Tap, tap, tap

January 18th, 2014

Posted in bloggy by Nikol |

What’s that sound? That’s me, nailing down my Überlist for 2014!

2013 was pretty meh, list-wise. I banged out 38, solid Kelly territory (to my great shame). I think the first 3 months of the baby gave me a misleading idea of the kind of time I’d be working with. I did almost no knitting between when Birdy started crawling and November. But in November, I did bang out matching handspun cardigans for NaKniSweMO:

NaKniSweMo matchies

NaKniSweMo Matchies

Then I got on a roll and finished a couple other baby sweaters:

Silky merino 1-skeiner

Handspun ss pullover

And a couple bonnets…

Rumpled Elf

Vintage button

Santa 2014

Handspun Rumpled Elf

Handspun Rumpled Elf

I’m glad to be knitting again.

Rigid Heddle Love

November 10th, 2013

Posted in bloggy, NaKniSweMo by Nikol |

Well, I’m getting a late start on NaKniSweMo, but I’m bound and determined to get at least one sweater done, and maybe 2. My plan is to make matching-ish cardigans for me and Pearly. I’m using this, a Tour de Fleece handspun from a couple years back.

It’s actually not my favorite yarn ever, a disappointing final combination of some really gorgeous fiber that promised to be marvelous right up until I plied it. I’m hoping I like it better in a sweater than in the skein–and from winding it into balls, I think I just might.

I thought I’d be doing shitloads of baby knitting, but once Birdy started crawling, I kinda put up my knitting and am only just now getting it back out. I’m hoping to be able to just wing it, using the cast-on numbers from this sweater, which has had a very long life, thanks to the all-over ribbing, but which she won’t be able to wear that much longer:

I think that was the last think I knit. OH! No, there’s something else on the needles, something that I need to hurry up and finish now that it’s cold. I think it’s going to be awesome. I hope.

Next weekend, I’m taking a weaving class from Linda Stanfill, who taught me how to warp my Knitter’s Loom during October’s Fiber School. I started what I thought would be a big throw rug from my amassed stash from fiber workshop handspun (my own, demo samples, and orphans from Yarn School, Camp Pluckyfluff, classes I taught at The Wicked Stitch, etc.). But 1) it was way too long to wind on and I had to keep unrolling and rigging it back up by tying it on and 2) I chose a weakish yarn for the warp and it just couldn’t hold up for the yards and yards required of it, and I got sick of knotting in more.

But in the end, I ended up with yards of great handwoven fabric that I’m probably making into sari silk-lined project bags for Woolfest.

Then I got the wee Ashford SampleIt! (yes, allonewordhalfitalicized with an exclamation point!) mini rigid heddle and started making scarves from handspun and commercial stash. It’s so gratifying to weave up handspun you’ve been puzzling over how to use for years. I’m hoping to weave a lot of Christmas presents, plus a nice batch for Woolfest. (Look at me thinking of Woolfest sooner than the week before! I’m a planning mastermind!)

Both of these use Laura’s Pygoras handspun for warp and commercial yarn for weft. The first one, I didn’t have enough handspun for all the slots, so I alternated between handspun and commercial. I really like the results.



November 6th, 2013

Posted in bloggy by Nikol |

[This is a post from last summer that I just realized I didn’t publish….]

I’ve been sort of turning the big blob of my life over and over again  in my mind, trying to work it into a nice bouncy dough, though it’s really more like a Katamari Damacy ball.

While on vacation, I had a smallish epiphany which kind of snowballed once I got home.

We took a train home from Seattle (which–man! totally recommend it–had no idea of the stunning wilderness you get to witness in Washington and Montana on the Empire Builder). It was an impulse decision–and I’m so seldom impulsive anymore that it was doubly fun. We had an overnight layover in Chicago and were lucky enough to spend it with our friends Grace & Anthony & their fetching daughter, Tigerlily. I was admiring the charming Spasmodica dolls Grace used to make, and we started talking about the pitfalls of making stuff to sell, and how it can turn your creative joy into kind of a grind. She said when she started complain about orders, Anthony teased her for just wanting to “play store.” And I realized that’s my downfall, too. I like making stuff, initially, and setting up a shop, but I’ve never been ambitious enough to be really successful (at anything, really), so I never rise above the level competence that allows you to do okay, but never really become a rock star.

That, and I have the curse of the dilettante. I’m pretty good at way too many things, so I can never just pick one and focus on it enough to achieve mastery. Instead, I putter around in my unfocused way and feel peevish, and envious of my more focused brethren.

But anyway, this has been my story (fractured enthusiasm without ambition or focus, dilettantism) for a long time. Why does it suddenly bother me more than usual?

It turns out babies take forever.

Luckily, it’s a good forever, and I’m hooked and madly in love. But the giant time suck that is motherhood made me realize there are things I don’t wanna do any more. Like play store.

