Monday, November 12, 2012

Phinally a Phattie: my quarter-yearly catch up post

happy veterans day everyone :)

it seems as though i always think i'm somehow going to miraculously start having time to post here regularly but life always seems to have a different plan.  most recently i moved a month ago AND just finished up my midterms last week so needless to say things have been rather hectic in my life haha.  I'm finally returning to Cal State University Long Beach to finish up my bachelors degree after about 10 years of life getting in the way and it's really good to be back but definitely an adjustment to say the least.  i've been at community college for most of the past 10 years slowly chipping away at my general ed. requirements but now i get to take all the fun classes actually related to my major.  getting used to a full time class load again, and foolishly moving out mid semester, has kept me pretty busy but since i had a lovely 3 day weekend due to veterans day today i figured i should take some time out to update my blog ^-^

the most awesomest of news is that i'm finally a contributor to the Phat Fiber Sampler Box after years of being a devoted fan!  the month of October was my first time contributing and the theme was "Dia de los Muertos" which was a totally rad theme to get in on for my first month.  for those of you who aren't familiar with Phat Fiber, this wonderful woman named Jessie had the brilliant idea of gathering up a bunch of samples from indie artisans and consolidating them into a great sampler box that she sells every month.  there are stitches boxes full of yarn samples for the strictly knitly, fluff boxes full of fiber samples for all the spinsters, and mixed boxes with a combo of both for those of us who are bi-craftual.  and of course all the boxes have great little extras like knitting patters, stitch markers, buttons, sometimes yarn gauges and orafice hooks, heck sometimes you're even lucky enough to get a hand sewn project bag or a spindle!  it all depends on what the contributors happen to be sending in that month.  the whole idea is that you get to try little samples of yarns and fibers from many different indie artisans before you buy them, so you know what you'll be paying for.  the woman really is a genius and i love the way she's brought together the indie fiber artist community and given us a great way to get our products out there, as well as giving knitters and spinners everywhere a chance to try before they buy.  if you'd like more info on Phat Fiber check out their website  there are links to the phat fiber blog, lots of info on how to buy the boxes and how to become a contributor as well as info about current contributors like me :)

 {fiber samples for October}

I did both fiber and handsewn samples for my first month because i was just so excited by the theme and wanted to contribute enough samples to earn myself a contributor box.  i'm really happy with how the fiber turned out, that pic i found for inspiration was just great and i wanted to do something different from the bright neon colors of sugar skulls that so many people were doing.

 {hand sewn samples for October}

my hand sewn samples were little teeny reversible stitch marker bags in this awesome Dia de los Muertos fabric i found which match with the Big n' lil box bag sets i sewed for my shop.  i'm excited that 3 of the 4 sets i made have already sold i just have one set left in the pink colorway.  

{full sized box bag sets}

And even with the stress of moving and midterms i actually did manage to get the minimum amount of samples sent in for the month of November as well, which has a "Harvest Festival" theme.  i suppose my samples are a bit more Octoberish seeing as how i went with this awesome pic of the Beltane Fire Society's Samhuinn Festival below:

 {inspiration pic for November}

But once again, trying not to run with the pack, i wanted to do something a bit different from what "Harvest Festival" brings to mind for most people, falling leaves, pumpkins, apple reds and the like.  Samhuinn (the holiday most people think of as being the precursor of our modern Halloween) is a harvest festival after all though so it was actually very much on theme with the November box.  i'm pretty happy with the way my samples turned out, this time i opted to dye up some top and hand card my samples with some amazing firey firestar.

{fiber samples for November}

i wish i'd been able to take a better pic of this sample, this one just doesn't do it justice, it's a nice blend of yellow and orange falkland i dyed, mixed with a jet black commercially dyed merino and that awesome firestar.  as soon as i get the full size carded up i'll take some much better pics.

i'm already working on my samples for the December box as well and i have an awesome inspiration pic for the "Nordic Culture" themed box, but i'll save that for my next post.  i'm going to try to motivate myself to blog more now that i have exciting Phat Fiber news to blog every month so i need to save some material for next time hehe.  I'll probably be blogging about that once i get my samples dyed up.

