July 29, 2009

leethal “recipe” – Coffee Soda Pop!

The first in my new blog category of leethal “recipes”!  These “recipes” are in quotes because they’re not meant to be normal recipes – working at home all day, I get creative in the kitchen like I do with yarn and fabric, so I want to start sharing my weirdo ideas and inspire you too to look at what you have in your kitchen and try to make something new and interesting!

coffee soda pop

This first one is brought to you by the Pacific Northwest heat wave!  I start off every morning by making myself a mini-pot of coffee (Pete doesn’t drink coffee, can you believe it?!), enough for about 2 mugs worth.  Well in the heat, after my first small cup wakes me up, I tend not to want the any more hot, so I let it sit there for awhile; then a couple hours later the caffeine starts to wear off and I want another kick.  So, I’ve started making this crazy coffee soda pop!

You’ll need:

  • coffee (cooled to room temperature or cold is best)
  • any kind of dark soda pop (any cola, or flavored cola, or root beer, or Dr. Pepper, and diet works too….)
  • optional chocolate syrup (my favorites are dark chocolate or white chocolate)

Mix the coffee and the pop about 50/50.

Normally I start with my room temperature coffee, add chocolate syrup if I want, then add the soda, slowly!  The warmer the coffee, the more fizz you’ll get – adding soda to warm/hot coffee can cause major fizz catastrophes!  I know this from experience, of course!

Add ice as needed; watering it down a little with ice can sometimes make it taste better, in my opinion, if the coffee is particularly strong.  Sometimes, if I know I want to make the drink later in the day, I’ll stick the leftover coffee in the fridge, so all ingredients are cold and less ice is needed.

I’ve used RC cola, diet lime Coke, diet Go (Safeway brand cola), Barqs root beer, diet cherry Dr. Pepper… they’re all great!  I usually don’t bother with the chocolate syrup, but I add it sometimes depending on what pop I’m using.  I’d bet flavored coffee syrups would be good too – like vanilla, cherry, or raspberry…

Just so you know, I’m not insane to have come up with this – Coke has (had, in the US) a cola/coffee bottled drink called Coke Blak that I used to get sometimes (guilty pleasure – I try to avoid supporting Coke).  And there is an official espresso drink with a name that I can’t remember or find that’s made with: Coke, espresso, and chocolate syrup.  Really, it’s true, I made it when I was a barista.


On a side note, your other hot weather coffee option is of course cold brew!  Yummmm!  I started doing this a couple summers ago (in fact, I mentioned it long ago in an early blog post), and I’ve been lazy about it this year, only making it once so far, but it is delicious!  If you have a french press, you can use that, but it’s easy to make without one too.  Enjoy!

Filed under: recipes — leethal @ 8:00 am

July 28, 2009

some cool stuff!

Just a few things I want to share with you…


First, Amanda of Bread and Badger‘s new ebook: Crafting a Modern Press Release, for sale in her etsy shop!  I was lucky to get to take a press release workshop with Amanda through Trillium a few months ago, and now everyone can learn from her PR experience and success with the ebook.  If you are a small business owner, this is a great resource, and makes the maybe-scary term press release much more friendly and manageable! (That’s Amanda above with one of her mustache mugs!)


I was super excited to hear about the launch of The Creative Life – the new website project by crafty superheroes Kim Werker and Betsy Greer!  A fabulous blog for those of us who work independently in creative fields, reading the dialogue that’s been taking place is inspirational, comforting, and so much more! It’s hard to pick just one bit to quote from everything that’s up so far, but I’ll just give you this piece from the first post:

Our hope is to start a giant conversation with you about all sorts of things that boil down to this: What’s it like to strike off on your own into a creative field, where do you find support and community when you do it, where do you turn when it seems everyone in your life thinks you’re crazy? We’re not into compiling top-10 lists or giving advice on how to find an accountant. We’re very much into striving toward waking up each morning feeling at peace with the tasks we have to accomplish and the comfort of knowing there’ll be food on the table.

I recommend scrolling down to the bottom and reading the posts in order (bottom up) to understand what’s going on.  And comment to be part of the conversation!

craft leftovers

One of my absolute favorite craft sites/shops, Craft Leftovers, is having a fabulous summer sale through the end of the month!  Really, fabulous, go see for yourself!!

me with kanzashi

And I’ll leave you with me looking silly holding my Kanzashi flower, made with the help of Kanzashi In Bloom author herself, Sister Diane, at Twisted the other day, yay!  It’s a fun craft – different from the kinds of things I usually make, so mine has its own creative personality (some may call it messy or amatuerish, I call it fun and cute!).  I love the wood button, really makes it work!

Filed under: books,general crafts,lots of links,random stuff,self-publishing — leethal @ 9:15 am

July 27, 2009

Tour de Fleece wrapup!

