Spinnin' 'n Stitchin'

The last couple of evenings my husband was gone on a business trip. So, I had two evenings to myself and decided to work on two things that I haven't worked on in a very long time. 

The first one is spinning. I unfolded the wheel, oiled it and got out some wool. 


I am working on a fleece that I got at the Black Sheep Gathering a couple of years ago (!). I washed it and got most of it carded soon after I bought it. Then I started spinning it. I'm not sure exactly why, but after about 2 bobbins I just stopped spinning. I got a little more of it spun this past summer but haven't touched it since. My goal is to try to get another bobbin or two spun before Christmas. 


The second project that I have revived is my cross-stitch. I have been working on this on and off for many years and would really like to actually get it finished at some point in the near future.


All of the actual cross-stitching is done and now I am just working on the back-stitch. This is the thread that goes on top of the cross-stitches and really makes everything stand out. 

In the picture below you can see the blue area on the bottom that I am currently working on. The left part including the starfish is done while the right side and the fish are not. 


Of course, cross-stitching is always more fun when you have a corgi to help! 


Springtime Socks and Spinning

We've had some great spring weather around here lately. Warm and sunny and I've been doing lots of spinning. The skein that I just finished started off as this 85% merino, 15% silk roving. 20130318-115325.jpg

It's interesting that the roving had separate chunks of red and blue but once it's spun it looks purple.


The silk makes it shiny and it's really soft. I like how it turned out. I'm now spinning some corridale which I will have pictures of once it's all spun.

Recently I also finished some socks. This is a stitch pattern from Charlene Schurch's book Sensational Knitted Socks. I used the stitch pattern for the top of the foot and leg but used my own toe and a short row heel.


Here you can see the stitch pattern in a little more detail:


The only thing I would change if I were to do this pattern again would be to use a more solid colored yarn. I think this would make the cables show up a little better. They kind of blend in with the stripes of color in this sock.

I also finished these socks a while ago but only just got around to taking a picture of them. They are just plain socks knit from the toe up.


And, because I can't resist, here is a picture of a silly pup known as Lily waiting for the ball to be thrown at the dog park. She loves springtime, too.


Falling Leaves

Now that I am back to blogging, I am going to try something new. The idea of this blog was to be able to show family and friends (and anyone else that is interested) what I have been working on. As I finish projects I have been storing them in a "blog" folder on my desktop. I have accumulated quite a backlog of projects there. So, my idea is to post something that I am currently working on along with something that has been finished and sitting around waiting to be shown to you. For my "old" project this post, I will show you my Falling Leaves beret. This hat was designed by one of my favorite designers- Alana Dakos. She also does the "never not knitting" podcast and blog. This pattern comes from a book called Coastal Knits that she co-wrote with Hannah Fettig.

I used Kollage Yarns sock-a-licious in the Indian Rose colorway.

My pictures are not great, but I love this hat. I have never owned a beret before, but it is perfect for this area. It doesn't usually get cold enough to need a winter hat (with the exception of the last few days) but it still keeps the top of my head warm.

One fun thing about this hat is that to block it you stretch it around a dinner plate. Kind of interesting.

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Ok, now back to my current spinning project. The roving from my last post is all dry and I have started spinning it. I just wish I had a picture of the look on my husbands face when I first showed him this roving (before he even saw the blog post about it). We both agree that it is not a very pretty sight. Although it seems that Lily still likes it as I just had to pull it out of her mouth while writing this post. I guess I left it a little too close to the edge of the table. She couldn't resist.


Here is how it looks on the bobbin so far:


The white really washes out the little bits of color that are there. I'm going to just keep spinning it, and probably make it 3-ply using the navajo plying method. Once it is all done and plied I will see what I think but right now the plan is to over dye the enitre skein. I'm thinking a darkish orange color, but I'm not sure so if anyone has any better ideas feel free to let me know!

Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival

Ever since I started spinning almost 2 years ago I have wanted to go to a fiber festival. (I would have wanted to go before I started spinning too, it's just that I didn't know such a thing existed until I started looking for spinning fiber.) One of the big ones on the West Coast is the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival (OFF). I have been planning on going since we first moved to Oregon and it was so much fun! I have never seen so much fiber in one place before. It was an entire fairground full of fiber animals, fiber, yarn, spinning wheels, drop spindles, knitting supplies, weaving supplies and basically any fiber-related thing you can think of.

First we got to see some alpacas

and sheep.


Then it was time to watch a border collie heard some ducks. The border collie had a great time, but I'm not so sure about the ducks.

Then we decided to go back to the barn to see the goats. This cashmere goat likes to pose for pictures apparently.


Once we saw all the animals we wondered around all the booths. There were so many to see and Jason patiently went with me while I ooed and awed over all the yarn. I wanted to buy everything but had to keep reminding myself that I already have tons of yarn and spinning fiber at home.

Once we made sure that we had seen all the booths we decided to go home. But then we noticed a barn that we hadn't been to yet. We went in to find that it was the lama barn. Not only that, but the lama obstacle course was in progress. Yes, I just said that there was a lama obstacle course.



We stayed to watch 3 lamas go through the course then decided to call it a day. I had a great time and already can't wait to go again next year.

Spin, Spin, Spinning

Well, my week sans husband is almost over. I still have tons of knitting and crochet projects that I didn't get to this week, but I did get lots of spinning done.

