Friday, May 29, 2009


Negative Nancies

(warning--rant follows. I had a different rant all planned, but this one just seems more appropriate right now.)

Hoo boy, what a week.

The part of me that's a news junkie has been resolutely ignoring the right-wing bashing of Judge Sotomayor, who has proven herself to be qualified as a Supreme Court Justice--I mean come on, Lardmouth Limbaugh and his ilk! Enough already! Repeated ad nauseum on the news is the incorrect paraphrase of a statement she made some time ago. Say it with me: the Judge did NOT say a Latina woman would make a better decision than a white man because of her cultural experiences and race. What she said, in effect, was that she knew she would have to set aside those parts of her personality in order to view a case from all sides and reach the best possible ruling.

I've also been watching the developments with North Korea. Lil' Kim and his minions are up to their old saber-rattling, no doubt in part to distract the poor wretched people in that country from how miserable life is for them. A way of keeping the people in line--as if a starving population were in any position to rise up against an oppressive regime. Who knows, maybe there are plans in Pyongyang to invade South Korea soon, more than likely it's just bluster. I think the US defense secretary's response makes sense, issuing warnings, putting US forces in the region on full alert but not assembling ground forces. Let's face it, our response has to be cautious, what with so many troops already committed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hopefully they're listening to the advice of Vizzini, the Sicilian villain from The Princess Bride, who said: "Never get involved in a land war in Asia".

Still sound advice.

Now I know you must be wondering how all this hard news and political spouting off ties in with the subject matter of a knitting blog. Relax; I'm way ahead of you. I've been watching the Sock Summit buzz on Ravelry and the blogs of Yarn Harlot, Blue Moon and fellow knitters, and it's distressing that the amazing coordinators of Sock Summit are receiving horrible emails from certain disgruntled people because they couldn't register for classes they wanted. Well, Chickenlips/Stitchjones' policy is simple and basic: it isn't necessary to be nice to nasty people. And so, to all gainsayers of everything the current administration does, to Kim Jong-Il, and to you handful of jerks who don't have the social skills of the average two-year-old, I have this to say:

Mom/Wife = No Life?

On a lighter note, I've developed something of a celebrity crush, on one Russell Brand, who was in the movie "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" which I have yet to see; he did a stand-up comedy show in New York which I caught on TV, and he's wickedly funny as well as dead-sexy. Just to keep things loosey-goosey, I put this picture up as my wallpaper.

Which proved to be a big mistake, given my hypercritical family.

Michelle: "Mom, that's disgusting!"

Mr. Stitchjones: "Why do you have pr0nographic wallpaper?"


So now my wallpaper is this:

Cute, adorable, fluffy bunny rabbits. Something to which nobody could possibly have any objection.

Unless, of course, you're with PETA...

Sunday, May 24, 2009


FO: Harbourside Shell

Finished and blocked, my first original top design: the Harbourside Shell.
The eyelet pattern around the lower portion reminded me of the view from here, which is why I used the Anglicized spelling of the word "harbor". I was fortunate enough to accompany Mr. Stitchjones on a President's Circle trip to Sydney in 2001, before the high tech boom abruptly ended, and we even participated in a "regatta". Intrepid (read: those top software sales performers who don't want to look like a wuss to their co-workers) types were boarded onto yachts, and an amiable chap who appeared to step right out of Crocodile Dundee gave us sailing instructions for an actual race on Sydney Harbour. Which was windy, choppy, and freaking dangerous! Having no sea legs whatsoever, when the boat listed terrifyingly to one side, I grabbed Jason by the tighty-whities and held on for dear life. They actually had to take me back to shore after that.
But I'm digressing from a finished knit that, with a few hiccups, I truly love. Let me tell you all about it.
-Yarn: Rowan Wool Cotton in Lavender (Rowan has the most bizarre names for their colors!) 8 balls
-Needles: US 5, 24" circular
-Length from lower edge to armhole: 17.5"
-Size: 3x
In all honesty, this design is a hybrid of two different patterns, one of them being the top half of Cherry Bomb minus short row shaping, and the distinctive eyelet pattern which I found in a Japanese book of 300 knitting stitch patterns. I did one full pattern repeat before beginning the shaping, and knit in the round rather than flat as Cherry Bomb is made. I also altered the number and row count interval of paired decreases and increases, and extended the length a good 2 1/2 inches, as I like my tops to go past the belly! At least I got that right this time, deciding that if I was going to start free-styling I would do what I think looks best for my body, not the designer.

This was my first time working with Rowan Wool Cotton, but it won't be the last. It's soft, lightweight, has great stitch definition and behaves better than Calmer, at least I think it does. So even though I probably should have used a smaller needle to do the garter stitch borders, and fudged the neckline a bit because my bra still shows, all in all I'm pleased.