Tour de Fleece is officially over!  And I rocked it!  I totally succeeded at my goal, which was to either spin, dye, or unravel every day of the tour – I spun or dyed fiber every day, with the only exception being that I flipped a day of rest with the previous day due to my schedule (and on the other day of rest I spun anyway).

Tour De Fleece 2009

So you can see details about my first 4 yarns on my week 1 post, and all of the yarns’ names and my tour stats if you click on the mosaic. I want to show you all the rest of them, but I won’t get into process stuff for them all, just my favorites or the ones that have interesting processy things…


Day 6:  I’m so proud of this one! Coil-filled thread plied, striping between shades of blues and greens.  I plied it on 2 thin threads instead of 1 thicker one – a regular sewing thread type, in variegated green colors, and a weird stretchy nylon (I’m guessing) thread in light blue, found unlabeled at Knittn Kitten.


So first I spun the striping single a bit overspun, a bit thick and thin, then I plied it on these 2 threads, adding in anchored coils randomly and often.  I also held the thread apart at several random points – spinning the stretchy blue thread around the outside of the wool, with the sewing thread inside, for some extra fun bits.  I love this yarn so much!  (Ease Your Feet In the Sea: 104 yards, 4 ounces)


Day 6 (also):  This was one of my only recycled yarns spun during the tour – it’s 2 strands of 100% cotton, with bits of yarn and thread scraps spun in throughout!  To make this yarn, I spun each strand of recycled cotton (well, several strands held together because that’s how most commercial cotton sweaters are knit) separately to put twist into it, adding the scrap bits into them while spinning.  I did that by sticking the tips of the scraps in between the cotton strands, spinning them all together, then sticking the other end between the strands.  Then I plied the 2 twisted cotton singles together, sometimes adding extra wraps around the ends of the scraps to hold them in tightly if needed.  (Blindsided: 170 yards, 5.6 ounces)


Day 10:  This is a basic striping single, spun with 100% BFL wool (suuuper soft!) in warm shades of brown, coffee-dyed, and smaller bits of blue.  Love how it turned out!  (Starfish And Coffee: 135 yards, 2.4 ounces)


Day 12:  I’m loving navajo plying more and more each time I do it!  This was my first navajo plied spun for the shop, now that I feel comfortable enough with the technique, and I’m super happy with the yarn!  I used mostly naturaly shades – browns, blues, greens – with 1 stripe of orange and 1 of red for some pop!  (Melody Of Certain Three: 76 yards, 3.2 ounces)


Day 13:  Bulky 2-ply, with lots of dark shades of grey, blue, green, purple, brown, red… and of course a little bright orange thrown in for good balance!  (In This Dark: 63 yards, 2.8 ounces)


Day 14:  A very experimental skein, this yarn stripes between dark/neutralish shades of wool – brown, grey, (dark) red, blue, green – which are broken up with long coils of uncarded alpaca dyed in candy colors (light blue, green, orange, yellow, red).  The coils are fuzzy and messy due to the nature of the uncarded alpaca, and will really pop when knit up amidst the dark wooly shades!


To get this yarn, first I spun a single, a bit overspun, striping between the wool, switching to small stripes of the alpaca randomly, in the middle of the wool colors.  Then when plying, I just thread plied as usual until I reached an alpaca bit, at which point I anchored the coil by wrapping the thread around the wool, then coiled the alpaca, just like the small coils in that top yarn, anchoring the other end when it switched back to wool.  Oh I also added more interest in the coils by adding some granny stacks, as explained in Intertwined. Like I mentioned in my first spinning processy post, if you want to learn about all these techniques, I highly recommend both that book and Insubordiknit’s DVD!  (Rainbow in the Dark: 80 yards, 3.3 ounces)


Day 15:  Another super soft striping single – this one is made up of different wools, including lots of BFL and some soy silk/wool blend.  Mostly lightish shades of blue, green, orange, and brown, with a couple bits of darker brown and green.  (Perfect Afternoon: 122 yards, 1.8 ounces)


Day 17:  Rainbow-tastic!  This 100% alpaca yarn stripes between yellow, green, blue, purple, red, and orange, with some blending between each color.  Some colors are longer than others (not much green, lots of red and orange…); I think this will knit up beautifully!  I made this one by separating out the 6 shades across my couch, then splitting each color approximately in half – I could have weighed the halves, but I didn’t want them to be exact.  I spun each single the same, starting at one end of the row of dyed fiber, through each color, then I plied them together as usual.  Because the color sections were approximately the same, but not exact, the colors overlapped plenty to make each solid shade, but they all overlapped with the neighboring colors more or less, so the stripes will be blendy, just how I wanted!  Yarn success!  I hope this yarn ends up with someone who will knit something awesome to wear with pride!  (Psychic Rainbow: 65 yards, 2.2 ounces)

day20yarn05 day20yarn04

Day 20:  Coily thread plied, similar to the top yarn, with all superduper soft BFL and South African Fine wool!  (Bridges and Balloons: 66 yards, 2.2 ounces)


