Friday, December 6, 2013

Fresh Supply of Stitch Marker Candies

Life has been good. So has business - nearly all my stitch marker candies have gone which means I have sold as many yarns :-) Thank you so much, my dear customers!

As I have promised one free stitch marker with every skein of yarn until Christmas eve, I took some time today to make more. As I also have a new mobile phone with a much better camera than my battered old one had, there are some photos of the process, too.

The beginning - just a few markers, and I played around with some photo filters, too (mainly the frame)
20 stitch markers, each a little different, all of them beautiful and made with great care.

Sewing the candy packs - each containing one stitch marker. I used floral paper, paper with hieroglyphs, and even some with cute Halloween spiders (it's never too late for a little Halloween mood!) and other designs.

Finished! 20 unique little candies, ready to be shipped out with future orders.

I like the new camera very much! I couldn't have taken these pictures in this light with my old Galaxy S, but the Nexus 5 gets the job done very well. I'm looking forward to taking yarn photos and see how they turn out. I won't have time over the weekend, I think (still renovating to do), but I will take photos and list new yarns next week.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

How to make a wearable TARDIS real quick

As Whovians around the world know, Saturday is the big day - the day the Doctor turns 50, although he is technically nearly a thounsand years old, of course. Depending on which incarnation, which current time and which wibbly wobbly stuff you're adding to the sum, or something like that. Anyway - my beloved husband secured us some tickets for the big show in the local cinema and I have been wondering what to wear. I thought of spinning and knitting something wearable for the occasion, but there is not enough time. Also, alas, TARDIS blue is not really my colour. This morning I had a sudden inspiration, though, and I am going to show you what I did.

Here's a list of what I used
  • one (piece of) elder branch or any other wood with a soft core
  • a saw
  • a knife
  • fine sandpaper
  • acrylic paint in blue and white
  • brushes
  • a very thin metal knitting needle or something similar
  • something you can stick the knitting needle in (a flower pot filled with soil will work)
  • wire - silver plated or what you like
  • a white glass bead
  • wire bending equipment

I took an elder branch and sawed off a piece of about 4 cm in length. You can use any other wood with a soft core, which will be essential later on.I removed the bark with a carving knife and I sandpapered the whole thing, wiped it with a wet cloth, and let it dry.
I stuck it onto the knitting needle to make a hole and to be able to paint the whole thing in one go.

I painted the TARDIS-to-be with blue acrylic paint and stuck the knitting needle into my incense holder / fragrance lamp thingy. A flower pot should  also work, or just stick the knitting needle in the grass outside if the weather is good.

I waited about 50 minutes for the paint to dry, but I guess that depends on paint brand, room temperature and other things, so just make sure the paint is completely dry. You don't want the white paint to merge with the blue.

When the blue paint had dried completely, I painted the windows and the sign on the door with white acrylic paint. My only good and fine brush was sticky and disgusting, so I had to use a fat one which was also not the best choice overall, so the windows are a bit blotchy. It looks okay from a distance, but a little raw when you look too closely.

Then you can also mess the whole thing up by spraying on clear coat, not shaking the can for long enough and ending up with some kind of snowy surface... I don't recommend this! I'll go through with the plan, though.

Now for the wire stuff - the thing needs a hook or something, so it can be worn around the neck, dangled from a purse or displayed otherwise.

I chose a white glass bead with a silver core to go on top, as the TARDIS light. The wire I used was 0.8 mm and I tried to make the bottom piece nice and flat, so the TARDIS can even stand on her own.

I think the whole process took only about half an hour of active time, plus some time to let the paint dry. Maybe I'll make another TARDIS charm as this one really is kind of snowy on the surface due to the clear coat incident... I'd probably make the next one a little less tall, as the proportions don't seem ideal.

If you try this, please drop me a line and a link, I'd love to see yours! :-)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Christmas Special: Stitch Marker Candies

As Christmas is nearing I thought about some specials I could offer, one of them being the gift set option I already blogged about recently.