{sock blocker keychain}

And because i like to have a least a little knitting news in every post here's my latest FO, an adorable little sock blocker keychain.  i received the keychain, pattern and yarn from trishaknittin in the Silly About Swaps group on Ravelry for my birthday a few months ago and knit this cute little sock up right away, as well as another one in a variegated green.  i've seen these little sock blocker keychains for years but never had one of my own so i was so excited to receive this gift.  I actually had a totally awesome birthday this year thanks in part to all the wonderful and generous people in the Silly About Swaps group.  it's a pretty small swapping group that i can't remember how i stumbled upon but the people there are really friendly and welcoming.  even though i was a relatively new member people were very kind in gifting me lots of awesome patterns and sending me little birthday treasures for the Birthday Swap 

if you're a swap lover like me and you're tired of your normal swapping haunts you should come by silly about swaps and check out the fun :)

well now that i've caught you all up on my life and fiber arts exploits over the past few months i'm off to finish my homework and start working on the 2 term papers i have due in about a month.  happy knitting/crocheting/spinning/dyeing/carding/prepping to you all and with any luck i actually WILL start posting regularly to my blog now haha


Sunday, September 2, 2012

catching up once again and a Labor Day sale

well well well....

what a trying few months it has been since i last posted here.  i've been battling a back injury for the past few years now, but i ended up getting seriously hurt at the end of May this year and have been completely sidelined, unable to work and on disability.  at least this time i have a darn good excuse for not keeping up on my blog lol.  i don't know if any of you out there have ever had to deal with a slipped disc, but i tell you it's been the most painful experience of my life.  my particular slipped disc was putting severe pressure on my sciatic nerve and for a few months i was in so much pain i literally could not sit for any period at all, and couldn't sleep but a few hours at a time without waking up in extreme pain and having to hobble around for hours before it subsided enough for me to get back to sleep.  i'm really not the kind of person to seek pain medication, but the pain was so bad it was just unbearable and i ended up in the ER 5 times over the course of just a few weeks before my mom offered to pay for me to see a real doctor who prescribed me something for the long term pain i faced. 

however,  i'm doing much better now although still not 100%, but i'm waiting on a county sponsored insurance before i can see if i'm going to need surgery.  at the very least i'm not in constant excruciating pain anymore and can sit for reasonable periods of time to keep up with my blog again.

 {"Gangrene" socks}

during this period of disability i've come to realize i just don't knit as much as i used to.  and since this did start out as a knitting/crochet blog i figured i'd share my latest knitting FO, my Gangrene Socks.  it's really the "Peacock Rib Socks" pattern by Jocelyn Blair, but of course i almost exclusively knit with my own handspun these days so i named my socks after the yarn i spun for them which i had already named Gangrene.

 {Peacock Rib}

below you can see one skein of my handspun gangrene yarn.  spun from a nice blend of 75/25 Merino/Nylon from Heavenly Fibers on Etsy.  Leilani has got some wonderful fiber in her shop and i snagged this lovely stuff at the beginning of this year specifically to spin for socks.  this is my 3rd pair of handspun socks and i'm really proud of how both the yarn and the socks turned out .

 {Gangrene handspun}

i'm also really excited that i'm finally well enough to do more dyeing.  i've really gotten into dyeing and fiber prep this year but sadly was injured shortly after my first few dyeing experiments so i haven't been able to add much to the shop recently.  yesterday i had a wonderful day dyeing and added 4 new braids to my shop in various fibers.  below is some Shetland, my first time dyeing this fiber and i have to say i love the way it takes color.

 {Shetland variegated gradient in greens and blues}

 {Shetland variegated gradient in reds browns and purples}

i did have my first dyeing mishap though on the braid below (of course it had to be the Merino/Silk right?)  you can't see in this particular picture but a few drops of the purple made their way into the green sections so i'm practically giving that one away. i couldn't in good conscience charge full price for a braid with such a big "oopsy"

{80/20 Merino/Tussah Silk in a green to purple spoted gradient}

it's funny, i always have an idea of what i want the dyed fiber to look like in the end, and usually i get there but sometimes i'm a little surprised by the finished product.  that was the case with this fiber here which i've dubbed "Giraffe Gradient."  i had no idea when i was finished dyeing it that it would look so much like a giraffe hehe.  i think it's probably my favorite dye job of the day.

since it's a holiday weekend i've got a sale going on at petite vache designs on Etsy right now, just use coupon code LABOR10 to get 10% off your entire order, less shipping, now through Midnight on Tuesday the 4th.  and now that i'm finally able to sit again i'm also planning to sew up some more of my boxbag sets because those things went like hotcakes!  if you liked them and missed out be on the lookout for more coming soon.

i hope everyone's having a great holiday weekend, happy knitting, crocheting, spinning, dyeing and fiber prepping to all!