Day 22:  This bulkylicious single was spun with 2 different colors/fibers held together at all times – mostly different wools (including a bunch of black shetland and merino), with some organic cotton (so hard to spin!), some bamboo, and some hemp!  All different colors in here, but the black gives it a darker look than most of my yarns.  I’m getting better at controlling the weight of my singles (usually I kind of let the fiber be the weight it wants to be), and this is a pretty successful (balanced and nice looking) bulky single yarn!  Still thick+thin, which I like, but averages out at a bulky weight.  (Big Day Coming: 116 yards, 4.3 ounces)


Day 23:  And my last yarn of the tour – soft, lofty, colorful 2-ply!  Similar to my Coughing Colors yarn I spun right before the tour, but a bit finer, and softer due to using lots of BFL, South African Fine wool, and soy silk/wool blend.  Like that other yarn, and also like Spiraling Carnival and others, I plied it unevenly for coily wrapped bits like you can see below.  (Especially in the blue and the green in the middle.)  I love that technique, though I don’t see other spinners doing it…


The other cool thing about this yarn is the way I did the colors – 1 single is long stripes of color, blending a little bit (I think it goes brown, grey, green, blue, red, orange), and the other single is short stripes of all different, non-blending colors.  So when it’s knit, it’ll stripe the short stripes on the long stripes blending base – hard to explain, but it’ll look cool!  I really love this one!  (Summer and Lighting: 112 yards, 2.9 ounces)


In case anyone’s interested – a couple of these are in the shop now, and a couple more will be added soon.  Hooray Tour de Fleece!!  Yay Star for starting the whole thing!  Star rocks everyone’s socks off!!

Filed under: leethal store,yarn — leethal @ 4:21 pm

July 23, 2009

free pattern: Penta-Coasters!


When I was getting ready to release leethal quick knits I realized all of my patterns so far had been cuffs/bracelets, so I designed these Penta-Coasters!  You can get the free pdf from the patterns page over there (or ravelry), and I’ll also paste the pattern below for anyone who is anti-pdf…  I made up a decrease for these that I’ve never seen before, so I made up the abbreviation (just a combination of 2 different decreases), as you can see below.


From the pattern pdf: This textured coaster is thick enough to keep water off your tabletop by either being felted or being knit super tightly with bulky yarn.  Choose a 100% wool yarn (not superwash) in a worsted weight for the felted version, or a bulky weight yarn in any fiber type for the larger one.

Choose your own yarn/needle size combination depending on if you want to felt.  If felting, knit with a bit of a loose gauge, keeping in mind you’ll be shrinking it – my samples were knit with worsted weight yarn on size US 10’s (dark blue+brown) and 10 1/2’s (light green+blue).  If not felting, you need a very tight gauge, so choose a bulky yarn and use smaller needles than you normally would – my sample was knit with Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick on size 10’s.  (I am a tight knitter, adjust needle sizes if you’re a looser knitter.)


The only abbreviation you need to know is my decrease 2 stitches method…

skp-rpr = SKP (slip, knit, pass) decrease immediately followed by KRPR (knit, return, pass, return) decrease (without the K because it’s already been done), so:
slip, knit 1, pass slipped stitch over, return knit stitch to left needle, pass next stitch over knit stitch, return knit stitch to right needle by slipping it purl-wise.


Cast-on 45 stitches onto double pointed needles
Join around and knit 1 row
Purl 1 row
Knit 1 row
Repeat [k6, skp-rpr] around 1 row
Purl 1 row
Knit 1 row
Repeat [k4, skp-rpr] around 1 row
Purl 1 row
Knit 1 row
Repeat [k2, skp-rpr] around 1 row
Purl 1 row
Knit 1 row
Repeat skp-rpr around 1 row
Purl 1 row
Cut yarn, thread through stitches, pull tight and tie.


Now you can felt (or full) it if you want – I like to felt items this small by hand instead of in the washing machine, so I can control the size and shape.  I do this by filling a large bowl with hot water (as hot as your hands can handle, for me this is as hot as my faucet gets) with a little dish soap (might as well clean it while you felt) and setting it right next to the sink.  Dunk the coaster in the hot water bowl and agitate vigorously, as if it’s super dirty and you’re trying to clean it, rubbing it against itself and against your hands.  (To avoid splashing water everywhere, mostly switch between dipping it in the water and rubbing it above the water.)  Once it’s been agitating in the hot water for a bit, turn the sink on as cold as it goes and dunk the coaster under the running faucet, still rubbing it vigorously.  Switch between hot and cold, paying attention to the size and shape once you see it starting to shrink and felt.  You can control the shape by pulling it and molding it as you’re agitating in the water.  When it’s the shape and size you want, simply squeeze the water out, press it in a towel to dry it as well as you can, then lay it flat to dry.


