SpinningYarnsOnline.com’s Blog

September 7, 2008

Make Hay While the Sun Shines…

Filed under: Life — by SpinningYarnsOnline @ 6:29 pm

It’s September now.  How the heck did that happen?  Two minutes ago it was the beginning of August.  So my kids finished camp and then we had a few weeks until school started.  We hung out, did some back to school shopping and then went up to the Berkshires to visit my brother and his family on their farm.  I would love to show you the pictures but I need my husband to show me how to download, upload or whatever pictures from the camera using some cords instead of just taking card thingy out of the camera and putting it in the card thingy slot in the front of the PC and letting the computer do its thing.  It seems that if you yank out the printer cable from the front port and shove your iPod charger cord in its place too many times, you break the entire front card reader/cord port area.  Bummer.  Having teenagers is hazardous to your electronics!  As you can see from my most excellent use of computer terminology that I am quite tech savvy.  (Not!!)  Anyway, the picture tutorial will occur shortly and then I will have great pictures of sheep, cows, barn kitties, chickens, llamas and more.  There are some particularly awesome pictures of my sister-in-law driving this big tractor machine/monster with some wacky farm equipment working behind it.  Apparently she was raking the hay.  I have a rake to rake leaves and this thing attached to the tractor was quite a bit more involved than that.

My brother is usually a pretty mellow guy.  Throughout his childhood my parents would sit him down in the kitchen and try to yell some sense into him.  They did this (sort of) by sitting on either side of him at the kitchen table, each yelling into an ear with the hopes that he would do whatever it was that they wanted him to (or not do whatever it was that they didn’t want him to.)  It wasn’t until late in his teen years that everyone realized that Steven lived his life to the beat of his own drummer.  He basically listened to my parents and politely waited for them to finish whatever they were yelling at him about and then he would basically continue to do whatever it was that he wanted.  This allowed him to lead a very calm life.  I was always so envious of his ability to never get too worked up about anything.

So what is my point?  Well, for the first time that I can remember, I got to witness my brother have a full on freak out.  And what, you might ask, got the calmest, most mellow guy on the planet all worked up?  It was a farm related freak out.  Apparently, when you are a farmer and you have some livestock to feed over the coming winter, if you cut your hay and then you see storm clouds overhead, you freak out.  My older brother said that there is a saying something like “make hay when the sun shines”.  I had never heard that but I fully understand it now.  My brother and his wife were bale-ing the hay when the sky started to look threatening.   Apparently rain on your hay is a major kill joy.  Something about mold and not being able to feed your animals.  So my brother sent my niece running the 1/4 mile or so up from the far field to the house to come get me and my husband to help.  Hmmm.  Mr. and Mrs. Suburbia bale-ing hay.  How desperate must he have been?

On went my “poopy shoes” (as opposed to my “in the house shoes”) and a long sleeved shirt because my kids got all scratched up from the earlier haying and my husband and I went down to the farther field to “save the day”.  Again, how desperate must my brother and sister-in-law been?!!   I got down to the field first and find my older daughter (age almost 13) sitting in a truck with a total stranger man who was teaching her how to drive his big diesel truck. Fabulous.  You should have seen the look of total devastation and disappointment when I showed up because little Miss 13 going on 21 knew that the driving lessons were about to be terminated.  I introduced myself to Mr. Stranger Man whose name was Dave.  We then set about bale-ing (is it baleing?  that looks funny/wrong to me.)  I got to drive the big diesel truck while my husband, brother and Dave picked up and heaved the hay bales on to the truck.  I’ve never driven a truck before certainly not in between rows of baled hay with kids on the back stacking up the hay.  As stated above, my brother is the calm one.  I am not.  It was confirmed to me once again that I was not cut out for farm life and that I live exactly where I belong:  in suburbia.  Amazingly, we got all the baled hay into the barn/shed building that I didn’t even know they had and all was right again in the world.  Thank goodness!

August 26, 2008

We’re Going to the Farm!

Filed under: Life,News — by SpinningYarnsOnline @ 2:29 pm

Just a quick update to let you know that we will be taking a quick trip up to my brother’s farm for a couple of days.  I am processing all orders received before tomorrow.  If you place an order on Thursday or after, it will not be processed until after the weekend.  Sorry for any inconvenience, but we are going to meet all  the new sheep and cows.  It should be a fun filled trip.