From left to right: baby camel, alpaca/silk mix, and the last three are corriedale.

The baby camel is so soft! I tried to spin it pretty thin so that I could make something lacy out of it. This yarn is darker brown than it looks in the  picture on the right, and I think it would make a pretty shawl or stole for the fall. One thing I discovered with yarn is what a distinct smell wet camel fiber has. Good thing it was so hot outside I just hung it up and didn't have to smell it for long!

The three yarns shown above all use a new plying method I just learned called Navajo plying. This is a way of making 3 ply yarn from one strand. If you want to see a video of this technique in action check out this YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmlwtojLXI8 (you might want to fast forward to about a minute into the video). You might recognize the colors of the first 2 yarns shown above. These were the 2 colors that I plied together to make the yarn that I showed you last post (or far right on the first pic of this post). I still had a bobbin of each color left and decided to use the Navajo method to ply them individually. The orange/pink yarn turned into a really pretty variegated yarn. The third picture above it a 50/50 alpaca and silk mix that I got from the Paradise Fibers fiber of the month club. I also used the Navajo ply method, but made this a much thicker yarn. I think this may end up turning into a nice, thick pair of mittens.

While that's all for the finished yarns, I have some roving that is being dyed as I type this post. It is also one of the fibers that I got as part of the fiber club. It is Masham wool, and I decided to dye it a deep red/purple color. I have 6 ounces of roving, and I used 6 packets of black cherry Kool-Aid and 2 packets of grape. Here is the before picture:

And the after...

As soon as it dries it will be spinning time again!

Did someone say yarn?

This weekend was all about cataloging and organizing my yarn stash. I'm not sure how it keeps growing, but it does. Ok, I know exactly how it keeps growing but I just can't seem to stop accumulating more of it! I have been meaning to go through the yarn for a while and enter it into my ravelry.com stash to keep better track of it. This weekend was the perfect weekend for this event because while my husband is out-of-town for the week I have turned the living room into the yarn room. I'm starting to like it this way. I think it should stay this way permanently, unfortunately my husband probably has other thoughts... Here's the entire collection pre-sorting. A yarn mountain!

It has now been entered online so I can keep track of what I have. It is still sitting in the living room, but somewhat more organized so I have space to work:

As you can see, the wheel is positioned to see the TV, all my knitting needles are accessible, my knitting project (which I will tell you about in another post) is out, and the computer sits in the middle so I can type this post.

After seeing how much yarn I have I decided that I need to start making some projects to eat through the stash. So, I decided to do a scarf. It is a simple scarf knit the long way in straight garter stitch. I used size 11 needles, cast on 200 stitches and went to town with all kinds of scrap yarn. Here is the end result that I finished this morning:

I'm still not sure if I really like how it looks, but it successfully used up some odds and ends that I had hanging around.

When I wasn't working on the scarf, the spinning wheel has been running. I have been working on the red/pink/orange roving that I showed you in the last post. I spun the red on one bobbin, then alternated the pink and orange on a second bobbin.


Then, I took one strand from each bobbin...

...and plied them together.


I didn't know what to expect from this, but it turned out interesting. If I were to try this again, I would probably use one of the lighter colors as the main color since the red is kind of overwhelming. I can't wait to see it knit up into something! :)

Hello World!

Welcome to post #1 of the CrystalCrafts blog. This is a place where I can keep track of what I'm working on while sharing them with you at the same time. In fact, over the last few days I finished some projects that I want to show off. The first one is a knit tank top. The pattern comes from Lion Brand and it is called the All Season Shell (60433). I used 100% cotton yarn (Loops and Threads Brand Cotton Club in Wild Rose) in the hopes that it would be nice and cool for the summer. Turns out the yarn is thicker than I intended and it may not be as cool as I wanted, but we'll just have to see what happens. At the moment it has been washed and it drying in my craft room. I am very glad it turned out since the first attempt was kind of a failure. I finished it, went to try it on, and my head didn't fit through the head hole. Oh no! Anyway, I Un-did the shoulder seam, picked up the stitches, added a few rows and used kitchner stitch to seam it back together (which looks a lot smoother than when I had sewn it).  I tried it on again and voila! my head fits through the head hole. Yipee! I don't have a picture of me wearing it yet, but here it is drying:

The next project that I recently finished was a diamond pattern crochet hat. This hat is kind of special because it is the first item I made from fiber that I completely processed myself. A friend of mine gave me wool from her sheep. First step: skirting. I took the wool out of the bag, got rid of the dirtiest parts and saved the rest.

For this step I decided to take the wool out to the porch. I bought some cotton zip-up pillow cases to put the wool in for the next step: washing.

Then it was bath tub time. I turned up the water as hot as possible, filled up the tub, and the wool went swimming. The tricky part here is making sure that the wool is not agitated because heat+water+agitation=felting which means a huge blob of wool that cannot be spun. 

After combing out the wool with some dog undercoat rakes (which I will never have to do again since i got some awesome home made wool combs- thanks Dad!) I spun it on my amazing Kromski Sonata. I ended up with quite a bit of yarn. (576 yards if you want to know exactly how much.)

I took 1 hank, dyed it with blue raspberry kool aid and crocheted it into a hat:


Now I'm off to go work on a new project. Not sure what it will be yet, but I'll let you know when I figure it out!