Filed under: knitting,quick knits,tutorials — leethal @ 9:57 pm

Introducing leethal quick knits!

Finally, that new thing I’ve been hinting about for awhile – leethal quick knits!  The new section is a major pattern resource, containing links to around 70ish free patterns, which will continue to grow as I add more, and my brand new club!!

I’m so excited about the club!  It will be monthly, at least for now; it’s in its beta phase, so you can just get a 1 month membership for the August package, then in the future there will be multi-month memberships.  As you can see on the site, each month’s package will include:

  • a 15 yard mini-skein of recycled hand-dyed yarn
  • a 10 yard mini-skein of spun recycled yarn
  • quick knit pattern exclusive to the club
  • any crafty bits called for in the pattern (e.g. buttons)
  • extra mystery leethal goodies and/or bits of crafty fun

As for the exclusivity of the patterns – my plan is to group club patterns into sets for sale after 3+ months pass.  So, club members are the only knitters to have access to the patterns until after 3 or more months, at which point non-members will be able to purchase them.


The August membership is for sale until August 5th, and packages will be mailed out on the 18th.  I’ve started planning the pattern and yarns, and it’s all a secret, but I will tell you something about the colorways – if you like the colors in my new site design, you’ll love one of the club yarns!  See the club page for more details, and as it says there, things could change in future months as I see how it goes.

A note to bloggers:  To encourage word-of-mouth club promotion, I will be giving membership discounts if you promise to blog about your club package once you receive it.  Comment here or email me for details if you’re interested!

Then there’s the leethal quick knits patterns page, with all patterns I’ve designed that use no more than 15 yards of yarn – including free, for sale, and published outside of leethal.

circle lace cuff

But the most exciting to you might be the link list page – around 65ish links (and ever growing) to patterns by other designers that use less than 20 yards!  Most are free (I only have 1 for sale actually) but I want to add more for sale patterns when I find more, to encourage supporting independent designers, so let me know if you know a good pattern I should add!


Patterns are divided into accessories, useful stuff, toys and decor, silliness, and crochet – I know it’s called quick knits, but I am not anti-crochet!  If you’ve released a design that uses less than 20 yards, you should see if you’re on the list!  I didn’t contact any designers because it would take waaay too long and I figured everyone would be happy to be linked…


I tried to be a bit picky when choosing patterns to put on the list – I want it to be a quality resource, so I didn’t add every single under 20 yard pattern I found.  (Though I’m sure there are lots I didn’t find at all, so let me know if I missed any!)  I think it’s a great collection, a lot of interesting/cool/funny stuff that I would totally knit!  Hope you enjoy!!

Filed under: knitting,lots of links,quick knits,yarn — leethal @ 6:30 pm

new leethal.net is up!

Wow I can’t believe it’s up!  2 months+ of serious work, it’s a weird (good!) feeling for it to be done!  Well, not done done, it’ll always be a work in progress, always new stuff to add, but it’s up and you can see it!!  There’s so much going on, I’m dividing it into a few posts throughout the day – first, the new site in general, next will be about the new quick knits section!

new leethal header

You can click around and see for yourself, so I won’t tell you about obvious things (and there’s also the stuff I talked about last week).  Pleasepleaseplease let me know if you notice any typos, errors, broken links, weirdness, confusing anything, something looks weird on your browser, etc.  This was so much work spread out over so much time there’s a really good chance I missed some mistakes somewhere…

One fun new thing – free leethal wallpapers!  I’ll be adding more soon, then whenever I feel like it; there are not many photos yet, so I’m hoping to add more of those over the next few days…  The tile patterns are from photos or scans, made into boxes that will tile seamlessly on your desktop!  They’re meant for personal use only – if you want to use one as a website/blog background or anything else public, please credit me and link to leethal.net, and please let me know, thanks!

new leethal wallpapers

Something random you may have noticed – it was always part of my leethal branding (or something, branding is weird) that everything throughout my site and blog was lower-case, but I’ve decided to re-brand that aspect.  There’s still lots of lower-case throughout leethal.net (including “leethal” which I always spell lower-case), but for the most part sentences and names and things are capitalized and the blog will be too, starting now.  More professional, dontcha think?