To that end, I’m going to quit having my little half-ass shop. I’ll still sell equipment and maybe Yarn School related supplies (or maybe not), and of course, the fiber from my own critters, but everything else, I’m getting rid of.  I hope I can make up that wedge of lost income by having more time to focus on the venue part of our operation, which is way more fun, anyway (you know, except for the vast oceans of laundry and dirty dishes it generates).

The bonus is that I love quitting. Quitting was my favorite part of working, and a luxury not often afforded to the self-employed.

I’m looking forward to more quitting and more winnowing in the near future. I really want to quit facebook for good and all, thought I love Scrabble too much to ditch it entirely. I’ve got a ridiculous stash of yarn I need to give a hard stare. I’ve got a whole storage room of crap, much of it leftover from my ebay days. I have supplies for a dozen hobbies that are not really for me. I have too much food in my freezer. I have so many clothes that no longer fit me. I have too. Much. Fucking. Stuff. Period. It all pulls me down like a giant squid. I wish to be rid of a good deal of it.

And then maybe, unfettered by the clinging vines of my excess possessions, excess occupations, excess hobbies, I can turn my mind’s eye again to that big, gooey blob, and give it a chance to rise.

Literary Knits Signing Today! (+ Thrums Mini Class)

February 23rd, 2013

Posted in bloggy by Nikol |

2pm at Barnes & Noble Topeka!

I’ll have several garments from the book, free bookmarks and a possibly fussy but hopefully charming baby. Hooray!

Come out and say hello if you’re in the neighborhood.

Reverse Lent

February 15th, 2013

Posted in bloggy by Nikol |

First things first! I’ve got a signing for Literary Knits at the Topeka Barnes & Noble on February 23rd (Saturday) at 2pm. Come out!  Come out! I’m going to see if I can set up to do some kind of cool little demo, maybe thrums?

I’m trying to come to terms with having absolutely no control over the shape of my day. I’ve always been kind of all over the place, but having a baby is this crazy multiplier to my natural chaos. I truly get almost nothing done. I wish I could make a living by staring at the baby. Sadly, there’s no market in it. [Plus more general complaining which I deleted instead because Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz so boring. Speaking of boring, I’ve becoming obsessed with incredibly boring things, most notably cloth diapers. But that’s another equally boring story.]

The point is: Reverse Lent! Inspired by Zabet’s plans for Reverse Lent, I’ve decided to join in and make, do, eat, or buy something marvelous and indulgent every day. I’m going to treat myself, both to stuff and to making stuff.

So. Day 1, I bought this from 1canoe2 on etsy:

It’s darling, frivolous but reasonably priced, practical (avoid waste! eat thoughtfully! be healthy! detachable shopping list!), goes along with my Überlist, and will hopefully make what can be a rather tedious chore much more fun! Hoooray!

Day 2, I made this:

I’m pretty sure I’m going to frog the main thing any minute now so that only the nest remains, then crochet the base in plain yarn. I’d rather knit, but crochet is so much faster and easier for this sort of thing.

Day 3 (today), in honor of the crazy Russian meteor, I bought this:


And hopefully this will give me some motivation to pluck out a little time to kick around here a bit more.

Woolpacalypse! (Winter Woolfest in Wamego!)

January 11th, 2013

Posted in bloggy by Nikol |

Holy cow! Two weeks into the new year and I already don’t know my ass from my elbow (wait, is my elbow the big doughy thing?)! I’ve been running around like a lunatic, but of course I have found time to obsessively compile my new Überlist.

Tomorrow is Winter Woolfest! Come see me! I’ll be selling lovely woolly goodness and signing & selling my new book, Literary Knits! Look at all those exclamation points! (I can’t believe my book’s been out for almost 2 months and I still haven’t showed it off here yet. It’s really lovely! Stay tuned for  a showoff and giveaway next week. There. Now I have to do it.)

I’m back in the corner of the main floor. Look for my goofy pennants festooning my booth:

I’ll have tons of spinning and felting fiber, the new Cupcake Ranch CSA Fiber Shares (on sale for the first time finished–next round will be a pre-production, more like a traditional CSA), a Card-it-Yourself Batt Bar, spindles, hand cards, maybe even a few drum carders if I can fit them in my car. Maybe dye and undyed fiber if it will fit, too. IF THERE’S ANYTHING YOU ESPECIALLY WANT ME TO BRING FOR YOU, LET ME KNOW BY 7AM!

I was pretty nervous about doing this whole operation with Twyla Pearl (aka T. Pearl, Sweet T, Pearly, The Tiny Boss, T-Boney Maronie, Chili Dog, Puppy Chow, Cheeseburger, Tiny Tears, T-Bird, and Birdie), but supermom and amazing Woolfest creator & organizer (and Yarn School teacher extraordinaire) Jennifer Schermerhorn has been so incredibly helpful that I’m feeling a lot better about it.