August 11, 2008

New Stuff Coming Soon!

Filed under: Life,News — by SpinningYarnsOnline @ 8:06 am

Whew!  Where did that last week go??!!  It seems like this summer is just flying by.  My girls have their last week of camp this week.  They are both away on trips for most of the week.  They then have the last day of camp which is spent watching a dvd recap of the whole summer and lots of “I’ll miss you so much” tears.  All in all I think they both enjoyed their summer and now have a couple of weeks to regroup and get their heads into school mode.   We have so much to do during the 2 weeks between camp and school that I have no idea how we are going to get it all done.

I have been playing with dyes and testing some new colorways.  I have also been working on different dye methods.  Up until now, all our yarn has been hand painted.  It is a labor intensive process but I love the way the dye takes on a life of its own.  Each skein has its own depth and character.  I have been doing some research about other dye methods and have been working with a new sort of  semi solid that is accomplished by dyeing the skein of yarn and then re-dyeing numerous times until the dye exhausts.  You get great tonal differences that give an almost tweedy effect.  Yarn using this method will be up on the site in the next couple of weeks.  I have been loving the way they are coming out.

I am also working on a launch of a totally new product.  Can’t let you know what it is yet, but I am so excited about it.  A big announcement of the launch of the new product should be by the beginning of September.

Stay tuned, we’ve got a ton of great stuff that will be available soon!

August 3, 2008

Free Sock Patterns On The Web Galore!

Filed under: Life,News — by SpinningYarnsOnline @ 2:36 pm

So I finally was able to copy all of the wonderful links for free sock patterns that you all sent me.  Here are most of them.  I will be going through the list myself in the next couple of days to make my plan for hand knit holiday gifts. I hope you all enjoy this list.  When you knit some socks using SpinningYarnsOnline yarn we would love to see a picture.  In fact, the first person to knit up some socks from a pattern on this list and email the pic to me at info at Spinning Yarns Online dot com (get rid of spaces and make it a real email.  Just trying to outsmart the stupid spammers….) will get some free yarn of your choice.  So let’s get knitting!

Free Sock Pattern Links:

http://www.royea.net/sockdemo1.html

http://www.spunkyhats.com/boogie_freepatterns_socklinks.htm
http://kathleen-dakotadreams.blogspot.com/2008/05/freebie-wednesday-simple-stripes-fair.html
http://www.wiseneedle.com/patternpage.asp?pattern=knitpatksox

http://nonaknits.typepad.com/nonaknits/2007/06/sidewinders_the.html

http://www.pepperknit.com/patterns/anastasia.html
http://files.blog-city.com/files/aa/3830/b/river_rapids.pdf

http://www.helloyarn.com/cabletwistsocks.htm
http://docs.google.com/View?docid=dggcqpgj_40hnxv4jdf
http://knitty.com/ISSUEsummer06/PATTrpm.html I’m working on this
http://www.jfcampbell.us/anne/patterns/show_off_stranded.pdf
http://www.thedietdiary.com/blog/lucia/630 sock links
http://trekcelt.blogspot.com/2005/08/free-patterns.html lots
http://www.knitpicks.com/kpimages/pdf/50631220.pdf
http://woolyheaded-baby-leggings.blogspot.com/
http://www.knitty.com/ISSUEwinter02/PATTstraightlaced.html
http://www.cometosilver.com/socks/2mlsocks_start.htm
http://katinthebag1958.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2008-01-01T00%3A00%3A00-05%3A00&updated-max=2009-01-01T00%3A00%3A00-05%3A00&max-results=8
http://pinklemontwist.blogspot.com/
http://www.dailyknitter.com/patternsdetail.php?type=SO
http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/go-gryffindor#

http://www.socknitters.com/Cyberexplain.htm
http://larisknit.files.wordpress.com/2008/07/dark_isle_socks.pdf
http://pixiesparaphernalia.net/pixie-patterns/

http://www.freepatterns.com
http://www.knittinguniverse.com
http://www.knitpicks.com
http://www.funknits.com
http://www.Bevscountrycottage.com

http://www.knitaddicted.com/html/20.html
http://www.garnstudio.com/index_lang.php

http://knitty.com/ISSUEsummer08/PATTziggy.html
http://knitty.com/ISSUEsummer08/PATTspringforward.html
http://knitty.com/ISSUEsummer08/PATTmuscari.html
http://knitty.com/archiveFEET.html

http://www.knitty.com/issuesummer07/PATTbreeze.html

http://www.knittingpatterncentral.com/directory/socks.php
http://www.knittychick.com/free_sock_patterns.htm
http://webhome.idirect.com/~quanah/patterns.html