Moving on, here are some aesthetic comparisons between the old and the new sites, just for fun…

oldleethal01 leethal.net

Home page – the new home page not only works as navigation to any section of the site, but it has some featured stuff, my twitter feed, and a search bar!

oldleethal02 leethal shop

Shop – after designing the new site, I really hate how the old shop looked!  Most exciting thing about the new shop: click the pictures and see!  Also new, an info section and a feedback page!

oldleethal12 leethal yarn

Patterns and Yarn – instead of smooshing everything knit-related into one single page, I’ve given patterns and yarn each their own section, with every single pattern getting its own page, and each type of yarn getting a page with big photos!  The only problem is that old links to patterns will direct to the yarn section, and old links to handspun for sale to the yarn gallery (handspun is for sale in the shop now).  But I think navigation is easy enough that it’s obvious where you should go to find what you’re looking for.

leethal favicon

Another thing I’m excited about – I’ve added a favicon to leethal!  That’s that little icon you can see in the url bar, or the tab, or the bookmark, depending which browser you’re using.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t work for me in Firefox because of the cache or something, but it does show in Safari, and it shows in Firefox when I go to the old leethal.coloredlights.net address as you can see above.  Also, I don’t know how to put it in the blog because that’s php which I don’t know…

Speaking of coding, I feel pretty accomplished to have gotten so far in css!  A few months ago I knew absolutely nothing about css, and now I’ve made a pretty lengthy stylesheet for all of leethal, it’s error free, and I feel like I could totally go into any style sheet and know what it’s talking about! Yeah!

Ok that’s all for now… except, if you’ve ever gotten leethal yarn and knit it into something, be sure to add photos to the flickr pool or send them to me, so I can link to your creation from the yarn page! Woo!

Filed under: leethal store,leethal.net,random stuff — leethal @ 2:30 pm

July 18, 2009

belated photo post, just for fun…

timberline lodge timberline lodge

ok this post is way belated – this is the first part of our fun times with pete’s parents playing tourists, before the berry picking and stuff from my post a couple weeks ago.  i’ve had the photos plugged into a draft for weeks, and now so much time has passed, i’m just going to show you the photos with brief captions…

timberline lodge

those above 3 are inside the timberline lodge, on mount hood, where there was lots of cool crafted stuff, like hooked rugs made with recycled uniforms, and that crazy old loom.

timberline lodge timberline lodge

we ate some super yum food, and got to sit on the other side of that window you can see above, with that view of mount jefferson, so majestic!

timberline lodge timberline lodge

pete got tillamook mac n cheese and i got some awesome pasta salad – timberline lodge, thumbs up!

columbia river gorge columbia river gorge

coming home from mount hood, we took a scenic route through hood river to the 84, which we ended up regretting due to a hay truck on fire ahead, stopping the freeway completely for 3 hours (for us – others had been stopped for several hours longer) once we hit the jam.  lucky for us though, the point where we stopped happened to be at a shoulder along the columbia river gorge where we were able to pull over and walk around.  so i took a lot of photos…

columbia river gorge columbia river gorge

i think that’s the closest i’ve ever been to a (moving) train.  i had fun with shutter speed experiments.

columbia river gorge columbia river gorge

cameras are fun!

columbia river gorge

then the next day we drove out to the coast, stopping on the way at mcmenamin’s grand lodge (not super interesting when we’re used to kennedy school, edgefield, bagdad, etc).

grand lodge grand lodge

and stopping along the side of the road in various naturey spots to take a few photos…

heading out west heading out west

…before arriving at the tillamook cheese factory!

tillamook cheese factory tillamook cheese factory

it was a fun time! cooler than i would have thought to see the cheese being made, in various stages, and interesting to learn about tillamook and their happy cows!  and we got some free cheese samples, and ice cream!

tillamook cheese factory tillamook cheese factory

then we headed up to seaside…

seaside, oregon

this was my first time seeing the oregon coast, after living in portland for 2 years.  as i’d been told, it’s way different from the southern california beaches i’m used to.  cold but very scenic and photogenic!

seaside, oregon seaside, oregon

i took some hooded family shots…

seaside, oregon seaside, oregon

and more…

seaside, oregon seaside, oregon

then up to astoria for dinner at fort george (yummm anaheim pepper veggie burger!) and to see the column and the view:


we didn’t go up the column (too high!), but i did take a picture looking up the stairs:

astoria astoria

and here’s the view looking the other way… oh oregon, so green…


good day trips! fun times!  i like playing tourist without traveling far – well, i love traveling far, but since that’s not possible, day trips are a fun alternative.

to keep you updated, it’s looking like the new site won’t be up till monday night or tuesday – the next do stuff! post should be the site announcement!  then i’ll catch up on yarn… i’ve been successful in keeping up with tour de fleece, although i’m probably going to take tomorrow off, then spin on monday which is supposed to be a day of rest, because of my schedule.  yay yarn!