Twyla Pearl, sporting her Adrian bonnet and overalls and her Melinda cardigan. Unfortunately, the Columbian is like a thousand fucking degrees, so she will not be wearing her darling knitted duds. She’s pretty hot-natured (thank goodness because the school is cold most of the time–though not with these 59F January days, huh?) and she would be wailing inside a few minutes, as would I. Hopefully, all the coming and going will cool the place down, because it was  bit too cozy tonight, even without scores of fiber fanatics. I’m already always red-faced and overheated, but I get extra hot when I’m nervous, so I’m afraid my head will burst into flames during my carding demo.

I set up my entire booth in a classroom yesterday, then broke it down and took it to Wamego (sans most of the merchandise) and set it up this afternoon, with Jennifer’s kids (and models from my book) hauling in everything for me because they are AWESOME.

Lucy (modeling Lyra Hood and Phoebe Coat), Jake & Sam (modeling Oskar Pullover, all from Literary Knits):

Okay, better go hang up all that last-minute dyeing, or a I’ll be dragging a bunch of wet wool with me tomorrow!

See you there! Huzzah!



A late introduction: Twyla Pearl

December 3rd, 2012

Posted in bloggy by Nikol |

I’ve been very absent from my old friend The Thrifty Knitter. My crazy year is finally winding down. This year, I survived a tornado, finished a book, grew and expelled a human person, and hosted Yarn School, Fiber School & Mitten School! Whew!

The Tiny Boss (Twyla Pearl, born 9/13/12):

Twyla Pearl, Week 10

If you’re a baby person, you can see about a million pictures of her here. Otherwise, since I’m trying to keep it crafty here, I won’t bore you with a gazillion baby photos, but limit myself to 2 featuring  handmade stuff (she’s got several beautiful handknit garments I’ll also show off as she grows into them):

Twyla Pearl, Week 10

Twyla going stealth in a homemade boppy cover & matching pinafore dress, by me. I have made a SHITLOAD of baby gear, which I’m hoping to pull into a Cooperative Press book if Twyla stays mellow this winter. No doubt I’ll be producing a lot more baby patterns in general.

Twyla Pearl, Week 11

The most amazing Baby Surprise Sweater (!) ever by my incredibly skillful friend Teri, handknit of yarn from our chocolate Romney Fudgy the Whale + hand dyed yarn from our neighbors Alpacas of Wildcat Hollow!

That’s Twyla at my book signing at The Wicked Stitch last weekend. After missing two naps in a row (the signing on Saturday and Spinster’s Club yesterday), she was a cranky little potato yesterday, especially angry on the ride home, but she conked out right after dinner last night, so the silver lining was that Ron & I got some rare alone time.

And my new book came out last week! I am so very pleased with and proud of this thing, though I’m still really sheepish about being on the cover. More on that (and my new BACON mittens!) soon.

Tour de Fleece 2012

July 7th, 2012

Posted in bloggy, spinny, tour de fleece by Nikol |

This I’d really the first spinning I’ve done this year, so I’m pretty excited to get back in the saddle.

My TdF teams: Stashbusters, Wicked Stitch, SCF/HY, and My Favorite Sheep.

Because I like checking things off lits, my many TdF 2012 goals:

    Spin only from stash,whenever possible.
    Spin 5# of fiber.
    Spin some Yarn School Hello Yarn fiber.
    Spin last year’s samples from my flock.
    Spin something besides wool or alpaca.
    Spin something from MO Fiber.
    Spin something from Rhinebeck.
    Spin Gringo’s fur for Daddy’s hat (my dad loooooves his dog)
    Figure out the oldest thing in my stash and spin that.
    Spin a fiber sampler.
    Spin more worsted weight
    Spin with at least the type of project (mittens, shawl, sweater, throw) in mind and decide what to make with everything I spin.
    Decide what to make with any unknit yarn from past Tours

Here’s the rundown from Week 1:

Day 7: 3.5oz ABC Ranch merino/silk roving
Tour de Fleece, Day 7

Day 6: plied Hello Yarn “Brittle” SW w/ white SW

Tour de Fleece, Day 6

Day 5: White SW

Tour de Fleece, Day 5: Superwash Corridale combed top

Day 4: 2nd half of Hello Yarn “Brittle” SW

Tour de Fleece, Day 4: the rest of the Hello Yarn "Brittle"

Day 3: 1st half of Hello Yarn “Brittle” SW

Tour de Fleece, Day 3: Hello Yarn "Brittle"

Day 2: Laura’s Pygoras Shetland roving

Tour de Fleece, Day 2: More Laura's Pygoras Shetland roving

Day 1: Laura’s Pygoras Shetland roving

Tour de Fleece Day 1: 4oz Laura's Pygoras Shetland Roving

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