Machine knit baby socks pattern:

http://www.pineymountaincottage.com/beginnersock.html

July 28, 2008

Summer Knitting or Not

Filed under: Life — by SpinningYarnsOnline @ 6:34 am

Summer is always a favorite time of mine.  Although I am not a big fan of excessive heat or sweating, I particularly enjoy my life during the summer.  My girls go to a really cool camp where they take day trips one week and then go away the next week.  When I first sent my older daughter to this travel camp a few years ago I spent a lot of time wondering, “What kind of idiot parent puts their 9 year old kid on a bus for a 3 day trip to Philadelphia or Washington D.C.??”  I was a nervous wreck but the camp is extremely well run and is staffed with experienced Unit Directors and great counselors.  My daughter came home having had a wonderful time and I (of course) had wasted a ton of energy worrying.  This is the second year that both my girls are going to this great travel camp.  My older daughter left at 6:30 this morning for a week long adventure and my younger daughter gets picked up in a little while for 3 days of sun and fun.  Awesome!

So what have I been doing with my abundance of time (besides dyeing, packing and sending yarn to people…)?  Well, I haven’t been doing too much knitting.  I have been working on a pair of socks for my younger brother but they have been relegated to the back burner for now.  Instead, I have been working on these:

Sorry for the lousy pictures, I was having some camera issues.  These are  two crochet blankets that I am working on.  The top one is particularly uninteresting.  It is being crocheted out of Utopia which is an acrylic yarn (I know, you are all shaking with disgust).  I needed something that was washable and indestructible and the Utopia was on super major sale so I thought I would give it a try.  It’s okay to work with but I am not a huge acrylic fan so I am trying to make myself like it.  The second blanket is much more fun.  I saw on a blog that I like to read that a knitter had decided to take her incredibly large stash of sock yarn and crochet it into this awesome blanket/bedspread.  I was so inspired that I decided to do the same with my embarrassingly enormous stash of sock yarn.  I love sock yarn.  (That’s one of the reasons I decided to open an online shop.)  I had amassed quite a collection of various yarns and realized that there would be no humanly possible way to knit them all into socks.   When I saw this blanket on FluffyKnitterDeb’s blog I decided that this is what I must do with all this sock yarn.  It is not going to win any awards for being the most beautiful piece of crochet but it will definitely add some serious color to where ever it ends up once it is finished.  It is a fun, mindless crochet and I am thoroughly enjoying it.

Eventually I will finish my brother’s socks.  It’s too warm to wear wool socks in the summer anyway.  I figure by the time the weather gets cold in Mass. where he lives, I’ll have them done.

So what are you all working on this summer?  I’d love to hear all about it.

June 27, 2008

Example of Superb Mothering

Filed under: Life — by SpinningYarnsOnline @ 6:39 am

Most of the time I truly believe that I am a pretty good mom.  Maybe even a pretty great mom.  I have two wonderful kids who are nice and polite and smart and a pleasure to be around.  As a matter of fact, the waiter at the diner, just the other day,  told me and my girls that they were the most polite kids he has served in the diner ever!  That’s quite a compliment considering that he must deal with about a thousand kids a day.  He pointed out the “pleases” and “thank yous” that he gets from my kids and how that is a total rareity in today’s world.  I was proud as punch.  I was also saddened by the fact that he deals with families with children whose parents have not taught their kids basic manners.  Manners are important. 

Anyway, today it was proven to me that there are certain “Mommy-ing” things that I just don’t do well.  It is painful for me to admit but… in order to improve we must admit our shortcomings so here goes:  I am not a good Tooth Fairy! There,  I did it.  I’ll say it again:  I am not a good Tooth Fairy.  It’s hard for me to come to this conclusion but based upon my daughter’s dealing with me and her big, yucky molar that she put under her pillow last night and the fact that all she found under her pillow was the same big, yucky molar (wrapped in a paper towel) and nothing else:  I am not a good Tooth Fairy.