Filed under: personal,photos,portland stuff — leethal @ 2:20 pm

July 14, 2009

can’t wait any longer to show you a preview!

a few fun things for you!  i contributed some thrifting tips to portland blog the handmade experiment – read it and imagine how overflowing with stuff my studio is!  darn you portland and your awesome thrift stores!  i listed all the items i shop for to use as crafting materials, what to pay attention to, and projects you can use them for.  enjoy!

new leethal.net preview

so hey, remember how i told you i was working on an awesome new leethal website like almost 2 months ago?  well i did take a bit of a break, but i’ve thrown myself back into it during the last many days, and i’m really hoping to have to up by this weekend, or early next week at the latest.  i’m getting so close now that i want to show you some teaser screen shots!

new leethal.net preview

there’s going to be so much new stuff, i’m showing you some smaller things now, so when it all goes up i can focus on the bigger, super exciting things! yeah! these two shots (above and below) are of the yarn section, where all my yarns will be divided into types, with links to what they’ve become for the ones that have become something.

new leethal.net preview

this means if anyone out there has made something out of a leethal yarn, pleaseplease add a photo of your creation to the leethal flickr group!  (or you could email me a photo if you prefer.)  then i can link to your project from the yarn page and it will be rad!

new leethal.net preview

above you can see that i’ve vastly upgraded my picture viewing system in my shop!  instead of clicking on a thumbnail image to see the full size as a jpg in the browser window, soon you’ll see the full sized pictures in a much more attractive setting, thanks to lytebox!!  hooray!

new leethal.net preview

and in the shot directly above and at the top of the post, you can see a peek at my new patterns section!  soon, each pattern will have its own page, where you can see photos, info, and buy directly with a shopping cart and everything! (thanks ravelry for that one!)

new leethal.net preview

and lastly, one exciting brand new page – links to all of my tutorials in one place!  on this page you’ll be able to browse through every how-to i’ve done on my own blog, craftstylish, threadbanger, and more!

excited?  i am!

ease your feet in the sea

i’m still spinning, by the way, but i’m planning to wait till the end of the week and do a week 2 tour de fleece post so i can group them together and talk about process again.  you can find last week’s yarns in the shop now!  i’ve come up with a new method of naming my handspun which i’m super happy with, let me know what you think!  i think that’s all for now; back to coding!

Filed under: random stuff,yarn — leethal @ 8:45 pm

ebook review: weaving un-loomed!

sister diane gilleland (of craftypod) is the official master of ebooks, in my book – first she released making a great blog a few months ago, and now this gorgeous 59 page weaving un-loomed project book!

weaving book

with amazing detail in each of the project step-by-step how-tos, as well as tons of intro-to-weaving info, and tips/tricks/troubleshooting, this is a fantastic place to start learning to weave for anyone interested.  no need for a big, expensive loom when you can make such a variety of projects (5, each with lots of variations, plus a 6th free project) with no loom!  this is the project i’m most excited to try out myself:

project 1

weaving directly into fabric! how cool is that?!  i’m thinking about adding woven polka dots to a bag or something, not sure yet…  then there’s this beautiful bag:

project 2

i love the colors!  check out diane’s post to see all 5 projects (including weaving with twill tape, with magazine pages, and on a carboard loom), and to grab that extra free one!

in case you fall in love with just one of the projects, diane really took advantage of the ebook format and is offering each project as a separate pdf file.  oh and another way she rocked the ebook is by creating a text-only instruction page for each project, so that’s all you need to print and minimum printer ink is needed.

this book is such a fantastic example of self-publishing, and so inspiring!  everything looks totally published book quality, but diane did it all independently and is able to sell it herself instead of having to deal with a publisher/sellers/etc.  i know everyone loves to hold a book in their hands, especially a pretty craft book, but this is really the way of the future and puts the power in the artist’s/author’s hands, yeah!  rock on, diane!

Filed under: books,general crafts,self-publishing — leethal @ 1:54 pm

July 7, 2009

so much spinning!

news first – i’ve become a last-minute vendor for crafty wonderland on sunday! i had just been thinking about how i haven’t done any shows since the holiday season, and i miss them a little, then i got an email that there were cancellations and i said sure! now i’m thinking, july is probably the worst month to do it, but eh, it’ll be fun… hope you portlanders can stop by!!

tdf 1st 3 days day1yarn07

tour de fleece is going so well so far!!  i’ve spun a skein that i love on each of these first 4 days, and i’m loving following the ravelry threads and getting inspired by everyone’s yarns!  instead of just showing you my yarns, i’m going to take it a bit further and share some process-y stuff about each of them.  so, if you are a new spinner or are interested in understanding spinning better or just curious about crafts that you don’t do… this might make spinning less mysterious, or it might help you take your spinning further… not that i’m a master spinner (i still consider myself a beginner-ish) but i experiment with lots of different kinds of yarns…


day 1 was this bulky, squishy 2-ply.  it’s a bit thick and thin, but averages out pretty bulky, with lots of different dyed wools, mostly in shades of blues+greens (cools) and reds+oranges (warms).  i divided up equalish amounts of cool shades and warm shades in two piles, then i swapped a couple, so one pile was mostly the warms with a little cool, and the other mostly cool with a little warm.  each of these piles became one single (striping between the colors), which i spun lofty and somewhat bulky, then i plied them together, so most sections of the yarn have a warm shade and a cool shade swirling together, and some sections have both warm or both cool.  (63 yards, 2.9 ounces)