And now there is another special - a free gift with every purchase: From now until Christmas Eve, you'll get a free stitch marker (same as in our Stitch Marker Surprise) for every skein of yarn you buy from our shop. I sewed each of them into a cute little candy pack for the occasion, made from decorative paper and sometimes maps (there are a few I made from a map of middle earth, for example).

I only hope they won't be squashed flat when I ship your parcels. This thought came only when I had already finished them, of course ;-)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Shopping for Christmas? The Gift Sets are Back

I have been busy participating in the Etsy Holiday Boot Camp and preparing the shop for Christmas. That's the strange part about owning a shop of any kind - you have to think about Christmas before the leaves even turn red. 

The past few years, I offered gift sets - each containing one art yarn, one handsewn project bag in a matching colour, and a set of stitch markers, usually also in matching colours.
This year, after consulting with Twisted, I decided on a different approach: there will still be beautiful, handsewn project bags and equally beautiful (equally handmade) stitch markers, but they won't be tied to a specific art yarn. I will list gift options containing a project bag and a matching set of stitch markers instead, so you can choose which yarn you'd like to pair with which set.

I have made eight sets in different colours, and there is no doubling - so be quick if you want a specific one ;-)
As always, each bag is adorned with two charms attached to the cord. I tried to decide on favourites, but it's hard. I love the black one with the raven charm and the black faceted bead, but also the turquoise one with the silvery bead and the seahorse. Oh, and the white one with the silvery bead and the snowflake charm, I really love snowflakes... I will list these beauties as soon as I can :-)

Monday, October 21, 2013

How The Princess Saved Herself

A few days ago, I posted a photo on my private Twitter account showing a batt I had carded that day. A very, very pink batt I thought of naming Candy Overdose once it was made into yarn, as I wanted to stay away from any stereotypical attributions.

I briefly considered doing something with skulls and swords, but as I had already used these add-ins with another (pink and black) yarn on the same day, I thought it might be boring. Also, I ran into kind of a dead end when I thought about it. It all went very fast and quite subconsciously, and it's a bit hard to reconstruct, but it went along the following lines: I could use these things to bend the gender stereotype, but in doing so I would also imply pink was girly while swords and skulls were not and therefore contribute to the stereotyope - and I really hate this kind of thing. As I said, my brain went through this very quickly and it seemed to happen in the back of my head without me really noticing the details.

But then, my dear friend Twisted saw the photo and twittered (in German, so I am going to translate here) "I want to see swords in the yarn! And skulls! And then you'll call it "The Princess Saves Herself"!".

And it clicked.

I could actually do some stereotype bending without contributing to the stereotype, although I still had to use the stereotype to bend it, of course - and here my brain went all fuzzy again. I have to think about this some more, and I can't pinpoint exactly why this title makes the idea work, but it does.

In fairy tales, movies and all sorts of stories princesses are traditionally weak (and in distress) and need to be saved by a prince. This trope can be applied to constellations other than princess/prince - and the underlying pattern and implication is that women need to be saved by men (please also watch Anita Sarkeesian's Damsel in Distress series for this, which is a must-see, in my opinion). I have resented this idea for a very long time, and I get angry and frustrated whenever yet another movie/game/story uses this trope. It gets old, and it's been old for decades now.

By taking swords (traditionally used by the prince and attributed to men - also just look at archaeological interpretations, but that's a topic for a different blog post) and skulls and spinning them into a pink (recently-traditionally attributed to women and overused with princesses) yarn I combine elements that are attributed to two different gender groups, merging them - and with the title I let the princess take an active role, making it clear that she uses the swords herself, and that she can stand for herself and be her own rescuer. I use existing stereotypes and I challenge them.

There is also a single dragon in the yarn, by the way, for - I think - obvious reasons.

As a side note, I came upon a webcomic the other day, telling the story of two princesses. It's called Princess Princess, and I enjoyed it very much. It's funny and creative, and it's untypical and untraditional. It's free, too!