Olivia spent the better part of last evening working to get this molar out of her mouth.  She was brave and patient.  I was busy dealing with another small crisis going on at the same time (my older daughter’s camp bus broke down somewhere near Trenton and I was trying to find out when the camp would get her home and where she would be dropped off) so I ignored the fact that Olivia was sitting at the kitchen table with the lap top computer doing some Star Doll thing and had a pile of bloody (sorry, totally gross!) tissues sitting on the table next to her.  She quietly sat there for a better part of an hour and eventually came into the den and gave me the football touchdown signal showing me that she had accomplished her mission.  She handed me the fruits of her labor wrapped carefully in a clean paper towel and turned to me and said, “I hope the Tooth Fairy doesn’t forget this time!”  She’s 10, she knows damn well that the Tooth Fairy is me.  She was basically telling me not to be an idiot and to remember to throw some cash her way under her pillow.  Why, you might ask, would my 10 year old daughter think that I would need such a reminder???  Well,  because Memorial Day weekend she got another yucky molar out and handed it to me at our friend’s pool party.  I wrapped it in a tissue and put it in my pocket.  Not an hour later I found this tissue in my pocket, forgot what it was and threw it away.   Incompetence!  I had to admit to my daughter that I forgot her tooth was in my pocket (for good keeping and to be safe…) and I threw it away.  She then laughed at me as if she were not at all surprised.  There was nothing left to do but go in my wallet and get her some dollar bills and hand them to her in shame.

Last night she put the tooth under her pillow (apparently an exercise in futility).  I laughed and told her I wouldn’t forget her this time.  I was checking my email this morning and in walks my very polite 10 year old daughter and hands me her tooth, still wrapped in a paper towel.  She shook her head laughing and walked away.  Damn it!!!  I forgot again!  I went downstairs to my wallet and found a $5 dollar bill and handed it to her.   We don’t usually give 5 bucks for a tooth but sometimes you’ve got to compensate them for your own lack of brains…  She then said to me, “A five, cool, you can forget my next tooth too!”  She is a great kid!

First Day of Camp

Here are my girls on the first day of camp.  Olivia, the molar-less one is on the left.

June 26, 2008

Middle School Kids are Awesome!

Filed under: Life,News — by SpinningYarnsOnline @ 11:51 am

Now that summer is here and I have a few moments…I’d like to tell you about a project that I worked on with some kids from my older daughter’s school. Due to some very severe budget cuts and other issues, the administration had to cut an elective out of the kids’ day. In order to keep the school day schedule intact, the powers that be instituted a “zero period” at the beginning of the school day. From 7:45 am to 8:27 am the kids in the middle school (and high school) were held in either a gym or the cafeteria depending on grade. As a parent, I was less than thrilled (I’m being polite…) with this plan. But, what were they supposed to do? Our state government made some harsh cuts that forced our administrators to make some harsh and very unpopular decisions. I’m not going to go into the politics or even my opinion about this. It’s not worth getting my blood pressure up again… Anyway, after listening to my daughter tell me what she was doing during “zero period”, I called the school principal and basically said, “Don’t you have any parents who have a skill that can volunteer some time to get these kids something to do?!!!” And then I continued with what I meant to be a bit of a joke, I said “I knit, you could have a knitting group” I expected him to say “Ha Ha, that’s so stupid. Knitting, there’s nothing academic about that.” Much to my surprise (and to be honest, at the time, my horror) the principal said, “I would love that. We had to eliminate our Home Ec. department so this would give the kids the opportunity to learn a craft that they can use”….etc., etc. Then, because sometimes my brain forgets to tell my mouth to shut up, I started telling the principal about how I could teach the kids to knit and they could each make a blanket square and then we could sew them together and then they would send it to Project Linus and on and on and on. And then I basically got the “when can you start”.