day2yarn01 day2bobbin

day 2 was navajo plied.  navajo plying is a method of turning one single into a 3-ply yarn by looping it into itself, so you get the color sections staying together for a striping yarn; making the 3-ply of course means it’s 3 times as thick and a third the length as the original single (less even, because of the twisting).  i tried this once before, during the last tour de fleece, then never did it again because it didn’t seem worth it for how little yardage you end up with.  but then i finally got around to knitting with the one i made last year, and i loved it!  it’s such a different kind of yarn, so i wanted to try it again.  i spun this one for myself, for more practice with the technique, using a bunch of the dyed wools from black sheep, and some from flock and fiber awhile back, spinning long sections of each color in the single.  i spun and spun and spun, what for me seemed like a lot of yardage, more than i usually spin into one single, then i plied.  i lovelovelove how it turned out – super bulky, texturey, stripey – but it’s only 40 yards!  i guess i’m bad at estimating how much yardage i’m spinning, because it seemed like more than 120ish…  so, it was a good experiment, now i just know to spinandspinandspin the singles until there’s way more than i think i’ll need, for a decent length final yarn.  i can’t wait to knit with this one!!  (40 yards, 3.4 ounces)


day 3 was this blues+greens striping single with big, messy cocoons and beehives thrown in.  (it’s so curly because the photo was before washing.) the yarn is all wools that i dyed, different types, with the softest type (bfl) at one end, so that if it’s made into a hat that end can be the brim!  the cocoons and beehives are messy because they were made with uncarded locks (and also because i am very much a beginner with those techniques), but i think they’re fun!  the yarn colors are all shades of blues and greens, with one stripe of dark orange in the middle somewhere, and a tiny bit of purple+red in one spot; then the cocoons are all different colors for contrast.  i’m super happy with this yarn!!  (160 yards, 3.1 ounces)

day4yarn02 day4yarn01

then today (day 4) i spun this fuzzy striping single, with dyed, uncarded alpaca, wools, and uncarded locks.  (also photographed pre-washing.)  i spun it texturey, thick and thin and fuzzy, striping between shades of red, purple, orange, yellow, and a little blue, green, grey, and coffee-dyed.  i tried to hold the wool sort of like i was core-spinning it around itself, so at a sideways angle.  i think this one will knit up pretty cool, all fuzztastic and stripey!  (126 yards, around 3 ounces)

tour de fleece day 1! tour de fleece: day 2

tour de fleece: day 3 tour de fleece day 4 yarn

i’ve been taking photo booth (macbook camera) shots right after spinning each day and posting them on twitter and flickr, to keep each day documented for the tour.  and then i’m adding good photos of the yarns to my flickr set after getting them taken and edited (so i’ll be posting post-washing photos of those last 2 at some point soonish), if you want to follow my spinning.

2plyforme01 2plyforme02

and then there are a couple more yarns i spun before the tour started – this one is a striping 2-ply for myself, spun with wools from black sheep.  i experimented with a striping idea here – i planned out a striping order, and made two groups of the same wools in the same order for the two singles.  if they were all exactly the same amount, and i spun them perfectly even, then when i plied them together the colors would all match up with each other for solid color stripes.  of course, they were not exact at all, on purpose, so they plied into blendy stripes, with some overlapping of the same colors, but mostly blending with the colors before or after, if that makes sense…


and i plied it unevenly, holding the two singles at different tensions at different points, so there are wrapped parts and coily parts.  should be fun to knit with!  (50 yards, 2 ounces)

corespun03 corespun04

lastly (from a couple weeks ago), my first real try at core-spinning, with undyed/uncarded alpaca and uncarded locks.  it’s pretty darn messy and uneven – core-spinning is harder than i thought! – but it’s a fun yarn, for sure!  super thick, striping, and fuzzzzzy.  i used a thick thread (the kind i get at knittn kitten, i don’t know what that thread it called…) for the core, but next time i try a boucle type or something with better grip.  (36 yards, 2.4 ounces)


if you’re wondering where i learned the different techniques (cocoons, beehives, core-spinning, etc): insubordiknit’s art yarn how-to dvd, sit and spin!  (i keep planning to do a post about it, but haven’t yet.)  i have art yarn books, which are great – intertwined in particular – but it helped so much to see her do the techniques in the dvd, so i’m starting to use them in my yarns now…


oh and in case you’re interested – the day 1, day 3, and day 4 yarns are for my shop.  however, since i’ll be bringing them to wonderland on sunday, i won’t put them up on my site until after that; so expect a big yarn shop update sometime next week, since i plan to spin more in addition to these.


last bit of handspun blogginess… cosy started a handspun elizabeth zimmerman snail hat knit-a-long – i’ve been planning to knit that hat for ages, and now i have an excuse!  i just need to spin up the right yarn for the project (already have it planned out, it’ll be rad) then find some extra knitting-for-me time in my schedule, which is the hard part.  so if you have some handspun and are a lover of hats, join in the fun!