While writing this article I realized that using stereotypes in a way that bends them doesn't mean contributing to said stereotypes. This is actually quite obvious, but as I said, I thought myself into a dead end, and I seem to have needed to write this down in order to organize my thoughts. I also realized that sometimes I have to use stereotypes to challenge them.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Time is running

...and Halloween is only one month away. I love spinning Halloween art yarns, but somehow I always start too late. Also, August and September have been incredibly busy the last few years. This is why I have only a few themed yarns, not all of which are listed yet. I'll try my best to put them in the shop over the next few days so they will arrive in time for a Halloween knitting party - or a Halloween party you just take your knitting to ;-)

Bats and Pumpkins

This one features the traditional colours and also bat charms and pumpkin charms. It's 168 m / 112 g

Gotham Night

 This one is already listed, you can read about the details here.

Also, there are these two - not Halloween yarns as such, but the colours fit the theme somewhat and I'd like to show them because I like them a lot :-)


This one features hand dyed bluefaced leicester wool and silk as well as merino wool - and semi-precious stones (fiery red agate, carnelian, and citrine) strung onto a shiny orange thread. 251 m / 113 g

Friends of Slytherin
 This is one of my recent favourites - I absolutely love the snake charms. I've been meaning to spin another Slytherin yarn for a long time now, but it took me a while to find suitable add-ins. This art yarn is sparkly (silver angelina) and features wild silk, alpaca, linen and merino wool. Also, I spun in silk fabric strips and beads. 112 m / 95 g

Friday, August 30, 2013

I shrank the TARDIS

Long time, no blogging... I am sorry I've been so absent, there was such a lot going on. I've been writing job applications, we're still renovating, I had to go to the hospital in July, and somehow now it's nearly September already.

But let me tell you about my recent craft activities :-)

A few months ago, I was asked whether I could spin a Doctor Who yarn with TARDIS beads in it. I went into research mode instantly and went looking for TARDIS beads or charms on the internet. There were not many to be found, and the ones I did find were handmade and (rightly!) quite expensive. As I need several beads or charms for a yarn and have to stay within a certain budget, these were out of the question.

I kept thinking what I could do. Making some from polymer clay myself came into mind, but that would take so much time that it would blow the budget, too. I finally remembered to have read about shrinky dinks - you all probably know it, as it seems to have been and still be very popular. But for those of you, like me, who have never heard of it, let me explain. It's a kind of plastic sheet which you can colour and cut to your liking and then heat in the oven where it will shrink to harder, thicker plates. It's used for jewelry making and I thought maybe it would suit my purposes, too. I ordered a few sheets at once and tried it, but it took me some time to find the right size for my TARDIS.

Today, I succeeded. I made nine TARDISses (and some other stuff from the scraps, just to see what can be done) and I am really looking forward to spinning the yarn!

As the potential customer asked for a yarn inspired by the eleventh Doctor, I'm thinking browns and beiges (tweed suit), a bit of white (shirt) and some red (bowtie, fez) or maybe even small fabric bowtie-y things. I think it will be rustic in a very charming way.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Silence in the Library

Let me introduce one of my latest creations - another Doctor Who yarn, inspired by one of my favourite episodes. Even from one of my favourite favourite episodes, as I like so many of them a lot ;-)

For those of you who don't know Doctor Who or haven't watched a lot of it yet, let me quote the person we are introduced to in this espisode: SPOILERS! (not many, but read on at your own risk)

The colours of the yarn were inspired by the library itself: brown shelves and furniture, with late sunlight falling in (represented by coppery angelina). I spun in silver book charms to represent the actual books (of course), also known as the forests of the Vashta Nerada. I added six strips of white silk fabric to represent the space suits of River Song and her team. Each of the silk strips is accompanied by one or two large green glass beads which stand for the green light of the communicators which are located at the collars of the suits - and which, as we know, tend to Data Ghost, resulting in Ms. Evangelista repeating "Ice cream, ice cream" in the end.

This yarn hasn't made it to the shop yet, but I hope to list it this week, along with some other new ones. Aquamenti (Harry Potter inspired) and Praios (from the RPG system The Dark Eye) are already up for sale, and then there are others, like Nemo, Thank You For The Fish, and Black Widow, which will be listed shortly.