Hell, you've seen me in my bathroom before, so I don't think you'll mind the obligatory mirror shot. I'm holding in my stomach for all I'm worth.

I didn't write up an actual pattern, but I plan to put this up on Ravelry. If there are any requests for a pattern, then I'll write it out.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


notes from the microbe farm

Hey, all! I'm still alive, really. No matter what you may have heard. I just haven't had much that's blog-worthy, and in my case, "blog-worthy" means something I finished knitting. I do have happy news about the Bombshell for Ms. K, though. It fits great and she was delighted to receive it! For this knitter, that's all I could ever want. All's well that ends well.

Before I get to all things wool, I must tell you that I have one sick kid. She got the double whammy: strep and mono at the same time! With less than two weeks to go until the end of the school year and graduation. Fortunately, she decided long before that she didn't want to be in the commencement, she just wants to get her diploma and head on to college, but my poor lamb is feeling absolutely miserable. A week ago she was put on an antibiotic for strep but kept getting worse, so two days ago I took her to the doctor again. They did a blood draw and it's mono. She was put on a stronger antibiotic, which I hope is kicking the strep's ass, but it's hard to tell because she is so lethargic, occasionally feverish, can barely eat or talk, and generally feels like crap. So for the time being, Chickenlips is on chicken soup detail.

As a veteran parent, I know that illness happens no matter what else may be going on, but it does get complicated when the professional pendulum swings the other way. In my case, Stitchjones has gone from the brink of extinction to pretty darn active! I acquired a new wholesale client, the awesome online shop Knitty Noddy. Do check it out, I know you'll love it. They have HandMaiden and Fleece Artist! And soon, Stitchjones. With Black Sheep Gathering looming on the horizon, the biggest fiber event I've ever participated in, I've got my work cut out for me--but the part of me which remembers that dyeing is fun, is going "bring it on"! ;)

And Now For The Money Shot (yarn, that is)

I especially love creating new colorways--so here's one I did in superwash merino worsted. I was originally going to call it "Trailer Park Socialite", but decided that was a little too un-PC and changed it to "Denim Debutante".

Being a fan of the color green, I get my fix with dyeing sock yarn in "The Trees". So just for laughs, I made a couple with the last of my superwash merino worsted. These are spoken for, but no worries, I ordered more yarn today!

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Another one bites the dust

Ms. K's Bombshell sweater, pre- and post-blocking. The actual color is best shown in photo #1.


Pattern: Bombshell, by Stefanie Japel, from the first Big Girl Knits book

Yarn: Berroco Comfort, 4.5 balls

Needles: 24" circs, US 8 and US 3

Size made: 1.5 x (approx. 46")

Wish I had a model! It's hard to photograph a sweater like this. When I put it on a hanger, it looked like a shapeless blob; yet laying it out flat gave me a difficult angle for picture taking. Unfortunately, the sweater isn't the right size for me or the right shape for Michelle. I'm praying that the garment will fit its intended recipient, Michelle's teacher. It was a gamble, trying to make a shaped and fitted top for someone without any opportunity for fittings, but Ms. K is worth it and I just relied on the accuracy of my daughter's descriptions for shape and size.

More than half done is my first attempt at designing a top. It doesn't look like anything much yet, so I don't want to take pictures until it's done, but a lot of it is a mindless knit (stockinette in the round) and I cranked on it all the way home from Tri-Cities yesterday and most of today. It being Mother's Day, I didn't have to do a dang thing but eat strawberry waffles and chicken quesadillas that my family made! Fabulous. That was really all I wanted, anyway.

Yesterday's outing got off to a rather frantic, disorganized start, but turned out okay. We arrived at the Richland community center at about 9:00 am, an hour before the event was to begin so that we could set up, only to find out that we couldn't get in until 10:00. The organizer insisted that she notified all the vendors of the time change by email; perhaps she did, but nobody got it! So it was a mad scramble to get everything set up once the anal retentives who run the community center finally deigned to let us in, and the space was small so the vendors were crammed up against the walls to allow room for the spinning circle. The other thing was that the community center is adjacent to a park along the Columbia River, and a huge Komen For The Cure walk/run event was happening at the same time, which took up all the parking until about 12:00 noon. Finally, though, we set up our space as best we could, the sea of pink T-shirts dispersed, and while I didn't sell any yarn, I did sell about half a bin of fiber! I came home happy to have some cash, because now I can scour the interwebz for good prices on undyed fiber to prepare for Black Sheep Gathering.

Speaking of which, it's now time for me to be dyeing in earnest!