Filed under: portland stuff,yarn — leethal @ 6:40 pm

July 2, 2009

yarn and fiber and weaving and knitting, whoa!

first of all, after getting all pumped up about spinning after black sheep, i did a spinning roundup on threadbanger to help people get started;  i was so happy to see it mentioned on the craft blog!  hopefully it’ll inspire many to at least try out a spindle…  i hope to have lots of handspun posts over the next month, with tour de fleece starting on saturday, so i hope you like yarn photos!  my plan for this year, since last year i started super strong then i lost my momentum and barely spun for the second half, is to either spin, dye, or unravel sweaters for recycled yarn, every day of the tour.  so basically, something related to yarn-making, instead of only spinning.  that way i think i’ll keep it up!

2-ply alpaca and wool colors

these are my two new yarns in the shop!  it’s been so long since i’ve had new yarn up!  i’m super happy with these two, the top one being half alpaca and half striping colors of wools, with some messy cocoons and beehives thrown in for extra fun; and the bottom being all different kinds of dyed wool, including some soy silk/wool blend, striping blendy stripes between the colors.  i named it spiraling every color because there are just so many colors, i couldn’t choose a name, or something… the top one – snow flowers – was named by pete!

super colors 2ply yarn

in other fibery news, i’ve done so much wool dyeing recently!  during about 5 days before and after black sheep, between doing stuff with pete’s parents, i managed to dye all this:


you can see close ups of it all here; these are some of my favorites below.  on the left is all the bfl from crown mountain farms i got at black sheep last year (yeah it took me awhile to get to it, i wanted to save it until i felt like i knew what i was doing more…).  on the right is some weird superwash pencil roving-ish wool, also from black sheep last year, and the chunky braid is south african fine wool from hello yarn – love the colors i got in all these!!

farmbfls2 superwash+africanwools

and then i really like this one because it’s so different from my usual dye colorways – it’s fun to venture outside your norm! it’s a grey base (wool blend from spunky eclectic) with different dark shades of purple, blue, and green – it doesn’t photograph well, but you get the idea.


i loved seeing all the hanging braids at black sheep, and we were talking about wanting to have braids hanging in our homes, so i figured out a way to do it!  it looks pretty silly in real life, over in a corner where the kitty can’t reach, but i feel like having some visible dyed wool will inspire me to spin more!

hanging fiber

those are, in order left to right, dyed by me, merino from black sheep, next 2 dyed by me, spunky eclectic romney in sangria colorway, dyed by me, spunky eclectic merino/bamboo in sumac colorway, and last 2 dyed by me.  yay color!

hanging fiber

now that i’ve dyed through a bunch i’ve fiber i’ve had for a year+ i can get dyeing on the big box of fiber i got from spunky eclectic!  i got small-ish amounts of a bunch of different fibers to see what i like best and order more of my favorites!  and speaking of buying fibery stuffs, i took advantage of twisted’s sale of the week the other night and got 6 different colors of louet riverstone chunky!  i only planned to get 2 or 3, but there were so many gorgeous colors, i couldn’t stop grabbing them!  what they will become is a bit of a secret, but it will be colorful!!

louet yarn

and hey check it out – weaving!  i finally made the pocket loom that came with craft:08 and started playing!  it’s totally fun, and i’m loving how it looks!  i’m using pieces of different wools to make a crazy stripey scarflet type thing, i think.  if you don’t have the craft magazine, you can download the loom here – be sure to print it on the thickest cardstock you have.  the cardstock from the magazine is a bit flimsier than i’d like; if i get into it, i plan to try making one with thicker cardboard.  as david said when i was playing at knit night, my heddle is not rigid!


and a close up:


oh and, what about knitting? you may ask… oh yeah i’m doing plenty of that too!  i actually have many patterns in some form of development at the moment (something like 8+) and i’ve been working on something invloving handspun because of my spinning obsession, but i’m thinking about putting that one aside to work on something potentially summer-friendly to try to release soon-ish, if it works out.  we’ll see…


this is a peek at my handspun project, which was knit with this yarn which i spun during tour de fleece last year – i lovvve how the stripey colors knit up!!

and i’ll leave you with something non-fibery.  i just have to share with anyone who will listen my extreme love of a cd i bought the other day.  i rarely buy new music anymore, on my self-employed non-salary, but i splurged at music millennium and bought the new portland cello project: the thao and justin power sessions and i just can’t stop listening to it!  i am a huge fan of thao, but i had never heard of justin power, and now i love him too!  i’ve never seen portland cello project, except accompanying laura gibson at her cd release show, but now i need to see them!  can’t recommend this album enough!

Filed under: knitting,leethal store,music,threadbanger,yarn — leethal @ 1:26 pm
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