It is good to be back :-)

Monday, May 13, 2013

New Knitting Project: Line Break

I have to admit: when I was still studying for my exams, I spent quite some time on Ravelry, having to procrastinate every so often ;-) I used to look for new patterns (especially asymmetric ones), but also browse my favourites and imagine how glorious it would be to have some time for spinning art yarn for myself and starting a larger project.

I decided on the Line Break shawl which calls for about 800 m of fingering yarn. I wanted a simple art yarn - no ribbons or charms, but tiny beads and sequins for a glittery yet elegant effect - and I wanted to spin in from a black fibre blend. I recently got my hands on some (commercially dyed) black Bluefaced Leicester fibre which I blended with glossy black alpaca, luxurious merino/silk blend and black merino wool. I spun in black sewing thread strung with black and silver mini sequins and tiny silver seed beads. I love the yarn, and spinning the first skein was a lot of fun, but I tend to find spinning lots of the same yarn quite tedious... I managed about 1000m nonetheless and now I can knit a really large version of the shawl, yay!

I named the yarn and the shawl "Delirious Diva", still being under the influence of the "Sing-Along Songs for the Damned and Delirious" album by The Diablo Swing Orchestra :-D

I started a few days ago, while being entertained by my husband playing The Walking Dead on the PS3. It's quite disgusting, but fun to watch while knitting (also enthralling), and I'm looking forward to more :-)

I always find it hard to take photos of black fibre and yarn - these could be better, but I hope you enjoy this post anyway :-)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Tentacular Knitting Project(s)

I found an intriguing pattern called Tentaculum. I was in posession of a wonderful skein of art yarn at the time which I really wanted to knit up myself, and the two kind of happened to coincide. Here's the result :-)

I originally intended to make and keep this for myself, but then I decided to give it to my mum for her birthday. It felt right and she likes it :-)

I made another one I didn't really intend to keep, but now I am wondering... I wanted to knit another one because I had so much fun with the pattern, and I decided to spin a white snowflake art yarn since I've always wanted to knit one of those myself. The thing is - I don't like wearing white. I don't think it looks good on me, and I usually prefer black with a splash of either red, green oder dark teal. All I wanted was the bliss of knitting a wonderful mixed-fibre art yarn with snowflake sequins into a fun garment which I could then trade or give as a gift. Then I put it around my neck and was amazed how white actually can look quite good on me - unfamiliar, but not at all bad. So now I am not sure whether I'll keep it or not. I haven't even gotten around to weaving in the ends and blocking the thing, which is why I can only show you a picture from the very beginning:

I am so in love with these snowflake sequins! I always have been, from the first time I saw them :-) I even wondered whether they might look good in a black or teal yarn *g* Maybe I'll try that some day.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

All Good Things Must End...

...or so goes the proverb. It is certainly true for my studies, as I have now (finally!) completed my degree :-)

I am proud and relieved - and still exhausted, but that's fine as I can take a break now. I look forward to spinning and reviving the shop, but before that I will spend some time doing absolutely nothing useful, preferably in the garden :-) I have a new book and a new music album I am looking forward to: "First Among Sequels" by Jasper Fforde (the fifth book in a series I've enjoyed over the past two years) and "Sing-Along Songs for the Damned and Delirious" by Diablo Swing Orchestra. Both are fantastic!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

More Dyeing: Papageno Sock Yarn

After dyeing my first sock yarn, I had a conversation with my dear friend FibrePiratess about yarn dyeing. I was talking about how easy it is to mix colours like blue and green that go well together, as it won't matter if the colours bleed into each other, and how I wouldn't (at the moment) dare to mix complementary colours together as I was afraid of ending up with a disgusting and undefined mud colour. At this point I felt the immense urge to try a sock yarn of green and orange, and it took only a few days until I gave in.

I did kind of cheat, however. I added yellow as a barrier between the green and the orange, as I knew it would go well with both and prevent the dreaded mud colour ;-) Yet there was still the matter of preventing the orange parts from mingling with the green parts before the colours were set. I thought of this before I started, but modified the measures while I went along. But let me start from the beginning.