After my head stopped spinning it dawned on me that I had just volunteered myself to facilitate a knitting club at our town’s middle school. Yikes!!! Sometimes I get myself into things and I don’t even know how it happened. So before I knew it I was meeting with the principal to put together a program that would work for his school and my schedule. I was then taken through the process of getting fingerprinted and backround checked in order to be able to be a “regular volunteer”. I found this part of the process very amusing because my husband and I have been known to watch the TV show “Cops” and are always dumbfounded and amused when the arresting police officer asks the person he is about to handcuff if he/she has any warrants. I would always turn to my husband and say, “I don’t have any warrants.” I know that doesn’t sound funny at all but at the time it was because I don’t think I have ever met anyone in my life who has had or who has a warrant for his/her arrest. I am pleased to report that my backround report proved my lack of warrants and any felonies or anything of the like. I was approved to volunteer to run this knitting group.

A permission slip was sent home to any kid who wanted to participate. During that time I was busy soliciting donations from knitting friends. I needed needles and yarn for these kids to use. My wonderful friend Joan went through all of her needles and kept herself a set and gave me the rest. It was a huge bag of about 25 lbs. of knitting needles. My daughters and I had a great time sorting through them and separating them by size. I went through my embarrasingly large yarn stash and made a (huge) pile of yarn that I was willing to part with. My friend Pam did the same. Her pile was even huger (not a word, but it works…) than mine. The lovely ladies at my LYS put together another huge bag of yarn they didn’t need or want. It was a nice community effort outfitting the middle school knitting club with needles and yarn.

So, off I went at 7:30 in the morning to meet my room of middle school knitters. I had been told there would be around ten girls. My daughter would be in the room and it was important to me not to embarrass her or become the “dorkmom” that I am trying so hard not to be. As they walked me down to my designated classroom I had this horrible moment of clarity wherein I realized that I would be in a room, alone, with approximately ten 11 to 13 year old girls. That’s a lot of girls. That’s a lot of middle school girls. I’m not sure if you know this, but the pre-teen and teenage years can be kind of difficult for girls. A lot happens during these years. And I was going to be in a classroom, by myself, with 10 of them. As I walked down to the classroom, it was as if I was in a Hitchcock movie where the scary music is blaring and the hallway was getting longer and more narrow. I was so nervous I had sweaty palms. I kept thinking, “Who was the absolute idiot who thought it would be a good idea to have me run a knitting club for middle school age girls???” Oh yeah, right, that was me…

Well, the girls came into the room and I showed them the needles, yarn and books of patterns that I brought. I split them up by skill level. I took the total newbies and off we went. I have to tell you that they were the most wonderful group of young ladies. Their enthusiasm was contagious. They loved to learn and they loved to learn knitting. Mostly, they loved to sit and chat and be with each other and enjoy each other’s company for 42 minutes. They were wonderful. As the weeks went by we even picked up a few more girls who wanted to join the fun. By the end of the year we had at least 16 knitters! The Schools Superintendent popped his head in one day when he had a meeting in the building and was so complimentary to the girls on what they were doing. It was really nice.

We had all different skill levels going on in the room. I made it clear that I could not teach everyone at the same time so the more experienced knitters were happy and willing to pitch in and teach a newer knitter to purl or cast on or bind off. They worked so well together. I was so happy to see a bunch of wonderful girls helping each other and working together to make a great project. They each contributed in their own way, be it a square or two for the blanket, or the dreaded weaving in of about a gabillion ends. They all pitched in with happy faces and tons of enthusiasm! They were a joy. Here are some shots of the blanket during its construction:

Preparing to weave in the ends.

This is the blanket being blocked.

This is some of the girls with the finished product. They were so pleased and proud of their work. They were invited to go to the Board of Ed. meeting and be recognized for their efforts and to show off their great blanket that will be sent to Project Linus to make a kid, who is going through a tough time, feel special. These kids are great!!!

June 15, 2008

WWKIP Day

Filed under: Life — by SpinningYarnsOnline @ 7:04 am

Yesterday was World Wide Knit in Public Day.  The second Saturday in June has been designated as a day that knitters go out and knit in a public place proving to the world that we are not a bunch of “grannies”.  I joined the group that was hosted by my LYS, Knit-A-Bit.  We met in a park and sat by a lovely gazebo on our “soccer mom” chairs and knit and chatted and ate.  All the things that knitters love to do.  I could only be there for a little while because I had a scheduling conflict.  (Could there be anything more important than a day dedicated to knitting in public??? Yes, my daughter had her last soccer game of the season.)

So we met in a park in Westfield and were immediatly joined by some non-knitters.

