me get a lot of yardage in one skein.  Makes finding projects to knit with it so easy.  You can check out this yarn in my shop here.

The one knitting project that I always have on the needles (and in my purse) is socks.  This pair is knit with Knit Picks Felici yarn in the Marsh colorway.  I did a simple 3/1 rib as I like the grip it gives your leg and it's not too distracting for the self striping yarn.  The colors are beautiful, the yarn soft and the fit is just right but...I have nothing the goes with them in my wardrobe.  It's another case of the color overpowering my otherwise rational mind which happens way too often - especially around drab and dreary February.  I'm just one of those matchy-matchy people (notice in the last photos how the stripes are matching up on the toes?  Yup, that's a matchy-matchy kind of thing.)  My guess is they are destined to be a gift for my mother whose feet are about the same size as mine.  I'll let her find something to match with them. 

Joining in late with Ginny for Yarn Along, Linda for  Creative Friday and Fibre Arts Friday.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Fresh Off the Wheel - Rainbow Gradient

My focus has changed some since I last wrote in this space.  During the previous month my world was all about making toys for selling in my shop as well as at a few holiday fairs.  Then while knitting a gnome mama doll I suddenly stopped mid stitch and realized that toy making is usually fun for me, but at that moment it was anything but fun. It felt like a chore; something to cross off a list and not in a good way.  Usually at this time of year I really get into making lists of what to make, ordering yarn and knitting, knitting, knitting lots of toys.  This year it wasn't jibbing for some reason so I decided to stop knitting toys right then and there and take a break to spin some roving into yarn.  My husband was thrilled with the idea of no holiday fairs by the way.  As he is my support for caring for our son, dog and house before (I always seem to need more knitting time) and during these fairs it can a lot of stress for him too.  This year I will only sell toys in my shop on Etsy and hope my inventory can keep up with sales.  It's a big relief.

Spinning is a great relaxer for me.  If I go too long I can tense up and get sore muscles, but usually it really sets me in a good mood both body and soul.  Compound that with rainbows and you 've got a heck of a Ann feel good combo going on.  The rainbow wool is a blend of domestic (to the US) sheep's wool and is plant dyed by Judy at Mamajudes and the undyed brown Jacob sheep's wool comes from Almapark also on Etsy.  The yarn came out to a DK weight with a whooping 328 yards!  It will make a long rainbow gradient from red to purple and I'm really hoping whoever buys it will send me a picture of their completed project.  You can see the yarn's listing here.  

In the last photo is a view of my new yarn labels designed by my fabulously talented friend and graphic designer Emily.  She made them as stickers for me to attach to whatever paper I like to create the label; since my skeins very in thickness it's great to have the flexibility this allows.  I'm also exited to use them to seal wrapping tissue on gifts - oh the versatility!  As you can see I'm still working on my photo taking and they still look a bit dark, but I don't seem to have a good location in my house for picture taking.  Where do you take your photos of your creations?

Joining in with Fibre Arts Friday and with Linda for Creative Friday.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Knitted Gnome Family Pattern

I have been busy knitting toys in hopes of a good Holiday Season of sales here at Simply Playing.  Along with knitting toys I developed a pattern (last year actually, but finally written out) that I'm hoping to launch in the next month or two.  It's of a gnome mama with her baby and child.  Some will be in the store soon sold as mama with her baby in a sling and then the child will be sold separately.  Being new to pattern writing I am looking for a few test knitter's to test it out before it's made public.  If you are interested in being a test knitter please email me at ann"at" simplyplaying"dot"net.  

Joining in with Nicole for Keep Calm Craft On and Ginny for Yarn Along.