When dyeing with easter egg colours, I usually just mix each colour in a normal drinking glass. I put in the little tablets (or paper strips, as there are several different kinds of easter egg colours), add a bit of vinegar and hot water and stir, sometimes breaking the tablets with a spoon when I am impatient. I let the yarn soak in water mixed with vinegar and squeeze it before I apply the dyes.

In this case, I did the orange part first. I wrapped some plastic wrap around it to protect it from the green parts and added the yellow colour. This was how I had planned it. I was afraid it wouldn't be enough, though, and did the first thing that came to mind: I stuffed the orange part of the yarn into an empty drinking glass, then transferred the whole skein and the glass onto a baking tray, fanned out the yarn a little, and poured the green colour on the yet undyed parts. I tried to let it bleed into the yellow parts as I wanted to prevent bits from staying undyed, but I didn't manage perfectly. I then transferred the skein into a bowl (the baking tray wouldn't fit in the microwave, of course), putting the glass with the orange part on top (and adding a little water to it so the yarn wouldn't get too dry).

I heat-set the dyes for 3 x 5 minutes, always letting the yarn rest after 5 minutes (and for 5 minutes) before turning the microwave back on.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to take better pictures. The orange part was quite shy, you only see the yellow and the intersection between orange and yellow here. The real orange is a lot brighter. I love it :-) I thought of parrots at first, until, suddenly, a character from my favourite opera (The Magic Flute) popped into my mind and I thought this was so Papageno!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Learning Something New - Sock Knitting!

I've been spinning and knitting for well over six years now, yet somehow I never dared to try socks. I love handknit socks, but they seemed kind of intimidating as a knitting project. Also, I don't really want to spin sock yarn for several reasons: it has to be extremely thin, it has to be quite even, it has to be plied... It seems to be a matter of diligence more than of creativity, and I am not the most patient person, I like my creative outbursts ;-) Spinning and plying the usual sock yarn of 420m/100g would take ages. First, I'd have to spin nearly a thousand metres of yarn, then I'd have to ply all this yarn, and then it would probably not last for long, as socks are for walking in...

You could argue that I don't necessarily have to spin my own sock yarn. I am proud, though, I have never bought yarn other than cotton yarn for dish cloths - more about that another time, maybe - in all my spinning time, but always used my own handspun for my knitting projects. However, as with the cotton yarn, I finally decided to break the tradition after all. If I know I won't spin it but I do want to do the project, why not? After looking at sock yarn online I decided to compromise: I'd at least dye it myself. This way, I can still be creative, and I don't have to use yarn I am not fully satisfied with. I didn't like many of the commercial yarns, and when I thought about buying hand dyed sock yarn I though "hey, wait - why should I when I can have fun with it myself?". Sooo - I went to Ebay and bought 1 kg of undyed sock yarn ;-)

Due to lack of time (yes, still in my graduation process, studying like mad) I decided to do a quick dyeing session with easter egg colours. They can be used with normal cooking dishes and heat-set in the microwave, so no need for any preparations or special pots. I am quite in love with teals and blue-greens at the moment, so this is what I went for.

Unfortunately, my camera had some issues with getting the colours right - the yarn is a lot more beautiful in person! It's lighter than I wanted it to be (lots of light, somewhat greenish blue), but I got used to it and now like it very much :-)

I had picked a pattern before I bought and dyed the yarn: Falling Tears (which is also available on Lucygerbils blog). In fact, the pattern (wich I found while browsing on Ravelry during a pause between studying sessions) was the trigger for the whole thing. I am picky, I admit it. I have found few sock patterns I really liked (before this one, that is), and seeing that such a project takes a while I didn't want to get stuck with just any pattern. Only drawback: the pattern is not really suitable for beginners as the things which actually make a sock a sock are not explained. So I ended up buying a sock knitting book (it's in German - Sockenworkshop to go) and starting the project anyway. I am sure I could have found everything I needed on the internet, but sometimes I like having a book instead of printed sheets that will get lost at some point or another.