These geese were very curious about what we were doing.  They came right up to us and honked at our knitting.  I think they were trying to figure out which project they liked the best.  (Really they were looking for food.  They are food finding, geese pooping machines!)  Eventually Harriet had her husband bring Sam, her dog that is not exactly her dog (I didn’t quite understand the explanation but he is a beautiful, mellow Yellow Lab who was happy to sit amonst the knitters.  He didn’t even have to chase the geese. The mere fact that he walked on four legs made them scurry away to find a new group to hang out with.)

Here is a shot of the group while I was there (which was not very long due to overlapping soccer game).

Notice the chair with the canopy.  That’s mine.  My husband calls it my Queen of Sheba chair.  My younger daughter plays fall and spring soccer.  At the beginning of the fall season and the end of the spring season it is HOT!!!  And SUNNY!!!  I do not like to be hot and I turn into a lobster very quickly due to the sun, thus the Queen of Sheba chair.

Here we have Susan, Pam and Harriet.  Susan and Harriet own Knit-a-Bit.  Pam is pretty much responsible for just about all my knitting skills.  She is my knitting guru, question answerer, pattern decipherer and all around great person.

 Then I had to leave… Bummer.  When I got to my car, this is what the dashboard temperature guage said:

 

 That was in the shade!!  It was way too hot for me and I was just sitting on my Queen of Sheba chair.  I felt really bad for the girls who were playing.  They did the best they could in the heat.  I think everyone was glad when the game was over.

June 13, 2008

Meet Little Meggie

Filed under: Life,News — by SpinningYarnsOnline @ 10:38 am

I got a new toy.  It’s a spinning toy called a Little Meggie.  I bought it from Heavenly Handspinning .  I really like drop spindle-ing but I really don’t like the “drop” part of it.  Whenever I use a drop spindle I always have a feeling of lack of control because you have this weighted spinning wood stick that has to be controlled along with your pre-drafted fiber.  My spindle usually flies all over the place until it gets into its spin.  I was trying to think of a way to eliminate that out of control feeling when I stumbled upon this:

Meet Little Meggie.  Her creator is a genius.  She basically is made of a big, heavy block of wood, a wooden dowl, a ball bearing inserted into a hole, a heavy wood scalloped bottom, a whirl and a hook.  You kick the heavy wood bottom thingy and the spindle stays stationary.  Brilliant! You can watch a YouTube video showing how to use this little piece of genius here:  Little Meggy videoHeavenly Handspinning  also has some really cool handmade spinning wheels.  I have my eye on the double treadle one.  You all need to buy some more yarn from SpinningYarnsOnline so I can afford a new wheel!! ; – ) 

I’ll be spending some quality time with Little Meggie and will show you what I spin soon.  Here’s one last picture of her:

In other news, the Summer Knitty is up.  There are some great sock patterns that would be wonderful knit up in Spinning Yarns’ hand dyed yarn.  I particularly like the Spring Forward Socks

That’s all I got for now. I’ve got to go spin…

June 9, 2008

Too Hot!! And Some Sock Yarn

Filed under: Life — by SpinningYarnsOnline @ 2:03 pm

OMG!!!  It is so HOT outside.  Almost makes a girl want to put down those needles.  Never!  Did I ever tell you that I love air conditioning?  Well I do.  Every year in April I go to the thermostat thingy on the wall and say a prayer.  I say a prayer to any spiritual entity that is willing to listen to me that when I flip the switch, the air conditioning fairy will wake up from her slumber and turn my old hulking system on.  So far, every year my prayers have worked.  It is 99 degrees outside and very oppressively humid.  In my house, however, it is a comfortable 72 degrees.  Perfect knitting weather. 

Enough about heat and heat remediation.  Has anyone seen what FluffyKnitterDeb did with her leftover sock yarn???  She made an absolutely stunning granny square (really rectangle) blanket.  Go take a look here: FluffyKnitterDeb .  I want to make one of those!!  That is an heirloom that can be cherished and handed down from one generation to the next.  If you scroll down you can see a picture of a ton of sock yarn posing on a bed.  It is one of the most beautiful yarn PRon sights I have ever seen.   I think I might consider starting an awesome granny square sock yarn blanket after the 99 degree weather breaks!

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