Sunday, April 29, 2012

catching up and upcoming shop update ^.^

so, it's been an incredibly difficult, and painful, and educational, and inspiring 2 years for me.  i've been through a lot, and learned a lot of important life lessons.  unfortunately i've also let my poor blog fall into stagnation many times because there's just so much i've been dealing with.  but it seems that things in my life are finally falling into place, after much hard work. i'm finally having some time to focus on growing and branching out as a fiber artist, and totally revamping my etsy shop.

so much has changed since i started this little blog back in 2009.  back then i didn't even know how to spin, and it was strictly a knit/crochet blog.  these days i'm spinning, sewing, fiber preping and most recently dyeing much more than i knit or crochet.

since it been so long since i've posted here i thought i'd do a little picture show of some of the things i've been working on for the past 6 months or so.

these days it seems i only ever knit anything with my own handspun.  i tell you i don't know how i ever lived before i could spin.  there's just something so satisfying about being able to take exactly the fibers you want in the exactly the colors you want, spin them exactly how you want them spun and then knit with your very own perfectly planned and executed yarn.  to that effect here's my first handspun hat

i bought this awesome set of batts from Play At Life Fiber Arts, one batt was black with a little sparkle in it, the other was a nice gradient from a dark coral to a lighter peachy color.  this is now my official "i'm having a bad hair day better throw on a slouchy hat" hat, hehe.

i've also knit my very first pair of handspun socks, which as it turns out proved to be more difficult than i imagined.  it wasn't the knitting of the socks so much as spinning the 2 skeins of yarn evenly that was the problem.  i ended up with 1 skein about 20yds longer than the other but decided to knit the socks up anyways.

as you can see, 20yds really does make a big difference in the length of your sock.  but seeing as how both skeins are a rainbow gradient there's nothing more i can do than keep these as my official "putturing around the house" socks.

aside from spinning and knitting i also have been bitten by the fiber prep and dyeing bugs, respectively.  i got my very first set of hand carders a few months ago and went on a carding frenzie, carding up hand pulled rovings for the ol' etsy shop.

hand carding is fun, and a great workout, but i'm already itching to get myself a drum carder so i can make some big, beautiful batts like the one's i'm always lusting after in other peoples etsy shops.  with my hand carders all i can do is card somewhat small amounts of fiber and pull them out into rovings to make these little roving buns.  but drum carder envy aside there's something to be said for the simplicity of taking just a few types or colors of fiber and creating a nice tonal or variegated yarn without all the crazy bells and whistles of art batts.

and now, my latest obsession:  DYEING!!!

i claimed some ashford acid dyes in a swap on Ravelry, bought myself some nekkid fiber and had myself a little dye party this weekend.

 this is my very first evar dyed braid of fiber.  it's lovely soft Falkland and this was a learning experience for sure.  there were originally supposed to be 4 colors that were equally represented, but i used WAY too much dye and when i was rolling the fiber up to be steamed the excess dye just made all the colors run together.  the purple and black are pretty dominent, while the blue-green and dirty yellow-green barely pop up here and there.  even so i still love this little braid dearly and will probably end up keeping it all to myself.

i did however use the lessons i learned with that first experiment when dying up the 2 tops i did today.

these two i decided to do as mirrored gradients and i'm really happy with the way they turned out.  i used way less dye this time so that i didn't have a bunch of excess being squeezed through and muddling up the colors.  these are out on my back patio drying at this very moment and tomorrow they have a photo shoot and will be put on sale in my shop.

but wait, there's more!

i know this post is pretty epic already but i would be remiss if i didn't mention my newest line at petite vache designs:                                                    

{ one of my Big n' lil box bag sets that sold last month }

so i mentioned in my last post that i started sewing little notions sized box bags.   well i got the brilliant idea to sew up sets of medium and tiny sized box bags, the tiny one nestles inside the bigger one and holds all your notions, leaving room for a small to medium sized project in the bag still.  it's basically the perfect way to keep your project bags organized, each one will have it's own matching little notions bag.

i had 4 sets of these that all got snatched up pretty quickly last month and have just recently listed another set, but i'll be doing some more sewing in the coming month so if you're interested in grabbing a set for yourself be on the lookout for blog updates in May :)

well i'm sure that's quite enough of an update for the time being.  i hope everyone had a great weekend and will have an equally joyous new week