The photo is a little behind the actual status, I just started the heel a few days ago. Then I fell ill (bad dental infection or whatever is the correct term) and was in too much pain to do anything than watching trashy TV shows. I am better now, as the antibiotic is finally working, but I decided on some studying today instead of trying to work out the mysteries of sock knitting. I am looking forward to continuing the sock, but I still feel a bit intimidated ;-)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Don't Blink

I might have mentioned before that I am a huge fan of Doctor Who. One of my favourite episodes is "Blink" and I've been wanting to spin a weeping angels yarn for a while now. Some time between my exams I went looking for some angel wing charms on ebay and found really beautiful ones - enough for two yarns. So here they are, both inspired by the same episode and the same creatures.

The Weeping Angels

Wonderfully soft merino wool of natural grey is combined with white organza ribbons, frosted white glass beads with a silver core, and silver angel wings. I plied the yarn with silver thread, giving it a wavy texture. 124 m, 116 g.

The Angels Have the Phone Box

"They have taken the blue box haven’t they? The angels have the phone box." One of my favourite quotes, and not only mine, as one of the characters in the episode refers to this with the following: ""The angels have the phonebox," that's my favourite, I've got that on a T-shirt." (There are indeed T-Shirts you can buy, with this quote - I've been thinking about that ;-)).

The yarn has the same add-ins as the one above (I call them the angel ingredients now), but the texture is different, and I used merino wool and linen fibre in different shades of blue, as well as white bamboo flakes. 131 m, 107 g.

If you don't know Doctor Who and I got you interested, "Blink" is one of the episodes you can actually watch without having to know any of the characters or background story - though I'd say, start from the first episode of the new series which was relaunched in 2005 and watch all of it - it's one of the best shows at the moment in my opinion :-)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Guess the Fairytale - and Win Fabulous Prizes!

Once upon a time, there was a soap sorceress who asked a spinner for a trade: she would make nine soaps inspired by fairy tales and wanted the spinner to provide nine small skeins of well-endowed art yarn matching the tales. For this, the spinner would get into bathing heaven, aka receive a parcel of handmade bath bombs.

As a trade like this has to be shown and celebrated, the two crafters decided to show everything to the audience - you :-) And as the soap sorceress has a big heart, she decided to give away generous prizes in a guessing and lottery game, and I decided to give away an art yarn. For details, see below - it's a little complicated but worth it, just have a look at the prizes!

This is how it works:
Below you see the nine yarns, each of them inspired by a fairy tale, and each of them tagged with a number. Over at Goodgirl's blog, you will see the nine soaps, each of them tagged with a letter.

Guess which soap belongs to which yarn and leave your guess in a comment at Goodgirl's blog (for example: 2A, 6B... both of which are totally random).  
You can also try to guess the fairy tales, we would love that very much! Also, there will be a bonus prize for this ;-) (for details, see below) 

Goodgirl will do a random drawing in two weeks. The winners will get the prizes, no costs attached - we even pay for international shipping. If you'd like a better chance for your name to be drawn, link to our giveaway posts on your own blog for others to see and leave the link to your post in a second comment on Goodgirl's blog.

Oh, and don't be shy, her blog is in German, but she assures me comments in English will be more than welcome :-) (and don't be alarmed if your comment doesn't show - to make it equally difficult for everyone the comments will be hidden until the drawing)

If you have any more questions about this (I always find these giveaways hard to describe), don't hesitate to ask, you can just leave a comment here on this blog and I'll help.

And now for the yarns - try to guess which number belongs to which letter over at Goodgirl's blog!

(click to enlarge)
The Prizes

1st prize (random drawing):  
The complete set of fairy tale soaps, i.e. all of these 9 pampering and  frangrant soaps!

2nd prize (random drawing):  
A compilation of 5 of the fairy soaps and you can choose which you want to try.  

Bonus prize for the participant who guesses most of the correct combinations and fairy tales: 
The complete set of fairy tale soaps, so all your soapy needs will be satisfied for weeks ;)
PLUS the handspun art yarn you see beside this text.


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