Friday, May 08, 2009


now it can be blogged

I saw Rachel at knitting/spinning group the other night, and was able to give her this little cardi for her daughter who will be arriving next month! The details:

Pattern - Daisy baby cardigan from Knitty

Size - 0-3 months

Yarn - Merino/silk from Jenny of Bare Sheep Yarns , fingering weight in "Irish Luck"

Needles - Size 3

This was a hella fun knit! I made most of it while watching the Game Show Network with Michelle. Even found a chart for a shamrock and knit it into the front, how clever am I.

The FO's just don't quit! Teacher's Bombshell is all done. I washed it this morning and it's drying. The pic is still in the camera, so I'll post it next time.

My Wild and Crazy Imagination

Yesterday, Michelle and I both woke up headachey and felt lightheaded through the day. She was worse off than I was; she felt and looked sick and stayed home from school yesterday. We both felt worse last night, so I jumped to the (wrong, thankfully) conclusion that we had a carbon monoxide problem in our house. We have a gas furnace, water heater and fireplace. I called NW Natural about 10:30 last night. The least fun thing about this whole fiasco was having to wake Mr. Stitchjones, who goes to bed by 9 pm. While the operator at the gas company emergency line was telling me to open windows, get all people and animals out of the house and go to a neighbor's until they could send someone out, my poor hubby just stood there in a daze. In the end we put our coats on and waited out front, with the dogs in the back yard and the kittehs let out, since it looked like nobody was up on our block. A technician arrived within 15-20 minutes and checked out all our gas appliances with some doohickey, then told us everything was OK and we could go back in the house. As to why my daughter and I both felt lousy yesterday, I can only ascribe it to some sort of mystery virus! We both feel pretty much OK today.


This afternoon, Mr. Stitchjones and I are heading up to Tri Cities, Washington for Fiber With A Twist. I like this event's purpose: "to have fun while using fiber in unique ways". I have 8 gallon-size ziploc bags of brilliantly dyed alpaca fiber, which I purchased undyed from Lilly of the Valley Alpacas in Modesto, Calif. It was really nice white huacaya roving, but so loosely combed that it fell apart when I tried to dye it. So I ended up dyeing it in pieces and can sell it as sliver. By going to a couple of spin-ins, I've found that there are felters and crafters such as dollmakers in addition to spinners who attend these events, so hopefully my bagfuls of alpaca will sell!

Happy Mother's Day to all moms reading, and a wonderful weekend for everyone.

Monday, May 04, 2009


made in the shade

It's been a while since I put up some "freshly dyed" pics, so here are a few highlights. Top to bottom: Alpaca Lace in Wild Iris, Alpaca Lace in Sage, Merino roving in Cloud Nine, and Merino-Tencel roving in Juniper. Yarnhog mentioned she was looking for merino/tencel fiber. I had never worked with it before, so I bought just a taste from Paradise Fibers when we were up in Spokane. Ooo, shiny! I'll definitely be getting more in the coming weeks. All are available here.
Must return to the vats--hey, makes me sound like a brewmeistress! ;) --just wanted to flash some pretty colors at ya, and also to let you know what's coming up from Stitchjones:
-More BFL roving in "Bollywood"
-The "next generation" of Glam Sock!
as they say, "stay tuned"...

Friday, May 01, 2009


I feel like Goldilocks.

Ahhh. Got home yesterday. As I get older, I notice more and more how much I appreciate the simple things, like my own bed, and perhaps this is an overshare, but my own bathroom! I'm now back among the things that feel "just right".

Thank you so much for the condolences. Your caring meant a great deal to me and helped me through a difficult time. The past week has been an ordeal, without a doubt. Jason and his mom are doing about as well as one can expect. Somehow I managed not to assassinate my brother-in-law, who was at his most obnoxious early on. I wrote a poison-pen letter that I stuffed in my purse, so if I should get hit by a bus or something, my true feelings for the scuzbucket will be revealed, but I'll have shuffled off this mortal coil so it won't much matter. I also found this website, Just Rage, that is a great cyberspace dumping ground for anger. Warning--don't visit the site if you don't like frequent use of the F-word! I have to admit, I became pretty desperate for coping mechanisms over the past week. So there was the poison pen, the website, and oh yeah, I ate lots of chocolate. I still feel like a slug, it could be emotional exhaustion...but is probably the chocolate.

I did lots of knitting on various and sundry projects...and haven't finished a one, except for a nifty thing that still needs to remain secret. Hopefully next week I can post the pics. I also broke ground on my very first sweater design! Whatever the chocolate binge didn't fix, the endorphins from the creative rush must be helping, because I instantly feel more positive when focusing on yarn and the beautiful things that can be made from it.

Well my dumplings, I'll be off now to knit a few rows, so that I can finish a thing or two and have show and tell, not just tell.

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